This year’s Heart of Steel was a step up over last year. The event was broken up into two sections, the morning for open (pro), beginner and youth. The afternoon for intermediate and advanced. This alleviated the wall congestion of 2010 and gave the event a more relaxed atmosphere. 2010 was crazy. Climbers were getting on walls as people were falling off in the crush to get climbs in. This year I got in more than enough climbs and was exhausted by the end of the event. I wish that they had set some boulder problems in the far room because I enjoyed the separate spaces. For next year I would love to see both bouldering areas set and maybe even some stuff on the lower section of the top rope routes. A bunch of great sponsors like EMS, ASA Photographic and Scion of Woburn were there to support the event. I also met some guys from a new magazine focused on northeast climbing called Climberism. What a great idea.
I missed some of the competitors from last year’s Heart of Steel. I was particularly hoping that Sasha DiGuilian would be there after I read she recently ascent a 5.14c, Southern Smoke. She is tearing it up. I also missed the high flying antics of Michael Bautista.
Regardless, this year’s Heart of Steel finals Blew My Mind. The route setting was spectacular both for its creativity and for the number of ways climbs could be accomplished. Watch all the videos and notice how beta varied so much between contestants. This kept the event exciting because you were not watching people make the same moves over and over again. There were monos, hand jams, foot jams, double toe cams, inverted maneuvers, dynos. Sick. So, so sick. There was also a surprise as Boston Rock Gym’s own Daniel Berman qualified for the finals despite competing in the Advanced category. He absolutely crushed it and ended up with more points than the third place Open finisher, Josh Larson. BRG stepped it up and opened their wallet to do the right thing. They had four men in the finals instead of three. Daniel is only fourteen, but he climbs like a man. The crowd loved him. I think he was probably at a pretty big disadvantage because he climbed from two to six while the open competitors climbed from nine to one. This meant he only got two hours of rest before the finals while everyone else got seven hours. Me… I need about two days of rest after climbing.
The women put on a great show and climbed some hard hard stuff. Their routes were left up post comp. The pink route was rated V9 and the yellow route V8+. After climbing (falling off?) them I would agree. There were two huge highlights for me. One was Sasha’s fantastic foot and handwork to get the lower $100. She literally rotates three hundred sixty degrees around a hand/foot jam. The other was Tiff’s dyno on problem one. I was filming and then all of a sudden she just disappeared from the frame. After quickly ruling out teleportation I found her though and caught the rest of her climb.
In the end Vasya handily took home the men’s crown for the third year straight. Someone out there has to show up at the Heart of Steel and give this guy a run for his money because I am starting to feel like he is only competing against himself. The women’s title was a lot more interesting. They tied for the amount of money collected and so would split the prize pot. However, at this year’s competition there was an option to buy another try for $20. Most of the competitors turned this down because let’s face it, after six minutes of giving it 110% twenty bucks probably isn’t going to get you any further unless it also bought you ten minutes of rest. But Tiff was in a special situation. Because they were in a dead tie if she could get any money off the wall she wouldn’t have to split the pot. However, if she failed to get any money off the wall then Sasha would get the whole pot. Drama! In the end she chose to play it safe (or smart), by splitting the pot. Imagining how tired she must have been… I can’t blame her.