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La Sportiva MIX – Awesome Setting Shoe!

November 21, 2013 Leave a comment
Our new favorite shoes.

Our new favorite shoes. The La Sportiva Mix.

Jake and I were lucky enough to get our feet into some new La Sportiva Mix urban approach shoes. The Mix are a mix of a low profile, good-tractioned walking shoe and smooth-toed climbing shoe. The results not only look cool, they’re fantastic for routesetting.

Another view of the climbing zone.

The toe of the Mix.

The sole of the Mix is fairly flat, like the soles of the skate shoes most setters I know prefer setting in.

The sole of the Mix. Ours are all black. Note the smooth toe section.

The full sole of the Mix. Fairly flat, a little tread for good traction. Ours are all black. Note the smooth toe section, aka the “climbing zone”.

The “climbing zone” is sticky and smooth and works well for all those little forerunning moments in the middle of a setting day. They are really good for smearing and, if sized snugly, do just fine on smaller footholds as well. They aren’t a performance rock climbing shoe, but they beat all the running and skate shoes I’ve ever tried to climb in by miles and miles. Just look at me standing on this foot hold:

Toeing in like a champ.

Toeing like a champ.

The shoe itself has a nice toebox–wide enough so our toes aren’t cramped but snug enough to make climbing feel reasonable. The heel is cut low but fits like a glove on both my foot and Jake’s. They are lightly cushioned–comfortable, but not floaty.

Nice socks, Jake.

Nice socks, Jake.

I broke these shoes in by wearing them on an unexpectedly long bouldering approach (2.5 miles each way) followed by three 12 hour days straight setting for Psychedelia. The shoes were amazing–they felt great on and off the wall and ladders, I was able to forerun easier boulders and try harder moves in them, and a bunch of people asked me what my cool shoes were. Jake just got his this week, and they’re already his favorite shoes. I call it a win all around.

The Mix come in several colors of leather or canvas. Jake and I both have leather, though Jake’s (the lighter ones) are a sample only color. Other colors including the darker blue/gray that I got will be available in stores this spring. If you’re a route setter, these are the shoes for you.

Click the link to check out athlete blogs, news, pictures, and other great shoes from: La Sportiva North America.

Categories: 2013, Setters Tags: ,

The Spot – Early May Setting Update + Spring in Review

May 4, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s been a long period of short updates (besides comp coverage) and so here is a little review of what we’ve been up to lately:

Connor rocked a mustache.

fig 1. Connor’s ‘stache.

1) Connor rocked a mustache for a few weeks (fig 1). You might call it a bit of a  social experiment, as he learned some things. Most women liked it. Most men either thought it was awesome or thought it was creepy. Awesome = comfortable with their manhood, creepy = they were threatened by it. Connor looked pretty amazing, obviously, and when he felt like it could deadpan creep out stare like nobody’s business.

~

2&3) We got a new setting closet. We moved from behind the River (fig 2) to the room that makes up the front half of the hold washing room. There are some things we will miss about the old room though (fig 3).

fig 2. The Old Closet

fig 2. The Old Closet

awwww

fig 3. awwww

~

Ian cleanin'

fig 4. Ian cleanin’

4) Ian Dory and I built some shelves in the new closet.

~

Progress?

fig 5. Progress?

5) Jay Jay started collecting tape for “the world’s biggest tape ball”. She’s convinced she’ll easily beat the current world record. We told her she can but she has to keep the tape ball somewhere else, and it can’t interfere with work.

~

Spider's Web Rope The Spot Gym

fig. 6

6) Danny put up the lunch rope and got carried away.

~

Hold Block The Spot Gym

fig 7.

7) The best block ever? Yeah, I did this.

~

fig 8. New Floor under the Beach

fig 8. New Floor under the Beach

8. We got our new flooring in under The Beach! More new floor, in the whole gym, coming mid-July!

~

fig 9.

fig 9.

9. Jonny went all yacht club for the day in his Adidas Routesetter shirt, his fancy Verve pants, and his USAC Setter Sweatshirt.

