Climbers assemble for largest crank competition in 20 years

Matt Tesmond

Climber Griffith Jones '15 completes the bouldering route. Photo by Fernandez

This past Saturday Whitman hosted the 20th annual Sweet Onion Crank in the Sherwood Climbing facility. As an event of the Northwest Collegiate Climbing Circuit, The Crank brought together students from ten different Pacific Northwest schools to compete in the spirit of fun, community and climbing.

“Although the name implies a competitive event, it is more about community  than anything else. Having climbers from different schools converge and motivate each other creates an incredible atmosphere that unifies the collegiate climbing community,” said climber Kemper Brightman.

The event had a huge turnout, boasting about 150 competitors, the largest field in the 20 year history of the Crank.

Brightman expressed a belief that this large turnout reflects a growing affinity for climbing not just at Whitman but throughout the country.

“I think the high turnout at the crank really speaks to the explosion of climbing as an indoor sport in the past decade. 20 years ago a mom would have called you crazy if you asked if her 8-year-old had tried rock climbing. Now kids even younger than eight have birthday parties at climbing gyms, and many high schools even have climbing teams,” Said Brightman.

Brightman attributed the success to a dedicated band of volunteers in addition to the growing climbing community.

“I’ve never seen the gym that packed before. Honestly, I think it’d be unfair to  attribute this success to anything other than the amazing volunteers who made it all happen.Without them this event would have been nothing like it was,” said Brightman.

Given this success and the great facitilties Whitman has to offer climbing will only continue to grow at Whitman.

“The new facility puts Whitman on the map for college-bound climbers, a community I believe will continue to swell,” said Brightman.