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Climbers gear up for Aspen Boulder Rama tomorrow

Tim Mutrie

Climbers of all ages and abilities are expected to rope up for the second annual Aspen Boulder Rama climbing competition Saturday at the Red Brick Climbing Wall in Aspen.

The event aims to challenge all comers with routes, or problems, ranging in difficulty from V-0 to V-10. Last year, in the first-ever Boulder Rama, just one climber managed to complete the most difficult route, a problem rated V-8, according to Chad Denning, youth supervisor with the Aspen Recreation Department and founder of the competition.

“We want to accommodate all climbers,” said Denning, noting that Bobbi Bensman, a professional climber with La Sportiva, and Jim Redo, a Boulder-based competition route setter, will peg up the routes for Saturday’s competition. “But it’s really just for fun, and it’s more or less a family atmosphere we’re looking for with something for everyone. And it’s also a good opportunity for people to meet other climbers in the valley and the state.”

“This is the perfect time of year to do it. Everyone’s wanting to get outside and this will be a nice slingshot into that,” he added.

The competition will be held in three divisions: children (ages 10 and under), junior (ages 11 to 17) and adults (18 and over), with beginner, intermediate and advanced categories. Climbers will be awarded points for each route climbed, and should a climber “flash” a route – meaning complete it on the first try – they’ll earn a bonus point. At the end of the climbing period for each division, the climber with the most points wins.

“The point system worked great last year so we’re sticking with it,” Denning said. “But pretty much everybody walks away with a prize.”

The children will climb from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, following by the juniors from 2 to 3:30 p.m. and the adults from 3:30 to 6 p.m. “They’ll climb as many routes as they can in that time,” Denning explained.

Last year, about 80 climbers participated in the event, Denning said, though this year he expects upwards of 100. Registration costs $25, and climbers who have not preregistered with the Aspen Recreation Department are asked to arrive at least a half-hour before their division starts.

“Last year, it was mostly an Aspen competition, but this year, we’re getting a lot of interest from elsewhere,” he said.

The event is sponsored by the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen, Bristlecone Sports in Basalt, Climbing Magazine in Carbondale and Summit Canyon Mountaineering in Glenwood Springs. Denning said lots of gear and schwag will be awarded, including a Misty Mountain crash pad for bouldering. All participants will receive a Boulder Rama T-shirt.

Denning explained that he founded the competition – one he hopes grows into an annual event – simply because there aren’t any others in the valley.

“I just thought we needed a climbing competition in the valley,” he said. “And it seems to be getting good vibes from everybody.”

For additional information, call Denning at 920-5140.

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