Climbers, fans come out for competition

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A free bouldering and speed-climbing competition officially christened the new Balance Climbing store on Friday at the Rock Dump Indoor Climbing Gym.

A field of more than 40 climbers and a large sum of spectators gave the event a festive atmosphere.

"The competition went fantastic," said Paul Massad, who finished third in the bouldering event. "I was there for the first one a couple of months ago and there were a lot more participants and supporters. It was amazing."

Monica Puustinen, who tied for second in the women's bouldering competition, echoed Massad's sentiments.

"Tonight there was a lot more energy and I always like a good energy when I climb," she said. "I love it when there's a lot of people there and so tonight was really nice. Climbing for points kind of makes you try harder, too."

The bouldering competition was based on a system that varies with a climbing line's degree of difficulty.

The runs ranged from 100-point routes for beginners, 300- to 400-point routes for experienced climbers and a 600-point route that local climber John Malaby said he wouldn't even venture.

"To heck with that," Malaby said. "It is going to be pretty tough to top, dude."

Balance Climbing owners Brandon Howard, Tyler Gress and Jeremy Hansen combined more than 10 hours of labor preparing 30 new routes for the competition.

"This one is reachy, which just means that it is kind of a powerful route and there's some big moves involved," Malaby said of one particular run. "If you look at the gap there, you can see that it's about three feet between holds. Now for someone who doesn't have a lot of reach, they will have some serious issues getting to that."

In addition to the power moves, Malaby said technical routes entailed staying on smaller holds and doing major body contortions.

The speed climbing employed a single elimination format and drew the loudest applause of the night as climbers went one-on-one to see who could reach the top first.

"I had never been in a competition before and being neck-and-neck with someone was nerve-wracking, but kind of cool," Puustinen said.

In the men's finals, 6-foot Paul Disdier used his springboard-attack style to beat Hunter Brown. Brown finished a mere body length behind Disdier for second place.

In the women's bouldering competition, Kristen Dunlap edged Puustinen and Katie Krehlik for first place.

Courtesy of Jeremy Hansen

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