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Western sophomore Mara Morrissey competing in the Dyno competition with another Western student at the Veni Vidi Ascendi rock climbing event on Saturday, Feb. 1. // Photo courtesy of Rhys Logan.

See what kind of decisions course builders need to make when planning for the NC3 climbing competition and how you can get into bouldering at Western in this interactive presentation.

By Izzy Shelton-Smith

The Wade King Student Recreation Center echoed with cheers of encouragement Saturday, Feb. 1, as the climbing walls were filled with athletes ready to compete in the 15th annual Veni Vidi Ascendi.

Veni Vidi Ascendi is part of a larger rock climbing competition, the Northwest Collegiate Climbing Circuit (NC3). Climbers from all over Pacific Northwest college clubs, or individually, compete at NC3 climbing competitions hosted by colleges throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Climbing wall coordinator Dane Siegfried said this year had the most competitors with 165 climbers from approximately 13 schools.

“I can’t even explain how amazingly supportive everyone in the climbing community is,” Western climber Mara Morrissey said.

With only a year of climbing experience under her belt, Morrissey said she was excited to be in her first climbing competition ever.

According to Siegfried, Veni Vidi Ascendi does something unique compared to some of the other climbing competitions. They do a Dyno competition where climbers follow the set route by leaping to the next hand or foot hold.

Morrissey was nominated by friends to compete in the Dyno competition and represented Western as the female climber.

“Usually I’m a little discouraged, just because I’m shorter and I’m not saying that’s a big deal in climbing but height-dependent routes are there,” Morrissey said. “The setters who are a little bit lengthier set routes for people who are a little bit lengthier and the Dynos are kind of encompassed by that.”

Another first-time competitor, Western third-year PJ Heusted said she preferred not to do the Dyno comp and instead preferred to remain static in her climbing.

“Climbing statically is like reaching for each hold really intentionally, very slowly basically,” Heusted said. “I am a strictly static climber; I do not like jumping.”

Heusted explained at the Western climbing gym, one of the main types of climbing that takes place is bouldering. Bouldering is what most of the competition consisted of, with shorter routes and no ropes.

Of the 165 competitors, six made it to the finals, of those six, Cierra Graham was the lone Western student. Graham is not on the climbing team, but entered the competition as an individual for her love of climbing.

Graham has been climbing for 10 years, starting when her parents decided they needed something to tire out her and her sister before a long flight from New Zealand.

“I competed at nationals a couple times when I was younger and I competed for the U.S. a few times in 2012 and 2015,” Graham said.

After watching the competition last year, Graham realized she missed competing and decided last-minute to enter this year’s competition. Graham cannot join the team because she is too busy with the Western track and field team.

“[Climbing] is something I’ve done for a lot longer. So, it definitely felt more comfortable today, then like track is kind of new, so I still struggle with that,” Graham said.

Graham said she finds herself needing to be in the same mental space for both track and climbing. 

Amelia Bineham, one of Western’s climbing gym setters, the people in charge of setting routes for climbers, said she loves the creativity behind the job and being around climbing.

Even though Bineham doesn’t plan to enter the competition anytime soon, she loves to watch and be a part of the climbing world in a non-competitive environment.

“It can be really fun because it’s such a slow process, but it’s like you’re fully engaged while you’re doing it and so your mind isn’t on anything else,” Bineham said.

Bineham’s boss, Siegfried, has been Western’s operations and climbing coordinator for three and a half years now. He trains and oversees programming at the rock wall. 

Our student employees work really hard to set cool routes and invest so much time and energy into it,” Siegfried said. ”Watching everyone just have a great time climbing and competing is pretty rewarding for everyone involved.” 

The next NC3 competition will be held at the Dirtbag Derby event on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon.

See what kinds of decisions course builders need to make when planning for the NC3 climbing competition and how you can get into bouldering at Western in this interactive presentation.

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