Victoria, BC (ISN) – For the first time ever, Vancouver Island is playing host to the Western Canadian Youth Climbing Championships, at the Boulders Climbing Gym in Central Saanich this weekend, from 3pm Friday April 6 to 4pm on Sunday April 8th.

The event has attracted 120 climbers from across Western Canada, as well as a few international competitors (Jason Salt, South Africa; Santiago de la Parra, Mexico; Mathilde Becerra, France). Sean McColl, Canada’s top competition climber who finished the 2011 World Cup season in 2nd place overall, will be returning from France, where he lives, to compete in the adult portion of the competition.

For youth competitors, this event qualifies them to compete at the National Championships, being held in Montreal over the May long weekend. From there, a team will be selected to represent Canada at the World Youth Championships in Singapore in August, 2012.

Climbers compete in one, or both, of two disciplines: difficulty, and speed.

In difficulty climbing, the route gets progressively more difficult the higher it gets. The climber who makes it the highest eventually wins. There are two qualifier rounds, which narrow the field for semi-finals, and then finals. The semi-finals and finals take an “on-sight” format, which means that climbers are held in isolation until it is there turn to climb. They climb a route that has been newly set for their category, but with no knowledge of how competitors who may have gone before them have performed. This means that the strongest climber isn’t necessarily the winner; it takes a combination of strength and intelligence to figure out how to climb the routes.

In speed climbing, climbers race each other up a homologated world-record route. The two are set side-by-side, and are the exact same holds, in the exact same pattern at the same degree of overhang anywhere the sport is practiced. There is a timing pad at the start for the climbers’ feet, and one at the top of the route to stop the clock. The route is 15 meters long, on a 4 degree overhang, and the current world record is 6.26 seconds. The current record for the Boulders Climbing Gym is 10.51 seconds, and it is expected to be broken this weekend. The speed round progresses through qualifying rounds to the finals. The Peninsula Co-op Speed Wall at the Boulders Climbing Gym is Canada’s first homologated speed wall.

The Boulders Climbing Gym’s most recent expansion opened in December 2011, making it the Canada’s first world-class competition climbing facility, and one of the top in North America. It will play host to the National Championships in May, 2013, and is the first place in North America to host the World Youth Climbing Championships, scheduled for August 2013. The facility includes over 13,000 square feet of climbing terrain, as high as 60 feet, and has a 50 foot by 50 foot retractable door to allow for spectator viewing. The facility first started as a small outdoor wall on the outside of Stelly’s Secondary School in 1993.

Spectators are welcome. Directions to the climbing facility and the schedule of events can be found at 


Difficulty Climbing

Qualifier Route 1: 3:30 – 7pm Friday

Qualifier Route 2: 8am – noon Saturday

Semi-finals: 7 – 10pm Saturday

Finals: 10 am – 2pm Sunday

Speed Climbing

Qualifying Round: noon – 4 Saturday

Final Rounds: 2:30 – 4pm Sunday

Awards for Both Disciplines:

4pm Sunday