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Alex Fritz tells us about the Alaskan Rock Gym Competition

March 09, 2010 -  Alex Fritz    

"Last week I headed up to Alaska for the 14th Annual Frigid Flash rope competition and it was the first competition of the 2010 SCS season, so I was pretty psyched. There was a competition in my area at the Stone Gardens Climbing Gym in Seattle, WA but I’ve always wanted to go up to one of the Alaskan competitions and this year I finally got the chance. I’ve known quite a few of the Alaskan Team’s climbers from past Divisional and National comps and from talking to them prior to coming up, they made it sound like the gym was inadequate; but that didn’t bother me, I was still psyched.

The format for the competition was a little abnormal with 5 qualifier routes with no rest or transition in between routes, and then 1 finals problem later that night. The categories were also based off ability and not age, so I would be competing against a lot of adults. There wasn’t a huge amount of area to warm up in, with iso not being in the bouldering area, so I got in as much climbing as I could with the 15 minutes allowed in the bouldering area before I climbed (you could see the routes from the bouldering area, so they only allowed a little amount of time in there).
Finally getting to climb, I took the first route slow and spent time trying to climb smooth and warm up a bit more. I worked through the first 3 problems fairly easily, but I started to feel pumped resting before problem four (your rest time was whatever time you had left after you finished your route). The fourth route was definitely the hardest, being rated at around 5.13a, but I was super excited to flash it. The final qualifier route was super fun, although I was tired by the time I finished it. I felt pretty good flashing all the routes, and couldn’t wait to see what the finals route was like later that night.

They dimmed the lights for finals and had only lights on the wall for a pretty good show. With 4 girls and 5 guys in iso, I was the only one there who hadn’t been to this competition before. I went out last out of everyone because I placed first in qualifiers and was nervous walking out in front of the crowd of probably 50+ people. The route had a lot of cool new holds because Rock Candy sponsored the event and there were a lot of cool moves. I managed to flash the finals route and win the competition; with 2nd place falling while going to the finish.

I climbed at practice that Monday with the Alaskan Team and was honored to be trained by Beth Rodden (they have guest climbers every year). After getting to spend more time climbing at the gym, I decided that the team was wrong about telling me it was inadequate. I really loved the gym and although it isn’t the biggest gym in the world, there is a lot of potential for it. The routes that weekend were probably the best I’ve climbed at a local competition, ever, and I’m really excited to hopefully be going back again next year. The coaching staff and team are a great bunch of people, and they are all really good climbers. I’m honored with getting the chance to go up and spend the weekend with them and I’m psyched to climb against some of them this season at SCS Divisionals and Nationals.

I really recommend that if you are ever in Alaska to take a stop in and check out the Alaska Rock Gym. Also, big thanks to © Matt Lowber Photography for the picture!"

-Alex Fritz


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