Inside Western Washington University's crowded Wade King Student Recreation Center, competitors from across the Pacific Northwest gathered around the climbing wall to watch each other tackle over 80 unique routes created by the rec center climbing staff.
“We shut down our wall a week before the event,” said Western Operations/Climbing Wall Coordinator Dane Siegfried. “We spend all week setting brand-new routes with our route setters. … We set about 85 new routes for this event because we have about 120 to 150 climbers come; it’s a pretty big undertaking.”
The Veni Vidi Ascendi, which translates to “I came, I saw, I climbed,” held on Feb. 4 is the first Northwest Collegiate Climbing event Western has hosted since 2020 due to COVID-19.
“We had an event last year, but we hosted Western students only due to COVID-19; in 2021 [Veni Vidi Ascendi] was canceled,” Siegfried said.
Siegfried stated the 2023 event returned to hosting competitors from across the region, including universities from Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
The climbing event also returned with rule changes that included the addition of an open circuit, which opens up routes to all competitors.
“This year for the first time we also had an open circuit for climbing, so everyone gets to attempt every route,” Siegfried said. “Climbing is a sport where the rock is the rock. It’s there to climb for everyone.”
One member of the Western climbing team, Taiming YuenJames, stated he was more focused on the experience of the event than his score.
“As for how it went, fantastic … I actually forgot to turn in my scorecard,” he said. “I’m more focused on having a good time, meeting a bunch of really cool people and improving myself.”
According to YuenJames, the competition was incredibly supportive.
“To be able to come to one of these competitions and have an entire body of people supporting you, [and] to support your friends, teammates and people you don’t know, that’s a very powerful experience,” he said.
The head setter of Western’s climbing wall staff, Boris Weinfurt, said the event’s setup required a massive workload.
“Normally, we’ll set about 15 routes in a normal week. For the competition, we set approximately 80 routes,” he said. “It’s physical work, so you end every day drained.”
For Weinfurt, the competition is an opportunity to see climbers complete the extremely difficult routes he enjoys setting.
“I usually set the hardest routes at the gym. … It’s rare that I get to see people climb my routes,” he said. “Today, because there were so many strong climbers, I could make them as hard as I wanted and people would climb them.”
The event further connects the Western climbing community and featured prizes such as Vital Climbing day passes and Mount Baker lift tickets, which were donated by community businesses and raffled off to competitors, Siegfried said.
“I’ve been here for about seven years now, so I’ve seen quite a few competitions, watching our staff grow together and bond,” he said. “It’s something they can be proud of and remember.”
YuenJames said the climbing community at Western provides an extraordinary amount of support.
“Last competition, I told the entire team as we were eating dinner together in a hotel, 'It’s been a while since I’ve felt like I’ve had a family outside of my own family,'” he said. “That’s what climbing provides for me.”
To learn more about upcoming Northwest Collegiate Climbing events, click here.
Theron Danielson (he/him) is a sports and recreation reporter for The Front this quarter. He is in his third year, majoring in journalism with a minor in film. His writing interests include sports, radio and student-led events. He enjoys musical theater, watching anime and yelling at the TV while watching sports.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @therondanielson