I’m on my way to the Windy City Gritty bouldering competition at Brooklyn Boulders. I don’t entirely know what that means—I mean, it involves bouldering, but I’m not sure about how it becomes competitive—but I’m doing it. And assuming my phone works the way I hope, I’ll be liveblogging the competition (at least, the bits that are interesting or entertaining to me) with updates throughout the day. So keep watching. Pad my readership stats!
Update: 7:44 am. I’m on the bus and my phone found this post, eventually, to edit. So that’s a good thing.
Here’s what I know about what’s going down today:
- It’s a competition.
- Bouldering is the skill that will be the subject of the competition.
- There are four divisions, and I’m entered in the beginner (lowest) one.
- Check-in starts at 9; instructions will be given at 9:45, and climbing in my division (and advanced, which is the 2nd highest division) will take place from 10-12.
Here’s what I don’t know. Or at least, what I know I don’t know.
- What problems need to be climbed.
- How many climbs make up the competition.
- How you get scored.
- Whether I’ll be close to other climbers score-wise or if I’m just there to provide a floor.
- Just how public it’s gonna be. Is there gonna be a crowd just… staring? ‘Cause, weird.
- Will the crowd be nice? Or hostile? Or worst, patronizing?
We shall, I suppose, see.
Update: 9:35 am
I’m here, and still confused, but I’ve got a guess. There are problems set up in stations around the gym, thusly:
Beyond that: check in was fine, and the fee swag is good for a $20 event: a t-shirt, 2 water bottles, a backpack, and a bunch of paper ad things that I haven’t looked through yet.
Update: 9:55 am
Part of my scorecard. Apparently you get extra points for brief nudity.
Update: 10:52 am
Here’s how it works: you go wherever you want, and climb whatever you want, but you only get one attempt before you go to the back of the line. An hour in, I’ve got one easy problem completed, a stupid fall on another easy one where my foot slipped, the completion of that one, and a good fall on a harder problem because there was a hold around the corner that was less supporting than I expected.
Update: 12:18 pm
And it’s all over except the raffle.
I’m extremely confident in my nonwinningness, at least for the climbing. One more bit about the comp: your top 5 scores count. And I only completed 4 problems. (85, 140, 120, and 180 points, if you’re counting.) That wasn’t exactly a tragedy-once I realized that I wasn’t likely to compete for a prize, I focused on routes that looked fun but we’re probably a bit above my ability. (The “good fall” I mentioned above was one of them-I think I can get it eventually, but it’s a bit beyond me today.)
Due to the nature of the competition and the crowd-about 200 climbers and 8 stations, there was a real limit to the number of times you can climb. So strategy plays a role if you are trying to win. The one-shot-and-then-to-the-back-of-the-line approach was an obvious necessity for traffic management, although it also added pressure until I realized that was stupid and I should just enjoy climbing.
Which makes me wonder if I’ll do another event like this. It was put on really well, and I’m glad I did it, and I enjoyed it, but I don’t know that I enjoyed it more than my regular climbing sessions. Of course, my regular climbing sessions aren’t that regular, and I’m not really using them toward any specific goal, so there’s a limit to what a competition like this would do for a person like me.
Of course, now that I know what’s going on, it might be interesting to see how much I could improve my score. Numbers are numerical like that, aren’t they?
Update: 12:51 pm
Swag’s not the reason to do something like this, but I’m not unimpressed. (Though the chair is not included.)
Update: 6:55 pm
A few other things, now that I’ve had the chance to process:
- One particularly neat thing: There was a woman there climbing who brought her kid. The kid was still in his stroller, maybe a year or 18 months old. He was cute. I’m surprised he wasn’t competing too. Kids are annoyingly good at climbing.
- The atmosphere was a lot of fun overall. There was a big crowd, but there were lots of things happening—it wasn’t like everyone was watching you to see if you pass or fail.
- I hope the problems don’t get reset for a while. There were several that I really enjoyed trying and hope to be able to complete in the nigh future.
- I’m still not sure whether I like the competitive atmosphere or not. It certainly makes stupid slips a lot more annoying, since you can’t get right back up and do the problem again without going through the line. I think it’s probably good occasionally, but it’s definitely not healthy as a steady diet for me.
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