The summer Outdoor Retailer Show wrapped up this weekend in Salt Lake City. These trade shows bring something like 30,000 outdoor industry people to town to see new products coming to market (and show off their own goodies) at over 1,500 display booths. Our dear friends attend each show (check out their amazing organic skin products here), which means we get to spend time with them twice a year here in Utah. On Friday, we were invited to the ClifBar Psico Bloc, a climbing event at the Olympic Park here in Park City. I’d missed the event last year, but I’d seen photos. Another friend works for ClifBar and gave us the VIP treatment for the show. Bonus!
Psico Bloc refers to solo climbing (no ropes!) over a deep body of water. This event would bring the best climbers in the world to compete against each other (with $30,000 in prizes on the line). We’d seen the climbing wall from afar for a couple of weeks, but it’s far more intimidating up close. It was set up on the edge of the pool that ski jumpers use to land in during practice. The wall towered over the water, four stories high, with a significant overhang that meant gravity would be a serious factor in the competition. We snaked our way through food trucks and sponsor tents at the entrance and arrived at the pool just as the female climbers were finishing the heat to determine who would compete in the finals. Their strength was incredible, particularly on the overhang where they swung like monkeys and held on for dear life. Once at the top, there’s only one way down: to JUMP into the pool, 50 feet below. Whoa.
Workers adjusted the climbing wall holds to increase the difficulty for the men’s competition. We sipped drinks and watched the moon rise, entertained by the ski jumpers doing tricks into the pool. As the boys took their place on the wall, It was clear from the first heat that this was going to be a tight competition. I couldn’t believe how quickly these guys were climbing a 5.14 wall (one was timed at 40 seconds). Amazing talent!
John and I made our way around the event for to see the wall from different perspectives. For the semi-finals and finals, we ended up standing near Lynn Hill, one of the best female climbers in the world- a climbing legend. We watched the two fastest climbers race side-by-side up the wall, neck and neck until the top. The crowd loved it!
We watched the climbers receive their awards, a seriously impressive line-up of young athletes. We finished our drinks and listened to the live band for a while before bidding adieu to the wall. The almost-full moon illuminated our stroll back to the car. What an incredible event- so excited to have been a part of it!