Athletes raced to complete bouldering problems during the three-hour competition on April 8. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Climb Yukon hosts annual bouldering competition in Whitehorse

‘It was nice to see all the competitors trying to give each other advice’

Climb Yukon hosted the annual Whitehorse Bouldering Competition on April 8 at Porter Creek Secondary School.

The event was a scramble format, meaning competitors had three hours to try and complete as many of the 24 problems as possible before the clock ran out.

Problems were ranked on difficulty from one to 24 and overall winners were determined based on each competitor’s top five climbs. A bonus point was awarded if the competitor completed the route in one attempt.

Organizer Max Parker said the number of competitors was just about as many as the facility could safely and comfortably accommodate for the afternoon.

“We had around 30 athletes,” said Parker. “That wall is pretty small, so any more and we would have been at capacity.”

With the crowd consisting mainly of familiar faces, Parker said there might have been a misstep when it came to advertising the event.

“A few people I talked to later said, ‘Oh that sounds really intense and competitive, so we didn’t go,’” said Parker. “But it was pretty chill, more like a hangout session.”

Competitors gave each other tips and advice on how to best tackle the problems.

“Part of it is you have to have the muscle or the core to do this,” said Parker. “But a big part of the problems is the technique and finding out my right hand is supposed to go here, and it is supposed to hold a little bit to the left on this hold to get the best grip and adjust my body weight. It was nice to see all the competitors trying to give each other advice and work towards the highest score they could.”

The competition was also an opportunity for young climbers to gauge their progress.

“A big part of the competition is for them to come out and show that their training has paid off,” said Parker.

Parker said while there are bouldering nights at both Porter Creek Secondary School and Yukon College hosted by Alpine Club of Canada Yukon, the next major event for Climb Yukon will likely be the Ibex Valley Bouldering Festival sometime this summer.

Climb Yukon’s focus in recent years has shifted to include lobbying and advocating for a dedicated climbing gym in Whitehorse.

“These competitions are focused on the youth and they’re also focused on growing the community to try to get a gym in town,” said Parker.

Not having a larger, dedicated space is something Parker said is holding back the sport.

“I’m so surprised there is no gym in town because we get seven months of snow,” said Parker. “We have to settle with the high school and the college. They’re nice, but they’re not very big and it’s pretty claustrophobic. If we had a bigger gym, our competitions would be much larger and we’d be able to accommodate way more people.”

Parker pointed to recent surveys and a fall 2016 feasibility study as proof a gym would be popular.

“We really pushed to get as many people on the parks and recreation survey to say they wanted a climbing gym,” said Parker, adding that when the Canada Games Centre reached out to the community at large about what they would like to see, a climbing gym was mentioned in nearly half of the responses.

“There is growing momentum for this.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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