Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The First Semiperiodic Garage Bouldering Competition and Barbeque in Nishiokoppe

This is bouldering

Last weekend, my garage bouldering wall had its first real public debut, in the form of a (extremely casual) climbing competition and (deadly serious) barbecue! Everything went off without a hitch... more or less. Hitches encountered were small and easily surmounted. Well, they could have been bigger. Nobody died.

None of these holds broke and injured anybody. Success!

I worked overtime to make sure I had at least part of the vertical section up on the wall, which I thought would help with developing problems that beginners could do. More than half of the attendees had little or no climbing experience, and having this section proved to be a good idea, especially with the kids.
Preparing to climb. Safety first!

In the context of Hokkaido spring, the weather was fair: almost ten degrees above freezing and not actively downpouring. Although the competition took place in the garage, barbecuing and general grab-assery were slated for the yard outside, so the off-and-on drizzle posed a problem. We solved the problem with several beers, a few feet of twine, a big tarp, and two convenient laundry poles, but due perhaps to the beer nobody actually thought to take a picture of our makeshift shelter. This regret will live with me until my dying day.

Let the climbing begin!

The format of the "competition" was, let us say, "casual". I prepared eight problems in four ranks of ascending difficulty, and originally had the idea of giving each climber five minutes to try each problem before putting the next one up. Since I was trying to cook and mark problems at the same time, I quickly decided that timekeeping was simply too much work.

The green one! The OTHER green one!

When everyone had climbed a given problem, I marked the next one in chalk- the school kind, not the hand kind. This was super-visible and worked great for the first few, but turned out to be a bit tough to erase. I'm not sure if I'd do it this way again.

Which way is up?
Setting interesting and enjoyable problems on a wall the size of mine required some creative thinking. A few of the problems had foot goals- to complete the problem, the feet had to be placed on a specific hold. This worked out well and added a lot of length. Another option was downclimb problems- start at the top and get to a hold near the bottom, which really changes it up.  Adding these variations helped keep it interesting, given that the only others were really short straight climbs and traverses.

Potential for head injury: fun!

I learned a lot from hosting this event, and would like to do it again. A few kids from the village even showed up and tried their hand at climbing; this is where the vertical wall really saw a lot of use.

Pictured: not a village kid

I even cued up music for each of the sets of problems, but I turned out to not have an extension cord. Added that to the shopping list for next time, along with more seating.

This was probably a foot goal problem

Some things I would change for next time: more cameras. We only really had one camera, which means limited pictures and angles.

Sometimes holds need tightening... mid-climb

I'd also give myself less to do at once. I tried to cook, run the competition, socialize, and take pictures all at the same time... it didn't work. Better organization would help things run more smoothly, even if it is just a casual event.

The Magic of Climbing

All in all, though, a great night and a reassuring sign that my construction techniques, although perhaps let's say "unorthodox", were sufficient to create a structure capable of being climbed on all night without murdering anybody. So that's good. Hope next time will be even bigger and better, and thanks for reading!

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