Thursday, 19 May 2016

Bouldering Part 1

Hello again to like the five people who read these posts!

I've been pretty (completely) inactive on here for the past few months, but I've finally done something exciting enough with my life to justify sitting down and writing a new post. Here goes.

So after all my pristine rock skin had wilted away and I got back into the swing of climbing on plastic, I didn't really get up to too much. I was routesetting and coaching at two gyms 40+ hours a week, not to mention climbing three or four times a week on top of that. To say I felt like I lived at the gym would be a bit of an understatement, but for the most part it was good! I felt like I was starting to put a bit of muscle back on, and felt like I was slowly honing my routesetting skills a little bit as well.

Then came the Rock Jungle lead comp. Our head routesetter was away on a climbing trip, and the other main setter was coaching one of the RJF Teams, so he couldn't be very involved on the lead end of things in the interest of keeping everything fair and impartial. Of course, that meant that it was up to me to handle a majority of the responsibility of the event (at least where routesetting was concerned). On the wednesday before the comp, we stripped the entire lead pit. Thursday, I set three of the five lead routes (Dan helped set the other two). Friday, I foreran, tweaked, taped, changed, scrapped entire sequences, drew route maps, and Frankensteined the five routes together to get them to the point that I was proud of them. It was a long day. The event preceding the RJF comp (the first event of the season) had ties for first in the open categories, so I wanted to make sure that that wouldn't happen again.

In my infinite wisdom, however, I didn't check the list of who has registered, and was sad to see (on the morning of the comp, mind you) that the three strongest men weren't coming to the comp. Panic tweaks to the mens final ensued, and luckily I made the correct judgement calls and everything ended out working pretty well across all routes and categories when it came to separation and competitor enjoyment. All in all, I was pretty proud of the job I'd done.

Fast forward a couple months where nothing all that exciting had happened (aside from a couple short weekends down in Canmore) and I was back on the road again, this time with ma buddies Matt and Paul. We had a 2.5 week trip planned to Joe's Valley in Utah, but the apocalypse rain across all of the state resulted in us keeping going down to Red Rocks, just outside Las Vegas. This was my fifth time in Red Rocks, but I'd never bouldered there. After the four months of route mayhem that was my Euro Trip, I was feeling psyched for some bouldering. The day we arrived (after 24 hours of driving) we met up with a few other friends and got out for a super fun afternoon session in the Kraft Boulders. We all had some fun cruising some classics of the area such as Bubble Butt (V7) and Scare Tactics Right (v8), before I took a super nasty fall straight onto some nice comfy rocks. I couldn't walk too well for a couple days, but that didn't really end up mattering because of the awful rain that had followed us south.

Yay more rain clouds! Photo: Me

It was hard to get too bummed out with a psyched crew and the always exciting night life of Vegas, but after seeing most of what Vegas and the surrounding area had to offer (including the damn Hoover Dam) and even going for a gym session, we were itching to get back onto rock. So much so, in fact, that we ended up braving the sketchy offroad in the minivan one evening and adventure hiking (with pads and all) way back into a canyon trying to find dry rock, only to realize it was still too wet to climb. The problem with sandstone is that it acts like a sponge; any water gets soaked up and results in extremely fragile holds. Just when it seemed things were getting dry enough to be able to climb again, the clouds would roll in and rain on our parade over and over. After spending a week camping in Vegas and getting two and a half days in (mind you, I got to climb some amazing problems like Ode to the Modern Mayor and The Lion's Share, both V9) we saw a weather window back up in Joe's and drove through the night to make the most of it.

Gearing up for the last move on The Lions Share, V9. Photo: Spencer Gatt

Our first day in Joe's was spent frantically scrambling around trying to climb as many boulders as we possibly could. I flashed a whole bunch of the classics down in the Riverside Boulders before heading up to climb Wills of Fire (V6) and They Call Him Jordan (V8). Then we headed over to Big Joe (a steep roof that was basically just a climbing gym), and I managed to flash Nerve Extension, a prime example of Joe's Valley grading (V10 in the book, but it felt maybe V8/9 to me). I spent some time trying I Shaved my Head for This (V11) that just had one really hard bump move to a crimp, and checked out Big Joe Left (V11) but wasn't overly excited by it. The next day we rested since we may have went a little too hard the previous day, and got really excited to climb some more.

Mid-Crux on Scare Tactics Right, V8. Photo: Spencer Gatt

After not getting much climbing in in the first half of our trip, I was hungry to climb anything and everything I could get my hands on. We went to a new area, and after warming up I was stoked to put down Freak (V10) and Resident Evil (V9/10) within about half an hour of each other. The interesting thing about Joe's Valley is the range of style of hard problem. Either you can get tiny razor crimps (which often end up being pockets), or big swooping slopers that can feel either amazing or unusable depending on the conditions. The previous two problems were of the crimpy variety, so we took some time to go check out Ghost King (V11), a prime example of a slopier problem. Unfortunately some rain brought the end of the session with it, and we said goodbye to Paul and our other friends who had to depart back home. Fortunately, Matt and I were able to go have a night session on Ghost King, since it didn't end up raining much and there was plenty of wind whipping through drying things out. Of course, the session wasn't too productive, but it was awesome to play on such an amazing line nonetheless.
Slappin the super good sloper on our first night session of Ghost King, V11. Photo: Matt Hendsbee

The next day we checked out a boulder that should be on everyone's life list, the Worm Turns (V10/11). Sandstone roof tufa? Who can say no? It took us a long time to figure out what the hell we were supposed to do to be able to progress up the climb, but once we unlocked the sequence I managed to send it in a few goes with some loud scary noises and a lot of squeezing. After getting worked that session, we were ready for another rest day.

Sizing up the last move before top out jugs on my send go of The Worm Turns. Photo: Matt Hendsbee

That next day we checked out another area we hadn't been to before. After a bunch of super fun warm ups, I did a great job dabbing on the dab boulder as I got into he crux of Death Scream (V10) on my flash attempt, but sent the next go. Sorta frustrated that I muddled up my flash, I started working on Barely Legal (V11) on the same boulder. The problem consisted of super fun movement along the lip of a roof, and on my third or fourth go I climbed all the way to the last move only to fall. I took some time to refine my beta, but the heinously tiny crimps made me a little too tired to put it down. After lounging around the Food Ranch for a while and making dinner, we went back to the Ghost King for another evening session.

I don't play around when it comes to carrying my pretty pretty pads around. Or when it comes to looking majestic.

