Heart ov Zteel

I arrived in Boston last Thursday to compete in the third annual Heart ov Zteel competition. Going into it I had no idea what to expect. Gavin Heverly and Max Zolotukhin have put their creative minds together to come up with the crazy format used for this competition and it’s not like any other competition format out there.

The first round of the competition was redpoint format. The top three climbers for men and top three for women made it into finals. The setters Max, Gavin, Jon Glassberg, Steven Jeffery, Gavin Heverly, and Randy Hill came up with some really creative and fun climbs. It was apparent that a lot of time and thought went into setting for this part of the comp, unlike other comps where sometimes its seems like the redpoint round climbs take a backseat to the main show–finals.

Tiffany Hensley, Melissa Godowski, and myself made finals for women and Dave Wetmore, Vasya Vorotnikov and Josh Larson made it for men. In a surprising turn of events 14 year old Daniel Berman who entered Advanced killed it in this round an climbed well enough to place 3rd in mens Open. After some deliberation it was decided that he would be allowed to compete as a fourth in finals.

Gavin Heverly as the announcer/man in charge. photo courtesy of Chelsea Kyle


Tiffany Hensley on womens #1. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Kyle

Melissa Godowski on womens #1. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Kyle

Me on womens #1. photo by Cort Gariepy

Vasya Vorotnikov on mens #2. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Kyle

Josh Larson on mens #2. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Kyle

Daniel Berman on mens #2. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Kyle

For those that don’t know how this format works here is the rundown: Two climbs are set for both men and women. Both climbs are very long and go all over the wall with no really finish. Money is placed in certain spot on the wall where climbers are meant to climb to and attempt to grab money that is hanging from the wall. Harder sequences have more money at the end of them ($100 bills) and easier sequences have less ($20 or $50 bills). Getting to the top doesn’t matter, falls don’t matter, each climber has six minutes to get as much money as they can. Before each climber climbs the money is rehung on the wall so that the climbers have a fair chance at the same amount of money as the last climber. A new element was also added to this years comp, climbers could buy another try on their climb for $20 after the time ran out. The climbers get to keep whatever money they pull off the wall. The money that isn’t taken off the wall by each climber goes into a pot and the climber who gets the most money off the wall at the end of both climbs is the winner and also gets the pot of money in addition to whatever they pull off the wall.

Heart ov Zteel is a different sort of competition. With only six minutes per climb (and these are long climbs), multiple ways to get to the money, being able to buy another try after the time is up, and the fatigue factor, it quickly becomes a strategy game. Previewing for finals was timed by the duration of the competitions namesake song by Manowar, Heart of Steel. Yes. The problems were long and complicated strategies were formulated about which path to take and which bills to grab first. For the first time in a really long time I felt nervous at a climbing competition. Was six minutes enough? How hard are the climbs going to feel? Could I pull off the tricky upside-down-360-heel-toe-bat-hang-to-hand-jam on problem #1?

As it turned out, it was one of the most fun climbing comps I’ve ever competed in. The crowd was into it and had a lot of energy, everyone was trying hard and the problems were SO FUN! At the end of the competition Tiffany Hensley and I were tied for first with $310 each. Tiffany was presented with the option of buying another try and all she needed to do was pull a $50 or $100 off the wall to beat my score and win the entire pot of money but if she didn’t get anything off the wall she would be down $20 and I would win the competition and the pot. This made for a pretty exciting moment during the competition. We were all super tired after the six minutes and I’m sure knowing she wouldn’t be able to rest and was still tired she opted out. Smart move. We tied for first and split the pot getting $870 each. WOOOOOOOO!!!!



1st Tiffany Hensley/Natasha Barnes

3rd Melissa Godowski



1st Vasya Vorotnikov

2nd Dave Wetmore

3rd Daniel Berman

4th Josh Larson


I want to thank Chelsea Kyle for contributing photos for this blog, the Boston Rock Gym, the setters, Max Zolotukhin and Gavin Heverly and everyone else who made this competition possible. I can’t wait until next year!!!


Make sure and check out the promo complete trilogy HERE

and the Highlight Reel HERE

For FULL RESULTS and official competition blog check HERE

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