So, how do you prepare for a climbing competition? Behind-the-scenes of Tally Rock Gym’s second annual Save the South event

Greetings from purgatory. It’s that halfway point between the hell of stripping every hold and sliver of tape off the climbing walls, and that moment of pure heaven, a few hours after the sun has risen, when every inch of the rock gym has been reset with creative new routes.

Ah, the joys of preparing for a climbing competition.

As the hours until the second annual Save the South benefit climbing competition at Tallahassee Rock Gym tick down, the stress begins to rise a bit. Will we be able to finish everything in time? Will the brutal hour of 4:00 AM creep up and leave us too delirious to set quality routes? (Probably not. We’re seasoned pros at the all-nighter setting routine.)

So what goes into setting up a climbing competition?

First, we began to strip. Every piece of tape was removed from its route, and then each hold was screwed out from its respective t-nut. Holds were then organized into giant bins describing their style (crimps, slopers, edges, etc.).

The next day, the rock gym was closed to the public, and the real work began. Anything that hadn’t been stripped the night before was removed from the wall, and we slowly began to reset. The morning and afternoon flew by as I sat transfixed on a single problem I set on the lead wall – but the hours of toiling proved valuable as I ended up crafting my best route yet. While I mulled over a single climbing line, my fellow Tally Rock Gym staffers littered the walls with a collection of innovative, inventive routes that will surely satisfy tomorrow’s climbers.

When the hour crept to 8:00 PM, I hopped over to our lovely neighbors (and event sponsors), Tasty Eats Beer Garden. I ordered a little catering to feed the often underappreciated staff, and show them some gratitude for all the hard work they do to make this event happen. We enjoyed a miniature feast of tempeh sliders, crisp egg rolls, Asian hot wings, and spicy sesame hummus. And then it was back to work.

As the hours begin to blend together, things always tend to get a little weird. An entire day of nothing but dreaming up routes and hauling up ladders with giant hunks of plastic eventually starts to get to your head. Don’t even ask me how I ended up in my bathrobe.

Climbers, I hope you’re as stoked for this event as I am! I may be slightly off my rocker and in dire need of some shut-eye, but you better believe I’ll be ready to rumble come 2:00 tomorrow.

Get ready for another great fundraiser to benefit the amazing folks of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. We’ve got a sweet stash of swag to give away, and while I’m currently too sore and beat up to even be able to climb my own V4 – these routes are pretty badass. Can’t wait to watch everyone climb them tomorrow!