My recent foray into competition climbing has started to pay off! Even though I didn’t feel my strongest at Blokfest, having had a cold for most that week, I managed to place well. More significantly than this however, I came away content with my performance! There are still many things to address if I am to keep improving my competition climbing, but my performance came the closest to my actual potential (or at least to my personal perception of what I am currently capable off) to date on a competition day. That feeling was worth more to me than the comp placement and showed I had overcome some of my nerves. The fact that I didn’t go in feeling strong may have actually helped me to relax and just enjoy the whole thing.
The competition itself was extremely well organised and hundreds of climbers turned up to try the diverse array of routes. The vibe of the comp was the best I have come across to date- extremely relaxed and sociable while maintaining an edge of excitement and healthy competition. I helped out on the day with counting scores and entering data. It was great to see a wide variety of abilities and ages come together to climb and have a beer/juice. It was particularly exciting to see a huge amount of young talent from all over the country. I bumped into many friendly faces and made a few friends to boot!
I can’t wait till next year to take part in the whole series! Take a look at the Blokfest website if you haven’t already.
The Climbing Works International Festival was a whole different kettle of fish. The list of talent and professional climbers was just staggering. I was a little upset with how I did. I didn’t climb as well as I did at Blokfest and placed ‘poorly’. However upon second inspection of the leader board I did brighten up. The list of names above me was impressive and a little humbling. I managed to do 12 of the 30 problems and it was fair to say it was a hard set. When you have to separate out the likes of Jimmy Web, Jan Hojer, Rustam Gelmanov, Sean MacColl, Tyler Landman, Jorg Verhoeven and many other international names, including many climbers from national teams who came over especially for the event, you have to set hard problems and lots of them!
Most of the male athletes who made semi-finals had climbed in the 8b+/8C range and the turn out for the women was equally impressive. Just the day before qualifiers Jimmy Web and Jan Hojer both sent the famous test piece ‘The Ace’ (8B) at Stanage Plantation. No sweat! The fitness of these guys is crazy. So it was fair to say everything got put firmly into perspective for me, which is probably not a bad thing. There is nothing like comparing yourself to some of the best in the world for new motivation and new goals.
I don’t think I am the kind of person who could pursue comp climbing all the time. It’s a very different experience to regular climbing and outside. The limited time and number of goes on problems made serious comp climbing equally frustrating and rewarding in many new and different ways for me. You rarely climb on the satisfying ‘edge’ where things feel hard but possible and I normally come away feeling more mentally than physically tired. But when you hit the nail on the head and get things just right (tactics, preparation, training, correct amount of coffee etc.) it can be fantastic. Even if things don’t go so well you get to climb a bunch of new problems and meet lots of people. In this respect I think I prefer a moderate amount of condensed comps and plenty of time outside of that to really improve my climbing. But who knows, I might eat my own words in a few years.
I had time over Easter and an offer to go to Font. Only a madman would say no! My last trip to Font was more of a holiday than a climbing trip, but this time I had conditions and more conditioning on my side. I spent a lot of time looking for the right project- something I could get excited by and build confidence on. I found it after a few days of falling off things and pottering about. Trojan War is just my kind of rock. Overhanging, powerful and with lots of rounded bits that can just about be classed as holds. Not being the tallest of people, the fridge hugging compression felt tough and I had to figure some interesting beta. From what I can work out from other videos I have watched my sequence is different to other people’s, which is always interesting and satisfying. Check out my video here.
I managed to send the line after many attempts and with lots of refinement. Thanks to the energy sapping nature of the moves, muscle memory played a huge part for me. I’m not as strong as some of the other people I have seen do the problem and it took a fresh left shoulder and right forearm in particular, on top of lots of hours dreaming through the sequence, for everything to finally click! By no way was this an epic battle over months, but it is still a significant stepping stone for me and one which I have plans to improve upon.
I did a few other bits and pieces in the holiday, including Magic Bus (7b+) (video above) and a handful of nice 7a’s in amongst the prospecting. I feel like I have a lot to go back for and more projects to really put to the grind stone. Can’t wait for the next trips….