James Island park plays host to youth climbing competition

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) - Dozens of people spent Saturday morning reaching for the sky at James Island County Park. It was part of the Palmetto Pump & USA Climbing Competition.

The climb is the biggest outdoor climbing competition in the Southeast and it takes place on the park's 50-foot climbing wall with more than 4,500 square feet of climbing space.

The event offers climbers of all ages and abilities to try their hand and scaling a 50-foot wall with a variety of hand holds and obstacles.

On Saturday, 75 competitors and their friends and family from the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia met at the park to scale the wall.

"This is a big crowd for us. With parents and siblings, we're probably looking at 200 people at least," said Robert Lavarnway, the outdoor recreation coordinator for the park.

This is the 17th year the event has been held at the park.

Lavarnway said it started as a local event for Lowcountry climbers, but it grew over time to include people from multiple states. The result, he says, is a lot more attention for and interest in the sport.

"I've been climbing for over 20 years. It's something that I'm passionate about, I love to do, and it's just exciting to see kids getting into it and learning a new sport and something they can carry on through life," he said.

The wall has different color holds and pieces of tape. Each color represents a difficulty level to reach it, Lavarnway said. The judges give points by which holds are used by the climbers as they ascend the wall. They get full credit if they make it to the top.

Half Moon Outfitters sponsored the event.{}