Vet student and New Zealand women's bouldering rock climbing champion Erica Gatland successfully launched her first rock-climbing festival at Flock Hill in Christchurch last month.
61 competitors competed in a five-hour competition on the boulders. The women's bouldering champion was Jean Jack from Christchurch and the men's champion was Alec McCallum, also from Christchurch.
Erica had been organising the event for 6 months with the help of the New Zealand Alpine Club, hence she didn't compete. However, she dedicated her weekend to running the event whilst also studying for one of the biggest veterinary exams of the year.
"Luckily for me, I don't really get stressed so I did the event and came home and sat the exam. The turnout for the festival was well worth it," she said.
The festival was a first for New Zealand and positive feedback means that it should be back again for many years to come.
Over the past month, Erica also gathered some people from the Massey Alpine Club to build a rock-climbing wall in her garage for herself and the climbing community.
“It’s super convenient for me to train on. I can have a quick session in between study. Also, it’s super steep, great for getting my strength up,” she explained.
In August, Erica competed at the last round of the National Boulder series, earning the lead title of best women's bouldering climber in New Zealand for the sixth time.
The 22 year-old athlete is currently training for the 2024 Olympics set to be held in Paris, with the help of her sponsor Kailas Gear to get her there.
Rock-climbing will be one of many sports included in the 2020 Olympic Games for the first time.
Erica runs the Flock Festival Instagram (@flock_fest) for anyone interested in following the athletes and up and coming events.