The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Andrew Christiansen

Rock crawling a dirty, but wholesome sport


Andrew Christiansen

A PLACE TO DRIVE: Fourteen year old Olivia Messer works her way through the course with the guidance of her father, Matt Messer.

Rock crawling is a spectator friendly, family affair. It is also one of the dirtiest sports, as any spectator at the Broken Boulder Ranch last weekend could attest. No cheating and fighting, just a lot of dirt.

The nature of the sport allows fans to intermingle with cars and drivers, all of whom seemed eager to talk about their sport. As far as families are concerned, there was almost every variation imaginable at the event.

Matt Messer, the Unlimited class winner was also the spotter for his 14 year old daughter, Olivia. While not allowed to drive a car on the road, Olivia, who dad says is his "wild daughter," proved to be more than capable running their high tech crawler over an imposing course of boulders to place third in the Unlimited class.

Defending champion, Justin Hall was also spotted by his father, Mark. Hall was diagnosed with Crone's disease six years ago. While in the hospital, he decided he wanted to run in WE Rock competitive rock crawling. He did just that, winning his first title in the Pro Modified class after getting out of the hospital. Justin, who is now 25, was National Champion for 2013. His mother, Karen was at Broken Boulder Ranch, supporting her son with great pride. She says Justin has created a foundation called Crawling for Crone's to help carry the message that the disease doesn't have to leave a person disabled.

Another couple who competed in the Sportsman class was Kate Yates and her boyfriend Graeme Tidyman, out of Bend. This was the fifth competition for Yates, who drove while Tidyman spotted. The bond of communication is critical in this sport, for the two of them outside the sport, too, joked Yates. "It is all based on trust," she said, reflecting on the fact the driver can't see most of the obstacles or cones that mark the gates.

Andrew Christiansen

EASY BONUS: Mark Hall moves rocks and logs to make the course a little easier for son Justin who negotiates a bonus gate on Sunday.

The sport has been coming to Goldendale since 2005, according to Rich Klein, the owner of the WE Rock series. Klein credits Gwen Mosbrucker with getting the sport to Goldendale initially and was glad to work with her again this year, when Mosbrucker agreed to promote the event. Klein says that the series took a six-year break from Goldendale when things soured between the city and the event. Last year was a good experience for all and this year was even better, according to Klein.

"We had twice as many people [spectators] here on Saturday compared to both days last year." The parade and dance down town on Friday also went well, according to Klein.

Rody and Mark Schilling have hosted the event at their property along Orchard Heights Road each year. With the dry weather and clay soils around the boulders, the dust flew and everyone was, no doubt, washing dirt from their ears at the end of the day. It made for slick conditions on the rocks, but there weren't many complaints and it didn't seem to slow down the sales of food upwind of the course. It did make the vanilla ice cream look a bit like chocolate.

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