~

fig 10.

fig 10.

10. The septuplet tape job on the new Dojo.

~

fig 11.

fig 11.

11) And finally, last week we reset the LEFT DOJO! Tons of new problems on the left bulge and the right side of the mid-Dojo overhanging arete. We’ve set more 2s and 3s than ever before on the left Dojo, so if you’ve never climbed on the Dojo might be a good time to try it. We’ve also got a bunch of everything else, so everyone should find something to send and project.

Enjoy!

Setting Ergonomics from Routecrafter

January 4, 2012 3 comments

An illustration from Setting Ergonomics from Routecrafter

Our buddy over at routecrafter.blogspot.com has written a nice little article explaining (indirectly) why the easy problems at The Spot are so much more awesome than the easy problems at other gyms.  Actually, it’s just about jug use and edge radius in general, but it’s definitely worth reading if you’re a setter, if you’re a climber, if you’re a shaper, or if you’ve ever wondered just what makes some holds more comfortable than others. Heck, it might help you examine your own climbing or setting and make some improvements, and it might also help you give some helpful feedback to the setters at your own gym if they’re setting uncomfortable V0′s and V1′s. Click the photo or this link to read more: Route Setting Tips and Techniques: Ergonomics of Setting, Part 1.  We’ve also added a link to the article to our “General Setting Info” drop-down menu. Enjoy, and be on the look out for more useful articles from Routecrafting and the Spot Setters soon.

Sheffield 2011 IFSC Bouldering World Cup – Finals Problem Discussion – Daniel Woods 4th Place!

July 3, 2011 7 comments

Kilian Fischhuber for the win!

Final Problem 1′s

Due to the aforementioned power outage, I only saw the first-seeded Alex Puccio and Alexey Rubtsov on their finals problem 1.  Alex got to the bonus and went on to send on her 5th try.  Alexey sent on his 6th, though he got the bonus on his 3rd.

Problem 1 scores (competitors ranked as of prob 1, no countbacks yet):

Men                                                                                       Women

1. Kilian Fischhuber (f)                                                1. Akiyo Noguchi (f)

2. Alexey Rubtsov (t6 b3)                                             1. Juliane Wurm (f)

3. Thomas Caleyron (b1)                                             1. Melissa Le Neve (f)

3. Nicky De Leeuw (b1)                                                1. Katharina Saurwein (f)

5. Cédric Lachat (b2)                                                    5. Anna Stöhr (t2 b2)

6. Daniel Woods (b4)                                             6. Alex Puccio (t5 b5)

___________________________________________________________________

Final Problem 2′s

As you can see above, coming into problem 2 the women’s field was a 4-way tie for first and the men’s not too far behind though Kilian’s flash makes him the clear front-runner.

You can see Nicky on the bottom of men's 2 and Melissa brushing the blob on women's 2. Women's 2 started on that grey volume to her right and mantled up to the triangle before moving left to the blobs. The men's 2 start is described below.

Alexey and Alex wrestling with blobs on their problem 2's.

Men’s 2

Press-gaston-match to drop-down to foot swing to grab the edge of the wall and l heel or toe to rock up to the bonus hold to match to…?  Nobody got past the bonus hold.

The first three moves here looked overly-difficult and spit everyone off multiple times except for Alexey who flashed his way through it but was unable to get through it a second time. It took Daniel 7 tries to get to the bonus hold, and only he, Alexey, and Cédric (3rd go) even got the bonus on this problem. The first three moves were rocking over with your foot on a jib on a volume and hitting this gaston, then sagging down and matching it, then leaning right to the volume without barn-dooring off. Alexey jumped. Daniel kept his left foot on in an impressive display of power.

Heel-hook to the bonus hold.

Daniel Woods matching the bonus hold. This is as far as anyone got on this rig before exploding off. Slippery?

Women’s 2

Mantle to triangle volume to blob to huge blue circle volume to powerful move left to the bonus blog, then leg-wrapping and a little crimp to a balancy? stand-up to the last hold.

