Climbers paced back and forth around the mats. The bouldering walls that were once filled with familiar routes, were completely decked out with new climbing problems. The catch was they didn’t know what level each problem was. They would go into the competition climbing routes they had never done before.
On Oct. 10, many BYU-Idaho students spent their Saturday at The Rock Gym to compete in the “Pumpkin Pump Bouldering Competition.”
Breana Hanks, a sophomore studying biomedical science, prepared for the competition with her roommate by coming to The Rock Gym twice a day for the week leading up to the competition.
“I’m just aiming to have fun,” said Hanks. “I love having a goal that will push myself.”
Like Hanks, it was many students’ first time competing in a rock climbing contest. It also happened to be The Rock Gym’s first bouldering competition.
Each route was labeled with a number of points. For the first two hours of the competition, judges stood on each side of the walls and competitors attempted problems in order to gain points on their scorecards.
To determine the finalists, the judges looked at the five hardest problems each climber completed and combined the points of each route.
Sam Johnson, a sophomore studying advanced vehicle systems, was a route setter and judge for the competition. Johnson explained that setters only had two days to set up routes for the competition.
“The most limiting factor is avoiding putting the same color next to each other,” said Johnson. “When setting, you can really put down whatever moves you want. You just have to figure out what people are going to like. In a comp setting, you want the routes to be a little showier so that people are excited to try them out.”
After an hour intermission and the announcement of some raffle prize winners, the top five finalists for the men and women sections were announced.
The finalists in the men’s section were Joe Burgess, Xander Harter, Grant Marriott, Madsen Rhinehart and Nick Purcell.
The finalists in the women’s section were Brooklyn Porter, Jess Pierce, Amy Addington, Ash Zollinger and Haylee Reiser.
For the finals, three different routes were set for each section. The finalist had two minutes to attempt each route. Each route showcased a different style of climbing problems.
In the women’s section, Pierce came out on top with the first place award. Pierce finished every route her first attempt in the finals and many spectators talked about how humble she was with her accomplishments.
During the awards, there was a miscommunication with the men’s section placements. Grant Marriott, a BYU-I alumnus, was announced as first place for the men’s section. As soon as he was announced as first, Marriott conversed with the judges pointing out the mistake.
“It’s better to take what you deserve,” said Marriott. “I wouldn’t feel good about it. Second place is great, and I know first would’ve been better, but a true second place is the best way to do it. Plus, Nick deserved it.”
Nick Purcell, a junior studying geology, was the true first place winner for the men’s section. Purcell completed the first two final routes on his first attempt.
On the last problem, everyone in the building surrounded the mat upstairs. As Purcell stepped on to the mat, many cheered for him to finish the problem on his first try. In his first attempt, he threw off his hat making the crowd yell in excitement. He almost had finished the problem but slipped.
In his second attempt, he had almost made it to the final hold but slipped. Many of Purcell’s friends chatted about how deserving Purcell was to win first place.
“I love how climbing is an exciting way to explore personal boundaries and explore nature,” Purcell said. “I love the choreography of ascent. It’s just awesome.”