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 planned.
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 milestone really!
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 breaking!!!