What: Sport Climbing National Championships
When: Climbing begins Friday at 5 p.m.; finals at 7 p.m. Saturday (tailgate before)
Where: Movement Climbing and Fitness, 2845 Valmont Road
Cost: Free Friday and Saturday day; Saturday night finals, $8
More info: scsnationals.org
One of the owners of Boulder’s Movement Climbing and Fitness can’t look at the walls of his own climbing gym for the rest of the week — at least, not until the competition starts on Friday.
That’s because Movement’s Mike Moelter isn’t just hosting the USA Climbing’s Sport Climbing Series national championships on Friday and Saturday. He’s also a competitor, which means he can’t check out the routes ahead of the contest.
“I’ve always really liked the drama that comes with a roped competition,” Moelter said. “When you leave the ground, it’s one shot, one kill.”
Moelter is one of a handful of climbers in and from Boulder who will be competing this weekend at Movement. It’s the gym’s second year in a row hosting the event that draws competition climbers from around the country and determines which climbers earn a spot on the U.S. team for the worlds.
Kynan Waggoner, of USA Climbing, which is based in Boulder, said there are great facilities around the country for hosting this event, but there are some plusses to having it in Boulder. For example, Boulder has a good fan base of climbers, and many of the athletes already live here. And, the organization is based here.
“I don’t want to understate the fact that Movement is one of the best facilities in the country to host, but the fact that it’s in our backyard for USA Climbing makes it easier,” Waggoner said.
Several of the climbers competing this weekend are better known for their bouldering exploits than sport climbing, including CU grad Paul Robinson. He said for him, climbing with a rope this weekend would be “definitely a bit of an exception,” but a fun one.
“I think it’s appealing because a lot of your friends are doing it, and it’s fun to go out there and try your hardest,” Robinson said. “Especially for me, it’s not something I do often, so it’s fun to give it my all once a year at sport climbing.”
Robinson said that because Movement’s wall is shorter, a competition at the gym lends itself to strong boulderers.
“It’s not a world cup, where the walls tend to be 60, 70 feet tall,” he said. “The wall’s 40 feet tall, so it’s not going to be a huge pump issue, per se.”
Moelter’s betting Boulder’s Daniel Woods will take the men’s championship this weekend. Like Robinson, Woods is perhaps best known for bouldering; he won USA Climbing’s bouldering national championships earlier this year for the seventh time.
On Saturday, Woods could become both the national bouldering champion and the sport climbing champion for this year, Waggoner said.
“Daniel’s been on ropes more recently,” Moelter said. “He just put up a route in Clear Creek (Canyon) that I think is the hardest in Colorado, if not the hardest in the country.”
Waggoner said the men’s field for the competition is stacked. But two local climbers stand out.
“Daniel and Matty Hong, whew,” Waggoner said. “Matty was the only male in the finals at the world cup at Movement,” he added, referring to the sport climbing competition last year.
In the women’s competition, Waggoner said he thinks Sasha DiGiulian is going to be tough to beat, but that Boulder’s Chelsea Rude should be strong, too.
Meanwhile, Moelter, age 33, is just hoping for a top-10 finish among a field of professional climbers that includes teenagers.
“It’s really funny to me to be doing this event with kids like Daniel Woods,” he said. “I’ve known Daniel since he was 10.”