Last weekend was the annual Battle for Bolts at the Planet Granite Belmont location. It’s a 12 hour overnight climbing competition. I was unable to attend the Belmont one last year, but I did do the Portland one. This was my first Belmont B4B, and I entered it with great anticipation.
- 12 hours of climbing
- You get bonuses for climbing at least 1 climb every hour
- Climbs are rated by level.
- You must climb the whole route form bottom to top without breaks for the points.
- You may only do a roped route 10 times throughout the night.
- You can do bouldering problems 20 times.
- You can only do each climb at most 2 times in a row to allow for more people to get the wall.
About my experience this year
This year I was part of team D-AR-E To Be Great! with Linda. Our set goal at the beginning was still to be there at the end. Basically, not get Evan to kick us out of the space. For those of you who don’t know, Evan is the gym manager at Belmont and my cohost on my podcast South Beta Podcast and as manager of the gym there was some serious concern if we would survive the full night together.
Last year I had spent the day before the event driving up to Portland. This year, I spent the night before at a corporate party, and the day before watching a roommate compete in a ballroom dance competition. The point is, I don’t have a good track record of starting these events well rested.
I was not rested for this event and it showed. I was able to climb the first couple of hours, but did much of the time talking to try and pace myself and annoy Evan and his staff. I have taken some real time off from climbing in the past couple of months to focus on family, rest, recovery and travel. This meant that my hands were not ready for 12 hours of climbing and within about 2 hours of climbing I was really feeling it. By the morning, I was down to doing about 1 climb an hour to try and preserve my hands and make it through the night.
Last year, there were 14 people in Portland at B4B. This year there were nearly 60 people at the Belmont gym. This was awesome, but because of the bigger crowd I didn’t feel as connected to the group. Last year, at Portland, the entertainment throughout the night was less involved in actual climbing. We had a milk crate stacking event, a dance off, and a donut eating without hands competition. This year we had a table climbing competition an obstacle course traverse. Both of these were very tied to the climbing and thus for those of us who are not high level climbers it was harder to be competitive in the events.
Other than that, I only have one other gripe. There was supposed to be headlamp climbing, but because people forgot to bring their headlamps it was cancelled. As someone who went out the day before to buy a headlamp so I would be prepared, this was a little frustrating.
At the end of the competition, while they are finishing up scores, they do a bunch of raffles. Many prizes are given away. This year I won a carabiner, which was a consolation prize, but I was stoked. This is a prize I will actually use and thing that I actually wanted.
Conclusion and Lessons
This year was a ton of fun! I’m very glad I spent the majority of my weekend on this event. Yes, the day after is spent sleeping and recovering so it really is most of the weekend. The Belmont staff was great, and put up with my shenanigans and didn’t kick me out, and I’m grateful for this.
For next year I want to focus on the following:
- Make sure I get as much sleep as humanly possible the night before.
- Relax and meditate before getting to the event, it is hard do it there, there is a lot of noise and not much quiet.
- Condition my hands before the event. Trying to climb 12 hours without really attempting to climb for more than a couple of hours in the weeks leading up to it is a bad idea.
- Pro tip: (learned from Linda) bring a clipboard for your score sheets. Bring healthier snacks. They provide some really good snacks, but not as much healthy options.
- Pro tip: (learned from Linda) Bring a Jumar for belaying. It helps take stress off the hands.
- Bring warm socks to wear between climbs. It really helps to keep your feet healthy.
Our team finished with 2930 points, in the Advanced division. Linda did the lion share of the point scoring, scoring more than 3 times as much as I did. Still, she only did about 20 more climbs than me. Still, very proud of our work and can’t wait until next year and this super special competition.