Hamilton is relatively flat but this weekend, climbers will be descending on the city.

They're coming for the National Rock-Climbing Championships and local 16-year-old, Zeta Hittman is looking forward to the competion.

"There's people from all over New Zealand coming," Hittman said. "It's a big competition, a good way to finish the competition season being at my home gym as well."

For Waikato Climbing Club, it's been a massive job setting all the routes for the weekend.


"Route setters have to try out all the bouldering problems as well, so there's a bit of testing too," club secretary Sylvia Lindemann said. "We're setting up 44 boulder problems or routes for people to use, and doing that in two days as well as organising judges and officials."

On the day, competitors are kept in isolation until it is their turn. They don't get to see the climbing route until five minutes before they climb.

19-year-old climber, Oliver Soar said it makes it harder mentally, not just physically – and there's also a vocal element to the sport too.

"It might sound a bit ridiculous to people who have not much knowledge of the sport, but when people are screaming we call it 'power screaming', it helps increase your power, holding onto tension in your body when you are trying challenging moves."

Soar and Hittman are among a group who are at the top of the sport in New Zealand and competed in the Youth World Championships in Moscow in August.

"Coming from this national level in New Zealand being top of the game here, then Moscow, was crazy," Hittman said. Watching how they climb, how to figure how to climb was very inspiring.

"We're climbing up to five metres and it's much more technical, so we've really got to figure it out like a puzzle. And watching these great climbers, you can see all the moves engrained into them and it's really cool to watch."

Hittman placed 49th in lead and bouldering and 51st in speed-climbing with her best time of 18.2 seconds on a 15-metre overhung wall in her category.


In his category Soar's speed-climbing time was 11.2 seconds with a 51st placing.

"The best in the world does it in just under six seconds," he said. "But we don't have a speed wall in New Zealand so it is quite hard to train for it."

But Soar isn't complaining. He said the international competition is a big step up from competeting nationally in New Zealand

"It is a big step up, but in a way, it puts a challenge to you - are you willing to put up your training?

Lindemann says climbing in New Zealand is still a developing sport and funding is a bit of an issue. But it is increasing in popularity with a new rock wall being constructed in the Bay of Plenty. Meanwhile in the Waikato, women outnumber men in the sport.

"It's cool to see the sport is not gender driven," Soar said.

It's also great for disabled people and Lindemann says Extreme Edge is working with Parafed Waikato to get more people involved.

"In 2016 I broke my leg outdoor climbing and coming back was tough," Hittman said.

"I wasn't in the right headspace. I was scared of falling and pushing myself but I just had to overcome that and a lot of climbing is mental."

This weekend the competitive side of rock climbing ends for the year, with the last competition being held in Hamilton.

In 2 years, rock climbing will debut as an Olympic sport in 2020, so there's even more reason this weekend for climbers to scale new heights and reach for the top.

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