The enthusiastic rock-fondling horde was efficiently whisked up the mountain to the Montlake Golf Course in a line of Big Yellow Buses, and the competition started the moment everyone stepped off. A line of pads with legs strolled the 100 yards down the hill to branch out and wander among the melted marshmallows of grey stone, each offering its own intriguing arrangement of shapes and angles. Soon thereafter, the first sounds of flesh slapping rock echoed through the bare trees, and the crash pads began performing their namesake function, always accompanied by a collective sigh. . . and punctuated, occasionally, by a ricocheting golf ball, courtesy of the adjacent public course, whose owners graciously welcome another user group onto their beautiful land (see www.seclimbers.org for more details). The field itself runs along a short cliff line; the boulders range in size from humble to humbling, with problems that combine the best parts of both Hound Ears and Horse Pens: crimps and slopers. In many ways, this boulderfield is a perfect synthesis of the contrasting styles, for within a single problem, a climber can be forced to switch from closed to open hand, from steep to slabby, from punk rock to Mozart. The 400+ climbers found themselves divided into the distinct grottos that overflow with proud lines, each a tiny citadel whose walls seem designed not for breaching but scaling. After the initial, exuberant, coffee-fueled frenzy, the vibe turned more languid, with tries divvied with exemplary decorum.Check out 182 photos of the Stone Fort - Triple Crown Finale
The hyper-focused and smoothly professional Kate Reese displayed for the third time why she is the reigning Triple Crown Queen, coolly climbing her way to a third victory in the 2006 series and sealing her second overall win over the up-and-coming Sasha DiGiulian. Reese’s quick, unassuming approach made it almost impossible to actually catch her climbing, and no one caught her score. Visiting French strongman Tony Lamiche raged. He bested overall series winner Paul Robinson by 3000 points and climbed a number of longstanding projects in the field, leaving locals with a new understanding of what is possible. His smooth, self-assured style also taught everyone what good footwork looks like: effortless. The Awards Ceremony was a somewhat chilly affair, with the crowd noticeably smaller and more somber than at the previous comps, no doubt attributable to the length of the day, the wind, and lure of ‘Nooga nightlife. Still, the schwag and beer were plentiful, and the crowd warmed itself with cheers, keg stands, and the hotly-contested pull-up comp (the men’s winner did 4 one-arms with each arm on his way to a total of 32 post-comp pull-ups). Those who attended all three comps were able to enjoy the fruits of a tremendous effort by a dedicated group of organizers and volunteers; conversely, the comps raised money for the Southern Climber’s Coalition to actually buy a boulderfield in urban Atlanta: Boat Rock will soon be owned by climbers and open for and to all climbers, forever. And that, friends and neighbors, is what makes a good comp: a reason for being that extends beyond a single day and a new pair of shoes.