Katharina Saurwein on the opening moves of women's 2. Neither she nor Melissa Le Neve was able to manage the big blue volume and get to the bonus hold.

Jule did well on the powerful lower section, mastering the big blue volume to get the bonus hold on her 2nd try.

Jule was so close! And yet, so far... Sticking this hold would have won the comp for any of the competitors.

Akiyo even went with the butt rest on the bonus hold while she tried to get her left hand on the crimp her right was on.

Akiyo on the mantle. It took her forever to get her left hand on the only crimp on that large left volume. She fell off grabbing the last hold.

After what looked like an easy match on the crimp (but Akiyo made it look so hard!) Alex got in position to go right hand to the finish hold, if only she can stand up slowly.

Alex pretty much could not have gotten any closer, but she slipped off before getting on the hold well enough to match. Nobody sent, and Alex was the only competitor to static to the last hold, making it seem like she might send but at the last second she slipped off. Commentator Chris Webb-Parsons suggested that the upper of the two ribs on that final jib might be more positive than the lower and therefore be the necessary part of the hold to stick.

Final problem 2 scores (this problem only)

Men                                                                                       Women

1. Alexey Rubtsov (b1)                                             1. Akiyo Noguchi (b1)

2. Cédric Lachat (b3)                                               2. Juliane Wurm (b2)

3. Daniel Woods (b7)                                         3. Anna Stöhr (b3)

4. Kilian Fischhuber (-)                                          4. Alex Puccio (b4)

4. Thomas Caleyron (-)                                           5. Melissa Le Neve (-)

4. Nicky De Leeuw (-)                                              5. Katharina Saurwein (-)

____________________________________________________________________

Final Problem 3′s

Alexey and Kilian are fighting for first, with Kilian’s 1t1 1b1 and Alexey’s 1t6 2b4.  There are two more problems so anyone can still come out and win it, but these two are definitely in the lead.  For the women, everyone did problem 1 and nobody did problem 2, so at the moment ranking is down to bonus holds and attempts to bonus.  Akiyo is slightly ahead with 1t1 2b2, but Juliane Wurm is right on her heels with 1t1 2b3.

Cédric finishing his problem, Anna trying to finish hers. Maybe the toe hook will provide the necessary stability to match that last hold?

Men’s 3

Run-and-jump to power move to sorta-big move out left with a slightly difficult last match.

Nicky apparently used to be the dyno world champion. You'd think this would have helped him on this run-and-jump off the meteor-in-earth to the death star volume, but accuracy was a problem for all of the competitors on this move. Eventually they all stuck it and they all sent, making this the easiest of the men's finals.

Daniel matching the finish on men's 3 for the 2nd go send.

Women’s 3

Powerful first move to a twisting up volumes to the bonus hold (all flashed this far) to a hard final match that spit off 3 of the competitors.

Alex Puccio using the upside-down toehook rest on the 2nd move of final 3.

Katharina flashed to the end and got heartbreakingly close to matching this final hold but was unable to keep still enough. The live feed cut out for Juliane and Melissa but in the end it turns out that Akiyo flashed, Melissa and Alex sent, and everyone else just flashed to the bonus but couldn't match the top. This was clearly the 2nd easiest of the finals (besides final 1) and if this top match would have been easier it'd have seen multiple flashes.

Final 3 scores (this problem only, not cumulative)

Men                                                                     Women

1. Kilian Fischhuber (t2 b2)                        1. Akiyo Noguchi (t1 b1)

1. Daniel Woods (t2 b2)                         2. Melissa Le Neve (t2 b1)

1. Thomas Caleyron (t2 b2)                         2. Alex Puccio (t2 b1)

4. Cédric Lachat (t3 b3)                                4. Juliane Wurm (b1)

4. Nicky De Leeuw (t3 b3)                            4. Katharina Saurwein (b1)

6. Alexey Rubtsov (t7 b7)                             4. Anna Stöhr (b1)

___________________________________________________________________

Final Finals (Problem 4′s)

After the first 3 problems Kilian and Akiyo are ahead but neither are unbeatable, and several other competitors are still in the running for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.  It’s always exciting when the comp comes down to the last problem for both categories!

