As many of you know, this weekend was the last leg of the Dark Horse Series held at Metro Rock in Everett, MA. The field for both the men and women was stacked making New England’s premier bouldering series finale an even more exciting event than originally anticipated.

Photo courtesy of Pat Bagley

I flew in to a very cold and snowy Boston on Thursday and Saturday was the competition. LT 11 was there filming so keep an eye out for the video coming soon. For the first time in history pretty much the whole LT11 crew was in one place. Jon Glassberg, Carlo Traversi, Jordan Shipman, Max Zolotukhin, and Dave Wetmore. I’m pretty sure I’m madly in love with all of these people who have the same level of psych and insane obsession for rock climbing, not to mention all of us are smoking hot and we could melt the polar ice caps if we all showed up there at the same time.

Team LT11. From Left to right Max Zolotukhin, Dave Wetmore, Natasha Barnes, Jon Glassberg, Carlo Traversi. photo Jordan Shipman

Snow outside the Boston Rock Gym.


The qualifying round was redpoint format and we were all anxious to climb. I got to session with all the girls (Sasha DiGiulian, Tiffany Hensley, Courtney Sanders, Sydney McNair, Melissa Godowski, Emma Chilton and others) which was a nice change from the usual male dominated bouldering sessions I’m used to. It was fun to watch everyone climb and to share beta and joke around. As crowded as it seemed it definitely wasn’t as crowded as the last competition.

Max Zolotukhin about make a huge dyno in qualifiers. photo by David Crothers

Courtney Sanders tryin hard on a V7 in Qualifiers. photo by David Crothers

After a brief lunch break 8 men and 8 women checked into isolation ready to compete in finals. Because of the way this competiton was formatted Vasya Vorotnikov and Francesca Metcalf were given a “by” into finals because they were each winners of the most recent competition in the series.

Men and women were to climb 5 problems each in finals. The problems were very good. The first two climbs for both men and women were very technical and included some very nice huge features as well as some grip taped volumes which, if I am not mistaking, is a style inspired at the NorEaster by French route setter Tonde Katiyo. It was nice to have a couple of technical problems in an American bouldering competition for once. I think this is something that is not done very often in the U.S. but it’s a welcome change to the usual campus-dyno-steep-crowd pleaser problems that are normally set at these things. The crowd was still engaged by the technical climbs and they went wild whenever anyone was able to solve the tricky moves and get a high point or send the climbs. I’m looking forward to seeing more creative technical problems at future competitions.

Daniel Woods on Men's #1. photo Pat Bagley

Daniel Woods on Men's #1. photo Pat Bagley

Max Zolotukhin on Men's #2. photo Oliver Chong

Sasha DiGiulian on Women's #1. photo Pat Bagley

Courtney Sanders on Women's #3. photo Pat Bagley

Me on Women's #5. photo Pat Bagley

Max Zolotukhin on Men's #4. photo Oliver Chong

Daniel Woods topping out Men's #5. photo Pat Bagley

Daniel Woods winning Dark Horse. photo Pat Bagley

The rest of the climbs for both men and women were also very good and very fun. Dave Wetmore and crew did a good job of creating really nice climbs. However, I think I speak for most of the women when I say that turning around to face Women’s #3–a run and jump– was nothing less than horrifying. Not only was the starting hold at a daunting ten or more feet up but it was to an undercling and the foot you had to use to make the  jump was low profile and higher than was comfortable (at least for me) to run and step up on. To top it off there was a wire running along the ground in front of the climb and even more infuriating was the fact that the rest of the climb was probably V4 (read: easy). In my opinion it was a poor choice for a women’s final problem.  A stopper first move to an easy finish, what’s the point? Getting on the wall should not be the crux. Sorry to rant, I may be a little jaded. I personally was not able to stick the starting hold after 18 aggravating attempts. On one of those attempts I got close and on my last go I misjudged the foot in a frustrated and uncoordinated attempt my face actually hit the wall. Watery-eyed, bloody-mouthed, swollen-lipped and mortified, I was forced to give up. I received quite the literal “smack down” from that problem.

Me flashing Women's #2. photo by Oliver Chong

Me on problem #4. photo Stephanie Crumley

Resting between attempts on problem #5. photo Stephanie Crumley

EEEYYYOOOOO...butt shot on problem #5. photo Stephanie Crumley

I felt strong for this competition but I didn’t climb as well as I would have liked. I think some of it had to do with the fact that I psyched myself out a little when I saw problem #3, then I got flustered for problem #4 after face planting into the wall. I still had a lot of fun though. It was fun to be around friends and all the positive energy.

Feeling thrashed and watching the rest of the competition. Notice my bloody upper lip. photo Stephanie Crumley

The Dark Horse. photo Pat Bagley

Brian Kim on problem #5. photo Stephanie Crumley

Max Zolotukhin on problem #5. photo Stephanie Crumley

The men’s field was even more stacked and the competition was fierce. The most memorable moment for me was watching Brian Kim compete. On problem #4 he fell trying to snatch a far away sidepull but saved himself by doing a reverse one arm to stay on the wall. Savage. On problem #5–which was a very dynamic problem–Brian dramatically stuck all the dynos in an impressive effort but fell at the very end trying to toe hook the finishing hold above his head. When he was done competing I congratulated him and he told me that was the hardest he’s ever tried before. Cool! Also, Carlo is a BEAST. Watching him compete was inspiring too. Makes me want to get really really strong!

The Crowd. photo by David Crothers

Melissa Godowski on Women's #1. photo David Crothers

The man behind the curtain, Dave Wetmore. photo David Crothers

Courtney Sanders on Women's #1. photo David Crothers

Winners! 1st place Daniel Woods, 2nd place Vasya Vorotnikov, 3rd place Brian Kim. photo Pat Bagley

Winners for women! 1st place Francesca Metcalf, 2nd Sasha DiGiulian, 3rd Tiffany Hensley. photo Pat Bagley

After the competition we went to a crazy after party at some house where we drank, danced, had a Jenga tournament, danced, had a snowball fight, danced more, laughed smiled and generally had a good time. Can’t wait for the next competition and for the next time LT11 gets together which may not be until this Summer. We’ll see…

Team photo! I'm on top and somewhere under there is Jon and Max. photo from http://www.carlotraversi.com

For results check www.darkhorseseries.com

For another blog about Dark Horse http://carlotraversi.com/

Check out the promo video for the comp from LT11 http://vimeo.com/19492093

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS from Climberism

I’d like to thank Five Ten and PrAna for making this trip possible. I’d also like to thank Dave Wetmore and Metro Rock for making the event happen. See ya at next year’s Dark Horse Series!


  1. Nice! Looks like you had a lot of fun. I wish the comps here (NZ) had a little more psych, I’d be so more motivated. Nice work Tasha!

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