Student takes on a different kind of sport

One BHS students takes up rock climbing as a competitive sport.

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Michael Tenney, Staff Writer

It’s no secret that sports are popular at Biddeford High School, however, one student in particular takes on a whole new perspective in his athletic life.

Taking up rock-climbing, junior Conlon Kane loves putting himself through hard work to experience the accomplishment of fighting through a climb he feels afterward.

I like the challenge of looking at a problem that I know is too hard and being able totake it piece by piece and end up getting the route and finishing it from the start,”

— Conlon Kane

Kane said.

Even though Kane can’t rock climb in Biddeford, he found a gym in Portland. “Evo Rock + Fitness Climbing Gym,” Kane attends three times a week for three hours per practice. During practice, Kane said there is a lot of preparation that comes with doing even a single climb.

“After you stretch yourself out really well and get warmed up,” said Kane. “You want to sit down and look at the route that you’re trying to figure out and plan as you’re looking at it. Which hand you want to go where [and] how you want to move to where.”

Not surveying the climb, he leads to taking a longer amount of time and wasting more energy that you didn’t need to waste in the first place.

“If you don’t take a good amount of time to survey the route of the problem, then you have no idea what you’re doing when you get up on the wall,” Kane said.

With this passion for rock climbing, Kane found a rock climbing team to join.

unnamed“It’s not a group sport but you still have a team that you go with,” said Kane. “And the way the competitions work is each climb is worth a certain number of points. Harder climbs are worth more. You add up your five best climb scores and then that’s your total score. So you have three hours to do five climbs as hard as you possibly can. “

While surveying the problem is important, it’s also important to know whether a lead climbing, top roping, or bouldering climb is getting taken as well.

“Bouldering is just shorter climbs with no rope,” said Kane. “Lead climbing is when you clip the rope in as you go, and top roping is what everyone thinks of when they go rock climbing, when there’s a person standing at the bottom that holds you up.”

Each type of climb is based off of a specific system. Lead climbing and top roping are based off of a five system. The hardest climb in the world equates to a 5-16C.

“It [5-16C] means only the best climbers in the world can climb that, I’m at about a 5-12,” Kane said.

However, bouldering is on a V system, which is a bit different than lead climbing and top roping.

“There’s V-1 to V-16, I believe,” said Kane. “V-1 and V-0’s are the easy stuff that you’d let little kids climb. V-2’s are a little harder and you get into more complex moves [and] smaller holds.”

While climbing is a bit strenuous, Kane believes anyone is capable of it, no matter how big or small someone is.

“I’ve seen people that are really built that rock climb,” said Kane. “And people more like me that don’t really have that much muscle at all that still climb. But, the ideal rock climbers are about 12-13 [years old] because their muscles can take a lot more strain without getting tired as quickly.”

Starting out early in climbing, the more someone improves over time. Evo climbing coach, Sean Wieboldt said when someone becomes an advanced climber, that’s when they need to push themselves the most.

“You also need to be motivated to keep going hard in order to see the same physical gains you saw at the beginning,” said Wiebolt. “Strategy becomes a very important factor as you learn how to climb smart and efficiently.”

Wieboldt started coaching about three and a half years ago, and since then he learned so much about the people he helped coach. Wieboldt’s favorite part of coaching include working with excited people that love what they’re doing, and seeing them progress along every single climb.

“Those moments where a climber fights through a climb the entire way,” said Wieboldt. “Thinking that they are going to fall at any moment but doesn’t give in and just keeps going. When they get to the top and realize they just did something that took every ounce of energy they had but they completely succeeded in it. Seeing that happen to my climbers is an amazing thing to witness.”

Wieboldt sees not only a lot of growth physically from his students, but as people too.

“Seeing a person grow as a climber is like seeing them do something-in this case a climb-that they never thought possible,” said Wieboldt. “But, you get to see that happen again and again. It’s like watching someone learn to crawl, and then walk, and then jog, and then sprint. You keep being amazed at how well they are doing and everything they have accomplished.”

While the physical shape of someone doesn’t matter when it comes to rock climbing, neither do personal interests.

“You could have someone that works in a cubicle all day and goes out in the afternoon after they get off work and goes and climbs,” said Kane. “Or, you have people that are body-builders or personal trainers and as an exercise they’ll go out and climb because it works so many muscle groups.”

Climbing brings a whole new way to working muscle groups. A climbing wall almost made its way to the Biddeford High School gym.

“No one really took the initiative at that point to design and put one up,” said Goulet. “I think it has a lot to do with lack of space and lack of time in the gym because the gyms are heavily used so I think it puts a damper on things. “

Goulet never knew rock-climbing teams existed, however, she believes a lot of the students would love and benefit from a rock-climbing wall.

“I think it’s the challenge of doing something different,” said Goulet. “Rock climbing is something that can be easy and progress to being very difficult.”

Kane finds rock climbing difficult to define due to the several aspects it contains during a climb. He still appreciates the sense of accomplishment that it brings him every time he finishes a climb.

“When you climb something like that,” said Kane. “You just kind of see that ‘I just used my arms and everything in my body to get myself from the ground to where I am now’ and it just makes you feel really good.”