In typical "I'm-obsessed-with-this-climb-and-I-really-want-to-send-it-as-soon-as-physically-possible" fashion, I had been dreaming up all sorts of new magical beta that I wanted to try out; one in particular. We got to the boulder, I messed up my first attempt down low, but just executed my idea perfectly the next go and was suddenly standing on top of the boulder. Psyched doesn't really describe it; my ideas never actually work! Part of me was kind of sad that I had sent it already, as it was such a cool and fun problem that I kinda wanted to keep climbing those moves.

#candid Matthew Hendsbee gettin handsy topping out on a warm up. Photo: Me

The next day, Matt and I were pretty pooped, so we settled for a day of upper range classics, climbing awesome problems like Anti-Future Plan (V8), Worst Case Scenario (V9), and Bring the Heatwole (V7). After the rest day, we headed back up to Barely Legal, and despite not climbing my absolute best I managed to put it to rest! We went and enjoyed the perfect boob holds on Playmate of the Year, one of the best V9's anywhere. I then got obliterated by Battletoads (V10), making no progress whatsoever, and we retreated once again to the lovely land of the Food Ranch. Another night session on Ghost King was unsuccessful for Mr. Handsbee (but only just), as was most of our efforts on basically everything we tried up in Dairy Canyon the next day. We did get a sick tan as we repeatedly oozed off problems like Lactation Station (V10), so the day wasn't a complete waste.
Squeezin some boobs. Photo: Matt Hendsbee

Some of the healthy balanced breakfast options from the Food Ranch. We went for bacon instead.

After being super manly and shirtlessly cooking 3 pounds worth of bacon over a campstove in celebration of Matt's birthday and taking the rest of the day to recover from the grease overload (and in my case, the burns over most of my torso) we spent our last day trying to finish off some old problems. Matt crushed The Worm Turns (with some next level knee-scum beta) and Nerve Extension, and I managed to send I Shaved my Head for This with some super attractive mid-crux grunting reminiscent of low quality Mongolian throat singing, before we both ran a victory lap flashing Tubesnake Boogie (V9) just as the skies opened. Feeling victorious, we packed up our campsite in the rain and started the long drive home, knowing the futilty of trying to climb the next day as we had planned given the deathclouds dumping their payload over the entire valley.

Movin through the upper section of Barely Legal, (V11). Photo: Matt Hendsbee

After dropping Matt back home, I'm in Canmore getting ready to help out with difficulty Nationals in a week. I'm excited to be involved in the routesetting department as a forerunner and getting to soak in some of the wisdom of the main setters, and a little nervous about co-commentating the livestream of the event... at least I get front row seats? After Nationals I'm off to Squamish and Kelowna to check out some new types of boulders, so I'll try to get another post up after that. Thanks to anyone who's still reading this gibberish... You're my favorite.

Sam Tucker cruisin through the foot first roof in Red Rocks. Photo: Me

Adios for now!!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Europe Trip: Chulilla

I really need to come up with a more original greeting than

Hey Everyone!

But today is not that day.
Side note: I'll try to make up for the lack of pictures in the previous posts by including extra in this one :)  Also, strap in and get ready because this is gonna be a lengthy one.

Last night in Siurana! #bagfwijba

Alright, here's the fourth and final blog about the trip! I'm currently back in Edmonton, and while being home for the holidays with my family is a pretty big change of pace from the Spanish lifestyle, the difference is not unwelcome. After parting ways with Becca when we left Siurana, Sara and I moved in to our new place in Chulilla, a small town about an hour west of Valencia. Our first impression of the apartment (which we were sharing with three or four other people who we did not know) was not ideal. The night we arrived, we walked in the apartment to musty laundry hanging literally everywhere, a kitchen that seemed as though a bomb had went off, and one bed where there was supposed to be two. Admittedly, those are all extremely first world problems, but initially we were pretty unsure of the quality of where we were staying. A night of restless tossing and turning brought the morning, and with that brought significant changes. Our roommates left that day, so we took over the room with two beds. They cleaned the kitchen before they left, and after airing out the apartment for most of the day, we felt a lot better about the situation than we were the night before.

The view from our apartment :)

We took the first day as a rest day, and as an opportunity to walk around to a bunch of crags to get a feel for the climbing options in Chulilla. Without a car, we had a 45 minute walk along the edge of the canyon to get to the areas we were wanting to climb at, so we set off to explore in the early afternoon. The walk kind of took our breath away- every place we had been to was exceptionally beautiful, each in their own way, and this was no different. A stunning horseshoe-shaped canyon cut by a crystal clear river, with bright orange limestone cliffs towering 50-70 meters the whole way, the lush bottom of the canyon complete with bamboo, palm trees, and orange trees. While planning the trip to Chulilla, I had heard about a route called "Mal de Isla", (roughly translating to "Evil Island"). The route certainly had a bit of a reputation as an ultra-classic, amazing line that attracted a lot of climbers to go try it. Climber, photographer, and filmmaker Jon Glassberg was documenting Emily Harrington's progress on the route earlier in the year, and I had heard rumors that a few other Canadians (Loick Martel-Magnan, Olivier Turgeon, and Alex Quiring) had tried and sent this route in the month or so before I got there. After standing at the base of the climb, and actually talking to Loick, I knew that it was definitely a route I wanted to check out.

Looking along the Chulilla-side of the canyon.

After we got back from our exploratory mission, we had received word from our parents that there had been complications with our visas, and were only supposed to stay in the EU for 90 days despite the fact that before our trip we had asked around and were told that it would not be an issue for us with Canadian passports. After talking with the embassy, it became clear that we would indeed have to leave Europe early, but it was up to us to decide just how early we came back. With an additional two months planned, it was pretty hard to accept that we would have roughly a week and a half left. Sara and I were both caught in a confusing storm of emotion at that point; disappointment, frustration, anger, and who knows what else.

Part of that frustration and disappointment was with the shitty situation we were facing, but I think more of it was directed at myself. I'd had three months in Europe to find something next level to try to reach my limits on, but the whole time I just thought that "I have so much more time, I can just find something like that later. I'm enjoying myself trying these other routes, so there's no rush to go find something super crazy hard". All of a sudden, I had eight climbing days left, and I felt as though I had been robbed of my opportunity to really push myself on one particular route. I also felt that I had been learning about myself and my climbing throughout the whole trip, and yet had little to show for it. As I'd said often times before, it was a major goal of mine to go and find my limit in outdoor climbing, and I felt as though the opportunity to accomplish one of my major goals for the trip had been taken from me. I felt down, defeated, crushed. I felt trapped, stuck in a situation that I couldn't get out of, and emotionally it was destroying me.

