In the Rocky Mountains, Alpine ibex goats are equipped with split toes specifically for scaling the cliffs of their rugged environment.
Humans don’t necessarily have the same evolutionary advantage, but that impediment won’t be such a hindrance for climbers this weekend at Urban Rocks Gym.
What: Summer series boulder competition
When: Friday, June 21, 6-10 p.m.
Where: 1007 Appling St.
How much: Free for gym members to compete, $10 for nonmembers to compete, free for spectators
The Amnicola Highway facility will host the first of a three-part bouldering competition this Friday, June 21. The second is scheduled for July 19, and the third—a final showdown of top climbers from the first two competitions—will be Aug. 23.
“Of the different types of climbing, bouldering is far more social than roped climbing, for instance,” Rebecca Robran, Urban Rocks Gym co-owner, said. “Participants tend to ‘work’ a problem to figure out how to get to the top. It is very high energy, with many climbers trying problems throughout the gym while being cheered on by both spectators and other competitors. It ends up being a fun and energetic atmosphere.”
In the three prior years, up to 250 competitors have participated. The gym expects to see 60 to 100 men and women in each of the five categories: recreational, intermediate, advanced, open and junior.
Keeping with the social nature of the sport, climbers will be tackling problems—the set of handholds and footholds that are arranged to form a course up the wall—simultaneously all over the facility.
Each participant has a full three hours to attempt and complete as many of his or her category’s 10 problems as possible to gain as many points as possible. Robran described the night as “friendly and low-key,” with individual climbers serving as judges for their fellow competitors.
Urban Rocks Gym co-owner Chris Gibson will be creating 40 new problems for each of the Friday events, tailoring the courses to provide challenges for all levels of skill.
“[Chris] has been setting professionally for five years and is one of the few setters in the region with setting certifications from USA Climbing, the national governing body of competition climbing in the United States,” Robran said. “Urban Rocks has a variety of experienced setters that create unique sequences for each climbing problem.”
Outdoor company La Sportiva will also be on hand with a collection of sample shoes that climbers can test at no cost while completing their problems.
In addition, Urban Rocks Gym will sell raffle tickets to raise funds for the American Alpine Club, a multifaceted, nonprofit organization that works on a national level to support climbing as a sport and hobby. The Chattanooga event funds are earmarked for the organization’s Live Your Dream Grant, which provides financial backing for individual climbers to check a particular adventure off their bucket lists.
“In past years, the gym has raised money for Siskin Children’s Hospital, the Access Fund and the Chattanooga Area Food Bank,” Robran said. “The American Alpine Club was a great fit for this year, as they help climbers around the country protect and preserve outdoor spaces and climbing areas.”