Last weekend the UC Santa Barbara rock climbing team was able to grab the first and second spots in the open category of the fourth Poker Series Bouldering Competition, offered this year by the Vertical Heaven Climbing Gym.
Featuring four categories including beginner, intermediate, advanced and open, the event welcomes climbers of all backgrounds, but is competitive enough to keep UCSB’s best climbers from getting too comfortable on their crimps. All ages are welcome, but the more competitive open category usually draws some sponsored climbers, as well as a few competitors not representing a school.
Each category consisted of 10 possible climbs ranging in difficulty, while each climber earned points based on the difficulty of the climbs they completed in a three-hour period. Speed of ascent was not a factor in the competition, but successful first attempts were awarded 15 bonus points.
“All the climbs were hard,” senior Jondo Lopez-Carrillo said. “Everyone was struggling the whole time, but it’s all relative.”
Lopez-Carrillo grabbed the open event’s top honors with senior Spenser Tang-Smith nabbing the second spot. Lopez-Carrillo attempted to ascend difficulties no other climber even tried on the day – finishing a seventh-ranked difficulty – but faltering on the more strenuous eighth-ranked route. He finished the day attempting the third hardest difficulty, leaving the event’s top two routes unclimbed. Vertical Horizon awarded Lopez-Carrillo with a brand new pair of climbing shoes, with a retail value of about $130, while Tang-Smith earned a $50 gift certificate to Borealis.
Senior and president of the climbing club at UCSB, Glenn Sharp, took second place in the advanced category, while a Ventura resident grabbed first.
“I threw down pretty hard,” Sharp said. “I was wounded and really tired for my last climb, but I felt really good about it. [As a team] we’re just trying to get off our feet. We have some of the best climbers on the West Coast and we could really go places.”
While no other schools officially competed in the event, there were over 30 participants trying to earn as many points as possible in each category. Anyone can enter in the competitions, but a $25 entry fee is mandatory on arrival.
“Its good we’re competing,” Lopez-Carrillo said. “But it would be sick if every UC had a team so that we all could compete.”
The next bouldering competition in the Vertical Heaven Poker Series is scheduled for June 9 and will mark the fifth and final event of the series this season.