When are you too old to be a competitive climber?


Original Post
SKA · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 5

I love climbing, and when I started in ‘89, it was just about adventure, getting up to the Adirondacks and Gunks; basically pullin’ hard and just having fun. I am 46 now, and I still love ‘just climbing,’ but I also have a competitive streak.

Competitive climbing is growing at exponential rates throughout the country, particularly in the youth arena, but masters climbing is growing too. In other areas of the country it seems to really be catching on and becoming somewhat competitive, but hasn’t really hit Colorado yet. And come on, it’s Colorado we should have 10x as many older climbers than the other states. Typically the masters category is 45+, but if we get enough climbers involved, we could divide into 55+ as well 65+. It is a hell of a lot more fun competing with each other than nineteen-year-olds, so let’s see how far we can push ourselves . . .

Also if you know of any climbing events coming up; competitions, workshops, or lectures, geared toward older climbers, please share it on Colorado Climbing Masters Facebook group. We are really trying to bring the ‘masters’ community together, not just for competitions, but to share our experiences so that we can all climb well into our eighties.

With that said, Denver Bouldering Club South will be hosting a USAC local bouldering competition on October 1st with adult categories starting at 4pm. They have awesome route setters and they just renovated the South gym, so I know It is going to be a great event. If you plan on attending, join our Facebook group and let us know you are going. See you there . . .

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ColoradoClimbingMasters/

May We Always Be Crazy!!!

Daniel H. Bryant · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 275

I've never gotten into competitive climbing, but I've always been curious if it is broken up into age groups like road races (21-24, 25-29, 30-34, et-cetera).
Last time I looked at a competition, it appeared to be geared toward high school youth and the age groups were broken up to 19, then it was one general 19+ group for adults.
The appeal is greater with narrowed grouping because the likely hood of winning is increased.

Dan Cooksey · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 365

Dude ive been climbing for 3 years im 30 and I do comps. They're a blast. You just have to be able to deal with getting smoked by younger kids.

Will S · · Joshua Tree · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,053

Masters category for USA Climbing used to be >40yo (most sports use 40 as the start of masters). Sometime around 2011-2012, USA Climbing changed the category to >45yo.

No explanation was given (I was 39 when they changed, expecting to compete in ABS in the Masters cat the following year). No idea why they changed it, especially for a power sport like bouldering where athletes peak around 28-30 and might remain competitive with youth until the mid 30s.

So now, despite actually wanting to compete, I can't for another year and change, I'd love to hear the logic for that change from USA Climbing, it sure didn't increase the number of 40-45 year olds competing, and it's not like there were ever going to be 43 year olds on the open cat podiums.

SKA · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 5

Yank-N-Yard National Cup Series at the Stone Age Climbing Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 15-16th? Masters is 40+. It looks like a lot of fun, I am considering making the drive?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qqf8ePcE0L0

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 165

I'm 59, for a few more days, and have enjoyed a few comps. However, if you really wanted them to be a thing, our sport should figure out a handicapping system like golf. That way, you are competing against your own personal best. For reference, that's what makes golf work. I can play against guys who are a lot better than me, and occasionally take a few bucks from them.

SKA · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 5

Daniel,

I totally agree - age brackets. I think it's the chicken versus the egg, if more older climbers started competing, the gyms might organize it into brackets. Also if gyms marketed it to Masters climbers or with age brackets more older climbers might show up.

I've only competed in one bouldering competition so far and that was the Denver Bouldering Club's Heart and Soul comp last February. I will do this competition every year. They did announce that they were going to have a Masters category but it was later in their marketing. As far as I know there were five Masters boulderers that attended. It was funny we all ended up finding each other. One guy actually came up to me and asked me how old I was. I told him 45 and he looked at me and said "crap!" We started laughing.

Since USA Climbing changed the age limit for masters to 45+, maybe bracketing should correspond with something like this for competitions.

-35
35-45
45-55
55-65
65+

What do you think?

