Trento, Italy has amazing boulder problems, but don’t bother looking for them at the gym. On April 30, climbers scaled the medieval city’s
architecture, during the annual Block and Wall bouldering competition.
Almost 500 boulderers competed in the fifth Block and Wall comp, prowling the streets and crawling
on 42 city-blocks’ worth of buildings. The chalked-up street fiends came from Milan, Rome, Padua, Trieste, Verona, and even Germany and France to compete,
and presumably get zonked at the after-party.
The Block and Wall competition is part street fair and part Easter egg hunt. Climbers congregated at the heart of the festival, the ornate renaissance-era
Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore, and then scattered throughout the city for a day of climbing.
The contestants spent the day sweating on top of the tape-outlined problems on Trento’s facades. Crimps, arêtes, compressions, body-weight awareness and
delicate footwork are the key to climbing the slick walls and 90-degree corners of the masonry. Imagine a route built out of 10 different sizes of
rectangles and you’ll have a sense of the geometry. The climbing is technical and gym-rats hoping to crush some jugs may leave teary eyed.
When the stars came out, the tired climbers shuffled back to the Piazza for the evening festivities. It’s always a huge party: DJs spin, colored lights
flash, live bands sweat, sponsors glad-hand and this year 1,500 boulderers got down and lost their heads, dancing beneath the looming white limestone
face of the 16th century Santa Maria Maggiore Church.
Cedar Wright made an appearance this year, taking a break from his stint as a judge for the Trento Film Festival. Alex Honnold was in Trento for the festivities