An In­ter­view with Se­lena Wong, Route Set­ter at Blocs in Ed­mon­ton, Al­berta’s Big­gest Boul­der­ing Gym

Gripped - - GYM -

In Septem­ber, Ed­mon­ton climbers gath­ered for the open­ing of Al­berta’s largest boul­der­ing-only gym called Blocs. The 12,500-square-foot lo­ca­tion in south Ed­mon­ton, 8761 51 Ave. NW, fea­tures a cus­tom climb­ing wall which was cre­ated by Wall­topia in Bul­garia and in­stalled by a team from Canada and Europe. The wall was so heavy that it made a hole in the park­ing lot when it was un­loaded.

The mod­ern boul­der­ing fa­cil­ity will fea­ture more than 200 prob­lems, which was per­fect for the 200 climbers who turned out early to see the new space. The gym of­fers $18 day passes, $85 monthly pre­paid mem­ber­ships, $ 60 monthly re­cur­ring mem­ber­ships, and $ 610 an­nual mem­ber­ships. Cana­dian climber Se­lena Wong is the gym’s head route-set­ter who will be in charge of re­fresh­ing the routes.

Wong has been climb­ing for more than 15 years and first started climb­ing at Ver­ti­cally In­clined in Ed­mon­ton. We touched base with Wong shortly be­fore the new gym opened. Is gym climb­ing train­ing for out­doors, or is it an end in it­self?

I think gym climb­ing is what­ever you want it to be. I love that peo­ple come to the climb­ing gym not only to train for out­doors or com­pe­ti­tions, but to stay fit, to learn and im­prove, or just to so­cial­ize with their friends. One of the things I en­joy most about com­mer­cial route-set­ting is in­ter­act­ing with all the mem­bers and help­ing them with their var­i­ous goals. There are so many dif­fer­ent ways to chal­lenge your­self to pro­vide climbers with the op­por­tu­nity to train, move, and learn some­thing new.

Are you more of a boul­derer or a route climber?

Boul­derer. Def­i­nitely a boul­derer.

How did you get into set­ting?

When I started climb­ing, my friends and I would set boul­der prob­lems with ex­ist­ing holds on the wall. I also used to tag along with my hus­band, Terry Pa­holek, to help set and fore­run at lo­cal com­pe­ti­tions. I used to com­pete as well, but more and more, I found my­self on the set­ting side. After Rock Jun­gle opened, Dan Ar­cham­bault, the owner, asked if I was in­ter­ested in head­ing up the set­ting there, and the rest is his­tory.

Could you set great routes right away or did it take time?

It def­i­nitely took time and I’m still learn­ing. When I first started set­ting, I couldn’t put a com­plete prob­lem on the wall. I would have a great idea, spend for­ever putting up a few holds to cre­ate it, and then wouldn’t know how to start or fin­ish the prob­lem. Hope­fully, I’ve got­ten a bit bet­ter since then. I’m al­ways try­ing to im­prove, and that’s what makes route-set­ting so re­ward­ing. You get to watch climbers in­ter­act with your boul­der prob­lems, and whether they have fun, get frus­trated, break a se­quence or find al­ter­nate beta, there’s al­ways more to learn.

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