Boulderers defy gravity at Teva |

Boulderers defy gravity at Teva

David L'Heureux

VAIL – The rock climbing portion of the Teva Mountain Games kicked off Friday at the Vail Athletic Club’s indoor climbing facility with the bouldering competition.

Professional and amateur climbers from all over North America turned up to test their skills on some of the toughest routes organizers could come up with.

Bouldering, which is a discipline of climbing in which no ropes are used, is a very physically-demanding endeavor. It requires competitors to navigate overhangs, sideways routes and to attempt some dyno-climbing maneuvers where the climber literally leaps from one hold to the next.

The routes, or problems as they are called in competition, were the brainchildren of the Boulder Rock Club’s Matt O’Connor and the Vail Athletic Club’s Mark Krasnow, who oversees the daily operations at the climbing wall.

Tyler Silverman and Zack Roth, two advanced-class competitors from Boulder, said the problems were super challenging, but fair.

“The wall was set up really well,” said the 17-year-old Silverman. “There was a lot of variety up there today.”

The competition was broken up into two, two-hour open climbing sessions. The first two hours were devoted to the beginner, intermediate and advanced classes. The second session was for the elite climbers.

Competitors were encouraged to try as many of the 40 problems as possible. The top-five problems completed were counted towards each individual’s final score. Potential ties are broken by subtracting the points from a competitor’s score for every attempt they make at each problem.

“With this competitive of a field there has to be some sort of tiebreaker,” said O’Connor. “It’s not that unlikely that the majority of elite men could complete all of the hardest problems. In that case, number of attempts would help us determine the ultimate winner.”

If you’ve never been to a rock climbing competition before, it is truly amazing. Not only are there awesome feats of strength and agility being performed before your very eyes, there is also a palpable sense of camaraderie amongst the competitors, who are simultaneously competing against and cheering for one another.

“It was a great turnout today for competitors and spectators alike,” said an enthusiastic Krasnow. “It’s a great atmosphere for a competition.”

Some standouts on the day were 16-year-old Emily Harrington from Boulder, John Stack and Obe Carrion, who all compete on the national level and led the charge up the V.A.C.’s climbing wall.

“It was great to have this level of competition here,” said Krasnow. “A lot of these people are people who travel around the world and climb for a living.

Any area climbers interested in seeing some of the best climbing in the world should stay tuned to the Teva Mountain Games as there is Dyno Climbing today at 4:30 p.m., and Speed Climbing at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

David L’Heureux is a freelance writer based in Vail.

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