We caught up with world-class climber Paige Claassen to talk about her pre-arrival perceptions of Chattanooga and her preparation ahead of the Triple Crown Bouldering Competition. If you're interested in reading more about Paige, read this profile of her climbing history.
Paige Claassen: One of the country’s most hyped climbing festivals – this weekend’s Triple Crown Bouldering Event hosted by Marmot – will stand as my introduction to the climbing haven of Chattanooga. Throughout 24 years of life and 15 years as a traveling climber, I’ve never ventured further South within the United States than Kentucky, but I’m excited to embrace the Chattanooga vibe head on. In fact, I’ll roll up from the long drive from Colorado and pass my first few hours in the city presenting my world travels through photo and video to hundreds of energetic climbers at High Point Climbing and Fitness. A crowd of climbers eager to kick off the festival will be the perfect motivating start to the weekend. A sigh of relief, and the real fun begins – rock climbing.
I grew up competing around the United States and abroad, but switched my focus to outdoor climbing on real rock towards the end of my teenage years. While I’ve never climbed at Stone Fort and am unfamiliar with the climbing style, Saturday’s Triple Crown Competition combines my love of both worlds – competition and outdoor climbing. I couldn’t be more excited to jump back into competition for the weekend and give it my all. As a result of my competition hiatus, my preparation for the event may be more indirect than expected. I’m traditionally a sport climber, meaning I climb routes up to 130 feet with a rope. I spent the last year traveling around the world (come to High Point on Friday night to learn more!), trying to complete a difficult climbing objective each month, all in different countries from South Africa to Japan, India, Ecuador, and more. On this trip, I learned to try my absolute hardest in the moment, in order to complete my objectives under time pressure. I’m hopeful that the lessons I learned on this trip, combined with devoting the past four months to practicing powerful moves on boulders, will prepare me for the Triple Crown. I also plan to fuel up on BBQ, as I hear Chattanooga’s BBQ is the best you can find!
Chattanooga boasts some of the country’s best bouldering, with sandstone boulders akin to the world famous Fountainebleau, France. How have I spent my entire life climbing around the world, but I’ve not yet taken advantage of Tennessee’s gems? I predict that my first encounter with Stone Fort will elicit a reaction not unlike a seven year old on a Halloween candy-eating spree. With wide eyes taking in so many boulders I’ve never before seen or climbed, I’m eager to run around the forest exploring all it has to offer. We all know that on Halloween, you can’t just eat one piece of candy. You have to sample it all.
Be sure to catch Paige in person at High Point Climbing Gym on October 24th at 7pm. You can RSVP here. And if you haven't ever been to Stone Fort or watched a climbing competition, make your way to Montlake on Saturday for the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series.