By Leah Jones, Features Editor


University of Missouri-St. Louis students and other members of the Recreation and Wellness Center (RWC) will soon have the chance to ascend to triumph and glory at UMSL’s first bouldering competition, which will be held on November 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the rock climbing wall.

Bouldering is a form of indoor rock climbing in which climbers free climb, or climb without the use of a harness or ropes, color-coded routes to the top of a “boulder.” Climbers do not need to use ropes or a harness because the boulder is only 12 to 15 feet high, and a thick mat cushions the bottom of the wall.  Since climbers can fall while bouldering though, so some people may find bouldering dangerous. “In my opinion, I feel that the bouldering competition will result in nothing but bodies hitting the mat,” said Carmelita Well, senior, photography, who works at the RWC.

Despite this, many UMSL students do boulder. These students can register for the free event at the RWC until 5:30 p.m. on November 15. Twenty five people will participate in the competition. They will be divided into two groups: the beginning and intermediate group, and the advanced group. The winners will receive free guest passes to Climb Soill, a popular rock climbing gym in downtown St. Louis, and coupons for free Jamba Juice.

“It was an event that we wanted to do last year but just never got around to it, so we made it happen this year,” said Sherman Brawner, senior, criminology and criminal justice, and climbing wall attendant at the RWC.

Brawner hopes that the event will foster the emerging climbing community at UMSL. “I think this event is significant because we’re trying to build a climbing community here at UMSL where people can have fun and be active while making friends who share their interests for adventure and trying new things. I’ve made a lot of friends from the climbing wall and want anyone who is interested in the community to feel like they can just come and check out any gear they need and come climb around! I want this event to foster that spirit at the wall,” he said.

Though this event will be competitive, the climbers often praise each other, talk through climbing “problems,” and offer suggestions about how to complete a route. This congenial attitude among climbers underlies one of the rules for the bouldering competition: climbers may not receive any instructions from other participants, staff, or observers.

Other rules stipulate that climbers will not be able to climb the routes prior to the start of the competition, and the order in which participants will climb each route will be chosen at random. Climbers will select five routes to climb during the competition. However, only their top three scores will be counted toward their final score.

This will allow participants to strategically select routes that they know will work better for their bodies and their strengths. Brawner explained that different climbers have different strengths. “So the common thought for most inexperienced climbers is that the taller you are, the more advantaged you are for climbing. And while this may be true some of the time, it is not always true. Routes that require a lot of compression type moves can be more difficult for taller people, so in that case being shorter can help significantly. Every route or boulder problem is the same way. The number of holds and the type of holds can be conducive to either tall climbers, short climbers, or both! All just depends,” he said.

Successful completion of a route will render a score of the difficulty level of that route times 10. If a climber completes a route with a difficulty level of V2, for instance, they will receive 20 points. However, climbers will have the opportunity to receive partial points if they do not complete the route as well. Certain handholds will count as checkpoints along the route, and if a climber reaches these checkpoints in a controlled manner, they will receive a certain amount of points. Only the climbing wall staff will know where these checkpoints are located though. Climbers who use hand or foot holds on a different colored route will receive zero points for that climb.

Climber Irdin Blagajcevic, junior, political science, said “The competition sounds challenging. I may compete. It’s nice to see UMSL taking the initiative to get more students involved in recreational rock climbing.”

Students interested in registering for the bouldering competition should inquire at the RWC.