By KALEIGH BUSH
Climbing enthusiasts everywhere, mark your calenders: on January 30th, 2010 the Boston Rock Gym and Evolv will host the second annual HEART OF STEEL bouldering competition. Flaunting a $2,400 cash purse in addition to a gorgeous line-up of prizes provided by a flock of industry leading sponsors, the HEART OF STEEL appeal speaks for itself. And, believe it or not, this year’s sequel is guaranteed to upstage last year’s inaugural jaw-dropping throwdown.
“Big cash prizes and good competition mixed with incredible event organization make this one of the most well run and unique climbing competitions going on,” explains one of last year’s HEART OF STEEL finalists Jon Glassberg, “HEART OF STEEL is setting the standard and breaking the mold for competition format and style. Period.” Glassberg’s thrilling performance earned him third place overall in the men’s Open division last year. Glassberg is shifting his focus this year by joining forces with the Boston Rock Gym’s elite team of route setters rather than entering the arena as a competitor.
HEART OF STEEL’s distinction as New England’s premier indoor climbing competition was imminent in its countless hours of preparation the first time around. But within the dawning moments of its preliminary competition, HEART OF STEEL proved itself capable of revolutionizing the face of indoor climbing competitions not only in its district, but nation wide. The triple digit turnout was littered with strong, revered climbers; the routes were as futuristic as the concepts that breathed life into the HEART OF STEEL brainchild; Manowar’s ‘Heart Of Steel’ (the song after which the competition earned its appellation- a reference appreciated by fans of metal music) pumped adrenaline into the iron-clad veins of every participant, climber or otherwise. The tone had been set and a vision had been realized. “I love it when a competition has a style and a theme and becomes something that spectators and non-climbers can latch on to and really associate with,” says Glassberg. And this year, we can only expect a fine-tuned version of something that was nearly perfect to begin with. But overshadowing the many aspects of HEART OF STEEL leading up to its main event is the highly anticipated game show style finals round that really awards this climbing competition its rightful badge of honor.
If for no other reason, you won’t want to miss HEART OF STEEL for its outstanding display of a finals round. The event’s most notable distinction is its groundbreaking strategy for distributing cash prizes to the top female and male athletes of the day. Exponentially increasing denominations of cold hard cash are taped along the course of each finals problem, baiting each competitor to shamelessly duke it out amongst the others in an outrageous episode of sheer plastic-pulling pandemonium. Bathed in spotlight, each competitor is challenged to pull as many bills as possible off of the wall, creating their own personal cash pot. “Instead of being awarded a check for finishing in a top position, you can complete a finals boulder problem and have the cash in your hand as a direct result of climbing well in the moment. A tangible reward that is very motivating to climbers,” Glassberg said.
In addition to the generous cash prizes, there’s a whole slew of killer swag provided by some of the climbing industry’s top sponsors. Just some of the loot up for grabs this year include three crashpads; two Nemo tents; sleeping bags, packs, and softshells from The North Face; Evolv shoes; rope from New England Ropes; Petzl harnesses, and more. Additionally, there will be free coffee and hot chocolate, free food, video games, and sponsor tables to take advantage of during down time.
The HEART OF STEEL competition is quickly becoming a benchmark for innovation in the competitive climbing circuit, and everyone made up of the industrial-strength vital organs to handle it is encouraged to be a part of it. “The Boston Rock Gym knows how to throw a party,” Glassberg assures us.