2019 Tour de Frank Recap

This post originally was authored by SABA exec Trent Hoover and appeared on his personal blog http://theclimbinglife.blogspot.com/

Several years ago, the Tour de Frank was conceived by fellow Frank Slide ‘local’ Mark Derksen and I during one of the long drives home from Frank Slide after a day of bouldering in the enormous field of limestone blocks.  Initially, we thought it would be fun to keep a running tally of the most difficult problems climbed by all the Frank Slide regulars in a season.  That idea, of course, was not particularly practical.  Fortunately for the climbers of Southern Alberta, the idea was  eventually reborn as the Tour de Frank Bouldering Festival – an inclusive event that celebrates bouldering in the Canadian Rockies.  Now in its fourth year (with one additional year cancelled due to wildfires in the area), the Tour de Frank has grown into a unique climbing festival showcasing the amazing limestone bouldering in the Crowsnest Pass.

This year’s TdF Poster (featuring Mark D. on Checkmate (V8); huge thanks to all the sponsors!

The Tour de Frank (TdF) Bouldering Festival is structured like an outdoor climbing competition, with several categories (Youth (ages 11 and under), Junior (12-16), Beginner, Experienced, and Open) that competitors can enter.  However, the real focus of the TdF is to get people out to enjoy the excellent climbing in Canada’s largest limestone bouldering area (although, of course, competition among groups of friends can get pretty fierce, and there is a certain amount of prestige associated with capturing one of the Open titles).  This year’s TdF ran on September 7, with a scorecard that featured a selected list of 131 problems (from V0- to V12) in the House, Wild West, Frictionary, Heart of Frank, City of Giants, and Commodore sectors of the Slide.  Many new problems were included on this year’s card, including Mark Derksen’s Checkmate (V8), and the fantastic new moderate line 12 Hours to Squamish (V3/4).  

Climbers heading out into the boulderfield: undoubtedly the most people climbing in Frank Slide in a single day in history!

On Saturday morning climbers arriving at the Frank Slide Interpretive Center (used as the staging area for this year’s TdF) were greeted by free coffee and pastries, ask to sign a waiver, and given a scorecard.  At 11:00, the rules of the event were explained to the growing throng of climbers, and then after a blast of an air horn everyone headed out into the boulders for six hours of climbing!  With a record number of competitors (over 150!) from across the region, this year’s TdF was a huge success.  Several volunteer guides were on site in the boulder field, helping climbers find problems of any style and difficulty they wanted to attempt. As the day warmed up, climbers scrambled through the area to fill their scorecards.  The Aftermath, Ninja Turtles, and Railway boulders were predictably busy, but climbers spread throughout the area finding gems to climb.  For those new to outdoor bouldering, there was also an “Introduction to Outdoor Bouldering” clinic (run by Kyle Marco) to demonstrate proper pad usage, spotting, and climbing technique. 
This year the TdF was coordinated by the Southern Alberta Bouldering Association (SABA), a newly formed non-profit society whose mandate is to facilitate access to bouldering areas across the region.  For more information on SABA (including information on how to become a member of the society), you can check out their website HERE.  We also worked closely with the Frank Slide Interpretive Center, to whom we extend huge thanks for their help, patience, and use of their facility (click HERE to read more about the FSIC and the programs they offer). 

Kennedy M. sending the hardest problem on the Ninja Turtles Boulder on her way to second place in her category!

The TdF is a free event, supported both by donations from climbers and our many amazing sponsors, including Flashed Climbing, Bolder Climbing Gym, Rock Jungle Fitness, Coulee Climbing Gym and Fitness, Spry, Westcomb, Awesome Adventures, Outdoor Research, Chaco, Object Climbing, Crowsnest Coffee, MadRock, Outside All Day, and Grandwall Equipment.  Without support from individuals and companies like these, the TdF would not be the festival it is.  The next time you want to go to one of these gyms or buy gear (or coffee!), throw your support behind these companies and mention you’re appreciative of their efforts!
As the day warmed up, and people scrambled to fill their scorecards, sends of some of Frank Slide’s most classic lines came fast and furious.  Cartel (V9) and Checkmate (V8) saw several ascents, and Andrew Funk’s sends of Undertow (V10) and Dragon Fire (V9/10) was especially impressive.  With relatively windless conditions, the warm and sunny weather made sticking to holds a little harder than usual!  Once the final horn had blown and the climbers had made their way out of the boulders, the 2019 Open Category winners were Kaylee Tse (female) and Andrew Funk (male).  Andrew is now the only two-time winner of the Tour de Frank, and we’re hoping to see him – and all the rest of the participants – back for the fifth Tour de Frank next year!

More than 150 participants in this years TdF, a record!

Huge thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors of the event!  Without them, the TdF would not have emerged as the best outdoor bouldering festival in the province.  We’re looking forward to a great TdF 2020!

2019 TdF WINNERS (1st, 2nd, and 3rd in each category)
Mens Open: Andrew Funk, Loic Fujinaga, Matt HendsbeeWomens Open: Kaylee Tse, Marin BonkMens Experienced: Jordan Heuvy, Joel Freund, Liam McBeanWomens Experienced: Amy Korina, Kennedy Moland, Holly KalynMens Beginner: Nick Baggaley, Christien Pepin, Jesse KearlWomens Beginner: Valerie Talbot, Lacey Brummelhuis, Aileen DavidsonJunior Men: n/aJunior Women: Mari Wilson, Alba LuengoYouth Men: Finn Donnelly, Rowan HooverYouth Female: Julia Marks, Sylvie Donnelly, Clara Trepander

Sends on the Wild West Boulder!  Congrats to all the TdF participants!

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