January 28, 2009

The Spot goes off for Climbing Comp (Yoga Slackline too!)

Photos and words by Ryan Nadlonek

January 24 2009

The Spot Bouldering Gym in Boulder, Colorado knows how to throw a good party. Their equation is this: take beautiful women and pair them with strong men, feed them free food and free beer, give them a DJ spinning dance music, and throw them at some really challenging boulder problems. Plus, each competition has its own theme; they’ve featured paintball and sumo wrestling in the past and for this comp, they ran a slackline 20-feet in the air and tied-in the area’s most balanced men and women.

Finals’ climbers Vanessa Compton (left) and Matt Wilder (right).

The high-line event was a best-trick competition with each slacker receiving three minutes to show their skills. Highlights included Greg Kalfa’s ballsy backflip attempt and Josh Beau’s superior balance, looking much more at home on the webbing than any other competitor, especially during his side-plank and other yoga-inspired moves.

John Beau yoga-asanas his way to the prize money.

The climbing finals featured the top six men and women from the three-hour qualifying round. They each had their turn working the final problem. The men’s problem started deep in a cave with some very difficult underclings and squeezes pulling on to a sloper-covered face. The women’s problem began with a sit-start and forced the women to climb nearly to the top before a downward-angled traverse and some power moves to the send.

The men’s problem appeared very challenging, with most of the competitors only able to complete three of the moves, but Keita Mogaki of Japan was able to send in three attempts. (Mogaki, 27, was in town to work some local boulders on Flagstaff Mountain including Trice (V13).) Routesetter Jonny Hork explained the finals problem: “We had made it harder, but they weren’t climbing as well as we thought they were, so we had to make adjustments during the break.” Hork thought that an excess of free beer could’ve been a factor in the (lack of) men’s performance.

Keita Mogaki of Japan showing the Americans how to be light.

The women’s final may have been the highlight of the event, with the finalists progressively high-pointing until both Chaunciena Cox and Robin Maslowski flashed the problem, forcing a duel. They re-climbed a problem both had sent in the qualifiers, making it a test of endurance. Cox tapped-out after almost topping-out, while Maslowski sent in two tries for a well-earned and exciting win.

Robin Maslowski looking embarrassed before easily slaying the final’s problem.

We chatted briefly with Maslowski after the final:

Congratulations, did you train? No…just climbing.
What do you think the grade of the final problem was? I have no clue about V-grades. I’m mostly a sport climber.
What are your thoughts on the final? Spicy! It kept me awake.
Why do you climb? Where do I start?! Too many reasons. Good people and it keeps me sane.

As climbers, most of the time we want to be out in nature and away from other people, so these competitions make a nice opportunity to connect as a community. Special thanks to The Spot for gathering such talented people together in this unique way and to event sponsors Trango, Evolve, and the Slackline Brothers.

Mens winners Matt Sherman (2nd), Keita Mogaki (1st), and Scott Schorr (3rd).

Highlining perspective.

Backflip attempt by Greg Kalfa.

DJ Gabrielle and Chaunciena Cox (Womens 2nd Place).

As the drama duel unfolds.

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