It seems typical that as soon as the
ball starts rolling, something quickly comes in front of it to stop
it in its track. From the last blog post, some 3 months ago (!!) i
felt i had a good rhythm going with writing and keeping on top of
“work like things”. Then my computer broke, i had to leave the
next day for Chamonix and I wasn't anywhere long enough to get it
fixed until Munich which was two months later. Ironically, a few days
after i did get it fixed, someone broke into my van and stole it!
Along with my beautiful Canon which was the biggest loss of all. But
gone is gone right.....?!
To write about stuff that happened in
what seems like another lifetime seems a bit like overkill but I am a
bit OCD with certain things and if i am going to have any order, it
is here and so i start with my experience at the Rope climbing world
cups... Since I am writing about rope climbing, I will try and make
it as brief and hopefully as painless as i can. (uh... joke!!)
Just before leaving Britain I managed
to get my hands on a van and properly insurance it which proved not
only harder to get than the van itself but also near double the
price! Re-donkulous but the thought of travelling any longer ''sans''
wheels was not exactly how i had planned nor wanted things to go...
Planning things, hmm...! I had imagined
spending the time here training and getting soooo strong in an
amazing european gym, surrounded by soooo many amazing motivating
climbers, and going out on weekends to climb sooooo many amazing
european rocks. Amazing! Simple and amazing!!
Yet, things don't always happen as
First stop: Chamonix World Cup.
The blaring of horns, beeps and alarms
awoke me from a very short sleep. We arrived at the ferry crossing at
2:00 am having to awaken for the 6:00am crossing. The van that I had
just dumped all my savings on was NOT starting. Mandatory meeting at
what time? Today? I was still in england. I asked a woman next to me
if she had booster cables and she quickly pointed to a man who was
holding a cup of hot tea and had a cigarette dangling from his mouth.
He kindly gave a look, jiggled a loose wire back to place and my
heart gave a big sigh. Ok, we are going to make it. I thanked
humanity and got on the ferry. It was a good start. We basically had
the whole day to get there having started this early!
My 'new' van broken down...
Well to make a long story short, we
didn't make it. I turned up to Chamonix at 2:00 AM while thoughts of
tow truck drivers, empty gas tanks, a hungry belly, bad directions
and a serious need for sleep ran marathons in my head. I wondered
where the hell was I and where was it that I had to be in 6 more
hours. Not exactly the best preparation for a competition but life is
not under my control (thank fully, otherwise it would be boring!). I
tried my best to get there and as for the competition, well, ha, it
didn't go so well. I would like to blame delirium and pure madness on
route one where I oh so classically grabbed the quickdraw without
even thinking. When I talked with Sean later about it, he and his
girlfriend looked at each other and simultaneously replied, “bad
habits?” Yes likely, as well as being completely unprepared.
It had really been 3 months since my
last time on a rope and with my serious lack of endurance, clipping
skills, and more importantly, mental preparation, well, there you go.
But in one way I did do well. I didn't beat myself up for making such
a huge mistake, I started to go down the angry path but I stopped
myself and stirred on down the “happy road” which for me is a
Route 2 was a write off as well. My
finger was still hurting after tweaking it at the British boulder
nationals and the route was very crimpy indeed. While looking up, I
told myself it wasn't worth pushing it just to get a few holds higher
and so i used good self control and gave what could be called a
failing percent. But again, I was actually more psyched that i used
control with an injury, something that is new to me! So, i may have
gotten last at this competition but I had two very good lessons from
each route. And so it was worth the stress and strain of coming!
so happy to be with some canucks!
After Chamonix I had intended to give
my finger some more rest but to also try and get some fitness for the
upcoming comp in Briancon. I discovered I could climb but not crimp
and so the crux now was actually finding a gym! Seems in a town of
mostly climbers, getting into a gym was not that easy. The randomness
of life brought me a friend who I had met in Squamish which was most
welcome. On top of being among nice company in a land of strangers,
he showed me one of the private gyms which I later got kicked out of
before i even had a chance to get my shoes on. There was a public gym
which I went to with Cedar. Her reaction: “this gym is great!” My
reaction: “Wow, there are a lot of jugs!” I will admit I tried
the place as I really did need to train but I actually HAD to stop
climbing before I went any further into the abyss of doom. It was the
first time that i ever felt depressed because of a climbing gym! As
we walked out I ran into Sean who thankfully got us into the local
private gym for a couple sessions. As i watched he and Mathide run
laps on my warm ups I wondered what the hell was i doing there. I
mean, really...!?!! rope comp?!
