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Regionalization - Ellis Whitson

 
Regionalization - Ellis Whitson
Regionalization - Ellis Whitson
Regionalization - Ellis Whitson
Regionalization - Ellis Whitson
Regionalization - Ellis Whitson
 
May 16, 2013 -  Ellis Whitson    
 

This past weekend the USA Climbing Regional Championships took place around the nation at a host of different climbing gyms. This year Earth Treks (Rockville) hosted the Capital Region championships with over 100 athletes vying for invitations to the Division 5 championships in Watertown, MA this June. A number of people had expressed interest in what it took to put together and pull off this competition, I’d like to take the opportunity to recap the preparation and route setting that lead up to and through the event. 

 

Regionalization

This past weekend the USA Climbing Regional Championships took place around the nation at a host of different climbing gyms. This year Earth Treks (Rockville) hosted the Capital Region championships with over 100 athletes vying for invitations to the Division 5 championships in Watertown, MA this June. A number of people had expressed interest in what it took to put together and pull off this competition, I’d like to take the opportunity to recap the preparation and route setting that lead up to and through the event.

The format we chose for our regionals was a single round onsight competition consisting of four climbs per category. With a blank canvas of walls and a near endless pallet of holds, it was certainly a treat to set a myriad of climbs to test the climbers on. The setting team began on the Sunday night before the event, stripping down 80+ routes from the main lead climbing corridor of the Rockville gym and washing and organizing the holds by color. We are fortunate enough to have enough of a hold selection to have been able to set the entire event solely by color of hold, eliminating the hassle and aesthetically displeasing look of tape everywhere on the walls.

Setting flew into high gear straight away on Monday morning with myself and six other setters aiming for the goal of completing all of the routes by Wednesday. Everyone buckled down and put in a ton of effort with 90% of the routes being set by Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I set the number two route for FYC/MYC and the number three route for MYB along with four speed routes (two for YB-Jr and two for YC/YD). Once we had the shells of the routes set we broke into fore running and tweaking teams to start the initial changes and assessment of difficulty, height/reach checks, style variations and a number of other criteria used to check the overall “quality” of each route. Inevitably, a slew of changes took place on all the routes as the team bounced new ideas around, challenged each other to create new situations and ran additional forerunners through the categories climbs. Earlier in the week, I invited young gun Kai Lightner up to help fore run the routes and challenge himself in a new environment. Kai joined us on Friday morning and ran through the majority of the categories climbs throughout the day. Kai opted out on competing in his own Regionals this year (by virtue of being the National Champion in his category last year he has a bye to Nationals), and it was a pleasure having him up to climb on the routes and interesting to see his take on the style, difficulty, and progression.

Friday night was a quick moment of respite from the comp- a fun evening with the Five Ten Team during our shoe demo on the day of 5/10! Five Ten Athletes Jessa Gobel, Tim Rose, Kayla Lieuw and myself fielded of host of questions from the excited Earth Treks community. The Dragons and Team shoes were very popular along with the new Stonelands VCS model and ever classic Anasazi VCS. We raffled off a number of shirts, hats, chalk bags, and a brand new pair of shoes to boot.

Saturday was the moment of truth, with the climbers anxiously waiting in ISO and the route setters and competition organizers hopeful and excited for the show at hand. The event went off amazingly, with an amazing level of dedication presented by all the competitors and a host of wonderful feedback from parents, volunteers and spectators alike. With zero ties in any of the categories, the route setting team and organizational staff came away feeling like a big win had been had by all. A huge thank you to our Chief Setter: Ward Byrum, and the rest of the setting crew- Matt Bosley, Ryan Bannister, Ryan Jones, Keith Dickey and Will Anglin. Congratulations to all of my kids on the Earth Treks Climbing Team who advanced to Divisionals, we have a crew or nearly 30 moving on this year!

Photos by Ryan Jones, Ward Byrum and Jennie Jariel.

 

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