Climbing competition fundraises for hurricane relief

Laura DeLancey of Oregon climbs her way to the top while Yvonne Petkus of New Jersey provides rope support. The two work in different departments at WKU and have been coming to Vertical Excape for about two to three times a week. “It’s both physical and mental exercise,” DeLancey said.

Emily DeLetter

Vertical Excape Climbing Center will host “Climb for a Cause” in Bowling Green on Saturday, Nov. 11, to raise money for hurricane relief in Miami, Florida, and Houston, Texas.

‘Climb for a Cause,’ which will last from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., is the second climbing competition Vertical Excape has hosted, director of operations Evan Karcher said.

“We did a competition in July, which was pretty successful, and I thought it about time to raise as much money as we could for a good cause,” Karcher said.


The initial idea for the competition was brought forward to Karcher by Catherine Malin, a staff member at the WKU Area Health Education Center and member at Vertical Excape. Malin said she was inspired to find a way to give back after the first set of hurricanes hit Texas.

“All the media outlets and aid organizations were saying the thing that [affected areas] needed most was money for immediate and long-term rebuilding,” Malin said. “Being an active member, I reached out to see if they were interested in a charity event to raise money.”

The competition is a bouldering and top rope combined competition. Bouldering is traditionally a style of rock climbing based on power and technical climbing. This style involves a shorter wall with no ropes, with a foam pad underneath. Because of the advanced nature of bouldering, Vertical Excape only allows climbers age 12 and over to participate.

Top rope has climbers harnessed and attached to a belayer on the ground, who takes in slack rope during the climb. This style is focused on endurance, as the walls are much taller than the bouldering rock walls.

Climbers can compete in three categories based on their skill level — beginner, intermediate and advanced. The climbers will pick which category they prefer, and select a route in that category, Karcher said.

Scores will be based on the two hardest climbed top ropes and the top three hardest climbed boulders, Karcher said. Total points decrease by a percentage for each fall.

Karcher said this kind of competition was most beneficial to the room Vertical Excape occupies, as well as the climbers who will be participating.

“It’s a strategic style of competition,” Karcher said.

Winners of the competition will get additional entries into the group raffle, which consists of donations from several community businesses and organizations including Blaze Pizza, Be Happy Yoga & Salt Cave and Complete Nutrition.

Everyone who enters the competition will get one entry into the raffle. Additional tickets can be purchased for $2. First place winners receive three extra raffle entries, second place will receive two and third place will receive one additional entry.

Half of the proceeds from the competition will be donated to United Way of Houston. The other half will be donated to United Way of Miami-Dade County. Karcher said those charities were chosen because 100 percent of donations received go directly to hurricane relief.

“Not everything will be going to immediate needs, but also going towards future projects to help rebuild those areas devastated by the hurricanes,” Karcher said.

Signups for ‘Climb for a Cause’ will take place the day of the competition. Vertical Excape members pay a $10 fee, and nonmembers will pay a $15 fee.

“Last competition we had around 65 climbers, and we hope to reach that number again,” Karcher said. “We have a goal of raising $1,000, and if we get 50 climbers to show up Saturday, we’re already halfway there.”

Reporter Emily DeLetter can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emilydeletter.