15-year-old DeVore is tops at Aspen Boulder Rama | AspenTimes.com
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15-year-old DeVore is tops at Aspen Boulder Rama

Jennifer Davoren

Among the concentrated competitors tackling routes at the Aspen Boulder Rama climbing competition Saturday afternoon, a young man in a clown suit laughed with friends as he attempted to scale a route or two.

“Too many people take things too seriously,” Aspen’s Mark Falender said of his outfit. “This is just a lot of fun.”

Falender, an Aspen High senior, was just one of over 80 climbers who met at the Red Brick Climbing Wall this weekend to compete for prizes offered by Boulder Rama sponsors like Climbing Magazine and Ute Mountaineer.

While the chance for free gear didn’t hurt attendance, local climbers turned out for the competition to mix and mingle with other enthusiasts, said Chad Denning, competition founder and youth supervisor for the Aspen Recreation Department.

“It’s nice to have a climbing competition in the valley. There hasn’t been one around here for a while,” he said.

The competition is gaining notoriety, Denning said, as climbers from Montrose, Steamboat Springs and Telluride made the trip to Aspen for a crack at courses laid out by professional route-setters.

Chris Goplerud, a 28-year climbing veteran, helped Denning and a score of volunteers during a 17-hour stint of route-setting Friday.

“I look for a theme with each route,” he said. “It’s not just the arbitrary finding of holds. I set holds up in a certain sense of movement. Sometimes, I duplicate climbs I find outside.”

Mountaineering trips to Utah helped inspire Goplerud when picking Boulder Rama courses, which ranged from simple V-0 to the intimidating V-10 in difficulty. Competitors were given a set time period to attempt as many of the 45 Red Brick courses as possible, earning points for each route attempted. The harder the course, the more points allotted – V-0 courses, for example, earned climbers 25 points, while the V-10 route was worth 275 points.

The winner of the men’s advanced competition – 15-year-old Aspen native Nick DeVore – was one of the few competitors to try his hand at the intimidating V-10 route, Goplerud said.

“He’s a tremendous talent,” he said. “He lived in France for a year and was involved with the junior programs in Europe.”

DeVore’s time in Aspen’s sister city of Chamonix, France – where he took top honors in a junior Coupe du Monde D’Escalade (World Cup of Climbing) event last summer – has apparently helped his abilities. The newly appointed member of the U.S. Youth Climbing Team entered and won the competition’s advanced adult category, rather than climbing in the 11-17 year-old youth division.

Denning said competitions like these are a great way for area climbers to gauge their fitness level before the official start of the outdoor climbing season.

“It’s the push to go outside,” he said. “It helps you find out where you’re standing before you try climbing outdoors.”

Tristan Kanipe, a member of the Aspen Climbing Team, didn’t compete in the contest this year, but sitting on the sidelines was enough to get him thinking about a new season of climbing.

“I’m looking forward to the summer,” the 13-year-old said.

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