Elizabeth Cuskelly reports on a massive weekend of bouldering in Queensland
The Urban Climb Bouldering Festival 2014 – Powered by Pinnacle Sports once again delivered a fantastic weekend for both the social and the more serious competitors. A strong cohort of 342 climbers from Queensland and further afield competed over the two days in Australia’s largest Pumpfest. The massive $15,000 prize pool up for grabs was a great incentive, with the freebies flying the whole weekend – everything from lollypops to boulder pads were up for grabs.
A team of 16 routesetters dedicated countless hours to transform the whole of Urban Climb into a bouldering haven, helped out along the way by large amounts of caffeine. A total of 132 problems were created for the Pumpfest round, with each problem tested, tweaked, and graded by the setters and an army of 30 volunteer ‘testers’.
The Saturday morning session showcased what the youngsters in the sport had to offer, and, as always, it was brilliant to see kids as young as seven enjoying their chance to try out some of the quality problems there were to choose from. One of those to venture up from the south was Angie Scarth-Johnson, and it was inspiring to watch not only Angie, but all of the younger competitors, put 100 per cent into every problem. In the afternoon session the older youth categories, juniors and masters competitors also all put on an impressive show.
Sunday saw the Open categories get their turn to try out the problems, and there were plenty of thrills and spills to keep the crowd entertained. The mantle top-out on one problem guaranteed the beached whale technique was on display, while some of the slab problems tested balance and flexibility – which for some people seemed to result in a few spectacular tumbles.
The routesetters leveled the playing field a little for the finals, making good use of the 32 HRT volumes that were fresh off a long haul international flight to make it in time for the weekend. Personally, as a competitor, there was a certain thrill that came with having new holds to play on in your local gym, and it also nullified some of the home ground advantage of having an in-depth knowledge of the usual gym holds. We were all back to square one, with viewing time being full of questions – ‘Is that a sloper? Where is the positive edge on that?’ It’s hard to fully commit to a hold you have no knowledge of.
The Open A and B finals were in the four plus minute format with plenty to keep the audience entertained – four males and four females made their attempts at any one time. Open B was a closely contested category, with not much separating the finalists, especially in the female category. The problems for both males and females were varied and showcased a wide range of climbing styles, with the final move on one of the Men’s B problems throwing everyone off, meaning it was one of the few problems to remain unsent over the weekend.
As a finalist, there was a nervous energy that was magnified by being able to hear the crowd react to fellow competitors attempts, but being unable to see their progress for yourself. The Open A female problems were a fantastic mix of technical, balancy climbing with a few powerful moves thrown in for good measure. Kumari Barry impressed with four from four in the finals to take top place on the podium, although international competitor Madeleine Eppensteiner and local young gun Liliana Scacheri both put on impressive displays to take second and third respectively.
The routesetters definitely pulled out all the stops for the Open males, creating some show-stopping, audience-pleasing dynos and one crazy straddle, which saw Matt Cochrane take out his second state title this year. Kuei-Chi Peng and Campbell Harrison sealed second and third place with some very quick ascents of the easier two problems
All in all it was a fantastic competition – any weekend when it can be said that 4085 problems were topped has got to be good. And as with any competition, there is a list as long as the event itself of people that made the whole thing happen. The start of that very long list includes Urban Climb, Pinnacle Sports, K2, ICP, Climb Media, all the route setters and the army of volunteers – thanks for once again creating a fantastic weekend of bouldering and entertainment.