Daniel Woods at the bonus on men's final 4 while Katharina Saurwein gears up for women's 4.

Men’s 4

Power move off small holds (in the Climbing Works logo) to a leg swing and difficult mantle (part of the difficulty was keeping their left flagging foot from smearing out-of-bounds) to a balancy stand-up to a blob to a double clutch left to two more blobs to a final move even more left to one more blob.

Dutch climber Nicky De Leeuw on mantle on the last problem of his first World Cup final ever. This mantle was harder for some competitors than others--Alexey got hasty and slipped out of it his first go. Interesting note--Nicky's last name, De Leeuw, apparently means "the lion", and Swiss climber Cédric Lachat's last name means "the cat". UPDATE - apparently la chat may or may not mean "the cat" in French. I'm getting mixed input on that one.

Alexey with a killer dropknee in the corner before standing up to the bonus hold and trying to get his balance for the double dyno to the left two of those three blobs. Competitor Nicky De Leeuw said that the blobs were extremely slippery and that section was very hard and "The first two moves really suck the energy out of you" so it was hard to have enough strength to do the later hard moves.

Tommy C, as the commentators began calling him when they gave up trying to pronounce his last name (Caleyron), flashed his way to the bonus hold...

...and then fell off trying to stick the dyno. He was the closest of everyone besides Cédric.

Cédric Lachat was the first out and only competitor to stick this difficult double-clutch sideways dyno. He finished the problem by matching the hold to the left and his success skyrocketed him to 2nd place.

Women’s 4

Start at the Decathalon logo, up to two sidepully looking things, dyno or long static move to the blue orb stuck in the orange volume, big power move left to the next gray hold (bouted two competitors), then match, swing feet left, cross under to other volume/jib, around corner to left crimp (b), right hand undercling jib on triangle volume, balancy move to match the finish?

Juliane Wurm and Katharina Saurwein both had a lot of trouble with the big move out left to the next volume after the first dynamic section to this weird blue and yellow volume. Neither girl got to the bonus hold (which is out left hidden by the triangle volume).

Melissa Le Neve styling the cross-under. The commentators said over and over what a brilliant technical climber Melissa is. The head setter of the event said that he usually sets all technical problems but that he tried to borrow from the crowd-pleasing American style and add some showy moves as well. The result seemed to be a nice mix of power and technique--a recipe a bit like that American setter Stephen Jeffery's applies to his competition problems and brought to the Spot in 2010 when he head set The Battle in the Bubble.

Anna Stöhr did well on this problem, but got stuck on the next move while trying to match the final hold. It looked like you were supposed to undercling that jib on the triangle volume with your right hand and then keep the heel rt and toe left and stand up to the sloper.

Alex got to the final hold twice but was unable to gain enough purchase to match on it. If she'd sent it she would have won. It looked extremely frustrating as Melissa, Alex, and Anna groped this hold repeatedly, trying to find a spot they could stick, and nobody was able to hold on well enough to take their right hand off and match. Akiyo also slapped at the final hold but there was no way she'd stick it without moving statically and she fell off too, with the same points as Alex, Anna and Melissa. 3 of the 4 women's finals had a last hold crux like this one, and by this one the competitors didn't seem too happy about it.