That only lasted until some back corner of my brain worked out an idea; just go try it. You say that you've learned a lot about projecting? Prove it. You have eight days. You wanted to find your limit? Well by definition, if you fail to send the route, you found your limit. You achieved one of your main goals of the trip. And if, by some unbeleivable turn of events you somehow send it, then you still found your limit and met your goals, plus you sent 14.

And from that moment on, everything was about getting to the top of the route. There's nothing like an imposing deadline to motivate you. All I could think about was how disappointed I would be with myself if I didn't invest all of my time, focus, energy, drive, and determination into this one task, this one route. All of a sudden, I was back in a situation I was familiar with; having some insane, intimidating task staring me in the face, and it was up to me and my willpower alone to rise to the occasion. So that next morning, we hiked to the crag, warmed up, and I went to work.

Making friends at the crag!

My first experience with the route consisted of taking about 10 minutes to figure out how to get off the ground. Two bolts later, it was apparently crux time. Apparently slippery V7 boulder-problems are hard with 20 draws hanging off your harness, and you have no idea where the holds are or how good they are. After a good 25-30 minutes, I found myself at the fourth draw, with only about 32 meters left to go! Undeterred, I pressed on, and was delighted to find a series of decent rests! Those went away awfully quickly though, and they threw another crux at me. It seemed to me that you could either trend left or right. Left took you through some awful one to two pad slopers with really low percentage moves, and heading right took you through some desperate side-pull "crimps" with brutally high feet, and then a massive stand up move to a two finger, quarter pad, vertical mini-pinch  that you bumped off of to a somewhat okay crimp. Regrettably, it was almost as low-percentage for me. Another move or two, and I was at the post-crux "rest" that I'd been told about. Unfortunately, it too was pretty awful. The next 20 meters was vertical, technical, pumpy, brutal face climbing with absolutely awful rest-positions. I didn't make it to the anchor on my first day- I was just too gassed to figure out a cruxy bump about four meters below the anchor. I got back on to try and refine the bottom section, but had to settle with only climbing the first three bolts because I couldn't get through the first crux again. Trashed doesn't quite do it justice.

Day two came, and I was psyched to go get back on it! My mission of the day was to get the top dialed in a lot better. The day before, everything had felt wrong- I would instinctively want to put my right foot on a hold, but that wouldn't work for the next move. It was an exhausting process of trying beta that always seemed a little wonky, but eventually I started learning the moves and finding efficient sequences through the top. By the time I worked my way up to the massive bump move up top again, I was terminally pumped, and despite sticking that move and the consequent few, I was way too pumped on the finishing slopers and took the fall, staring the anchors in the face. 60 feet and a lot of adrenaline later, I stopped falling. Too tired to pull back up, I returned to the ground. Wanting to do a bit more refinement, I returned to the route later that day and found myself unable to pull the first crux again. It was definitely time for a rest day.

Day three came with it an unexpected visitor; Emily Harrington! Total badass, ultra-experienced, insanely fit and strong. She'd been so close earlier in the season that she had to come back to try and finish it off. Basically, if she hadn't come back, I don't think I could have sent it. She gave me the low-down on which draws to extend, which draws to skip, what holds she rested on, what was the red-point crux for people, and she also brought a lot of positive energy to the crag each day. My third day of trying was a much more productive one- I was starting to find tiny little things throughout the whole route that allowed me to recover a little more in a rest here, use a little less juice in a sequence there, and so on. It was also on this day that I really started to try to get in better endurance shape; after getting so so pumped on this route just climbing draw to draw, I knew that if I wanted to have any hope in hell to send it then I would have to balance refining the route with getting really really ridiculously pumped to improve my endurance. I also managed to get to the anchors that day- not a very impressive feat but one I was proud of nonetheless.

Day four came, and while tired from the day before, I knew I couldn't let that affect me. The day went pretty similar to the previous, with lots of refinement, learning, and lactic acid. Unfortunately, I split my pinky finger. It doesn't seem like too big of a deal, but the split bled a lot, so I had to tape it. The issue with taping it was that I the key hold in the second crux revolved around being perfectly placed on my pinky, and with it taped that sequence became even lower percentage. Fortunately, I was no longer having issues getting to the anchor, but it was getting a bit tiresome having to clean from a mid-anchor (our 80m rope wasn't long enough). No matter how destroyed I felt on any given day, I had to find it in myself to just keep trying to link sequences together in the upper section. While the route was quite bouldery, it was also heinously pumpy, especially the entire top section, and I could tell that my endurance wasn't nearly good enough yet. I was terrified at the idea of getting through both cruxes, only to pump off at the top.

Bridge crossing with smiles because I did the route in only like 7 hangs that day!

Day five was another good productive day- since I was just off a rest day, I could notice a slight improvement in my physical fitness, and that helped keep me motivated and psyched to continue to throw myself at the route. At this point, however, I was starting to doubt myself even more that I had previously. Emily was still trying the route, and she would casually stroll through the first crux from the ground on four or five attempts per day (something I was still unable to do even once) only to fall on the last move of the second crux. She is so much more experienced, she has the route dialed perfectly, and she is in such better shape than I am. If she can't do it, how am I supposed to?

Day six, I did the entire top section in one go, I found beta that made the first crux easier, and finally got through the first crux from the ground! I fell on the big stand up move on the second crux, but was still psyched at the progress I had made. After totally burning myself out on the top again, I was psyched for a rest day.

Day seven, the last fresh day to try. We woke up to thick fog. The issue with "Mal de Isla" is that it is very condition dependent; if its hot or humid, it becomes exponentially more difficult to climb. As we hiked, however, I was delighted to see that the fog hadn't really set in on our side of the canyon, and it actually turned out to be a really sticky day. I felt really good on the warm up, and headed over to the base of the route to start trying it. I figured that if I was ever going to do it, it would have to happen within the first couple attempts of that day. I got on, and was delighted to cruise through the low crux on the first go! After camping on the rests above for a good long while, I started into the second crux. I took a bit of a gamble and decided not to tape my finger to help my chances of actually getting through the second crux. I felt that I had recovered a lot more than I had on previous burns, and set up perfectly. As I was pulling up to the awful mini pinch, I mistimed when I change my left foot from standing to flagging and hit the hold with my hips slightly too far out, and found myself pitching through the air.