Also harass your local gyms to bracket their competitions. It wouldn't cost them anything, all they would have to do is organize the results.

May We Always Be Crazy!!!

Daniel H. Bryant · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 275
SKA wrote:What do you think?
I like the idea of brackets.
I've chimed in on a few posts regarding climbing in the olypmics, climbing grades in general, and the possibility of standardizing the sport....but I'm usually met with resistance or abstract points of view which result in the forum branching on a tangent.

This is just my opinion, but due to the subjective nature of climbing, it lends itself more to art than sport.

With the sport point of view, I want to dial in the boundaries, but they are left wide open, example: someone with an ape index greater than one is going to be able to climb the same grade climb easier than someone whose ape index is less than one. Basically, we don't isolate the climbers from each other into similar classes (like lightweight/heavyweight), its just one general class: climber.

Something to remember, this is all just thoughts and ideas, nothing I say is concrete, so please don't take any offense.
Jon Nelson · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 4,695

To answer the question in the title: never.

So far, I've found competitions to be a lot of fun, and the other competitors are generally friendly and supportive. So, the atmosphere is not really "competitive", but fun and social.

About the brackets, some competitions don't have enough of the over 40s to warrant extra brackets, at least now. But I imagine that to change as more and more older climbers start to compete.

llanSan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 130

There should also be weight divisions, not everyone is anorexic vegan dave graham style.

SKA · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 5

Victor, Sanllan, & Daniel,

I don't know about handicapping climbing, not too sure how to really make it work . . . I certainly do not want to figure out that algorithm.

45 with a newborn
45 with 3 kids
45 and recently divorced
45 & unemployed
45 with two jobs
45 single and a dirtbag.
45 and over 200 pounds
45 and over 6 foot tall
45 and +10 ape index
45 and vegan

LOL . . . May We Always Be Crazy!!!

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60
Jon Nelson wrote:some competitions don't have enough of the over 40s to warrant extra brackets, at least now.
That would be my sense as well. I'm 52 (though started climbing in the late 70s). I hit the gym a max of once a week when I pick up my daughter at her climbing team practice. I see guys close to my age, but rarely my age or older. I know from friends that other gyms do have more participants in our age range, but they're aren't that many. It's mostly a young person thing. I get the sense most of the older climbers like climbing outside instead. For example, I've had a grim couple of weeks at work, so the wife is being nice to me and giving me an afternoon off this weekend. I could hit the gym, but I'm going to Stoney Point instead. Way more fun and interesting. Having said that, if they had comps with brackets (and I could climb enough to actually get in shape), it might be fun to do.
llanSan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 130

LOL

ARonchetti · · Mundelein, IL · Joined May 2011 · Points: 15

I climb at Adventure Rock in Milwaukee and each fall they do the Battle of the Ages. Basically you climb your decade. 20-21, ect. I think lower than that is a more broad category. It's usually pretty fun. Granted it's more of a fun member comp than a cash prize kind of comp... But First-Third and Last get refrigerator magnets.

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6,415

Keep fit, keep working it!

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/108318573

SKA · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 5
ARonchetti wrote:Battle of the Ages.
Very Cool Idea! That is what we need here in Colorado . . . A "Boulderer of the Ages" competition.

Better yet, we need to convince some gym like The Spot to host a "Bolder Boulderer"
Jon Nelson · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 4,695
ARonchetti wrote:... Granted it's more of a fun member comp than a cash prize kind of comp... But First-Third and Last get refrigerator magnets.
Neat idea about giving the guy in last place a prize. I wonder if some people actually try to be last?
ARonchetti · · Mundelein, IL · Joined May 2011 · Points: 15

I don't think anyone ever tries to be last but it can depend on the division. One year the guy in the 70-79 division got first and last.

RobC2 Cotter · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 240
SKA · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 5

Nice! Would you do it again? I plan on competing next year.

Also, I was looking at it last night, what is the difference between heat 1 and heat 2?

RobC2 Cotter · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 240

Yes it's my second year. Timing, a morning and an afternoon wave.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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