Rock Junior - Arco - Report

Arco Rock Junior Festival / Competition
© Planet Mountain

  • When: Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 June 2010
  • Where: Climbing Stadium di Arco (Garda Trentino Italy)
  • What: the European Climbing Festival
  • Who: young climbers aged 5 -13 and their parents
  • Why: have fun climbing and discover the nature and rocks at Arco
  • Organisation: Rock Master Association

Arco Rock Junior Festival / Competition, 72 kb
Arco Rock Junior Festival / Competition
© Planet Mountain
The first day of the Arco Rock Junior was marked by sun and climbing. More than 400 climbers took part in the Under 14 Cup and the Climbing Campus. This year's exceptional testimonial was star climber Chris Sharma.

5/06/2010 Arco (Lago di Garda - Trentino, Italy). Take part in the Rock Junior and you know what you're in for. This is the great game of climbing in its purest form. But above all, there's the immense love and happiness - that pure joy which stems right from the heart - of the Rock Junior youngsters who, for the ninth year running, invaded the Climbing Stadium lawn. They came from all over Italy, but also from 20 different countries. Which meant that the first day of the world's biggest youth climbing festival confirmed all expectations: nothing and no one could stop the positive energy of the children  and their parents. Yes, because this is also a festival for entire families who share the same love for climbing and the simple joy of being together. A happiness shared also by the skies which couldn't have provided a deeper blue smile and brighter sun for this Rock Junior.

This year a huge number of climbers responded to the call. So much so that all previous records were almost forgotten, and right from this early morning the queue to register seemed never ending. This then gave way to the great climbing marathon as 300 children (aged 5 - 13) took part in the Under 14 Cup. They were a sort of endless chain, a ceaseless and unstoppable flow which witnessed all taking part in the Bouldering event, the Speed and Difficulty disciplines. Numbers like these could have posed a sort of "mission impossible" for the organisation, but as usual the Rock Master Association and the Arco Climbing sport club proved impeccable.

It has to be said that these young climbers always amaze and teach us something, not simply because some of them are extremely talented. And not only because all - no one excluded - give it there very best and that extra bit more to send the problems, to climb as quickly as possible, to climb higher than anyone else. But also because of their sportsmanship. Everyone claps, everyone applauds the others. Everyone waits for their turn to climb, roaring to go but at the same time in single file, waiting orderly for their turn. This is how the unstoppable young athletes interpret these two climbing days during which they are the true centre point of this great vertical festival.

This is the beautiful "air one breathes" at the Rock Junior. A real meeting dominated by the desire to do something together. Because there's a right moment for the competition, and also a right moment for happiness. There's the right time for getting to know each other thanks to this Esperanto called climbing. And there's also the right time to relax beneath the Climbing Stadium trees, on this "stage" which, for the event, transforms into a complete relax area. This, too, is what the Rock Junior is about.

But Rock Junior is much more than just this. It's also about the spirit which drives these young climbers who, this morning and afternoon, ventured to the massive boulders at the foot of Mount Colodri with the Police Mountain rescue teams. More than 60 young "explorers" took part in the so-called Climbing Campus, all were young, some even younger still, but their desire to discover the secrets of the rocks was enormous, as big as their smiles when they reached the top of their climbs. We also saw a smile on the face of Chris Sharma, the King of world climbing who chose to take part in this year's Rock Junior. Because this is the true festival for all those who love climbing, because the future of this sport is right here.

Tomorrow the game continues...

Arco Rock Junior Festival / Competition
© Planet Mountain

Day Two:

6/06/2010 Arco (Lago di Garda - Trentino, Italy). If the first day of the Rock Junior was a marathon, the second couldn't have been more action packed, with climbing of course. Beneath the beautiful Garda Trentino sun and the legendary Lake Garda breeze the Arco Climbing Stadium witnessed another day to be remembered. It all kicked off extremely early and the first to arrive, as if they were in need of a good dose of climbing, were the teams of the Under 14 Cup. They were soon joined by children taking part in Kid's Rock, the small army of climbers of all sizes, ranging from small to extra small.

For these young climbers the Climbing Stadium transformed into a real "climbing playground." An area equipped with everything one needs to climb, for both "experts" and novices alike. Even if the difference wasn't too obvious, as all children tackled the climbs with the very same grit and determination. Not a single child gave up. Watching them wait patiently to then perform their little great climb would lead you to think that they can teach a thing or two to many a grown-up climber.

But there's no time to think at the Rock Junior, as the time is employed in playing the game of climbing. Morning had just started and the Climbing Stadium was already bustling with activity. There was of course the Climbing Tree of Bounty, with the smallest climbers who reached unthinkable heights to win their prize. And there was the series of boulder problems, each with a significant name such as "Flower", "Fingers in your nose" and "Shooting star". And there was also the speed competition where the "fun" bit was hitting the red button at the end of the route.

And then there was Chris Sharma, the King of climbing, who this year chose to travel to Arco to honour the small Rock Junior champions. They, the small champions, didn't disdain queuing up to catch an autograph or snap a photo next to the great champion. Because dreams (not only in sport but in life in general) start like this. Sharma smiled and they ran away satisfied, naturally to go climb somewhere else, just for fun.

Arco Rock Junior Festival / Competition
© Planet Mountain

Talking of small champions. Those taking part in the Under 14 Cup are a great hope for the future of this sport; many of these young athletes already possess mind-blowing technique. In short: they know how to climb and how to compete. This is the work of climbing schools, but also the result of their overwhelming passion. What comes through clearly is that this is certainly a solid basis for the future.

In the meantime though, what the ninth edition of the Rock Junior offered is a really important grassroots base of young climbers. A climbing movement which saw young champions from 20 different countries take part in the event, fuelled by a spirit which rewards and favours a complete approach to climbing in the formation of these young athletes. It comes as no surprise therefore that the Under 14 Cup was comprised of a Combined result, based on Bouldering, Speed and Lead, the three sport climbing disciplines. Only the most versatile stepped onto the podium, in particular Celina Schoibl (Aut) and Joe Goodacre (Usa) won category C (2001/'02/'03); Janja Garnbret (Slo) and Luka Drolc (Slo) won category B ('99/2000); Stasa Gejo (Ser) and Christopher Stelzmueller (Aut) won category A ('97/'98).

But apart from the medals, this year the real winner, more than ever before, was the Rock Junior event itself, the idea of combining the passion that parents and children share for climbing. And it's for this reason that the only fitting final had to be the Family Rock. This is a vertical relay race for fathers, mothers and children, and just like in past editions a handful of famous parents took part in the event, some real sport climbing champions. And in the end, like every year, it was climbing which came up tops. Or rather, two days of great climbing, together.

Rock Junior 2010 was a success. This was tahnks to everyone. Thanks to the 500 young climbers who took part in Rock Junior. And also thanks to those who enabled this little big miracle to run so smoothly over the two day period, as if there were only a couple of dozen climbers. A deserved "Congratulations!" goes to the Rock Master Association and the irreplaceable "engine", the Arco Climbing Association. And these congratulations are also extended to the route setters Leonardo Di Marino e Donato Lella, the Mountain Guides FreeAlp and the Guardia di Finanza Mountain Rescue service and the Moena Police Alpine Training Center.

ROCK JUNIOR TEAM: The event is organised by the Rock Master Association, with the technical support of the Arco Climbing Association and Mountain Guides FreeAlp and the FASI. Maximum safety is guaranteed by the Guardia di Finanza Mountain Rescue services, the Moena Police Alpine Training Center.


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