The idyllic town of Chulilla, as seen from the Castelli.
After resting for about an hour, I got back on. For the first time in the process of trying the route, I actually felt that it might be possible for me to do. Once again, I pulled through the low crux easily, rested for what felt like an eternity, and launched into the crux. I felt super fresh and strong, and was just sort of floating through the moves. Calm and focused, I set up for the hardest move, and executed it flawlessly, keeping my hips super tight to the wall. I hit the mini pinch perfectly, readjusted, and stuck the bump. Two moves later, I was in the post-crux rest, feeling remarkably fresh, calm, and psyched. It's usually at this point on a send go where your mind starts going 100 miles a minute, where you're unbelievably excited and kind of feel like you're in a dream. Then you realize just how much climbing you have ahead of you, and you start trying to lower your heart rate, collect your thoughts, and NOT BLOW IT.

Anyways, the upper section of the route consists of a bunch of hard foot-moves, small slopey hand holds, and trusting tiny foot pastes for about 5-7m sections between crappy rests. I would start to feel the pump by the time I was getting to the next rest, but I would be able to relax and recover quite a lot on each rest before launching into that next section. Before I knew it, I was shaking out in the final rest, about 9m below the chains. I waited there until the moment felt right, and I proceeded to tackle the next sequence. Surprisingly, I didn't feel at all tired; I felt focussed, and fresher than I was usually feeling on those moves from the hang. Just before the cruxy bump move just below the anchors, I cam my back three fingers into a small pocket and do a really big cross to a decent crimp. Feeling strong and calm, I set up for the move. I got my feet in the perfect places, and as I committed to the cross, the top of the pocket started to crumble and my middle and ring fingers popped out of the pocket. Monoing with my pinky, I rushed the rest of the move and actually managed to hit the crimp, but I lost too much tension and control and barn-doored into open air.

Devastated doesn't really describe it; everything had fallen into place, I did everything perfectly, was mentally strong, and yet factors outside my control resulted in heartbreak. I forced myself to take the rest of the day off, knowing how tired I actually was underneath my adrenaline and frustration. Sleep didn't come too easily that night.

On day eight, the morning, breakfast, and hike were all a blur of visualizing sequences and trying to get psyched. I had found different and safer beta for the move that I had fallen on the day before, but just thinking about what I was going to put myself through was enough to get the nerves going a little bit. I felt quite fresh and strong throughout my warmup, and fortunately the conditions were sticky enough to rival the previous day. I had absolutely obliterated the skin on my pinky on the previous attempt; a split that turned into a flapper that really liked to bleed. I taped it for the warm up, and it bled through about four layers of tape, so I knew I would have to tape it for the route and just hope for the best. Given my previous days efforts, I also knew that I would realistically only have one good go, if that.

Feeling calm and psyched, I got on the wall and started to pull. Happy to have gotten through the first crux again, I made sure to rest a little longer than I thought I needed before committing to the second crux. I felt good, but not quite as perfect as the previous days attempt. I wasn't quite fresh enough to lock my hips into the perfect position, but I just had to play the hand I was dealt. Fortunately I executed the move as well as I could, and through a lot of effort and just as much yelling I reeled in the mini pinch. With another yell I stuck the bump, and like that I was through the second crux and trying to recover. I found myself in this kind of funny state of disbelief; how was I able to get through that crux again? I quickly pushed that out of my mind, and tried to calm down. I knew the top was going to be an epic.

I certainly didn't feel as fresh or good as I had the last day, but I still felt good enough to keep executing the moves and recovering partially at the rests. And then once again, I found myself at the final rest before the anchor, somewhat dreading the next few moves. Within one minute, it would be all be done, for better or worse. Pushing that out of mind, I started moving upwards again, and much to my relief I (mentally and physically) got through the move that made me fall last time. Sticking the hard bump move up top was quite challenging, albeit super satisfying, and then I had just four moves left. I could feel my body use the last drop of gas on that move, and all of a sudden I was running on fumes. I grabbed the next two holds, brought my feet up, and pulled the large stand up move to the finish sloper, and could barely reach it because it had become extremely difficult to fully straighten my arm above my head. One of the glorious things about climbing hard is how invested you get in a single set of moves, and learn to appreciate just how much effort and preparation it takes to get to a certain point. Once you manage to progress past that point, you develop an unbelievable ability to try so, so very hard. In hindsight, it's really quite funny that I had to tap into that fuel source to match my feet with my hands on the finish holds and the anchors in my face, but in the moment it was terrifying.

And then it was done. A twelve day, full commitment effort to climb 119 moves up 42m in about 45 minutes. It was so satisfying to take all 18 of my draws off that route, and to come down from the top knowing that I would never have to climb it again. I love the route and the line, but it made me suffer so much in order to send it that I am definitely psyched to not have to get on it again! It honestly brought me so much more satisfaction to put the route to rest than I had thought it would, which is partially why I think it is the epitome of what I am capable of; I could not have done one more move. And luckily I didn't need to.

Post send smile. I think my face says it all.
The next morning we started traveling home for the holidays. Although we were sad to end the trip earlier than we had initially expected, it was not a huge issue at all. Go home, see some family, get some well needed rest, work for a little while to make some more money, and then why not go for another trip? The world is wide open to me to me right now, and to not take advantage of that would not be particularly wise ;)

Until next time everyone! Thanks for giving this thing a read, and for everyone's support. I've really been feeling it over the past while, and it's helped remind me of yet another thing I love about this sport and it's community. Adios!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Europe Trip: Siurana

Hello Again!

I´ve been here in Siurana for the past three weeks, and its certainly been interesting...

Our first week we spent trying to get warmed up and acquainted with the area, trying classic routes such as "Zona 0", "Migranya", "Anabolica", and "Bistec de Biceps". One thing I noticed right away is the stark contrast in style between Rodellar and here. In Siurana, the feet dissapear, the routes are just as long, except the y quest up pristine vertical expanses of gorgeous orange and grey limestone, and all holds dissapear to heavily textured quarter pad crimps, and some heinously sharp pockets. Most of our warm-ups have featured at least three monos, which certainly took us a few days to get used to. After our first week, I was getting pretty psyched to start working on some of the routes I mentioned earlier, but we were hit by a pretty heinous cold front for a week. We tried to climb the first couple days in the 5 degree weather and 60km/hour winds, and I actually managed a send of "Outback", 7c+/13a, and onsites of "Boys Don´t Cry" and "Hot Knife Direct", both 7c/12d. Once I saw that the weather was supposed to improve in about a weeks time, I decided it would be in my best interest to take a week off to rest and recover to try and avoid future tweaks, since I knew I would be pretty miserable trying to climb routes at my limit in the freezing weather.

