Winter is here, and it may be too cold to scale the heights of Smith Rock outdoors. However, climbing fans don’t have to hang up their shoes quite yet. Bend Rock Gym has kicked off their inaugural Open Series with the first competition taking place on Saturday.
This is the first competition BRG has hosted since 2020, but the 3 years have been well worth the wait. To celebrate the return of climbing comps, the route setters wanted to make it memorable. From the slow, methodical static routes, to dynamic dynos, every climber was able to showcase their strengths.
“I really liked yellow number 11,” Sterling Phelps said. “The holds were really good, deep, grippy holds. They were just positioned in kind of hard places to get around. But it was really fun.”
Staff weren’t sure how many people would come since it’d been so long since their last competition. But if you offer climbers a chance to climb, they will come. There were 85 total climbers competing at the BRG Open Series. Including spectators, that number jumps to around 200 in total.
“We didn’t really know what to expect,” Head Route Setter Nathan Gerhardt said. “We’re very happy with the turnout we had.”
From decades-long veterans to kids as young as six years old, the Open Series welcomed all levels of climbing. Although the competition does keep track of scores, these events aren’t all about winning.
“I think it can be a really good life long sport,” Climber Wrigley Kline said. “My parents started climbing, when I did and they have a whole community of people their age. It’s a really good way to have a hobby, be active, and have a really big community.”
There’s no animosity between climbers, no jealousy of who will take first place. Competitions are a place for people to bond over their love of scaling up these walls. It didn’t matter if you’re a local or from a different state, the roaring crowds drowned out any differences.
“That’s the beauty about climbing, wherever you go,” Director of Operations Tim Han said. “Nobody is shooting for you to fail. Everybody wants to see you succeed because at the end of the day you just feel good when you get to climb.”
The BRG Open Series isn’t done quite yet. There are going to be 3 more competitions coming up in the new year, the first of which will be in February. Then the third competition is in March and the Grande Finale will take place in May.