Community sports

Climbing goes inside Albuquerque: where a competition is also a fiesta

By Sheila Miller
For The Taos News
Posted 10/25/18

Stone Age Climbing Gym hosted its annual Yank-N-Yard competition Oct. 19 and 20, with participants of many ages and experience levels and a $6,000 purse for anyone …

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Community sports

Climbing goes inside Albuquerque: where a competition is also a fiesta

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Stone Age Climbing Gym hosted its annual Yank-N-Yard competition Oct. 19 and 20, with participants of many ages and experience levels and a $6,000 purse for anyone willing and able to climb for it.

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that does not involve ropes. Bouldering climbs are typically more boulderlike than clifflike in height and are called "problems," a reflection of the fact that figuring out how to climb them can be just as hard as actually doing it.

The Yank-N-Yard took place in three rounds: the USA Climbing Youth Local Competition with 97 climbers, an Adult Citizens' Competition among 137, and an Open Competition (the one with the cash prizes) with 41 participants. The open qualifier was on Friday evening, followed by the youth and citizens' competitions Saturday morning and afternoon.

The top five climbers from the open qualifier on Friday night were invited to on-sight (which means climbing without practicing or prior information) four boulder problems Saturday at 6:30 p.m. before a packed house of hundreds of cheering spectators. One distinction that sets indoor climbing apart from other sports is that the fans cheer for every climber and every attempt, even each move. Most climbing fans are climbers who know how difficult it is.

Climbing requires power, balance, agility and tremendous core strength. Unlike most other activities, climbing also demands finger strength, the ability to support and move one's entire body weight while clinging to tiny or awkward holds. All of these traits were on full display Saturday evening after a community event that included food, live music, beer and the celebration of the citizen participants and winners. (Those winners were Josh Kawane for the men's division and Alila Allen for the women's.)

The problem setters (the people who make up the climbs for the athletes) created an entertaining set of eight problems, four men's and four women's, that had the competitors flying through the air (both up and down) and demonstrating their abilities to balance with their feet on the smallest of cracks and their bodies in virtually any position.

Two climbers at a time, one man and one woman, had four minutes to puzzle out and complete a problem. The other competitors were not allowed to observe. There were four rounds.

The first men's problem sent dozens of attempts sailing through the air though Matt Luntz managed to crack the code. The problem required not only one dyno (a move where the climber must loose contact with the wall completely and jump upward to a new hold) but a double dyno. Luntz had to do it twice, however, as the final move was also tricky. He stuck it the second time he reached it and was the only one to solve the problem. Luntz continued his streak, completing every problem and winning the men's Open Competition.

The winner on the women's side was Abigail Czajkowski, who demonstrated overall strength, power, control and mental prowess in every round.

The gym plans to host another Yank-N-Yard as part of next year's Prime8 Southwestern Climbing Festival.

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