29 December 2021
Since the start of the pandemic, the NUS Climbing club has held on to the hope of reviving the boulder competition scene. For nearly two years, the COVID-19 restrictions have prevented the club from organising competitions, leaving climbers feeling low-spirited. At this year’s NUS Boulderactive 2021, NUS Climbing brought back the spirit of a typical boulder competition – equipped with masks, hand sanitizers and safe management measures.
Medals for the winners of the ‘Novice Women’ category
From 6 July to 29 August 2021, organisers from the NUS Climbing club carried out the competition with their hearts filled with hope. Their main objectives were clear – to promote climbing as an innovative sport, and to bring back competitive climbing amid the pandemic.
Keeping the restrictions and safety of the competitors in mind, the committee sourced for various venues suitable to host a decentralised competition. Participants were given a time period to complete their routes, supported by a video recording and time taken to complete the route.
Despite the students training hard in anticipation of the competition, the event was brought to a sudden halt following the heightened alert on 20 July 2021. Apart from the reduction of social gathering groups, all strenuous indoor exercise classes were ceased, including individual and group indoor sports. With the competitor’s health and safety in mind, the competition was halted.
What was meant to be a month-long competition was extended for almost two months, with the Team category and final stages cancelled. The planning committee was undeterred by the setbacks and waited patiently to resume the event. When the gyms reopened, the competition had to change to allow only fully-vaccinated participants to compete.
Adaptability and new beginnings
Caleb Choy, a Year 3 student from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), and project director of Boulderactive 2021 commented: “Armed with six minds, a Zoom premium account, some notes from 2019 and hardly anything else, we were tasked with reimagining what competition climbing could look like. Without a large public venue, stripped of the privilege of hosting a crowd, and challenged with demographic limitations, we had to tear down existing expectations while trying to maintain the core spirit of the competition.”
Boulderactive has shown resilience and adaptation at engaging the NUS community in climbing and living a healthy lifestyle within the limitations. Ilarnna Chrisandra, a Year 3 Arts and Social Science student who was part of the Sponsor Committee and participant of Boulderactive said: “It was great to be able to jump back into climbing, especially since Boulderactive happened right after the gyms had reopened. The routes were fun and challenging at the same time!”
Indeed, the climbing scene may have changed, but the passion of the avid climbers will remain.