Every February, athletes from around the region converge on Texas Tech’s climbing wall for a competition like no other. Vertical Plains sits in the heart of one of the flattest places in North America but that won’t stop the competitors from having a great time. The competition is judged based off of a winner take all point system. The top five routes are taken into consideration for each climber and have to include no less than three roped routes. There are also boulder problems for each climber to solve while waiting for a roped route to open up. Each climbable route has an assigned amount of points to it with the easier routes having around half or less points than the harder routes. Points, however, are only awarded after a climber completely finishes a route so you have to plan your attack for the competition very carefully. If you manage five easier climbs you may come out with less points than someone who completed three harder climbs. At the same time, if you spend all your time on the hardest route but only complete it once then you end up with less points than someone doing easy routes the entire day. It really comes out to be a gamble of which of the hardest climbs you can complete successfully to gain you the most points without losing precious time.
Over the years Vertical Plains has gathered more and more of a following to make it the great competition that it is now. Numerous schools attend for the Collegiate Climbing Series side of the competition including U.T., Texas A&M, U.T.S.A., and Texas Tech. Other climbers showed up for the competition from the Midland Odessa area as well as Amarillo’s A.R.C.H. Local sponsors also attend the event to support the local climbing scene. Mountain Hideaway has had a raffle for some neat prizes the past few years with this year being a $50.00 gift card as well as some chalk bags and journals from Prana. The Access Fund also has a membership drive as well as a raffle to raise money for a great cause. The Access Fund works to protect America’s climbing and makes sure that the legal side is in working order for climbers across the country. To learn more about it, check out the link here. Vertical Plains is a great competition with a fun atmosphere. If you’re into climbing at all, or just going to the Rec to work out, be sure to drop by next year to check it out.