So the de-load week passed, and I was feeling psyched to go hard on some hard routes. I took one day to ease back in, but the following day I had quite a lot of pain and stiffness in my left hand after I climbed my warm up. Frustrated, I took the rest of the day off, and was quite sad to find my hand worse off the next day. It didn´t hurt to load my fingers, but it hurt to move them. I really didn´t understand what I did, and still don´t. The next week I spent massaging my hand, stretching, resting, and belaying, and then have slowly been easing back into climbing. The good news is I tried a 13a yesterday, and did all the moves without ever feeling pain or discomfort, which makes me think I´m almost back to full strength! The bad news is my time in Siurana has not been particularly well spent in terms of my personal climbing, but obviously there´s much more to this trip than JUST how well I climb ;)

One of the best things about my time here is that I feel like I have improved quite a lot on the intensely technical style featured here on many of the routes. I feel much more confident being run-out on tiny, non-existent feet and quarter pad pockets, 35 meters up a slab. Outside of climbing, Siurana is one of the most beautiful places I´ve ever been. The town itself is situated on this tiny cliff overlooking the slightly larger town of Cornudella de Monsant, and is surrounded by breathtaking peaks of immaculate yellow-orange rock, and I don´t think I´ve ever been somewhere with sunsets as beautiful or reliable.

Another bonus of being here was the fact that Black Diamond had a bunch of their athletes here for Project Siurana, a mission to help eliminate garbage at the crags to allow for future enjoyment of the routes here. It was cool to see the love everyone had for Siurana, and I´m not about to complain about spending a day or two at the crag watching climbers like Nalle Hukkataival and Dalia Ojeda walk up virtually every route they got on.

Siurana hasn´t been without challenges though; we got a little sandbagged on the grocery beta, and so we had to walk the 8km down the road to town once a week to get a weeks worth of groceries, and then hitchhike our way back up to the campground. Fortunately we never really had a shortage of people willing to carry our sorry asses back up the hill, so it didn´t turn out to be too big of a deal :)

In just a few days time, Sara and I are saying goodbye to Becca and heading further south to the climbing paradise of Chulilla! We´ve got some kick-ass accommodation lined up there, which is where we´ll spend the four weeks around Christmas. It seems the style there is a hybrid between Rodellar and Siurana, so I´m definitely excited to go try it out!!

Until next time :)
-Andrew Funk

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Europe Trip: Rodellar

Hey Everyone...

I put thoughts into words! Buuuuuut I'm too lazy to do it again here, so here's a link ;)
Love you all!!

Till next time!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Europe Trip: Kalymnos

:DISCLAIMER: I couldn't add photos to the blog, some issue with my phone. But you're not a toddler anymore, you're a grown ass (wo)man! Go back to kindergarten and paint with your fingers if you want a picture book!

Hey everyone,

I know it's been a little while. Sue me.

Ten second update: We haven't gotten lost, robbed, or killed yet. We eat pretty well, climb slightly better, and sleep probably a little more than is normal. Baklava tastes really good, as does beer, but Ouzo is taking longer to get used to. :)

Greetings from Greece! Since my last post after Youth Bouldering Nationals what feels like an eternity ago, I've remained pretty inactive when it comes to keeping my blog updated semi-regularly. I've drafted a couple posts, but none of them really got what I was trying to say across in the way I wanted, so they still sit unreleased. While a lot has happened since my last post (two more national championships, my first World Cup, Youth Worlds, finishing high school, getting sponsored, getting accepted into university, and what feels like a thousand local comps) all I could think about was that everyone had heard what I was going to say a thousand times, and I didn't want to post something boring, unoriginal and uninspired.

So naturally, I figured that there was no better time to try and put together something a little more personal and unique than now, sitting on a sunny patio with the idyllic island of Telendos sprawled in front of me, the Grande Grotta looming behind me, with a belly stuffed full with grilled cheese and nectarines, the glorious midday sun beating down around me?

Probably the best thing about island life is not the fact that not a soul knows just how long it took me to write the previous paragraph, but the fact that even if someone did know, they wouldn't care. Time means so much less here; some shops close from 12-5 most days, busses may only run every several hours, dinner may start late but the drinking definitely doesn't.

But while the change in mentality of the people around here is the goldilocks combination of refreshing, relaxing, and rejuvenating, it also feels foreign to a certain degree. Despite the fact that I've been in Europe for a healthy five weeks and in kalymnos for nearly three, things haven't started to feel quite "normal" yet. Which is actually something I'm actually greatful for. For so many months of the last couple years, every day of every week was undercut by this dull sense of monotony and familiarity that, at the time was normal, but in hindsight was fairly depressing.

To set the record straight: Edmonton and high school wasn't that bad. It was by no means great, but it was manageable. In comparison to the feeling of freedom brought by this glorious, unbelievable island, however, it was definitely sub-par at best.

The last two weeks have been spent without our parents around, which has honestly been pretty different. Sure, we may be eating basically the exact same things day to day for every meal, the answer to the question of "what's for dinner" no longer being answered by what I feel like but instead by what's most fiscally sustainable, but I think it all adds to the adventure, the experience of it all. Every evening we spend huddled around the guidebook, trying to figure out where to climb the next day, what route to try, when our next rest day needs to be, and I've definitely got to say that it's extremely refreshing to be traveling with two others who get the same glint in their eye when discussing the crag that they've just heard about from another climber, or find a five star mega-classic line in the book that they can't wait to go check out.

As far as the actual climbing goes, it is undoubtedly and indisputably world-class. It's certainly taken a while for me to figure out how to appropriately "do the humpty-hump" up the fattest tufa this side of Morocco, or why anyone in their right mind would subject themselves to 40m of wrestling gargantuan blobs of rock out of a 60-80 degree overhang, but as I climb more and more here I'm starting to figure it all out.

Physically, I'm feeling fit and strong, and can't wait to find a route that excites and inspires me to dedicate myself to spending the hours and days on it to eventually (and hopefully) send it. Until I find something like that, I've really just been checking out new areas, meeting new people, learning to love (and hate) the amount that luck plays in to flashing and onsiting harder routes, especially when you're not quite used to the style of the rock.

I really don't have much more to say, so in the unlikely event that anyone is still reading this (seriously, how have you not left yet) I will say goodbye to you for now! We leave in 9 days for Spain, so hopefully I'll update again after a week or so in Rodellar, but no promises. Until next time :)
-Andrew Funk

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Youth Boulder Nationals

Hello again! Two posts in two weeks? Pretty crazy. This is another long one, and it gets a little sappy. You have been warned.

