Students scramble to the top

by John Cole
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Above: Sarah Robins scales the Rico’s Love climbing route while Thomas Jones attempts the Swab the Deck route at the 10th Annual Seaside Scramble on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Right: Josh Barnes makes his way up the Soar to Sore route.

Sweat drips down the brow of a climber who is clinging to the wall with all of the strength in his fingertips. He moves his hand slowly from one hold to another, trying to feel out his next move before lifting himself upward. With five feet left to climb, his determination will not allow him to stop now. After a few swift body movements, he advances to the top of the wall and is immediately met with shouts of congratulations from his friends and fellow climbers three stories below.

These movements were that of the climbers that participated in the 10th annual Seaside Scramble at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Student Recreation Center on Saturday, Feb. 11. Dozens of climbers from UNCW, East Carolina University, Cape Fear Community College and the surrounding area came to the climbing wall to prove their prowess, compete for prizes and, most importantly, to have a good time climbing with friends.

The event was organized by UNCW student, Kelsey Garner, who has assumed this responsibility for the second consecutive year. Garner claimed that organizing the event helped push her in the direction of event management once she graduates. Although she enjoys the process, Garner also professed that there were many challenges in planning this event.

"Finding sponsors was hard—donations from businesses, products, promotions and coupons. Marketing, it’s expensive," said Garner.

Yet the event was well publicized within the UNCW climbing community, and showed an excellent turnout of climbers of all skill levels. The rock wall in UNCW’s Student Recreation Center is the only rock wall in the city of Wilmington and students who love the sport flock to it in their spare time. Most of the climbers that came out to the competition are friends who often climb with each other during the week, but the competition gave these climbers another reason to show up on a Saturday morning.

The climbers were awarded points for each route they successfully climbed—the most difficult courses being worth the most points. Climbers’ final scores were determined by adding up their highest scores throughout the day. Guys and girls of all skill levels studied the routes and determined their best strategy to earn a high score.

The competition put a whiff of excitement in the air. As the more experienced climbers attempted the harder courses, onlookers watched from the floor below, encouraging their climbing comrades and cheering heartily when climbers hit the top.

James Anastasion spent 18 hours on the climbing wall the day before the competition, creating brand new climbing routes and testing each one. Anastasion, a climbing director for a gym in Washington, D.C., wanted to design these routes to help climbers learn how to use their bodies correctly while climbing; teaching them the proper method without actually being there. Anastasion also places a lot of thought into the aesthetic appeal of a climb while also varying its difficulty.

"It comes from a lot of personal climbing experience, as well as inventiveness," said Anastasion about his design methods.

UNCW student Brennan Manion was pleased with the new routes, and as soon as he arrived at the wall in the morning made a pledge.

"I’m going to climb as much as possible. Everything in here. It will be from 9 to 5, like a job," said Manion after his second climb of the day. "My arms are juiced right now, it’s like holding on for dear life. Each movement up there is like a little rush, and it keeps me wanting more."

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