At the American Bouldering Series Open National Championships this past weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, the competition featured the newly designed bouldering wall from Entre-Prises USA. The wall is part of a 5-year deal between Entre-Prises and USA Climbing.
In 2012 EP became USA Climbing’s Official Partner and Official Climbing Wall and Hold Sponsor. In January of 2015, they extended the agreement through 2019. “Supporting our National Governing Body is part of our culture since the beginning of EP,” said Todd Chester, EP Product Manager. “We have been involved with climbing competitions since the 80’s and continue to support national and international organizations that build healthy competitions for everyone.”
USAC’s CEO, Kynan Waggoner, told CBJ, “EP has a track record and history of providing great competition climbing walls to some of the biggest events in the world.” In fact EP has been sponsoring competition climbing in America since the first US World Cup at Snowbird in 1988, and built the bouldering and climbing walls for the ESPN X-Games. “It seemed natural for USA Climbing to partner with Entre-Prises after the completion of our previous 3 year agreement,” Waggoner said.
The design of the new wall has been a closely held secret with no photos or wall renderings released before last week’s event. Along with EP’s in-house design guru, Grant Ortman, USAC enlisted the creative talents of Chris Danielson, an international routesetter and climbing wall design consultant, to come up with a competition wall that would test the climbers on all skill sets.
“The three main wall types (low angle, slight, steep) and the variable configurations can help us test climbers across as many diverse styles as possible,” said Danielson. “It helps us give them the opportunity to demonstrate their unique skills.”
Danielson has helped design a number of commercial climbing facilities including Sender One’s Santa Ana and LAX facilities in California, Ascent Studio in Ft. Collins, CO, Vertical Adventures in Columbus, OH, and Stone Gardens in Bellevue, WA. He has also honed his design chops over multiple iterations of USAC comp walls: from the original Pyramid wall used at UBC events and the Vail World Cup from 2008 – 2011, to both versions of EP’s bouldering wall.
EP’s new wall is a refinement of the previous bouldering wall, which was used from 2012 to 2014 at ABS Nationals and the Vail World Cup. “Whereas the original EP wall was one of greater extremes, with big slabs and massive steep bays, the new wall is intended to balance out those extremes with more mid-range overhanging options,” Danielson said.
For EP’s Todd Chester, the largest difference between this year’s and last year’s wall is the addition of “adjustable sections and ensuring everything is interchangeable with the previous wall,” he said. “This allows the diversity for different skill levels, scaleable to the event needs and continues to prioritize install and disassembly times.”
Danielson, who was also on this year’s ABS Open Nationals routesetting crew, believes the wall is as important as the holds and the volumes used. “It is just as integral to the feeling of a competition and the results it creates as any other element of the equation,” he said. “But considering the walls or the actual routesetting, we are not determining the outcome of the competition but rather creating situations that challenge the climbers to manifest their own results.”
The Two Shall Meet
Even though USA Climbing has a new bouldering wall, that doesn’t mean it’s time to retire the old EP wall. The original wall will be re-paneled with the light grey and pink color scheme that is used on this year’s wall, and it will be given a fresh coat of EP’s new wall texture.
USAC’s Waggoner said they have no intention of selling the old wall. Instead they will keep the wall for future events. “We will have an infinite amount of different wall angles and orientations to choose from when we next host an event,” Waggoner said.
Climbing Business Journal is an independent news outlet dedicated to covering the indoor climbing industry. Here you will find the latest coverage of climbing industry news, gym developments, industry best practices, risk management, climbing competitions, youth coaching and routesetting. Have an article idea? CBJ loves to hear from readers like you!