Problem 4 scores (not final ranking, just performance on this problem):

Men                                                                                       Women

1. Cédric Lachat (t2 b1)                                                1.  Akiyo Noguchi (b1)

2. Kilian Fischhuber (b1)                                            1. Alex Puccio (b1)

2. Daniel Woods (b1)                                              3. Anna Stöhr (b2)

2. Thomas Caleyron (b1)                                             4. Melissa Le Neve (b3)

2. Nicky De Leeuw (b1)                                                5. Juliane Wurm (-)

6. Alexey Rubtsov (b2)                                                 5. Katharina Saurwein (-)

___________________________________________________________________

So, who won?  It’s not done by averages, it’s like all Bouldering World Cups–# of tops, attempts to top, # of bonus holds, attempts to bonus holds.  When it shook out it was Akiyo and Kilian on the top of the podium.  For full final ranking scroll down to the next post or click here: IFSC Bouldering World Cup Sheffield Final Results

Girl Beta and some setting advice + general life updates

May 13, 2011 Leave a comment

1. Me.  I just got back from Europe.  I am JET LAGGED.  But I am looking forward to setting on Tuesday!  In other news, recently I was asked to give some advice on how women can get into routesetting for a new website called GIRL BETA.  The site was started by my friend Mercedes Pollmeier and the content is focused on empowering the female climbing community through videos, commentary, training advice, and other resources.  Click the logo to see the site, and if you’re interested in my 2 cents, there’s a permalink to it HERE.

2. The Boys (half of ‘em anyways) are still in Colombia.  It looks amazing.  Here are a couple of pics courtesy of Kara Caputo.

The rock?!

Who let Carlo hold this big of a knife?!

Forerunning For French Team Selection

March 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Old modular Entreprise World Cup Walls.  I saw these in a different form in a park in Font some 11 years ago, and here they are again, indoors, and still in use.  They just build new wood sections to fill in the form they want and add volumes til they’re satisfied.  | Jackie Hueftle

The Bouldering World Cup season is almost upon us, and over here in Europe (where most of the World Cups happen) the French Team had a competition to choose which athletes would be sent to the first 3 events.  The selection event is essentially a French National Championship, and it was arranged by none other than the infamous Jacky Godoffe, who has been a figure in the world climbing scene for an incalculably long time (he is now 54 years old) as a climber, competitor, first ascentionist, and route setter. In his local area of Fontainebleau he has put up over 64 boulder problems, including such famous problems as Hypothése (7C+), C’Était Demain (the forest’s first 8A), Big Boss, Tristesse, and Fourmis Rouges (3/4ths of the Big 4), Partage (8A+), and Total Éclipse (8A+).  Jacky will also be the chief coursesetter for this year’s IFSC Bouldering World Cup in Vail and also the one in Canada.

Jacky on one of his first ascents--Partage 8A+ | bleau.info

Other setters for the event were Manuel Hassler (Manu) from Switzerland (who was chief setter for the Vail World Cup 2 years ago) and a fellow named Marc Daviet  (aka “P’tit Marc) who is also a chief World Cup setter, has also been climbing forever and has opened many problems, and who has started a hold company called Freestone that makes sweet holds–some of which were on the problems we were trying.  So to review, that is 3 World Cup International Chief setters setting this event.

When forerunning I particularly liked Marc’s technical style, and we spent a bit of time in particular on his slab (you can see the white hold and two feet for the mantle in the right of the picture below).

Mathieu and Tondé checking out a men's slab problem | Jackie Hueftle

I was the only female forerunner and about 8 guys showed up to help run the 16 problems that made up semis and finals.  We started on the slab and quickly moved on to the two freestanding boulders.  The problems were hard, and I mean really hard.  All of them.  I am definitely not going to make the French National Team, but neither were any of the other forerunners.  Men’s and Women’s problems were hard to distinguish from each other by looking at them or by climbing them and only three or four problems got sent the entire day–the problem that was supposed to be Women’s semi 1, another women’s problem that may have been started a move or two in, and both slabs.

Manu pressing into the women's mantle | Jackie Hueftle

The rest…well…there were entire moves that did not get climbed.  But most of the forerunners left around 3pm, and I left two hours after that, and the setters stayed much later to finish setting/tweaking/etc… so I’m sure they eased things up a little bit.  On the other hand, I talked to my friend Lucas Menegatti who competed in the event, and he said it was super difficult and that barely any problems got sent.  Apparently this was intentional, as Tondé told me that Jacky told him they wanted the problems to be punishing and require perfection (i.e. you won’t find wild throws and campus moves here, just balance, power, and perfect tension).

