In 2014, I am going to be doing more international competitions than ever before, including hopefully attending at least 7 out of the 8 IFSC Lead World Cups, the World Championships in Spain, and the Pan American Championships in Peru. So far, I have competed in 4 World Cups.
The conclusion of the 2013 competition season was very successful. I attended the British Lead Climbing Championships, placing second in both junior boys and senior men. I was in the semi-finals of the two lead World Cups I attended (17th in Valence, and 22nd in Kranj).
I found myself feeling motivated and ready to train hard, and to look at all the ways that could help me progress further in climbing. Alongside that, I also had plans to wrestle some pebbles in Squamish and Moes Valley, as well as climbing on the much more virgin rock offered at Sutton Pass and a new area near Duke Point, here on Vancouver Island.
It quickly became clear that the main area that was lacking in my climbing was consistency: the ability to reach my max potential on every climb as well as to give 100% on every move. Often times – whether it be out on rock or in a tough situation on a comp route – I find myself losing focus and falling well below where I am capable of going.
With help from my coach Kimanda, I started incorporating a quickset routine that I would say and do before each climb, as well as cues I use any time during routes when I found myself unsure, or lacking in commitment on a particular sequence.
Using this new routine, I quickly saw success in a longtime bouldering project of mine, the Reckoning (V14, Squamish). The problem climbs a steep overhang, mixing hard compression, small crimps and extremely precise footwork. It managed to prevent me from topping it for countless sessions, before I decided to take a break from working it.
I returned this January, with more power and a better headspace but found myself once again feeling intimidated, even before any attempts. The temperatures were quite cold, and I recall having felt a little off that day. I took a while to warm up and couldn’t help but notice the rock mocking me and the trees shaking their heads in the wind. I gave a few clumsy attempts before remembering I had my quickset routine.
I used the routine and gave the boulder everything I had, managing to reach the last move before suffering from clumsy footwork and falling bitterly to the ground. The same fate followed twice more before I gave it that little bit of extra push, sticking the move and dominating the rock, now noticing that the trees looked more like they wanted to shake my hand.
From this day on, I have bases my quickset routine on how I felt on the, and how much harder I managed to push myself than what I previously thought possible.
The other thing preventing me from getting more consistent competition results internationally is a lack of experience in international events. European climbers have the opportunity to participate in the annual European Youth Cup series, throughout their youth career. This circuit helps the strongest youth competitors transition into world cups, as they’re already used to competing against the best from other countries at a high level by the time they age in to the senior circuit.
The jump is still quite large for them, but much smaller than gap between Canadian lead comps and the world cup circuit. Hopefully in years to come, North America will see its own circuit of the same magnitude, but this might be difficult due to such a small population on a large continent.
Gaining this experience is coming along well, as I continue to attend more events and I’m finding myself more prepared and less intimidated for what’s in store on a route. But it’s still an ongoing battle. A good example being the latest IFSC World Cup in Imst, Austria (August 1 and 2nd), where I finished 13th on Qualifier Route 1, and 30-something on the 2nd route. I climbed well on the 1st route, but I still had a lot to give when I fell off.
The final thing that I have been working on is getting just a bit more power in my arms and legs. World cup routes often have tough sequences of large moves that require considerable power from the upper and lower body. With a bit more muscle, I feel like I’ll have an easier time when some of those moves present themselves. Then, overall I`ll be able to climb more confidently and efficiently.
Being able to pull harder will also benefit the many outdoor projects I currently have, many of which are just outside my grasp at the moment.
As mentioned in the title, I learned in the past month on the IFSC World Cup circuit in Europe that I am, indeed, “a fascinating young lad”, but I’ll get to why another time. I`m also going to write about some of the recent and upcoming competitions and travel experiences in more detail, and talk about the “more virgin” bouldering on Vancouver Island, and the faces behind all the hard work that’s being put into areas like Sutton Pass. I will say that Sutton has serious potential to be one of the best bouldering spots in Canada, and if you’re coming to the region you would be a fool not to stop by.
Thanks for the continued support @bouldersclimb, @kimandaj and @flashed – until next time!