An Odyssey of Ambition

Wow, what a whirlwind weekend. I drove down to Boulder, CO on Thursday for the American Bouldering Series 12 Open National Championships. I’ve made the trip down to Denver solo before so I wasn’t worried about getting there just about finding the hotel. In my hurry to get out of Bozeman I forgot the power cable for my GPS. When I got to Longmont and turned it on to give me directions the rest of the way. I got about 5 mins down the road and then it was dead. Luckily I had writen down the address but had no idea how to get there so I spent an extra 30 mins driving around and eventually found the place around midnight.

Friday went pretty well I loaded up on ibuprofen at about 12:30 and then went to Movement Climbing and Fitness to warm up. The gym is AMAZING! It has a huge appeal to me cause it has a gigantic amount of roped/lead climbing on the main level. It has so much space that they don’t fill in between routes with holds so traversing was a bit out of the question. The bouldering on their second floor was roped off for the citizens comp on Saturday but what I saw looked good, plenty of room for wall space and to fall out from the wall and not worry about landing on someone. I went up to their system wall which was sick, I thought the one we have at Spire was great but this one is better! But even as good as the system wall was it wasn’t really the warm up I was looking for. I overheard a bunch of other competitors complain about inadequate warm up area, some people even left movement to go to the nearby Boulder Rock Club.

For this event USA Climbing and the UBC Pro Tour had three walls built in a warehouse due to the size of the audience in years past, and two small iso walls to warm up on. The isolation walls sucked, period. They were 8 feet tall by 10 or 12 feet wide and they started 6 inches off the ground. I can’t complain about much else though: the setting was great, no real tweaky holds, and a large variety of styles with great movement.

I have to say for the first time ever I felt a lot of nervous pressure waiting to climb. I was sandwiched between Magnus Mitboe, and Chris Web-Parsons, two power house climbers. The only relief I got from this pressure was on mens #2 where I heard Magnus hit the mat at least 4 times in 4 mins (he flashed almost every problem after that). My turn was next, I got to the bonus hold my first try and then came off by trying to down climb and reverse my feet for the next move. My next try I made it to the top. Then while waiting for my next problem, Chris didn’t make it to the top. This was the best part of the trip for me finding a strength I never knew I had: Slabs! The rest of the comp came down to power stamina and a little recovery. I was fine with the recovery until the last two problems but I was greatly lacking in the power stamina department. I really need to work on my lock off extension as Frank showed me just before I left. It cost me at least one bonus hold if not a top out on mens #4.

My only real failure for the weekend was men’s #4. It was an overhanging crimp fest with big moves with a few technical moves thrown in. I’d probably give it V8 or 9 if I had to grade it. For anyone who knows my climbing style this fit me perfectly, but I wasn’t able to make it to the bonus hold (the crux), a long lock off using a right hand crimp. I didn’t have any problems with pain in my finger or shoulder but I did notice on this problem that I didn’t have the capacity to lock crimps down like normal, which ended up keeping me from the bonus hold.

After Qualifiers I was in 34th place out of 47 open male competitors. 24 advanced to semi-finals. There was a four way tie for 1st flashing every problem, a two way tie for 5th and for 7th, more people who made it to semi-finals finished all the qualifier problems than not.

Both Semi- Finals and Finals provided a great show. I made a prediction that partially came true in Francesca Metcalf coming in 2nd place, breaking the Alex and Alex show. I competed with Frannie as a youth in New England and she has only improved since I’ve left. She’s done very well recently in New England Competitions such as winning Metro Rock’s Dark Horse competition a week prior to ABS Nationals.

The real upset though was Daniel Woods not getting into finals. No one I have seen predicted anyone other than Daniel to win it. He looked great on the first problem in semi’s and got well past the high point on #2 almost flashing it, and then he just made a mistake with his beta on going though the roof frontwards on #3, as opposed to doing a 180 degree spin like most others did. After that Sean was my favorite to win and he didn’t disappoint.

This was the 2nd time that I’ve seen Sean McColl climb at a comp. I love watching just how fluid and how confident he is when he needs to be in the zone and flash/onsight a route or problem. I wasn’t that surprised when he pulled out the win, I was more surprised he didn’t finish the 2nd finals route. If you want an in depth description of the problems and his thoughts go to Sean’s blog . Its a bit long but a great read.

My voyage back to Bozeman proved to be one of the biggest challenges of the entire weekend. It was windy in Boulder on Saturday and it only got worse Sunday. As I passed the Colorado/Wyoming boarder it went from annoying to dangerous. I experienced 70+ MPH gusts for a solid 1/3 of the drive through Wyoming, including a few large trailers on their sides and several complete 18 wheelers toppled by the winds. It was a crazy trip, I’m looking forward to start training for SCS Open Nationals but I’m not looking forward to that drive again. Ugh!

You can see a video of finals here:

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