Nothing better than a group road trip to start the season off. The BoulderHouse Ambassadors; Becca Frangos, Finn Battersby, and Tosh Sherkat (me) headed off to Portland for the Portland Boulder Rally (PBR) 2019 edition. This competition is one of the largest indoor recreation events in North America. No typo, recreation events, not just climbing event. It also boasts a pretty swell cash purse; the winner walked home with $3000 USD. That’s $3,954.32 Canadian. Almost tuition money right there.
So after Becca finally let me parallel park her car on the empty street outside Finn’s place (she’s from Alberta, give her a break), Finn’s dad, Keith, gave us a ride to the ferry. Oh yeah, Keith is also a climber (as well as a former national team rower), and crushes at BoulderHouse. Kyle Murdoch, one of my buddies from my youth climbing years (#ancient), picked us up on the other end and we were on our way!
The funny thing about Portland is that every year I think “the drive isn’t that long, it’s only like 5 hours!” It’s not. It’s a very real 8 hours. So after our grueling drive we bunked up in our Airbnb and did our pre-comp routine; watching endless episodes of Parks and Recreation (get it together Canadian Netflix).
The pure organization of an event this level is really fantastic, and a huge shout-out to the organizers of PBR and the owners of the Circuit Climbing Gym for making this event happen. Our round started right at 11am, airhorn and all. While I could describe a lot of boulders for you, I might just let the photos do the talking. For some reason they didn’t get a shot of Becca… maybe she wasn’t tall enough for the frame? Who knows. Enjoy:
All in all it was a really fun day. It’s so great to practice the competition mindset, especially being from a smaller place in Canada where it is hard to get a big field at any competition, and have the setters really go to town on the boulders. The format was scramble. For those who don’t know; scramble format is where the setters have set lots of boulders (usually between 50 and 100, in this case it was 118) and all the competitors have 3 hours to climb in them as many attempts as they want. Attempts only count as tie breakers, and each competitors top 5 boulders are added towards their final score (each boulder is given a point value). The boulders had so many jumps in this comp, weird and coordinated (sort of you know? It was ‘merica what did you expect), with just really bad crimps. Like I took three days off after because the crimps were so bad. The group placings were Finn in 10th, myself in 11th, Becca in 12th, and Kyle finished 17th.
I really appreciate having a competition at the beginning of my season, before the real meat of my training has started. I find it gives me this sense of groundedness, I’m reminded of why I spend all this time in the gym, through Sendtember and Rocktober where most rock climbers should be out crushing their dream lines; I love the gruel, I love the grind, I love the way the gym smells and the chalk in my eyes and my lungs, and these comps are just the icing on the cake of all that. Gonna be honest, not the biggest fan of splitters, could do without those.
The rest of the season is going full bore for the BH ambassadors. I competed at Pop and Lock 4 in Kelowna, and SCBC local competition with points towards provincial ranking, and finished 3rd. Finn just competed at November Sessions in Coquitlam and placed 3rd. Our focus is now on Provincials at the end of November, and Regionals which will be hosted at BoulderHouse in mid December. Home gym advantage! Come on out and cheer us on! Becca’s competition schedule is a little different, she’s decided to forego the national bouldering season in favour of training for her Olympic qualifier event, the Pan American Championships which will happen sometime in February. Good luck Becca!
As a final note, it’s my pleasure to announce Finn Battersby as the newest member of the BoulderHouse ambassador team… this was decided by Rob after he beat me at Portland… so if you’re looking to get on the team, you know what you need to do!