The 10th Rock Junior, the biggest youth climbing happening, came to an end in Arco. Organised by the Rock Master Association, the meeting beat all previous records with more than 600 young climbers (5 - 13 years old) from 20 different countries taking part in the Under 14 Cup, the Kid's Rock and the Family Rock events.
What is the secret of Arco's Rock Junior? Looking at the crowd of young climbers who filled the Climbing Stadium lawn with red dots during toady's second day of the European Youth Climbing days, it's easy to understand why. These boys and girls simply make your smile. But what is perhaps more striking is how hard they try. How concentrated they are in their game of climbing. Yes, because at Rock Junior no one does things by halves, they give it their all. So it's probably for this reason that everyone is guaranteed to have fun.
Fotostrecke: Rock Junior 2011 in Arco
Having said that, it's clear that this game of climbing, as well as testing themselves and competing against others, is a „serious“ issue. Otherwise, where's the fun? And what sort of sport is it? they seem to think. And so everyone, from the youngest taking part in Kid's Rock to the oldest athletes in the Under 14 Cup, climb the wall, boulder problems and speed piste with the same desire to give it their max and also with the very same, unbridled joy.
And while they all attempt to solve the boulder problems, race upwards as fast as possible or climb as high as it goes, you realise that this is where the secret lies: in the actual climbing, in being there, in having fun by putting oneself to the test. It is above all this which brings a smile to your face and gives rise to small, great pure joy.
Today for example, with the start of the Kid's Rock, the game got even more exciting. Richer in spontaneity one might say. Imagine more than 300 boys and girls discovering how to climb. The youngest a mere 5 years old, the oldest 13. Most were beginners, or almost. Climbing a boulder problem, reaching the top of the wall or racing up the Speed piste were all true conquests. Sending a small „problem“ was as exciting as trying to resolve it.
Reaching the top of the wall of bounty and collecting that yearned-for prize was a victory which many succeeded in, just like being the first to reach the top of the speed piste. For everyone this gave rise to that great little joy of real discoveries… And here too, there were smiles galore. Because one thing is certain: everyone played, and understood, the game of climbing. This, in short, is the heart and soul and sense of Rock Junior.
A sense to all this could also be found in the Under 14 Cup. In those extremely young athletes who battled it out during the second day of the Lead event. Seeing them climbing top rope and, the oldest, on lead, one couldn't but admire them. Admire their ability. How their ability level, and technique, has improved over the years. There are certainly some future champions amongst them. But this, obviously, isn't the main point of Rock Junior. It never has been, even if over the last decade many of the world's best leaders (and legends) of sport climbing competitions have taken part in this Arco event.
Because, perhaps many will have understood by now, the seed which Rock Junior sows is a different one, it is about climbing as both a sport and game. And it's about the energy of these 600 boys and girls who, for two days, were the absolute players of this game. 600 young athletes from 20 different countries who demonstrated in the Climbing Stadium their love for climbing and desire to grow on these 2000 plus hand and footholds.
It is their passion which makes you glow, which makes a smile creep onto your lips. Perhaps this is also why Rock Junior came to an end with a truly special competition. With the classic Family Rock, the special vertical relay race which unites fathers, mothers and children alike. And naturally, this is a game, too. A particular game where parents seem to become children once again, more so than their own boys and girls… Is this perhaps due to the bit of magical positive energy the Rock Junior generates?
ROCK JUNIOR TEAM: The event is organised by the Rock Master Association, with the technical support of the Arco Climbing Association, the FreeAlp Mountain Guides under the auspice of the FASI Italian Sport Climbing Federation. Maximum safety is guaranteed by the Guardia di Finanza Mountain Rescue services, the Moena Police Alpine Training Centre.
SPONSORS: Autonomous Province of Trento, Comune di Arco, Trentino, Cassa Rurale Alto Garda, InGarda, Camp-Cassin, Salewa, La Sportiva, SintGrips
When: Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 October 2011
Where: Climbing Stadium di Arco (Garda Trentino, Italy)
What: the European Youth Climbing Festival
Who: young children aged 5 – 13 and their parents
What: the game of climbing
Organisation:Rock Master Association