Gravical is one of Singapore’s largest bouldering competitions, with some 800 climbers from all around the world coming together to meet and compete with some of the world’s most renowned route-setters and world cup climbers.

Ten years ago in 2007, SMU Climb Team organised the very first Gravical, a no-frills competition targeted at the local climbing community. Today, Gravical is known internationally and regionally, and is a staple in the climbing circuit.

What can we learn from Gravical’s success and growth over the years? We chat with the SMU Climb Team, the people behind Gravical, to find out more.

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After each category, the team go up on ladders, drills on hand, to install the handholds for the upcoming category’s routes.

We launched the inaugural Gravical in 2007, with the goal to raise SMU’s presence and to foster new climbing talents within the local scene in Singapore. The first OSL manager in charge of SMU Climb Team mooted the idea, shortly after the club was founded, so it definitely came naturally. It started off as a no-frills event, with no international route-setters or climbers gracing the event.

Fast forward to this year: For Gravical 2016, we have the privilege of having two internationally acclaimed route setters, Kim DongHyun (certified by the International Federation of Sport Climbing) and Niklas Wichmann (Head Setter at Stuntwerk, Cologne in Germany). Over the years, we’ve had world-class route setters and climbers like Tonde Katiyo, Jason Kehl and Akiyo Noguchi at Gravical. This year, our focus was to enhance the climbing experience as well as inject interest in the route-setting community. We’ve certainly come a long way!

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One of Gravical 2016’s head route-setters, internationally renowned Kim Dong Hyun prepares a new route for the climbers.

What motivates us to keep growing year on year? At the heart of it all, it’s the climbing community— the people. We believe we have the exposure and experience to create an event for climbers and the general public. It’s a meaningful way to contribute back to the climbing circle. We aspire to forge a close-knit SMU Climb Team community of students and alumni who are able to work together to create a bigger and better event year by year.

As climbers, we’re all predominantly very driven, passionate and love the sport.
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One of the biggest challenges we faced was managing the expectations of our participants and external stakeholders. On top of learning how to organise a full-fledged event from scratch, expectations were high especially since this is the tenth anniversary of Gravical. With that in mind, we wanted to make the event more exciting by inviting international route setters to add to the uniqueness of the competition experience for everyone.

Facing so many obstacles and stressful moments along the way made us appreciate the help we got. We’re so fortunate to have many passionate and helpful individuals within our Climb Team community who were more than happy to help out!

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Looking ahead to the future, we aspire to keep things fresh, to connect our local climbing community, and to reach out to our SMU community. This year in 2016, we injected fresh concepts by introducing Stuntwerk, a combination of climbing and free-running that originated from Germany.

On growing the local climbing scene, we intend to collaborate with the other major local competitions to form a bouldering league, governed by the Singapore Mountaineering Federation. We’ll be able to pool resources and sponsorship opportunities to provide the best competition experience for the participants, rather than always competing for a slice of the same pie.

We’d like to include the SMU community as much as possible as well. This year, we had the privilege of working with a team of Information Systems students who developed an app to assist in the live scoring system. We had SMU Stereometa and SMU Broadcast & Entertainment with us as well, helping us with emceeing and spinning music over all four days of Gravical 2016.

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If you’re seeking to grow your event, project or initiative to the next level, our advice would be simple:

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life– think about it, dream it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves and every part of your body be full of that one side, and leave every other ideas alone. This is the way to success.

SMU Climb Team aims to share our passion and experiences for climbing with the community, especially within the SMU campus. From sport climbing and bouldering, to climbing natural rock and slack-lining; these are just some of the activities our members take part in. Gravical is the annual bouldering competition organised by the Team, and we’re growing it to be a part of the international climbing scene. Join us, as we embark on a journey of self-discovery and adventure together! Check us out on Facebook and at the official Gravical site.

© 2018 Snapshots by SMU