Gravity is the law — there’s no getting around it. But laws can be broken. And if civil disobedience is your cup of tea, then you might want to consider entering (or at least watching) the climbing competitions at this year’s Mountain Sports Festival presented by RBC Centura.

Scofflaws will undoubtedly be flouting Newton’s most notable legacy in grand style during the Summer Pump Bouldering Comp. Battle the wall (in this case, the Montford Community Center’s indoor climbing wall) while fighting the law — this is the stuff revolutions are made of. Fear not, though: There’s loads of foam padding awaiting those who fall victim to the law — and fall from the wall.

At some Mountain Sports Festival events, it’s tough being a spectator — the paddling and cycling competitions, for example, tend to pass you by in an instant. But the bouldering event is easy on the eyes. The format will enable multiple climbers to scrabble and stretch simultaneously, meaning the wall will be literally crawling with competitors. Climbing competition director Michelle Lancaster calls the arrangement “organized chaos.” To be sure, there’ll be nonstop action, but unlike traditional outdoor climbing, indoor bouldering aims for simplicity. One big difference is that bouldering is done without all the ropes, carabiners and other tools of the trade. Instead, competitors face off against the wall and other climbers in a minimalist scramble over specially designed obstacles (or “bouldering problems,” as Lancaster calls them) — and the action never ranges more than a few feet off the ground.

If you doubt climbing’s growing popularity in the area, consider Lancaster herself, who’s turned her love for climbing into a part-time job as the city of Asheville’s official climbing coordinator. Her office is in the Montford Community Center, mere steps away from the city’s newest indoor climbing wall. Wall Street habitues, meanwhile, have long since grown accustomed to the sight of folks scrambling up the indoor and outdoor walls at Climbmax, the granddaddy of local climbing centers. Lancaster credits some of that growth to the sport’s hybrid appeal: “It’s an individual sport that you can enjoy with friends.”

This year’s Mountain Sports Festival features two days of climbing events. Young climbers can come out for the Kids’ Climbing Carnival, slated for Friday, May 7 from 4-6 p.m. Kids under 14 can try their luck on the big wall in a timed top-rope competition. Belayers will be on hand to run the ropes, and there’ll be prizes and T-shirts for all registered climbers.

The next day (Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), all levels of climbers are invited to test their skills in the Summer Pump Bouldering Comp. Open to climbers ages 13 and up, the event is divided into three categories: a coed junior division for the younger set (ages 13-17), plus male and female divisions for adult climbers. All participants can compete as either novices, intermediates or advanced climbers. Judging will follow a redpoint format, meaning climbers will have three chances to secure the most points, but the scoring will favor those who conquer the course on their first attempt. The actual climbing route itself will be kept secret until the day of the event, but Boulder Comp participants who want to get in some last-minute climbing can visit the Montford Community Center on Friday, May 7 from 6-9 p.m. The fee to take a test climb is $5 per person; there’s also a $2 equipment-rental fee for folks who don’t bring their own. And those with a hankering to scale the heights can enlist the services of a belayer ($9 per hour). All climbers must be certified by Asheville Parks and Recreation for rope climbing.

Kids’ Climbing Carnival

Kids under 14 can go head-to-head in a timed top-rope competition Friday, May 7 from 4-6 p.m. There’ll be belayers to run the ropes.

Summer Pump Bouldering Comp

Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Montford Center. Open to climbers ages 13 and up in three categories: junior division (ages 13-17, coed), plus male and female adult divisions. Participants can compete as either novice, intermediate or advanced climbers. Judging will follow a redpoint format.


The Montford Community Center (253-3714) is at 34 Pearson Drive in Montford. To get there, take the Montford Avenue exit off Interstate 240. Travel north on Montford Avenue (away from downtown). At the first traffic light, turn left on Chestnut Street (you’ll see a sign for the Montford complex). At the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, turn left onto Pearson Drive. The building will be on the right.


Registration for both competitions is $20 per person (through May 5), $30 per person May 6-7. For advance registration, visit the Montford Community Center between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week (including Sunday). On race day, check-in/registration starts at 9 a.m.


Climbing Carnival: Prizes and T-shirts for all registered climbers.

Bouldering Comp: The top male and female in each category will receive handmade awards. Everyone who registers will be given a T-shirt and a swag bag. In addition, door prizes will be given away throughout the competition. climbers.

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