The following article was paid for by Sequence Climb:
After opening less than a year ago at 1710 Washington, Sequence Climb is on the national map.
Last weekend, more than 300 young people ages eight- through 19 from an eight-state region found their way to Sequence along with their families to compete in the Midwest Youth Bouldering Regionals.
It was the first time the competition organized by USA Climbing has been hosted here.
“We were super-honored to have this event come to Kansas City,” said Graham Hess, who opened Sequence Climb last February with his wife, Dara.
“It highlights us as a facility and it highlights Kansas City. Everybody stayed downtown and saw Kansas City.”
Bouldering is a style of rock climbing that isolates only the movement. The climbing routes or “problems” require the climber to unlock the “sequence” of moves necessary to achieve the top. The only equipment required are rock-climbing shoes.
“It’s not just repetitions,” Hess said. “It’s a much a mental game figuring out sequences as well as using your strength.”
The Hess’s moved to Kansas City last year from Salt Lake City and opened their climbing facility in a 20,000 square-foot former industrial building with a barrel roof. It provided an ideal space to build a variety of climbing surfaces to challenge all ages and abilities.
Until Sequence Climb opened, Kansas City had no climbing center large enough to host an event like the Youth Bouldering Regionals. Previous competitions have been held in Minneapolis and Madison, Wisc.
“This facility is amazing,” said Steve Struthers of St. Paul, Minn., regional coordinator for USA Climbing. “When I saw the pictures and the layout, I thought this is a great competition facility.”
And with bouldering scheduled to make its debut as an Olympics event this summer in Tokyo, the sport is catching on. It also will be included in the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
During the week leading up to the youth event, officials from USA Climbing prepared layouts on the climbing surface that each age group of competitors had to navigate. Each group is kept in a holding area before they’re summoned.
“The first time they see it is when they come out and then they have four minutes to figure it out,” Struthers said. “The walls here are great, there are lots of different terrains for the competitors and also a natural flow for the competitors.”
The eight states in the regional competition were Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. About one-third of the young competitors came from Minnesota, where the sport has been around longer.
Most of the others came from Kansas City and St. Louis.
“We had a lot of strong Kansas City climbers competing,” Hess said.
There were 10 competition categories and the top 10 young people in each, five boys, five girls, will move on to the divisional competition in Minneapolis in January. The national finals will be in Bend, Ore. in February.
Struthers was impressed by the hospitality in Kansas City and the number of volunteers that helped at the event. The results of last weekend’s event are here.
“One of the bartenders at the Grad School bar also is volunteering,” he said.
Hess said hosting the tournament is further evidence he and his wife made the right choice to open a bouldering facility in downtown Kansas City.
“For us, it’s awesome, we love downtown and we’re hyper-focused on bouldering.”
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