Bouldering bonanza

Annual competition gives chance to novice and veteran climbers

The Boiler Room played host to the annual Queen’s Climbing Club (QCC) competition this past weekend.
The Boiler Room played host to the annual Queen’s Climbing Club (QCC) competition this past weekend.
Credit: 
Supplied by Ian Siess
Credit: 
Supplied by Ian Siess

More than 15 years after its inception, the Queen’s Climbing Club (QCC) Competition is still giving local climbers the thrill they seek.

The annual event took place this past weekend at the Boiler Room — a local climbing gym — and was open to both QCC members and climbers from the area.

Adriaan Hoekman was the highest-ranked QCC member among male climbers, finishing 10th in the advanced division. Fellow climber Jeremy Waugh placed 15th.

Elise Sentha topped the women’s advanced division. Christabel Jean came in fifth and Zuza Kurzawa finished 12th.

The standings were filled with QCC members, as many ranked among the top 10 finishers in the intermediate and beginner divisions.

Hoekman has been competing in the event for four years and told the Journal via email that he was “pleasantly surprised” by his finish.

“The atmosphere was great,” he said, adding that the event provides a learning environment for climbers who haven’t competed before.

“I think this is a great event for novice climbers to get competition experience,” he said. “The structure and rules mimic other, more intense comps, so it’s a great event for novice climbers to learn the ropes in a low-pressure and fun environment.”

Most of the 124 participants were from the Kingston area. This included members of the gym’s youth program and youth competition team.

Malek Taleb, the Boiler Room’s owner and a Queen’s engineering alumnus, said the event is organized annually to thank the QCC for the support they’ve given the gym over the years.

“We named the competition after the Queen’s Climbing Club to show our relationship with the club,” he said.

Taleb has a personal connection to the QCC — he began climbing with them while he was a student in the early 2000s. He also worked as a volunteer instructor after graduating from Queen’s.

Most of the people who join the QCC are beginner climbers, and the composition of the tournament reflected this.

The competition was divided into male and female brackets with youth, beginner, intermediate and advanced divisions. The event featured both bouldering and rope climbing — something different from most competitions, which are usually purely bouldering.

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing done without a rope or harness, with routes often going no more than several metres off the ground. Mats are laid down to prevent injury.

Top rope climbing is where the participant is secured with a harness and rope. The rope is fed through an anchor at the top of the wall and back down to a person standing on the ground that instructs and secures the climber.

The Boiler Room gym has approximately 40 top roping stations plus the bouldering areas, all of which had to be reorganized for the event.

“We’re closed for three days,” Taleb said. “Every hold in the gym came down.”

The organizers made sure to come up with routes the climbers hadn’t encountered in practice.

The routes aren’t sourced from books, but reflect the knowledge of the local instructors and their time with local climbers.

“It’s our creativity,” Taleb said. “It’s based on ideas that we’ve had in terms of how we want to create the movements of the climbers.”

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