I began rock climbing last winter, 2014, and like mostly everything else, I got hooked immediately. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of challenges, atmosphere, people, and of course the fun. I love competition, I have ever since I was a kid playing all the sports I could, but seeing the great climbers at the gym really turned me away from entering any of the competitions my local gym held. Thankfully, this past October, a not-so-serious comp was held with more of an emphasis on hanging out and having a good time rather than beating the other competitors. It was called Rocktoberfest. Part Halloween party and part rock climbing contest.
A perfect fit for me, seeing as I had no idea what to expect. One thing that I was shocked about, was the amount of kids participating. Granted some were from the local college, but most were younger. Leaving the remainder of the age bracket to a few post-grads. The contest was broken down into three levels of competitors (beginner, intermediate, advance) and three different events (bouldering, speed wall bouldering, and top roping). I didn’t feel like a beginner seeing as I’d consider myself a V4/5.11- climber, so I entered the competition as an intermediate… along with most of the gym rats that I pegged to be professionals.
The competition was to be 3 hours long and we had unlimited attempts at the bouldering routes, 2 attempts on the speed wall, and 1 attempt at the top rope. Needless to say, this ended up being more than enough time for my level of conditioning. As the horn blasted to signal the start, everyone ran over to the routes to begin inspecting and attempting to climb them. Even though I was bigger than most, I was still pushed to the back of the line as the younger climbers flew up some of the more difficult routes. I finally, and politely, made my way to the front and took on a V4-V5 route I thought I could manage.
My hands were shaking since this was my first competition since playing in the National Championship when I was in college. A foothold here, a pinch there, a crimp at the second to last hold, and boom… I was back on the mat. Disappointed after not making it to the top on my first route, but satisfied at how far I got on my flash attempt.
I’d go climb a route, fail miserably, shoot the shit with some of the other climbers, then break out the camera and film some of the excellent climbing going on all around me, and repeat. I was having so much fun, it didn’t even feel like a competition that I was so used to participating in. I did have a shining moment on the speed wall putting up one of the top times of 5.28seconds. Most of the other climbers were posting times around 7seconds. But my glory was short lived when I attempted the intermediate top rope route. The judge on at that station “claimed” it was a 5.10-, so I expected to fly right up the holds. But like the rest of the routes I attempted, I failed miserably halfway through on two volumes that required a huge overhead heel hook leading into a set of sphere volumes. It wasn’t until the following week when they rated it a 5.11+ did I feel any sort of relief.
After we were done climbing, the 21yrs could crack some of the local beer that was provided and chow down on the barbecue that was cooked throughout the comp. I kept the camera rolling on some of the remaining climbers, crushing the last routes in the comp. One of the CRG guys broke out a spider-man suit and posed inverted at the top of a boulder route for everyone.
At the end of the comp, I had 1 successful boulder, a decent speed time, and a half climbed wall on my scorecard. As you could’ve guessed, I did not win. But I did leave with a ton of experience, new friends, a greater drive to be better, and…… The best costume award. Boom!
Adventure Doesn’t Find You…. You have to seek adventure.
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.