Emmi finishing a women's compression problem. It was probably at least 7C (V9) when we started trying it.

In between bouts of climbing I explored the old army gymnasium that had been converted into the climbing gym.  Here are some pictures:

The guys told me this campus board "sucks", but I liked the ball holds. All perfectly smooth and carved out of wood!

They color code their climbing holds, and most of them are old and super smooth--not the sticky texture we've come to expect in the US. | Jackie Hueftle

The shower room is really nice for washing holds!

Everyone trying the dyno-to-undercling-volume

So there it is.  I had a good time, I learned a little, and got so tired that I had to rest for almost 3 days afterward.  It’s ok though, the weather here has been full-on Spring, which is nice for the hanging out but a bit hot for climbing hard unless you’re lucky enough to be warmed up and in the right place with a breeze and the perhaps 1/2 hour of passable early morning temps.  So let’s all enjoy the flowers and pray for a cold snap.  Two more weeks!

Gladiator Finals are set! Plus – The World Premiere Sneak Peek of the new E-Grips Giant Bubble Wrap Feature

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment

The team for this comp was a little different than usual, as both Jon and Jay Jay weren’t able to come in and set.  Luckily for us Nic Sherman was available for every stripping and setting session, and along with the usual team of Jonny, Carlo, Garrett, Danny, and I, we put all those sweet grips from the hold review to good use on the 42 recreational, intermediate, advanced, open, and finals problems.

Nic setting the Beach all by his lonesome.

These are some of the Element holds, brand new for this comp since they arrived late for the hold review.

Jonny loves Element's silky smooth dual-tex

Chris Danielson, who is, among other things, the rep for e-grips, teknik, and so ill holds, came in and played around with some big green pinches to make a tricky problem that later was tweaked down into A7.  On top of all the awesome Hold Review Holds and features in the comp, Chris brought us a special hold to set with–E-grips brand new, never before seen, never before used, not even named yet bubble wrap sloper.  You can’t buy it yet–it isn’t even on their website!  We’ll only have this hold for a week, so if you want to climb on it you’d better come down to the comp and check out the sickness.  Here’s Carlo trying to hold onto it in an early iteration of O9:

Bubble Wrap Sloper Sneak Peek

Speaking of O9, how many setters does it take to get a little volume on the wall?

Four? That seems like a lot...

Because our team was smaller than usual, it took only one Volkswagen to get us to lunch.

Fiver forerunning the space problem (think meteors and rocket ships)

This is the Gladiator Finals, the conclusion of SBS Season VI, and therefore the most awesome of all the SBS VI events.  There will be jousting.  Avery beer in cans. Epic long finals problems.  Wahoo’s tacos.  Tons of sweet new tester grips.  A huge raffle.  E-Grips Bubble Wrap Sloper sneak peek.  Did we mention the jousting?  We BROKE WRENCHES setting for this thing, that’s how awesome it is.  So don’t miss out!!!

Breaking through 5/16" of solid metal? No problem for heavyweight setter Nic Sherman.

See you at The Spot!

Highline Slackline Madness!!!

December 6, 2009 7 comments

The Highball Highline comp last night was amazing! The weather here in Boulder lately has been unfriendly for climbing outside (to say the least–snow and 0* temps anyone?) and the result was a huge crowd at this ABS sanctioned comp. All in all over 300 climbers came to test their mettle on the 50 new boulder problems. As usual, the crowd consumed a massive amount of fish tacos in record time, and the Avery kegs were flowing for spectators as DJ Dirt Monkey kept the climbers crushing.

Said Parirokh | photo by Keith North

All pictures courtesy Keith North. More pics from Keith

Gauging Open Finals
Of the setters, Jonny, Carlo, Jon, Alex Puccio (guest setter), Nick Sherman (long time Spot comp setter) and I were in attendance for most of the evening. Because the Spot comps have a single final problem for men’s and women’s open, the setters watch the regular comp to try to see who might make finals and how they’re climbing. From this we decide if we need to tweak the finals problems to make them more or less difficult.

