Popular climbing competition attracts elite field
April 14-16 After a one year hiatus, the Phoenix Bouldering Contest (PBC) is back for the 17th time, thanks to a slew of generous sponsors and motivated volunteers headed up by perennial organizer Jim Waugh. The PBC is one of America's classic climbing comps and attracts both elite sport climbers and average blokes looking for a good challenge and a fun party. Tommy Caldwell, David Graham and Tiffany and Jason Campbell are scheduled to compete, among others.
Since the last contest in 1998, standards in American climbing have been upped quite a bit. Tommy Caldwell knocked off the first full American free ascent of the Salathe and established what may be the US's first 14d, Kryptonite. Maine's David Graham burst on the scene, putting up several 5.14s on the East Coast, as well as redpointing several hard routes in the west. Chris Sharma has recovered from knee surgery and established many extreme boulder problems throughout the west, while Katie Brown became the first woman to flash 13d/14a. At the elite level, this year's comp should be hotly contested.
The contest takes place at the Oak Flats campground, about 75 miles east of Phoenix. Competitors will disperse to the boulders of Oak Flats at 8am, when the crack of the starter's pistol sets them off. Each participant has five hours to surmount as many problems as possible. Each problem has a specific score and competitors are ranked based on the cumulative total of their top eight problems. An added bonus this year is a post-event dyno contest, where competitors will try to outdo each other in huge dynamic leaps from hold to hold.
The weather forecasters predict that temperatures will moderate for the weekend, giving competitors and spectators a respite from the high 80s and low 90s that have prevailed here of late. Stay tuned for results, pics and videos from the high desert and steep boulders of central Arizona.
Matt Stanley, heading to the hot, hot, hot Southwest for MountainZone.com