Well, the first ever Canadian Youth Bouldering Championships came and went last weekend, and it was quite an experience. It was hosted by Climbers Rock in Burlington, and it was one of the most professionally run and organized competitions I've ever been in. All of the volunteers, judges, and scorekeepers worked together with clockwork precision, despite Canada never having hosted an event like this in the past. They definitely established a standard to aspire to.

Qualifiers ran on Saturday, and with 176 athletes ranging from 12-18; it was a pretty big day. The youngest categories climbed first (with ISO opening at 7am), so I had the entire day to chill out and relax before my first climb at 5:30. Surprisingly, nerves were pretty low which I wasn't complaining about too much. Minutes took hours to trickle by, but finally it was time to get into my warm up routine. The ISO area was as perfect as it could possibly be, with plenty of wall space and virtually every angle. My nerves were slightly higher than they had been that morning, but I still felt pretty relaxed. Finally it was time to climb. I knew the first problem went, given that the person who was supposed to be climbing was back in his chair resting, but I didn't focus on it much. I told myself just to go out and crush some boulders, just like I'd been doing all year. The first problem looked pretty cool and pretty tricky, with one distinct crux halfway through. After the first minute, I wasn't able to find a perfect sequence, so I decided to just get on and see what happened. Fortunately, the holds were all pretty good, so I was able to just bear down a bit and get the flash. Back in the chair, all nerves were gone. I was psyched to pull hard.

Qualifier Number One! Photo: Shane Murdoch

The second problem looked substantially more difficult, but quite powerful and my style. The finish move involved a blind throw to a sloper over the lip, and I almost stuck it on my flash go but I missed most of the hold and couldn't quite reel in the swing. After resting for a couple minutes, I got back on and finished problem two off. The third problem looked like the most technical one (it was slopers and crimps on an almost vertical wall) but it climbed pretty simply, and then the third problem was flashed. The fourth problem looked really awesome; big, powerful pinch moves up an overhang. As it turned out, the problem revolved around a mediocre toe-hook, something that I have been working on but still really struggle with. After a few hard goes, I had to walk away from the problem without even getting bonus. As it turns out, only one person got bonus (who also flashed all the qualifiers) so getting shut down there didn't really affect my score. The fifth problem was steep and powerful, and I managed to flash it.

After qualifiers, I was sitting pretty in second place. After the scores rolled in, it turned out that you actually only needed to send one problem to get into semis. One thing that was clear to me, though, was that our category was incredibly deep. I couldn't pick any athlete in semis who didn't deserve a spot in finals, so I knew I would have to bring it during semis if I wanted to make it through. Again, I had the entire day to relax before I climbed in semis that evening. I was pretty nervous, as semifinals is where I usually screw up my competitions, but I was optimistic about my chances given the fact that I felt like I had an average day the day before. I got into the mindset of "just don't mess up too badly and then you'll be through". That was my first mistake, as it went against everything that I try and do mentally for competitions.

Last move of Qualifier 2. Photo: Shane Murdoch

Funnily enough, due to a couple minor delays, I ended up climbing at the exact time as I had the day before. As I sat in the chair prior to my first climb, I focussed on listening to the crowd, trying to figure out which problems were getting sent. I was pretty sure that the climber before me flashed the first problem, so arrogantly I assumed I would flash it as well. Without taking all the time I usually do to sequence it, I hopped on the wall. I got to the last couple moves, but I just stopped using my head and messed up the sequence, and I was back on the ground. My second attempt was sloppy at best, and I failed to replicate my high-point. Instead of focussing on what I needed to do, I saw another climber send number two. My third go, fortunately, was more successful. I got the sequence up top right, and I sent it with 30 seconds to spare. I was actually pretty tired after that first problem. In between the first and second problems, I was a bit too serious. I do the best when I have fun in competitions, but instead I was fixated on sending the next problem. The second problem looked hard. All the slopers looked pretty terrible, as did the body positions. I brushed the whole thing, and went to give it a go. I dry fired off the start holds. Obviously that's frustrating for anyone, but usually I'm good at putting that behind me and getting stoked about getting back on. I didn't really even try to bounce back from that mentally; I allowed myself to stay mad when I got back on. Then I fell off the finish hold. I gave it two more goes, both of them okay. I was pissed, and just wanted to send it. All I did was tire myself out really badly.

After my five minutes of rest (which felt way too short) I stepped out to the third problem. I was doing slightly better mentally than on the second, but I put a lot of pressure on myself to get this one done. It was a pretty easy few opening moves into a double-dyno to slopers, then a couple hard finish moves. I really struggled with the dyno. I felt like it was easy, but I just couldn't stick it. After a few goes I finally held the swing, and prepared myself for the top. I thought I had found really good beta with a heel hook. It felt solid, but as soon as I committed to it it popped. No send on third problem, and at this point I was pissed and really tired. Sitting in the chair before the fourth, I knew someone had flashed it. I was also pretty sure that I needed to send it in order to make finals. I actually managed to let go of my frustration, and get ready to go crush this next problem. That thing was one long, mean boulder. I was psyched though, and I needed to make my flash go count. I flashed to bonus, but powered out right at the crux on a pinch that just felt terrible. My forearms were sapped, but I needed that send. I was gonna have to dig deep to get it done. I went into pure desperation mode, climbing as fast as I could. I returned to my high point, but this time found a sweet spot on the seemingly unusable pinch. I gave it everything I had, but I just didn't have enough.

I was positive I wouldn't be through. Someone told me they thought I was around 9th or 10th, so close to finals. I went back into the now empty ISO, and couldn't believe what had happened. I messed up hard. Despite all my physical and mental preparation I had done in the month leading up to the comp hadn't been enough. I was still too weak mentally. I changed into my regular clothes, and went back out to the comp wall. I made sure I didn't take my anger out on anyone else, even though I was seething inside. After a while, preliminary results came up online and they had me seated in 8th. I was sure it was a glitch, and was just waiting for them to get updated and bump me out. After so many nationals of things not going my way, I didn't even allow myself to hope. But then the head scorekeeper came up to me and told me it was final, that I was through in 8th. Relief was pretty much all I felt, and even now I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't made it through. So now it was back into comp mode: I had been given another chance, and I couldn't let it go to waste.

I woke up on finals day after a fairly restless night. Usually I don't get bad comp anxiety, but I certainly had my fair share that day. I went and forced down some breakfast, and tried to distract myself from what the day would bring. Mid morning came around, and it was time to head off to ISO. I knew that in order to succeed in finals, I just had to go out and crush some problems like I know how. I had to focus exclusively on my performance on each individual problem, and not worry about anyone else or what they were doing. I felt quite good during my warm-up, but I could tell the previous couple days of competition had worn me out a bit. I would have to make each attempt count, have fun and leave everything I had out there.