Tyler Youngwerth on Women's O11 | photo by Keith North

Setting up the Highline
At eight pm scorecards for the adult session were called in and the highline was quickly set up. On Friday while we were setting Josh Paton (our facilities and safety manager), Adam Broadbent (climbing school) and the slackliners set up the padding and anchor points and tested the leash length and line tightness so it would be ready to go as soon as climbing ended. They also padded the heating duct and taped an “ariel zone” on the line so slackliners wouldn’t get too close to the boulders or hit the duct while doing in-air tricks. The preparation was worthwhile, and the line was ready to go by 8:30 or so.

Jeremy Louis stretching out | photo by Keith North

Tweaking Open Finals
While they were setting the line up Alex and I tweaked up our women’s problem and Carlo, Jonny, Nick and Jon tweaked up the men’s. There was a great debate amongst the crew about whether the women’s would be hard enough, but because the holds were big slopey pinches and the moves were powerful we decided the problem would be okay if we just turned a couple of holds up (i.e. made them harder to hold) and changed out a big pinch at the top for a more precise crimp. We figured the problem should be about 4 Spot +, as the climbers would be tired and two comps ago the 4 Spot + final was about the right grade. The female finalists were: Chauncenia Cox, Gabi Masse, Tyler Youngwerth, Kristin Felix, Audrey Gawrych, Alexis Miller, and Kara Caputo. The men’s problem was also tweaked up a little, and the male finalists were: Paul Robinson, Adam Markert, Gabor Szekely, Ryan Roden, Andre DiFelice, Sebastian Drissi, and Matt Wilder.

Matt Wilder on Men's O11 | photo by Keith North

Highline History
The highline event at the Spot is still relatively young, and up until last year the event was the first time that many of the competitors had even walked a highline.  Michael Payton won last year’s event, though Greg Kalfa’s dramatic backflip that threw him off the line in a huge cartwheel may have been the most memorable moment. Most of the other competitors were happy to just get across the line, though highline master Scott Rogers finished off the evening by walking the line while the crowd threw dodgeballs at him. On our facebook page there is a link to a video of the highline exhibition a few years ago: http://www.facebook.com/posted.php?id=189362658840

Anthony Menzor | photo by Keith North

Highline Madness!!!
This year the ante was upped considerably, with most of the walkers being semi-professional slackliners who are well versed in tricks. Adam started the evening off by testing the line and taking a few leash whippers. From there, one by one, the slackliners got a few minutes on the line to show their stuff. Some seemed hindered by the leash, but all managed a few cool tricks, including Said Parirokh’s jump to the I beam, Michael Payton’s bounce and balance tricks, and a pressed out handstand from Jeremy Louis. Several of the guys tried to land both front and back flips, with a few pretty amazing whippers resulting. Expect video to start showing up on the internet today and tomorrow.

Andy Lewis dive bombing the crowd. | photo by Keith North

The highlight of the evening was when Andy Lewis, a noted slackliner from Humbolt, California, got on the line to finish things off. Andy came out and immediately did an ariel 360, much to the crowd’s delight. From there he did several other cool tricks, throwing t-shirts and stickers as he went. It seemed he’d already won the comp when he did his final trick, a backflip that he LANDED ON THE LINE!!! The crowd went completely nuts. Completely. Nuts. He finished off the evening by doing a bouncing swan dive straight over the crowd (as seen above), swinging dramatically back around and grazing the gigantic Spot Bouldering Series banner that hangs in the center of the gym before grabbing back onto the line and mantling back up so he could exit the line via the top of the Font boulder. It was pretty incredible to watch, and everyone in the crowd was extremely psyched.
video from Michael Payton and Scott Rogers of the flip:

update: more videos are showing up on facebook, including This one by Zack Smith of Andy’s crowd dive.

update 2: Here is a video of Andy doing his first ever highline backflip a few years ago.  When he did it he was the first known person in the entire world to ever land the trick.  Though he has done backflips on low lines in the interim, he didn’t land the highline backflip again until Saturday, Dec 5, during the highline contest at the Spot.

