Two climbers are called forward and shown their task. Their friends call out cheers as they approach the wall. The crowd quiets down for a short moment as the climbers get set.
Their feet and hands in position, bodies relax for a short moment before they spring with all their might to reach for a small hand hold above them. A cheer of excitement releases from the crowd as a climber’s hand makes contact, but it’s quickly followed by claps of support as their hand slips and they crash to the mat seven feet below.
Over a hundred climbers squish into the remaining mat space with overflow huddling around the outside, or standing on the stairways and terraces above peering in to get a good view of the dyno competition that was taking place.
Crowds like this only form once a year at Western’s campus climbing wall located in the Wade King Student Recreation Center, and Veni Vidi Ascendi is the reason. It was an all-day competition that started at 9 a.m. and ended a little after 8 p.m., with over 140 competitors from colleges around the Northwest showing up to compete this year.
This annual climbing competition hosted by Western is the first stop in the 2018 Northwest Collegiate Climbing Circuit. The NC3 is made up of a series of competitions that take place at Washington, Oregon and Idaho colleges.
As more climbers failed the jump, the crowds support and encouragement never lessons. The cheers only got louder for the climbers who succeeded.
Creating an inclusive and fun environment held a special meaning for the team hosting the event.
Last Memorial Day weekend, Shelby Withington, a former team member and master of ceremonies, died in a climbing accident.
Bell said this year’s competition was dedicated to Withington.
“We wanted to try and put on the best and most energetic event we could in his honor and memory,” Stewart Bell, building supervisor for the climbing wall team, said.
From filling the rec center with a cheer that was started by Withington in past years, to the constant high-fives, smiles and words of encouragement, the effort put forth by the staff to create a great event and share their love for climbing was seen throughout the day.
“I’m really proud of the people who I’m working with here,” Bell said. “You can just tell we gave it our all out there it was amazing to see.”
A unique aspect of Veni Vidi Ascendi is the dyno competition, where a climber launches from one hold, making a dynamic move to gain momentum and reach the next hold.
“The dyno competition is one thing we do that is different from any other competition and something that people look forward to when they come to Veni Vidi Ascendi,” Dane Siegfried, climbing wall coordinator, said.
“We have climbers from Western, Whatcom, University of Washington, Central Washington University, Whitman, Portland, Portland State and the University of Idaho here today,” Siegfried said.
This is the hallmark event for Western’s climbing team.
“We spend months planning this thing, pretty much as soon as fall quarter starts.” Bell said. “This year we really tried give people more opportunities to climb and have fun.”
They did this by trying to introducing fun aspects to the day, like raffles to select the people who can compete in the events. And they tried to including as many people as possible.
“We try and cater to everyone because it’s really important to us to build that community,” Bell said.