Rock Junior 2008 and happy climbing
The seventh edition of the Arco Rock Junior (European Youth Climbing Days) lived up to its reputation as being the greatest Youth Climbing Festival in Europe.
Climbing belongs to the young, or rather, the extremely young and the Rock Junior is ample confirmation of this fact! Imagine the green lawn at the Arco Climbing Stadium filld to the brim with hundreds and hundreds of tireless children who seem to want nothing other than to climb and have fun. Imagine children from 5 to 13 years of age. And imagine them with their unique, boundless energy. Now give them two Rock Junior days, this great celebration with a thousand ways and games to quench their thirst for life and climbing. Well, the results are that positive energy and happiness which were palpable here during the seventh edition of the European Climbing festival.
Perhaps it was this energy and happiness which, miraculously, held the rain at bay. The same enthusiasm which, as always, involved all the parents in this great Rock Junior climbing game. Nothing was missing at this party. There was the Climbing Campus, the outdoor route which explored nature and the rocks beneath Monte Colodri, with its mini via ferrata, rope bridge, abseil and an outdoor science lesson which focused on the local plants and animals. And there were plenty of activities to do in the Rock Junior village, the real-life climbing playground which sprung to life on the massive Climbing Stadium lawn.
There was something for everyone, or rather, everyone climbed and everyone had fun. A small army of 150 young athletes representing 20 different nations took part in the Under 14 Cup, demonstrating their veteran-like ability in climbing up the immense (and legendary) Rock Master wall.
Climbing's competitive side was interpreted by these athletes who certainly displayed passion and ability worthy of young champions. The routes were by no means a easy and what amazed most was the young climbers' ability and great determination. If this is an indication as to the future of sports climbing then we're in good hands: the next few years and a "great" future bode well!
Sunday's Kid's Rock proved to be extremely popular. Each "station" (technically speaking, each boulder problem) was attempted by an infinite number young climbers. And each boulder had a constant queue of climbers who waited patiently in line for their turn at trying and retrying the climbing problems which, in the end, proved to be perfectly set for the vast majority.
Talking of queues, one mustn't forget the enormous one beneath the Adventure Park which, with its rope bridges, nets and slides made its way through the trees in the Climbing Stadium. To the joy of all this beautiful and safe route literally suspended in mid air was accessible all day long. And this joy was shared by parents and their children in the Family Rock competition which, perhaps more than any other, represents the spirit and essence of the Rock Junior event.
One of the most beautiful sights of the event was watching the parents and their children competing in the Family Rock relay race. Simply participating is what really counted here, even if some authentic champions competed together with their children, such as Didier Raboutou (winner of the Rock Master '89), Robyn Erbesfield (winner of the Rock Master '94), Serik Kazbekov, Natalia Perlova and Salavat Rakhmetov. Other top climbers included the likes of Marco Ballerini and the event and Rock Master director Angelo Seneci, and the president of the International Federation of Sport Climbing Marco Scolaris… But it made no difference who was competing, the race was a passionate event between fathers, mothers and their children. And this is what the Rock Junior is all about!
The Rock Master Association which organised the event wishes to thank all the children and parents who took part in the Rock Junior and also all those who made this event possible. A particular thanks goes to the City of Arco, the Autonomous Province of Trento, the Cassa Rurale Alto Garda, the Arco Council for Development, InGarda and the four technical sponsors Salewa, La Sportiva, Cassin and Sint Roc & Ecogrip. A special thanks goes to the Arco Climbing sports club, without which the Rock Junior would not have been possible. And thanks must be extended to the route setters Leonardo di Marino and Donato Lella for their driving passion and technical ability. A particular mention must go to the fundamental support of the Guardia di Finanza Mountain Guides, the Police Alpine Training Centre in Moena and the Friends of Arco Mountain Guides.