Climbing

[Bouldering competitions — climbing without fancy gear — take place noon-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 7 at ClimbMax on Wall Street. Finals run noon-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 8 at downtown Asheville’s City/County Plaza. The Dyno Competition is at 6 p.m., also at City/County Plaza. (BoulderMax is presented by ClimbMax and the Bier Garden.)]

You probably won’t see adventurers cutting off their own arms with a pocketknife and rappelling down a cliff with their remaining upper limb — as one rock climber in Utah did in early May after a boulder pinned him for days in a desert canyon. But that’s not to say that the climbing competition at the Mountain Sports Festival won’t draw a slew of intrepid souls.

This year’s climbing will be pure “bouldering” — no ropes, pitons, carabiners or other fancy gear, just shoes, pads, helmets and raw wits. Bouldering is equipment-light but skill-intensive — “minimalist” climbing, explains Jessica Tomasin of ClimbMax, which is hosting the two-day BoulderMax at ClimbMax and at City/County Plaza.

Consider the Dyno Competition, a “dynamic” contest which will test mountaineers’ mettle on a climbing wall sprinkled with projecting “holds.” From a low hold, competitors must jump, throw their hands up and grab onto the highest hold they can.

“I think we’ll probably get upwards of 100 competitors this year” from all over the Southeast, Tomasin predicts. She expects an especially high turnout this year because of the cash purses offered to the top-three male and female competitors in the open categories (there’ll also be age-category contests for all ages). The two-day “comp” will be in “red-point format,” which allows multiple tries per route.

There’ll even be music to climb by, as professional climbers Kurt and Elaina Smith spin tunes.

Saturday’s qualifying rounds will be held at ClimbMax while Sunday’s finals will take place on a specially erected wall in City/County Plaza. At ClimbMax, there’ll be climbing demonstrations and vendor booths, and Family Day discount rates (starting at 2 p.m.) for individuals and families who want to try their own hand at bouldering (up to the 12-foot limit line).

At the peak of the weekend, The Bier Garden will host a climbers’ party on Saturday night, emceed by the Smiths and featuring an Access Fund Raffle. (The Access Fund is a nonprofit organization that works to keep climbing areas open and maintained, and to educate climbers to minimize overpopulation and environmental damage in sensitive outdoor areas.)

Directions

ClimbMax, at 43 Wall St., is next to the Wall Street Parking Garage. Going west on Patton Avenue (away from downtown Asheville), turn right at Wick & Greene Jewelers (look for the tall clock). The next right is Wall Street, which is adjacent to the parking-garage entrance.

City/County Plaza is on the south side of College Street, a couple of blocks east of the Vance Monument and Pack Place. It stretches between the fire and police stations on its west end, and the Buncombe County Courthouse and City Hall on its east.

Registration

Preregistration on Saturday runs 9:30-10:30 a.m. Late registration is 10:30-11:30 a.m. A rules meeting runs 11:30 a.m.-noon. The registration fee is $35.

Awards

Finalists will be named at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday; finals start at noon on Sunday. Climbers may compete in the following categories: 12 and under; 13-19; 19-29; 30-plus; and in the “open category” (any age). Entrants under 18 need a parent’s signature.

A cash purse will be awarded on Sunday to the top-three male and female competitors in the open category: $300 for first-place winners, $150 for second place, and $50 for third.

Further info

Call ClimbMax at 252-9996, or visit www.climbmaxnc.com.

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