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'You never know what the issue or the challenge is going to be': Competitive climbers hope to rise above the competition in London, Ont.


More than 200 of the top rope climbers in the province gathered in London this weekend.

They are at the Junction Climbing Centre for the Ontario Climbing Federation’s Roped Climbing Provincial Championships.

Roped climbing is one three climbing disciplines, along with bouldering and speed climbing. In roped climbing, also known as route climbing, athletes attempt to make their way up specially crafted climbs reaching four storeys in height.

Junction owner John Kudelka helped organize the weekend event.

“The top eight athletes today will go on to the finals tomorrow [Sunday] and the top athletes from that event will be invited to compete in the national competition,” he explained.

Ontario Climbing Federation Executive Director Nathan Abdelnour told CTV News London, “The youngest category would be what we call our youth ‘D’ athletes, who are about 10 years old, all the way up to adults and seniors who will be here this afternoon.”

Kate Nash, 13, is seen at the Roped Climbing Provincial Championships in London, Ont. on April 6, 2024. She says every competition has its own unique set of challenges. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

Among the competitors on hand was 13-year-old Kate Nash from Toronto. Nash climbs with Team Boulderz in Toronto.

“In climbing there’s a lot of different problems. You never know what the issue or the challenge is going to be, and I think that’s really cool,” she said.

Competition climbing made its debut at the Olympics in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

15-year-old Sadie Schmidt Stutzman travelled from Kington to be part of the provincial championships. She’s already had a taste of international competition.

“I was recently in the Netherlands for one and, yeah, that went well. I got to compete against a bunch of people I don’t normally compete against, so it was good,” she said.

According to Abdelnour, "Like most sports, being in the Olympics now has really helped. In terms of marketing opportunities and the ability of athletes to envision something beyond recreational activity."

He added, "Now that we're also a recognized sports body with the Ministry of Sport here in Ontario we've obtained quite a bit of funding in order to provide resources for athletes who want to go onto nationals, hopefully qualify for international comptetitions and one day, hopefully, represent Canada."

The finals on Sunday go from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Junction Climbing Centre. 

Competitors hit the wall at the Roped Climbing Provincial Championships in London, Ont. on April 6, 2024. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London) Top Stories

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