When climbers convene at Boulders on March 24 for the 10th annual Barn Burner Bouldering Competition, they'll find an intriguing variety of new holds in store.
Over the winter, a handful of Boulders employees have been manufacturing ceramic holds of their own design in-house. The results represent an astonishing array of one-of-a-kind holds in designs ranging from simple to complex. Textured like sandstone, some of the holds appear crafted by nature, others by vivid imagination, bad attitude or heavy metal cranked up to full volume -- a far cry from the more mundane mass-market commercial holds familiar to indoor climbers.
Nick Rhoads, organizer of the competition, is setting routes on the 8,000-square-foot climbing gym's walls composed entirely of these in-house ceramic holds, next to routes comprised of commercial holds that in contrast feel smoother and more artificial.
The competition starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at Boulders, with finals beginning at about 8:30 p.m.
Rhoads notes that this year's competition is a benefit for Wisconsin Outdoor Access and The Access Fund -- groups that endeavor to keep outdoor climbing areas accessible to rock climbers. Registration opens at 5 p.m. The $20 entry fee includes competition and an after-party. Free food and beverages will be served.