Well I had two more rope comps to do.
My preparation for these comps was to put it plainly: really, really,
REALLY grim. Like depressingly so. I was in Europe and could not find
a decent gym and as for partners, well, with what some people would
call a “recluse”personality, I don't make friends to easy and so i don't get to give or receive belays.
Europeans aren't exactly the most hmmm, whats the word to use? It
isn't unfriendly, perhaps it is more reserved? It's just a little
harder to make friends on this side. But again, that could very well
just be me.
For example, when i was in Geneva, the
gym i went to was a little room with a cave where the key lay hidden
by the door where the entrance money was dropped. Yes not the best
training facility for a lead competition but it was at least open. I
guess my timing was off because my arrival coincided with some week
long holiday where all the public gyms were shut. Anyway, after a
session there, what I really wanted was to climb with people. Europe was feeling pretty dang lonely for me at this point. Thing was,
whenever I arrived, the people who were there either put on their
headphones or just simply left. I really tried to not take it
personal but it basically happened every time i went so i just
started to wonder if i had something between my teeth when i smiled
or maybe i just smelled really bad. Both highly likely. Just when I
was near my end, along came Sebastian. What a dear, I mean really!! This complete stranger not only talked to me but he also invited me
to his house to eat plums from their plum tree! Normally I do not go
to strangers houses to eat plums from their plum trees but sometimes
you just know when a person is good. Besides, it was weeks since i
had talked to someone I knew and I just wanted to be with nice
people. It was a very nice reminder to keep my chin up.
Sebastian, a friendly little reminder
After my time in Geneva I told myself
that I deserved to be at a proper gym. Hell ya, I was going to go to
Austria. That is where all those strong folks are from right, so
their gym has to be a good right? Upon arrival I very quickly
realized sure a good gym is nice but it is the people who you climb
with that matter. It was the best gym I had been to since England,
but I still didn't have a partner: thus no belay. Again I found
myself stuck traversing on the bouldering walls which to my
disapproval were NOT littered with small pieces of tape telling me
where to go. One of the rules for training: do not make up your own
problems for obvious reasons! Most people would likely ask someone
for a belay but well, see above, I lack certain skills and so I spent
my time traversing while watching the other comp climbers rope up.
What was kind of funny though, not funny ha ha, but funny wtf, was
when i did get the balls to ask one of the younger climbers for some
problems on the only free wall available, they all looked at each
other and said, no, we don't have any problems on that wall... oh
well, at least my finger was feeling better!!?!
Austrian rest days
Needless to say if one considered the
results, the two rope comps after Chamonix didn't go to well. Not the
best I could have done but i don't think many other people could
thrive under such circumstances. Perhaps most logical people would of withdrew
and I am just insane for sticking around. I went into all the comps
unprepared mentally and most defiantly unprepared physically. For
Briancon, the last time I had tied into a rope was Chamonix, for
Imst, the last time i tied in was Briancon...etc. Not ideal! If one is
going to enter a rope comp, especially a World Cup competition, it
would be in their best interest to actually climb on a rope
beforehand and train properly for it like normal competitors!!
Alas after Imst I decided to withdrawal
from the future rope comps i had signed up for. Sure it is good to
put myself out there but I had enough of that. If I am going to
compete I want to do it properly: prepared and ready, mentally and
physically so that i can walk away feeling like i gave my best
through the whole process which includes the preparation, training
and the competition itself.
That said, I did my best with what I
had to work with. Aside from the numbers, I did ok because I continued
to learn about the competition world and myself. The experience alone
was invaluable for my head space and competitions. I learned a bit
better how to relax and even remembered on my 2nd last
route to breath which may sound nonsensical to those who have been
doing comps for a long time but for me it is something really ground