Hardrock juniors coach, Philip Goebel, puts together a convincing argument for supporting climbing competitions
Sport climbing competitions have been growing around the world as the Bouldering World Cup and Lead Climbing World Cup circuits have obtained an international profile, attracting thousands of in-person and online spectators. Even the super-serious, suit-and-tie publication, The Economist, has reported on the growth of the sport, with particular mention of competition climbing.
There are some climbers who lament the growth of the sport and raise questions about the future direction of the sport. These questions were particularly rampant across the climbing world after the Olympics and while it’s an important issue I want to make a case for why you should support the local competition scene.
Climbing comps make our gyms better. The experience that route-setters and organisers get by putting on a comp have long lasting positive benefits for the gym. Routes are the final product of climbing gyms and building a skillful, diverse team of setters can be challenging for any gym. Regulars at climbing gyms know that a consistent rotation of quality routes keep things fresh and motivates everyone equally to finish projects and try new ones. At comps, route-setters are challenged to set something unique, which is fun for climbers as well as a crowd pleaser and setting routes which need to serve a very specific purpose is an important experience for setters to grow and consistently set better routes throughout the year. The process of organising a competition also helps to build a more cohesive team of staff making gyms run better and providing a better service to our climbing community.
Competitions support youth programs at climbing gyms. Because many younger climbers don’t have the same opportunity to get outside, comps are an important source of motivation to train hard and measure improvement. Goals are an important part of any training program and performance at climbing comps provides excellent goals for younger climbers to focus on. A strong and vibrant youth climbing program is important to nourish the next generation of climbers that help our sport to progress as well as inspire established climbers to work as hard as young climbers. There’s nothing better to strip you of your excuses than watching a 10-year-old pull through the crux move of your project that you had written off as ‘too reachy’.
Climbing comps help build a strong and cohesive local climbing community. Comps are an opportunity for the community to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate athletic excellence. Indeed, we call them competitions but really they are festivals and the only way to have an organised climbing session with all your friends at the same time with limited wall space. Even at the elite level you see World Cup rivals having a good time, helping each other as they preview routes with smiles on their faces. Elite climbers know that World Cup comps are not about who is the better climber but rather who climbed better that day. Competitors focus on what they can control – their own performance – and never hope that a fellow competitor will fall but rather cheer for each other to perform their very best. These behaviours reflect positive climbing community values that we should encourage and try to emulate as much as possible to elevate the local grassroots scene.
As a community we spend a lot of time in our climbing facilities. Hosting climbing comps are one way climbing gyms try to give back to the community, they are expensive and very time consuming to put on. If the climbing community wants better climbing gyms, climbers need to support the existence of comps through attendance. No matter what your ability or chance at placing well, and even if it means missing out on one weekend outside.
Hardrock in Melbourne is hosting a lead comp on September 15th. The first one they’ve hosted in a while. Come and support it by climbing! Registration deadline is 12 September, you can register at either Hardrock facilities or by phone. Click here for details.