As the timer started the round, I turned to the first problem. I was feeling super stoked and ready to go, almost care-free. It looked fairly long and powerful, but also my style. Mentally, I felt a lot clearer and quicker than I had the day before, and quickly decided on my sequence. I stepped onto the wall, ready to squeeze with everything I had, and found myself at the finish with a flash. I figured most of the other finalists would flash it as well, but I quickly put that out of my mind and allowed myself just to feel psyched that I was back in form. After a nice long rest, I began my second round. The next boulder looked really thin and hard, with very bad holds. Again, I was able to make quick work of my sequence, and without hesitating I pulled onto the start. The first few moves went easily, but then I found myself in front of a clear crux. I played around with my hands for a second trying to get into a better position, but to no avail. I would just have to try hard. The next three moves felt at my absolute limit. I was squeezing harder than I thought I could, and found myself sizing up the finish move. I told myself wasn't going to fall, and I guess that worked. With the second one flashed, I got even more psyched given how hard I had to try to get it done.

After another beautifully long rest, I found myself in front of a long, steep, intimidating, and beautiful boulder. I don't think I've seen a problem more my style, and I found my sequence immediately. I hopped on the start hold with a smile on my face. The first few moves felt really good, and I flashed to bonus. I set up for the next move, and knew it would be pretty intense. I went for it, and just stuck. Two more moves gave me my third flash. At that point, I was more psyched than I have been in a long long time, and I think I ended up making that pretty obvious. I only had one more problem, and then it would be all over.

The last boulder looked like a walk after the first move. Simple movement on big holds, once you stuck the dyno off the ground. I was a bit too hasty, and unfortunately wasted a few attempts on the first move. Once I stuck it, I cruised to the top, and just like that I was done.

Topping the fourth finals problem. Photo: Shane Murdoch

After talking to a few people in the crowd, I found out that no one else had done problem number two, other than the top two qualifying athletes who hadn't gotten to it yet, which meant that I was guaranteed a spot on the podium. The second place qualifier, Tristan, struggled with the second problem, and just when I thought it was over for him he secured the finish with 6 seconds left on the clock. Things were gonna get interesting. The first place qualifier, Sam, fell on his first go but topped on his second go. Sam proceeded to flash the next two, and took the well deserved win after being the only person to top all problems from the weekend. Tristan took a couple falls on the next two boulders but got them both done, so I ended up ahead on attempts to top.

Junior Men Podium. Photo: Shane Murdoch

The next while was a blur of talking to friends, coaches, and competitors, and I was just buzzing. We went back to the hotel for the awards ceremony, and it was incredible to see so many of the people I've come to know so well over the past few years reaching their goals and dreams, much like I was. More than anything, however, I was proud of the way that I pushed through the headspace issues I was experiencing throughout the event and performed at my best. Making the national team was just icing on the cake for me.

While this comp marks the end of the youth bouldering competition season, it does not mark the end of anything else. My training isn't stopping, and neither has my passion, ambition, or dedication to the sport. This is a huge accomplishment and milestone for me, but more than anything I think it's just another step towards me developing as a competitor and athlete.

The first Canadian Youth Bouldering National Team ever! Photo: Shane Murdoch

There are too many people to thank for helping me. Friends who have seemingly unlimited faith in me but keep me humbled, a Coach who never stops pushing me, and parents who have endless reserves of support for my own ambitions. You know who you are. Cheesey, I know, but I had to put it out there.

On that note, I'm hopping on a plane tomorrow off to Open Bouldering Provincials in Saskatoon! I'm psyched to see if I can replicate the feeling Nationals gave me. I'll make sure that I keep updating the blog as well as I can! If you're still reading, thanks for suffering through my rambling, you're awesome.

Goodbye for now!

Friday, 6 February 2015

A New Year

Welcome Back!
I realize that it's been so long since my last post that almost everyone forgot I had a blog, but thats fine. I didn't feel like posting, but now I do.
I suppose I should start from the summer. Nationals came and went, and I was underwhelmed (to say the least) with both my performance and result. I didn't make national team, and just like that a whole year of training failed to produce the goal I've been striving for for years now. Honestly, that was probably a good thing. I was really bummed out for a while, but eventually I managed to move along. I didn't need to worry about training, so I didn't. I found an amazing group of friends with who I climbed with every chance I got for a few months, who pushed me so hard and taught me so much. It wasn't training, it was just playing. 

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to pursue a more adventurous and outdoorsy life in Canmore over the summer. I found a job at Elevation Place, the community rec center and climbing gym, which was an incredible experience in itself. I bounced between the homes of a few amazing families, who let me (for some reason) housesit when they were out of town and stay with them when they were around. I found myself constantly surrounded by people who genuinely cared about me, and supported me. For the first time in quite a while, I felt genuinely happy for no apparent reason. I could wake up at 6:30 in the morning, have a quick breakfast, bike to work and arrive with a smile on my face. It was perfect.

Throughout the summer, I climbed a lot. Indoors, outdoors, it didn't really matter. I made sure to not force anything- if a route didn't look fun, I wouldn't try it. I didn't force attempts on my project, and I would take rest days whenever I felt pretty beat. The summer came and went, and I ended up sending quite a few hard routes, and had to leave a couple for another year. 

The view from one of the crags this summer. Photo: Me
School started back up, and transitioning from the freedom of summer to the confines of school was a little tough to deal with at first. I got over that when training started up again. I had a pretty amazing setup, where I trained one on one with one of the most experienced and committed competitors out there, Dan Archambault (don't judge my spelling). I went into the start of training feeling pretty fit, and that feeling only grew exponentially as the weeks went by. I was incredibly stoked to squeeze until I couldn't close my fists, to fight until I was completely drained. I was coaching a youth team and setting as well, so I spent 6, if not 7 days a week at the gym. I was eating better, sleeping better, and working harder than I ever had before in order to support that lifestyle. And I was happier and more content than I had been for as long as I could remember.

November rolled around, and with it came the first comp of the 2014/2015 season. Qualifiers were tough, but with a last minute send of the top qualifier I found myself on top of the youth podium and in open finals comfortably, in fifth place. Finals were brutal, and served as a real wake up call. I didn't feel in control on any of the moves, and had to give it my all to even get off the ground. At the end of the night, I walked away with no tops, and no bonuses. Two others had the same score as me after finals, but I was ahead of them due to countback. I finished finals in 6th, but that wasn't the performance or result I was looking for. 

