Sunday, July 27, 2014

Coopers Rock Climb-a-thon 2014 wrap-up

Funny how the past few days' plans have changed.  Chris Irwin and I had originally talked about spending another week on the road before hearing about a friend's going away party on Wednesday and the Coopers Rock Climbing Guides' 3rd annual climb-a-thon on Saturday.  New plan: climb and party on Wednesday, spend Thursday/Friday at Old Rag or Seneca, and jump over to Coopers on Saturday for some fun toproping.

How it actually went: Pull tendon in foot Tuesday, party Wednesday, sit on my deck all of Thursday/Friday, aside from limping into the doctor's office with the hopes of being cleared to climb Saturday.  I wasn't, but I went out anyway and still had an incredible time.

The climb-a-thon was our first impression of the folks from CRCG, and it was a great one!  Unlike anything I've participated in before, they created something that was fundraiser first and competition second.  In the days and weeks prior, participants set up fundraising campaigns for the adaptive athletic programs of Paradox Sports, in addition to their entry fees being donated to the Coopers Rock Foundation.  By the time of the event, somewhere around $4000 had been raised, and a ton of good raffle prizes had been donated.  Even better, participants received extra raffle tickets based on donations raised, further emphasizing the true purpose of the day.

Chris and I arrived midway through the sign-in, along with my mom, who I was hoping could climb in my place since I wasn't allowed to.  I'll admit I was a bit worried that they wouldn't let her substitute for me.  After all, why should they make it that easy when they could pull in extra registration fees instead?  Whether it was amusement about the 65 year old woman taking my place, or just being good people (I believe it was the latter), they let us make the switch with no problem.

Waiting for the briefing to start, we were a bit unsure what we were getting into.  As Chris struggled to turn off the event planning part of his brain, we looked at the seemingly high ratio of climbers to volunteers, and expected borderline chaos once the climbing started.  Turns out they had worked it out perfectly.

With 35 topropes set up, participants had three hours to climb as much as they could, and it seemed like almost nobody had to wait for a belay when they were ready to climb.  The routes themselves were well chosen and spaced, with something available for everyone.  In fact, there seemed to be several people who had never climbed before, and I loved the fact that the route selection catered as much to them as to the advanced climbers, especially in allowing three falls before lowering.  They even set up an adaptive climb, with participants pulling themselves up a rope to get a taste of what they were raising money for.  The scoring system also leveled the field nicely, with points awarded for vertical feet traveled times a difficulty multiplier, but with categories kept relatively broad.  For example, a 5.11a and 5.12d of equal height were worth equal points in the top category, giving as much advantage to the 5.11 climber as the 5.13 climber, and further minimizing any competitive or ego-driven silliness that would have detracted from the event's philanthropic nature. Participant and volunteer alike were there to have fun, to cheer each other on, and above all for the common goal of giving to a good cause.

Chris Irwin cruising his warmup
Pennie Close stepping high and Chris Irwin resisting the temptation to pull her off
Racing to the top
Pennie Close clocking some roof time
After a great gear raffle, Chris and my mom both got a fun surprise.  Turned out that that she had won a new harness for being the top female climber, and he won a new rope for being top climber overall, an outcome that hadn't occurred to either of them as a possibility.

A huge thanks to all who donated to my fundraising campaign, even though I wasn't able to climb in the end. Glad I was able to at least bring in someone who could do your contributions justice.  Thanks as well to the Hershey family and everyone else from Coopers Rock Climbing Guides for putting on such an amazing event. You took something that could have been competitive and intimidating, and made it into something welcoming and fun, and something that I hope will make regular climbers out of yesterday's newcomers.  The businesses I'm quickest to support are the ones that put community first, and from everything I saw yesterday, you guys could show people a few things about that.  Barring any more stupid injuries, I can't want to come out and climb with you next year!

1 comment:

Rachel Kreutzinger said...

That is so cool, and congrats again to your mom! Hope that you can be un-injured next time too. I'd like to check this out next time it happens myself, it seems pretty fun, and I always like to hear that there are beginner-friendly options. Great to hear that it was well-staffed too, that's key.

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