WCCC To Hold Third Annual Rockfest Dec. 8

It may not hold all of the challenges of climbing Mount Everest, but the third annual Washington County Community College Rockfest will be a lot more fun.

The climbing competition that is geared for young and old, experienced and inexperienced alike will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8, in the St. Croix Hall gymnasium. Registration starts at 12:30 p.m. 

There will be prizes for the first, second and third place finishers, and a raffle for four passes for a white-water rafting experience.

Students in the WCCC Adventure Recreation and Tourism program along with members of the Outdoor Adventure Center are responsible for organizing the event. 

North Country Rivers in Bingham, Calais Regional Hospital, the WCCC Student Senate, the Ice Cream Patch and The Don’s Brick Oven Pizza in Calais and Cadillac Mountain Sports are this year’s sponsors. 

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Teens To Trails Project and the recently formed Calais High School Outdoor Club. Teens To Trails, according to the website www.teenstotrails.org, is dedicated to increasing the opportunities for Maine teens to experience the out-of-doors through a variety of programs that promote and support high school Outing Clubs across the state.

Adventure Recreation student Alexander Bradley, one of the organizers of the competition, said that students have put a lot of work into the upcoming event. 

“There are no age limits or categories. We just decided to organize it by skill level,” he said. 

There will be three different skill levels, beginners, intermediate and advanced. Individuals can register for $15. Three-person teams consisting of all high school or all college climbers can register for $40. The first 25 climbers to register will receive a free T-shirt. The WCCC Student Senate plans to provide food free of charge.

Brent Russell, who also is a student in the Adventure Recreation program and another one of the organizers of the competition, said more than 35 climbers participated last year including climbers from as far away as Unity and Orono. There also was an international flare to last year’s competition with some of the climbers from Saint John and Fredericton, New Brunswick. Russell said the organizers hope more people will participate this year. 

During the planning process, the student organizers established several goals for the day in addition to people just having fun.

“We want people to feel successful and we want people to come back next year so our Rockfest continues,” Bradley said. “We hope to introduce people to the climbing community and get them interested in the sport.”

Bradley said the organizers also hope to raise $300 each for Teen to Trails and the Calais High School Outdoor Club. Safety also is an important goal for the students.

Instructor Scott Fraser said he was pleased with the way the competition has grown each year. 

“Brent and Alex are doing this as part of an event planning project in an Adventure Programming course,” he said. “From an academic perspective it is a great experience for our students to learn how to put on an event and from a community aspect, it promotes use of our rock wall and brings people into the college. It is also a great way for people to come out and meet other climbers.”

In addition to the rock climbing competition, there also will be a “slack line” event so participants can try their balancing skills. Slack lining is like tightrope walking, except participants balance on a piece of 3-inch wide nylon webbing tied between two fixed objects and situated close to the ground. 

For the more experienced climbers there will be an event called the “Dyno Competition,” where a climber jumps from the hold they are on to those above. 

“They jump straight up and fly through the air to reach another hold. They use their arms and legs to propel themselves upward,” Russell said. 

Admission for spectators is free. For more information about the event or to pre-register, visit: Facebook.com/WCCCadventurerec.