By Philip Kiely
Grinnell’s Rock Climbing Club has recently branched out to participating in climbing competitions (comps) across Iowa. Last semester, a small group of students went to Climb Iowa for a comp, and there are plans to attend four more this semester.
“Stuart [Hoegh ’17] and I just like climbing, so we were like ‘why not get people together to start doing some competitions.’ Competitions are fun, one, because you get to meet other people, and two, you get to climb on something different,” said Robin Crotteau ’17.
Competitions provide climbers with a unique test of skills. Generally, participants have a set amount of time to attempt as many routes as they can.
“There’s different types of competitions, the ones that we’re going to, a lot of people think that it is [scored on] speed, it’s not, it’s [scored on] difficulty. These are called Red Point competitions … you have three hours to climb as many routes as you want or can,” Crotteau explained. “The easier routes have lower scores, the harder routes have higher scores and so they take your top five routes and they tabulate that and the person with the top score wins.”
Like many other sports and activities, there are various divisions that climbers compete in. “There’s usually beginner, intermediate and advanced divisions, then it’s divided by gender,” Crotteau said.
“That’s something that we like to emphasize: there’s different divisions. If you’re a beginner, you’re welcome to come and you might win. If you don’t win, you still have a shot at taking home some free stuff that’s pretty cool because they usually have raffles at the end where you can win some really cool prizes,” Hoegh said.
There are prizes in every division, as well as sometimes costume contests or raffles.
“They have stuff like crash pads, tee shirts, chalk bags, there’s always chalk, stickers, just gear from climbing and outdoor companies that they want to give to people at the competition,” Crotteau said.
Hoegh added that he won his new favorite sweatshirt at the most recent comp.
The club is taking people to several comps at various Iowa colleges this semester.
“[Our goal is to] bring home a gold for Grinnell, get in the trophy case,” Hoegh said.
According to Hoegh and Crotteau, the competitions are not usually overly competitive, and are instead more like gatherings with prizes. Both Hoegh and Crotteau recommend beginners to try their luck.
“Especially with Saturdays at this time of year…you can’t really do much outside, there’s not really a whole lot going on, so it’s a good way to spend a Saturday,” Hoegh said.
The competitions will be at other colleges, so they are also a good way to meet other students.
“The next comps are at different colleges, so, whereas the last comp we went to was a lot of adults and kids, these are mostly college-aged kids, so it will be cool to meet other college kids that also like to climb and see what other walls do at other colleges, see how they set their stuff up,” Hoegh said.
The College and the climbing wall cover the cost of travel and admission, and the wall provides shoes and harnesses. Participants only need to know how to belay to compete.
“Grinnell has so much great funding so it was kind of like ‘why not?’” Crotteau said.
The next two competitions are Feb. 11 and 25. In April, they plan on attending an outdoor climbing competition. To sign up for a competition email Hoegh at [hoeghstu17] or Crotteau at [crotteau17].