New climbing facility hosts national competition

NORTH SHELBY – The new High Point Climbing and Fitness facility off U.S. 280 recently hosted the largest bouldering competition ever held in the Southeast, said Ben Lowe, marketing and communications coordinator for High Point.

The Vulcan Cup competition was held Dec. 16-17, 2016, in a facility so new that it was not fully open to the public at the time of the event.

Bouldering is a climbing practice based on speed and strength as opposed to endurance, which is the focus of higher climbs using ropes.

Male and female competitors were split into the Citizens level for amateurs and the Open level for professionals, which included some of the world’s top climbers competing for a $10,000 cash prize.

Lowe said there was a crowd of spectators on hand.

“It’s very infrequent that people from Birmingham get the opportunity to see climbers of this caliber,” Lowe said. “We had some of the world’s best rock climbers all in one room in one night. It really brings the spotlight into the Southeast and especially Birmingham that we’re here and we’re doing it on the top-notch level.”

Shawn Raboutou finished in first place in the Open finals, while Alex Puccio was first among women.

Climbers were presented four “problems,” or different climbs, and then judged based on time and how far they were able to advance.

The Citizens level climbers competed for prizes including blocks of climbing chalk, jackets, shoes, gift certificates and more.

“We had a mountain of stuff to give away,” Lowe said.

The Vulcan Cup was the third of four competitions in the USA Climbing National Cup Series.

Other competitions have been held in Albuquerque, New Mexico and San Diego, California.

The final series event will be the Dark Horse Championship at MetroRock in Boston, Massachusetts on Jan. 20-21.

Since the Vulcan Cup competition, the rope room has opened at High Point, meaning the facility is now fully open to the public.

The rope room facilitates longer and higher climbs with the use of ropes.

“We’ve had a huge influx of people who have been waiting on this,” Lowe said and added that High Point is designed to offer climbing for all skill levels and to teach those who want to become more involved in the activity. “It’s been great. It’s going to be a huge tool for the area in general.”