Click here for more on slacklining.

Men’s Open Finals–front of the Hueco
The slackline was quickly dropped and lights were put into place for the Open finals. The men’s proceeded well, with the first few competitors falling all over the place. On his turn Andre Difelice established a new high point, then fell off on a dramatic attempt to dyno to the top. Ryan Roden met the same fate, but Gabor Szekely dispatched the problem handily. Adam Markert cruised as well, going so far as to stop and dance on the last hold before casually mantling over the top. Paul qualified in first, so he climbed last, and he flashed the problem easily–winning the comp.
1. Paul Robinson
2. Adam Markert
3. Gabor Szekely
full results at www.thespotgym.com

Adam Markert flashing Men's O11 | photo by Keith North

Women’s Open Finals–front of the Font
The first woman out, Kara Caputo, hiked her final and Alex and I were thrown into a panic. Kara is a very strong climber, but she made the pinches look like such jugs that we were sure everyone else would hike it as well. We were mostly right, though the two shortest competitors (Kristen Felix and Tyler Youngwerth) met some difficulty with a hop move on the top of the arete. We were assured by all the competitors that the problem was very enjoyable to climb, which was nice, but overall the problem was still a failure, as it was too easy for the competitors and not exciting for the crowd. We learned from the experience, mostly that the girls are much stronger than they used to be, and they’re still capable of pulling hard after 3 hours of climbing, and we need to challenge them much better next time. Unfortunately we had to count back to qualifiers for the finals results.
1. Chauncenia Cox
2. Gabi Masse
3. Audrey Gawrych

Alexis Miller flashing Women's O11 | photo by Keith North

Final thoughts on the Setting
Despite the finals problems not being ideal, overall I think the comp went well. Several of the women finalists were able to complete several Open category problems in the main comp–an improvement from their normal performance. Also, because Alex set instead of competing, the women’s finals was anybody’s game and therefore should have been more exciting. For the men, we made the hardest Open category climbs all around the same grade to encourage the climbers to battle it out instead of deciding O10 was impossible and knowing they made finals so not bothering to climb it. This time everyone had to try to send the top O problems to earn a spot in finals.

A note on setting for kids:
Part of the reason setters come to comps, despite their exhaustion from the long nights of setting, is to watch their problems get climbed and try to learn from them. I particularly enjoy watching the kids climb because it’s always interesting to see what move you think will be easy for kids that they just cannot reach through, and which moves you think will be impossible for kids that they will figure out a way to get through. Our goal is to make the problems doable for all sizes, but you can’t set every problem, especially in the advanced and open categories, for people of extremely diminutive stature. I heard from some that the kids in the youth session found the problems reachy. I’m not sure about this, as I spent part of the evening with Brooke Raboutou, who climbed in the adult session as she had a gymnastics meet earlier in the day. Brooke is 8, and small for her age, but she is an extremely talented climber, and though some of the problems were too reachy for her she managed to climb more in the advanced category then she ever has before. Sasha, a Spot youth team member who is bigger than Brooke but still much smaller than the adults, managed to climb extremely well, sending most of the problems up to A8. Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou, who is also relatively small, climbed during the adult session and said that she did not find the problems to be particularly reachy. I suppose the jump starts on two of the A problems probably gave some folks trouble, but besides that it should have been fairly equal opportunity. If you came to the comp and felt that a problem or a part of a problem was reachy, or cruxy in some other specific way, and you want to tell us about it please email us (setting@thespotgym.com) or add a comment telling us specifically what and where so we will be able to look at the problems and have an idea how we could make them better next time. We always strive for excellence, after all. Excellence and fun.

Thanks for coming everyone!!!

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