Rocktoberfest to rock a bit bigger this year

Gress: Event to be jam format, 'very low pressure'

Posted: Friday, October 23, 2009

Juneau's local climbing gym is hosting the third annual Rocktoberfest fall climbing competition and the fourth annual Reel Rock Film Tour this Friday and Sunday, Oct 23 and 25.

Joel Irwin / Juneau Empire File
Joel Irwin / Juneau Empire File

Organizer Tyler Gress said the weekend is all about local climbers celebrating their love for the sport.

"Fall is the time when a lot of our local climbers rediscover The Rock Dump," Gress said. "The weather has gotten bad and the snow hasn't come yet, and indoor climbing is a great answer to that. That's part of why we have the competition at this time of year. It's a fun welcome for the old faces that come back year after year."

This year's competition will boast a Halloween-themed atmosphere, hundreds of dollars to win in prizes and new holds on the climbing walls.

But the event is not just for climbing aficionados, Gress said. It's for everyone - even beginners.

"We always have a few youngsters come out for every competition, and they usually surprise everyone by doing so well," he said. "We use a jam format, which means everyone spreads out, picks some problems and just works on them for a few hours together. It's not like 'all eyes on you' or anything - it's very low pressure, and the community is very supportive of newcomers."

As far as the films go, Gress said the movies, beginning at 8 p.m. Friday at Centennial Hall, are "top notch, visually immersive and beautiful." A package that climbers and non-climbers alike are sure to enjoy.

"Climbing movies are something that even non-climbers can watch and stay tuned into the whole time," he said. "It's kind of like watching BBC's 'Planet Earth.' The landscapes and scenic shots are eye candy, and the climbing this year will blow your mind."

One film features a 20-year-old free-soloing walls that are thousands of feet tall in Zion and Yosemite National Parks. Additionally, Gress said there's plenty of travel footage, a variety of climbing, BASE jumping and alpine adventures.

This is the first year organizers at the local climbing gym have packaged the events into one weekend and are offering discounted tickets for anyone interested in attending both functions.

"We have shown movies in the past, and we have had competitions in the past, but this year, we're trying to make it more of a cohesive Rocktoberfest weekend," Gress said. "Almost everyone who is interested enough to compete on Sunday will be beating down the door of Centennial Hall Friday night to see these new climbing films, so it made sense to let them buy tickets to both at the same time and save a little money."

Cost to compete Sunday is $15 in advance or $20 at the door. They can be purchased at either The Rock Dump or at Centennial Hall on Friday. Tickets for only the film tour are $10 at the door, or $7 in advance at The Rock Dump. University of Alaska Southeast student competition tickets are $10 (contact Cory Hansen at the Recreation Center). Spectators are free.

Gress said he hopes the films inspire people to compete on Sunday.

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