On Friday, Dec. 14, the newly renovated Ritt Kellogg Climbing Gym at Colorado College had an even newer, fresher feel. In addition to all the new bouldering problems, Christmas lights, and snowflakes draped across the ceiling, Christmas music replaced the usual jams. After the gym was closed all of third week for route-setting, excited CC climbers were finally allowed to re-enter for an ugly sweater-themed climbing competition.
Senior Chris Dickson rallied the climbers and laid down the ground rules. Each of the new problems was graded between 100 and 3800 points. Climbers who wished to compete for prizes took score cards to record their top five climbs , operating on the familiar honor system.
Some climbers approached quietly, scoping out each route thoroughly before calmly chalking up and placing their hands on the start. Some mimed the routes with their hands as their eyes traced its path. However, the vast majority were loud and festive. Boisterous gangs of friends charged from one route to the next, cheering each other on and routinely imitating legendary climbers like Adam Ondra and his characteristic screams, or Chris Sharma and his “tsyeeeaah!” as he lunges for a crimp.
Amidst the yelling and snowflakes, freshman Galina Parfenov was quiet and focused. A competitive climber, she admitted, “I basically just look for the high numbers.”
Other climbers, such as Dickson and sophomore Zach Keskinen, were chatty and helpful. Both eagerly explained their strategies and opinions. Dickson stated that before attempting a route, he always scopes out the holds – are they easy, but with hard moves in between, or are they crimpy (small) and difficult but with easy transitions?
Keskinen said he likes “juggy” (big) holds. He also added that it would be nice to see more easy problems in the gym in the future.
Junior Mareya Bucker has similar sentiment regarding the gym and routes, saying she looks for handholds but ignores her feet, and that although she loves the CC gym, it would be nice to see a wider array of top-roping sport climbs.
As the competition drew to a close, it shifted to a spectator event, with the vast majority of the participants sitting and watching a select few attempt difficult and upside-down problems. One of the most vocal spectators was senior Leland Krych.
“Competition is a good way to bring new people in. Also, this competition is festive and fun,” Krych said.
He added that his main goal is to find fun problems, and repeated the common request of more routes, but with a twist. He would like to see more time for the route-setters to set; as of right now, they are only allowed to work on the weekends. Since many of them are climbers who go off-campus on weekends to climb or camp, this limited time slot makes it difficult to find time to put in hours and add variety to keep the community interested.
Parfenov walked away with a prize, as did fellow freshman Mark Parlier. The prizes were, like the competition, fun and festive and everyone walked out of the gym happy and ready to enjoy the rest of their Friday night.