On Sept. 20, the inaugural Southern Alberta Tour de Frank bouldering festival took place in the Frank Slide.
By Jonas Gagnon
Greeted by clear, blue skies over a field of grey limestone blocks, climbers dispersed into Frank Slide for the inaugural Tour de Frank outdoor climbing event. “We’re really happy with how everything came together.” event organizer Kyle Marco said. “It was a great first event. Everyone had fun.”
The southern Albertan meet drew people from around the province, with a small B.C. contingent making the trek over the Rockies. Competition in the men’s open was close, resulting in a tie between Red Deer climber Josh Bylsma and Edmonton’s Andrew Funk. The two paired up early in the competition, matching each other through a series of V8 and V9 problems to wrap up the top spot.
“There was some great competition,” Lethbridge climber Mark Derksen said. “It was nice to go to Frank with a great group of climbers.” Shelley Hoover handily won in the women’s open category. The event was conceived and facilitated by longtime boulderers Trent Hoover and Marco, both from Lethbridge and champions of the area. It featured over 70 problems from V0 to V9, as well as four previously unclimbed projects for the adventurous, giving participants plenty of room to fan out and tour the slide.
Encouraged by they success of their inaugural competition, the pair see a chance to grow the event in the future and support the climbing community in southern Alberta. “It’s a great event, and a great way for climbers to experience Alberta’s largest bouldering area,” Hoover said. “Hopefully next year we’ll see some more local climbers come out and boulder at Frank Slide in the Tour de Frank.”
The Tour de Frank joins the rapidly growing ranks of outdoor bouldering festivals in Canada, including the Squamish Rampage and the Kelowna Boulderfields Rock the Blocks in BC, and the ‘Bogie Boulder Bash in Ontario. Frank Slide sits on the edge of the southern rockies, five minutes drive from the town of Crowsnest Pass in Alberta. It offers several hundred problems spread across the two-kilometre slide.