Fast forward through a few weeks of hard training, and I was back in competition mode at my home gym in Edmonton. There were a few typical finalists absent from the event, so I was excited for another opportunity to try and get into finals. The qualifiers were awesome, and after climbing as well as I have in a long time I won Junior men, and qualified for finals in second place, being one of two competitors to send the top six problems. A few good friends from my category joined me in finals, which was a huge plus for morale. The first two problems went as well as they could have, with two flashes. I was incredibly stoked, and felt as if I really belonged in finals. Then I realized that I could conceivably win the competition, and then I lost my composure. I stopped trying to have fun, fixating on what I would do for the next two problems. They went terribly. I finished the event in fourth, a respectable result, but again I felt that there was something missing from my performance.

Movin through Mens Final One in Edmonton. Photo: Poppa Funk

So then it was Christmas, and I escaped back to the mountains for a week. I saw many of my friends from the summer, and had a really good time just relaxing and having fun climbing (I took a two week break from training to rest a little and get psyched to push myself again). Then it was back home for a couple training sessions before making the drive back down to Canmore. I squeaked into finals at this event the year before, and so I was really hoping I could repeat my performance in qualies.

My first impression of the qualifier problems: really really hard. There were 55 problems, the top five all looking incredibly difficult. I decided to bide my time, trying to send some of the slightly easier problems in very few attempts while letting the other competitors spend some time and energy testing some of the harder ones, seeing if they were possible. As the round was starting to come to a close, I realized that I had the same top 7 problems as a lot of the other competitors, but I had a lot of falls. I wouldn't make finals if I didn't send one of the top problems. Fortunately, I was still feeling quite fresh despite having climbed for two and a half hours, and made a quick send of a very powerful problem, landing myself in fourth place heading into finals.

Once we got into isolation, I was feeling really good. I felt fresh after the morning, and the fact that many of my good friends were alongside me in finals made me feel at ease. We went out for preview, and I was blown away at the quality of the problems; they were dynamic, powerful, aesthetic, and seemed to be really my style. We all went back into ISO frothing, ready to go play on some boulders and put on a show for the crowd. The first problem involved a dynamic move to a hard-to-stick sloper, followed by some tensiony climbing and a huge dyno to finish. I stuck the first move on my flash attempt, but fell after fumbling with a heel hook. I stuck the finish on my second go out of pure will and desperation, and headed back into ISO. Most others sent it within a few goes as well. The second problem involved a cool jump move, followed by a powerful middle and a brutal crimp traverse up high before the finish. I went out and gave it my all, and managed to get the flash, as did a couple others. I was stoked.

Sticking the first jump of Finals #1 in Canmore. Photo: Pam Eveleigh

All of a sudden, I was thrown back into the position I was in in Edmonton; halfway through finals, sitting in first. Immediately I felt a little bit anxious, not wanting to repeat my performance there. Fortunately, my coach (Dan) was also competing in finals, and he could see me starting to stress out. He kinda shook me back to reality, reminding me exactly what I was there to do. Have fun and crush some boulders. So that what I set out to do, talking and joking with some friends, enjoying the experience.

Boulder three came around, and I was psyched. It was by far the shortest and most powerful looking boulder, and so I knew I would have to dig deep. A dicey jump start (that I somehow didn't mess up) lead to a powerful couple moves on slopers before a strange looking press finish. I managed to nail the opening sequence, something no other competitor had done. All of a sudden I was on the finish move, and while my instinct told me to go one way, all the other competitors sequenced it a different way. I decided to commit to the beta that all the other athletes had decided on, but to no avail despite a desperate 20 second struggle. I couldn't finish it that way, and I was powering out. I needed to do something. Luckily, I managed to reverse a move and relax for a second. I quickly decided to follow my initial idea, and before I knew it I was hanging off the finish hold. Coming down from that problem was one of the coolest experiences I'd had. The crowed was going crazy, the commentator wrapping me in a huge bear hug, and all I could do was stand there with a huge dopey grin on my face.

Moving through the start of Finals #3 in Canmore. Photo: Pam Eveleigh

The fourth problem was basically a route on a short wall, with a ridiculous amount of moves. I went out and gave it everything I had, but couldn't get the send. At that point, if Mark Eveleigh sent the fourth problem, he would win. If he didn't, I would. He came unbearably close, but just couldn't seal the deal. I ended with three tops in four, which was one attempt less than Mark. It doesn't get much closer than that, and I was so stoked that I was lucky enough to win. What made the experience even better was that I could win alongside Allison Vest, one of the most awesome and hard-working people out there.

A few weeks later was Youth Bouldering Provincials back in my home gym. After lots of reflection about the Canmore comp, I figured out the headspace I really needed to succeed in these bouldering events. I put it to good use in Edmonton, but I wasn't able to perform exactly as I wanted. I wasted a couple attempts on the first problem in finals, but despite flashing the next two problems it wasn't enough to take the lead. It was awesome to see my teammate Matt Hendsbee make a comeback from injury to win our category, but I was bummed that I couldn't put the finals round together like he had. Regardless, that comp (like all the others) served as an awesome learning opportunity for me.

Qualifier #2 at the Youth Bouldering Provincials in Edmonton. Photo: Pam Eveleigh

Finally, last weekend I traveled to Vancouver for BC provincials at The Edge climbing gym. It was awesome to see so many friends out there, as well as to see such a strong Alberta presence. The qualification round went really well, and I was elated to get five tops in six attempts, qualifying for finals tied for fourth place. The field was super strong, and so I was stoked to have a spot in finals, to climb another round. The first problem identified a bit of a weakness of mine, and didn't go so well. Fortunately, I managed to pick myself back up after that, get back into the headspace I needed and went out and flashed the second problem. I almost send the third, and despite a huge battle on the fourth problem and a minor flesh wound, I couldn't get it done. I finished in sixth. While a few things didn't quite go my way during that finals, I was really proud to have made it as far as I did.

Getting my ass kicked by some slippery slopers at BC Provincials. Photo: Shane Murdoch

So now, there's a week before the first ever Canadian Youth Boulder Nationals. Am I excited? Yes. Nervous? Of course. But above all else, I feel ready. I feel like I've done all I can to prepare for this event, both physically and mentally, and I'm ready to go show it. This will be the first of the three different National Championships I'm attending this year, and I'm excited for all that will come after this event as well.

I'll try to keep this blog updated slightly more than I have in the past, so (hopefully) I'll talk to you soon! Thanks for reading this brutally long post, and any feedback is always appreciated.
Until next time, Goodbye!