Last weekend, Team Touchstone attended the SCS National Championship in Kennesaw, GA. This event, hosted at the Stone Summit’s Kennesaw climbing gym, is the largest youth sport climbing competition in the US, and the culmination of the 6-month sport climbing season.
Each year, top climbers from around the country make the trek to Nationals to compete against the best young climbers in America. To attend Nationals, climbers must first qualify at the Regional and Divisional levels, which have become increasingly competitive in recent years. The West Coast is home to some of the top climbers in the country, so even qualifying for Nationals is no easy task.
At SCS (sport/speed climbing) Nationals, climbers compete over the course of four days, moving first through qualifying rounds, semi-finals, and finals. Given the extraordinary level of talent and fitness of the climbers at Nationals, each day of competition is fierce, demanding incredible mental focus and perfect physical execution of the routes.
It is important to note that the climbers at Youth Nationals are not only the best young climbers in the country; they are some of the best climbers in the country, period. Many of the participants at Nationals also compete on the adult circuit, and perform at a level that rivals many of the best adult climbers in the country.
This year at Nationals, we had 5 climbers compete in Sport, and 8 climbers compete in Speed. In Sport, climbers are faced with routes that are not only physically difficult and demanding, but mentally challenging as well. The sequences of these routes are often cryptic, requiring insightful route reading and on-the-wall problem solving in order to move through them.
These routes are crafted with the goal of only having one climber be able to complete them, so the routes are set to be progressively difficult; i.e. each move is harder than the last. Climbers are scored based on the highest hold they attain, with ties being broken by count-backs to previous rounds, or, in rare cases, superfinals.
In Speed, climbers aim to ascend the official IFSC (International Federation of Sport Climbing) 15 meter speed route as fast as possible. Many climbers train for years on this route, refining their technique so as to eliminate any loss of efficiency on the route. When the winner of Speed competitions can be decided by as little as a hundredth of a second, climbers must execute the route flawlessly, perfectly meshing physical power with absolute precision of movement.
Team Touchstone finished this season with an overall team standing of 11th place in the nation. The results of our individual climbers (in their respective categories) who competed at Nationals are as follows:
Lauren Berry (FYC): 6th
Nick Bradley (MJR): 7th
Matt Grossman (MYB): 12th
Ethan Rogers (MYC): 16th
Cate Harty (FYC): 18th
Matt Grossman (MYB): 6th
Ethan Rogers (MYC): 6th
Seth Rogers (MYB): 10th
Nick Bradley (MJR) 12th
Lauren Berry (FYC): 15th
Hannah Grossman (FYA): 22nd
Cate Harty (FYC): 27th
*Unfortunately Hannah Donnelly was unable to compete due to injury.
The experience of Nationals is truly incredible; it brings together all of the best young climbers in the country for the fiercest competition at the national level. And in spite of the competitive nature of the event, a sense of community and camaraderie persists and reminds us that climbing isn’t just about competing or winning; it’s about the love of the sport and the people in it.
Huge thanks to our Team sponsors Petzl and Five Ten for their support!
Starting in September, we’ll be training hard for the American Bouldering Series (ABS), with ABS Nationals taking place in February. Watch for Team Touchstone to be training hard in the Touchstone gyms, and to be crushing on the bouldering competition circuit! You can follow the team’s progress on Facebook or Instagram.