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Climbers from All Over the Northwest Hit the Climbing Wall for the Sweet Onion Crank

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College students from all over the Pacific Northwest gathered at the Whitman College Climbing Center for the Sweet Onion Crank climbing festival last weekend. Photos by Catie Bergman.

College students from all over the Pacific Northwest gathered at the Whitman College Climbing Center for the Sweet Onion Crank climbing festival last weekend. Photos by Catie Bergman.

Last Saturday, climbers from all over the Pacific Northwest arrived at Whitman for the annual Sweet Onion Crank climbing competition. The Crank allows climbers of all skills to participate in the competition against fellow climbers of a similar skill rank at Whitman’s own climbing wall.

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“The Sweet Onion Crank is the final climbing competition of the NC3 series, and it is the primary competition circuit for the region. So the Crank is a pretty big event for the climbing community. The competition consists of tiers of climbers: beginner, intermediate, advanced and open. Climbers compete against people in the same bracket, so experience doesn’t really matter,” said event organizer junior Matt Sellick.

All climbers are given a time period to rack up as many points as possible

“The climbers are allotted two and a half hours to rack up points by successfully climbing boulder problems without falling. The points are assigned based on the difficulty of the problem, and climbers record their points on a scorecard. After two heats of climbing, and a round of silly speed bouldering, the winners are announced and prizes are distributed,” said Sellick.

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The environment of the entire competition was laid-back, as everyone enjoyed using the climbing wall.

“It was awesome to see climbers from all over the region enjoying our facility and the problems that Whitman’s climbing community worked hard on putting up,” said Sellick.

This huge event took a lot of preparation, but it ran smoothly with no difficulties.

“For me, the Crank was a culmination of eight months of preparation. It was a bit hectic and stressful running the event, but it is always fun to be part of a climbing community event. The community is very laid-back and talented, so the Crank did not feel overly competitive,” said Sellick.

For the event organizers, one of the best parts of the day was seeing how all of their hard work paid off, as they saw everyone having a great time.

“I think that my favorite part of the Crank was seeing how excited people were to climb the problems that my friends and I spent time setting. It is always satisfying to see folks enjoying something you created, but the Crank brings a ton of great climbers to the wall so it is interesting to see how people solve the movement of your puzzles,” said Sellick, who is part of a climbing staff that completely redid the gym’s bouldering problems.

For all of the climbers, the experience of the Crank was just as great as they were able to compete in a very friendly environment.

“The crank was really fun. It was packed; it took so long that they were registering people constantly for 45 minutes. It has a really nice atmosphere where everyone tries to help each other with the problems and the people were all really accepting of any skill level,” said sophomore Quinn Piibe.

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When the event finally began, Whitman climbers were eager to begin after watching the event being set up for the past few weeks.

“I was excited to finally get to try all of the boulder problems I had been watching people set up for weeks in the gym,” said Piibe.

Each climber enjoyed climbing and pushing themselves to beat their previous records.

“The Crank went well for me. It was the only NC3 competition I’d participated in this year so I didn’t have a huge stake in doing really well––I just wanted to push myself as much as I could,” said sophomore Woody Jacobson.
However, it wasn’t all climbing for the participants; they also had a lot of down time and got to meet other climbers.
“My favorite moment this year was after everyone had competed and we were all sitting out on the grass hill in front of the climbing wall. We had to wait about 15 minutes for all the scores to get calculated, so during that time I picked up the megaphone and started telling everyone climbing jokes. They crowd really appreciated it and it was a lot of fun,” said Jacobson.
There was even an onion eating competition between a few of the participants.
“My favorite moment from this year’s Crank was watching Jack Lazar and two other climbers have an onion eating competition for a new rope,” said sophomore Greg Dwulet.
At the end of the day, all of the climbers were tired and sore, but happy about their achievements from the competition, as they look forward to next year.
“My final score was a lot higher than last year’s, and I was really sore the next day, so I’d consider it a success,” said Jacobson.

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Whitman news since 1896
Climbers from All Over the Northwest Hit the Climbing Wall for the Sweet Onion Crank