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Locker Room

Flock to the Rock at Climb Iowa

2/6/2013

This cragsman contemplates the best means for maneuvering the rock wall. Conquer your fear of heights by climbing in the dark at Flock to the Rock.

This cragsman contemplates the best means for maneuvering the rock wall. Conquer your fear of heights by climbing in the dark at Flock to the Rock.

It’s time to turn off the lights, turn on your headlamps and get high — really high. Possible side effects include, but are not limited to, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, paranoia, muscle spasms, dehydration, temporarily increased blood pressure and the overwhelming desire to get high again after the come down. Upon entering, a participation agreement acknowledging all possible risks must be signed in order to participate or watch the evening’s main event. Strap yourselves in, and light up (your headlamps) for Climb Iowa’s Flock to the Rock competition. What did you think we were talking about?

“We have been holding a late winter event the last three years, but this is our first Flock to the Rock with this format,” said Aaron Stevens, general manager at Climb Iowa.

This competition’s focus is on red point top-roping and will feature three divisions based on skill level: recreational, intermediate and advanced, plus open climbs, which will include people of any skill level.

“We’ll have 33 teams competing that night, ranging from beginner to advanced,” said Calla Whipp, marketing director for Climb Iowa. “The advanced climbers will be clinging to seemingly impossible holds on the wall, precariously dangling three stories high… in the dark. Each climber will don a headlamp to illuminate their path.”

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In red point climbing, climbers are allowed to try a specific climb as many times as they wish, but they will only be awarded points if they finish it without falling, Stevens said.              

This year will be a team competition, rather than an individual event as in years past. The team of two will be scored as well as each individual.                

“Each route will be assigned a point value based on the route’s difficulty level,” Whipp said. “We will have about 100 routes set throughout the gym, so there will be lots of impressive climbing to witness.”               

This can get intense, even for spectators, Whipp said. The mind-blowing techniques the climbers attempt while in darkness, and watching the headlamps flicker around, seemingly floating toward the ceiling, is enough to both strap you in suspense and inspire you to harness up.                

“The community of a climbing event is second to none. There is not immense pressure to perform, and all competitors want to see everyone succeed,” said Stevens. “Novices are more than welcome, provided they know how to belay (taking out slack in the rope from the ground as the climber ascends). You can rent all the necessary equipment except a headlamp.”

Locker room note: Pick the best athletes the Greater Des Moines area has to offer for the Central Iowa Sports Awards, which recognizes the best athletes, teams and games of the year. The only requirement to be nominated is that the activities must have occurred within a 75-mile radius of Principal Park in Des Moines.            

Cast your vote for the 2012 Central Iowa Sports Awards that will be taking place on Sunday, Feb. 10, at www.facebook.com/catchdesmoines, or email your votes to info@catchdesmoines.com. Winners will be announced in March. The categories range from high school to professional and include best male/female athlete, all-around athlete, lifetime achievement and event of the year. CV

Flock to the Rock competition takes place Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight. You can register — if openings are still available — the day of competition at 5 p.m. for $40 or any day before Feb. 9 for $30. Coffee will be served to keep competitors awake, but outside food or drink is welcome. (Alcohol is not permitted on site.) Find more information at www.climbiowa.com or call 986-2565.

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