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TBF Masters Comp #1: The Greatest Flasher - Recap

July 27th, 2019 - Sacramento, CA

On July 27th, as the merciless heat of the Sacramento summer seared the concrete streets of the city, The Boulder Field hosted its inaugural Masters Series Competition: The Greatest Flasher. Hundreds of competitors spread across all levels found shade indoors as they battled throughout the day on thought-provoking boulder problems seeking a sense of victory amongst the masses. 

As climbers persevered for hours through personal limitations at the expense of shredded skin and muscle, the Citizen’s competition came to a close and the nights entertainment began to unfold. Pro competitors who placed within the top 6 from the Qualification round slowly sauntered into the gym. Some looked confident, while others looked a bit tentative as they entered Isolation to get loose for an unprecedented Finals: a 60 minute nail-biting session with 10 problems and only one try each. 

Men’s Winner Josh Levin pausing for chalk in Finals.

Men’s Winner Josh Levin pausing for chalk in Finals.

“This one-try-only format was probably one of the most exhilarating competition environments I’ve been a part of,” wrote Josh Levin, one of the most irrefutably accomplished competition climbers in the country. “The climbing was slightly less taxing, but far more emotionally demanding. Every attempt demanded 100-percent energy, effort, and focus, which made every top that much more rewarding.”

Not only did the format intensify the commitment level of each problem, but it also completely morphed the atmosphere and strategy of the round. Some competitors naturally grouped together, working as a team to attack problems much like a pack of wolves stealthily hunting down the weakest prey before pouncing. 

Eventually, the approach to each problem became a simple game of cat and mouse. The young crushers often herded together, lingering and waiting in the trenches, while the veteran warriors remained as one before unleashing their first try. In this way, those who waited longest could glean invaluable beta in order to make their flash attempts that much more concise. However, being the first to step up to a problem in this arena takes real guts and those with iciest of veins were the ones who excelled.

“I’m not sure I can fully express what runs through your mind when you have one shot,” wrote Meagan Martin, another professional climber armed with elite level strength, stamina, and experience. “I don’t think in a competition I’ve ever looked at the start of a boulder problem for such a long time. I’ve also never felt so present with my climbing.”

Women’s Winner Maya Madere contemplates the next sequence.

Women’s Winner Maya Madere contemplates the next sequence.

In a city where competitive bouldering hasn’t quite taken root yet, The Boulder Field was lucky to have such honed competitors put on an incredible display of climbing prowess and skill. Interestingly enough, this event did not necessarily expose the best climber, but verified to the roaring crowd who the Greatest Flasher was that night; one that could deal with the added gravity of emotional and mental pressure, while fighting through uncomfortable and seemingly impossible moments on the wall. 

It is in these moments of extreme immersion, like when Timothy Kang flashed the sole ascent of the hardest pinch problem in the round or when Cloe Coscoy nearly beasted her way to the finish of a previously untouchable, cryptic bubble-wrap boulder, that a climber summons their best-self and innately adapts on the fly in order to find the top.

“This competition tested so many skills and strengths, but most importantly a good headspace,” wrote the incredibly humble, world-class Kang. “I was lucky to be out there with experienced climbers that I’ve respected and looked up to my whole life.”

Finally, when the chalk dust had cleared and most of the beer reserves had been vanquished, it was the steely-eyed Maya Madere and machine-like Josh Levin who proved themselves as the Greatest Flashers of 2019, climbing with unrivaled control and aplomb under extreme pressure in an environment where only the most savvy can rule. With the next Masters Series event approaching fast, The Force Majeure, there is no telling who will take the next victory and what will transpire to get them there. Until then, you can bet everyone will be training harder than ever as the Sacramento climbing community continues to help us grow and evolve for the better.

- Dave Wetmore