Handicapping the Elemental Winter Bouldering Competition

Indoor bouldering competitions have been a staple of Wyoming winters for more than ten years. The mostly informal Wyoming Bouldering Series takes place each winter and features at least one competition in several different towns. The Lander competition is the smallest venue in the state, but frequently sees the most intense competition.

For several years, the men’s comp ended up being a head-to-head fight between local legend and all-around talent BJ Tilden and Casper’s indoor climbing specialist, Colby Frontiero. In the past couple of years, though, the tides have changed. The aging Tilden has been dogged by injury and a hectic work schedule and hasn’t been competing well. Frontiero and his wife welcomed a new baby to their lives last year, and well, you know what that means.

Needless to say, the torch looks like it’s due to be passed. Young, strong Chris Marley is poised to be one of the best boulderers in the country. Zack “The Human Lat” Rudy has won eight of the last nine comps he’s entered. And there’s fresh talent in Casper and Laramie. Here are my odds on who’ll come out on top during Saturday’s comp.

BJ Tilden 1:1 Hey, hes not that old. It’s his home turf…hell, he built the wall.

Zack Rudy 3:2 Zack’s weakness is that he likes BJ. If he can tap into some of BJ’s take-no-prisoners, ruthless competitiveness, you can bet he’ll come out the winner.

Chris Marley Chris isn’t competing this year as his work schedule conflicted with the comp.

Colby Frontiero Colby will be setting for the comp. He admitted to me in strict confidence that he felt like his best days were behind him and he’s gained weight…so it’s for the best that he’s not competing.

Micah Rush 4:1 This guy just gets stronger. Sure he can crush the Cirque traverse, redpoint a few 5.13s, and ski the Grand Teton, but can he pull out a win?

Danny Baker 3:1 Danny has been getting better and better with each year. With a solid season of hard sends under his belt and a recently updated Facebook profile picture, he’s a real contender.

Tony Stark 2:1 Holy crap this guy is strong. ‘Nuff said.

Vance White 15:1 He’s won before. It’s been a busy year for Vance and he usually does better later in the spring, but crazier things have happened.

Tom Rangitsch 12:1 He’s 40, but climbing the best he ever has. Will he have to work that night?

Justin Iskra 4:1 I have no idea how he’ll do, but I wouldn’t bet against a top three. Will he, too, have to work?

Ben Sears 21:2 A dark horse, but a clear contender for a top five. The big question is whether he wasted the fall trying to redpoint hard routes when he should have been in the gym training for this.

Jesse Brown 7:1 A former director of the WBS, Jesse could win this thing. Especially if no one else on the list shows up.

Ryan Haydel 10:1 If the problems are hard to read and thuggish, this guy will be in the top five. Another one that gets better each year.

Kevin Wallingford 20:1 This strong man has been dogged by injury this year. Can he overcome it and place?

Sam Lightner 98:1 He’s too old and just doesn’t have it anymore. Who knows he might just pull off a Brett Favre. I mean the comeback part, not the taking inappropriate pictures part…

Tim Long 3:1 Will he show?

David Lloyd 5:1 He literally wrote the book on bouldering, but has work sucked the life from him?


On the women’s side, things are harder to predict. The competition has been inconsistent the past couple of years, but there are some really exciting new faces to watch out for.

Ashley Lloyd 3:2 If she competes, bet on her to do well. If ever there was someone who was born with kevlar tendons, this is the one.

Emmy Voigt 1:1 Emmy rarely enters a competition she doesn’t win. It’s really hard to bet against her.

Becca Roseberry 3:1 Becca has been focusing on endurance redpointing which doesn’t transfer well to indoor problems. If nothing else, she’ll be going strong for the whole evening.

Anna Junker 2:1 Another strong one, Anna has a great depth of skills and can figure out some tough sequences.

Katie Rice 8:1 Has she spent too much time outside on the rock? Can she get focused enough to win? We’ll see on Saturday.

 Cari Faye Antonovich 3:1 This girl is another up-and-comer. Last year she took 2nd. Can she move up?