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My Summer - Eric Sethna

My Summer - Eric Sethna
My Summer - Eric Sethna
September 23, 2011 - 

So it has been a crazy hectic summer with competitions and training and now the season is starting allll over again... Psyched!

So the first major comp over the summer was Canadian Youth Nationals as a qualification for World Championships. I ended up finishing the comp in 2nd by 1 move. I was a little disappointed because it was my last year in youth, but my track record stands: I have won 6 out of 9 Youth National titles in my career as a youth climber. And although that isn’t the best Canada has seen in the history of competition climbing, it certainly comes close, and helps sets the bar high for the future generation of comp climbers. I hope that I have helped inspire and guide the younger ones over my youth career and plan to stay actively involved in growing youth climbing in Canada.


Following Youth Nationals is a series of bouldering competitions called the Sweat Fests. The Sweat Fest season runs from July to September and usually involves about 6 competitions plus a final competition to battle for cash prizes and the title of series winner. This is the first year I decided to try and be in the running for series winner since I was able to attend enough of the competitions to build points. Before leaving for Europe I attended 3 competitions and managed to win them all and bag some points leading into the finale. The finale is this weekend and runs 2 days. Due to my current series ranking, I get a bye to the semi-final round and only need to compete one day of the two. Thank god! I’m super psyched for it and feel like I have a good shot at winning the finale if I climb my best. I feel in great bouldering shape right now and am ready to crush!

I guess that brings me to my Europe trip! I had an amazing month in Europe that started mid-August right after I finished final exams from my summer school term. I headed out to meet up with some Canadian team members in Austria to climb for a couple days on the competition wall. It was phenomenal! The wall was huge and consisted of a slightly over hanging wall that lead to a long roof followed by a technical head wall that was only used for the final round. At the time, routes from the European Youth Cup were on the wall so we got to try our hand at some very difficult Euro style technical pump fests! It was hard to fully commit to training routes at the time though because my sister and I had only a couple days until we were heading down to Munich to compete in the World Cup bouldering competition!

This was my first season competing in World Cups since I feel that I have now built up the necessary strength and experience and knowledge of competition subtleties to actually do well at such high level comps. This season I have competed in Canmore, Vail, and now the Munich WC. Each had a very different style and I learned so much from each one! Munich was the first comp I had been to where they had to split the qualifying field into two groups due to a large number of competitors. Each group had 5 different problems and the best 10 from each group move on to semi-finals. I was put on the A blocs which in comparison looked much easier than the B blocs. I actually found this put me at a disadvantage though. Since European climbs are often about figuring out correct beta versus pulling hard, attempts to figure out beta make a huge difference. Since I don’t have years and years of experience on these types of blocs it takes me more attempts to figure out beta even if I have way more than enough strength to do the moves. So it would be in my advantage to have problems that are just generally harder and give me a chance to get a better score, rather than ranking coming down to attempts to figure out technical beta. So I ended up topping all 5 boulders in the qualifying round which at most other WC’s would be a shoo-in for semi-finals; unfortunately, there were 14 other people who also topped 5 blocs and did them in less attempts than me. So I didn’t end up making semi-finals but I am happy I got a chance to climb and gain a lot of experience from the blocs. They were so interesting and confusing and fun! And the smallest beta changes made all the difference! I had a great time watching all the competitors in finals and it was a great show. It was total Russian domination of the men’s podium with Dmitry Sharafutdinov taking the win.

We now made our way back up to Austria to meet up with the Canadian youth team as we always do in the week preparing for the World Championships. We train together, do some team building exercises, and mentally prepare for the competition. Going into this comp I knew I was not in top route climbing shape. I had spent most of my time preparing for bouldering competitions and hadn’t actually been on a rope in a while! Sometimes you have to list your priorities and there was no way, in the time that I had, to be in amazing shape for both the World Cup and World Championships. Anyway, the competition had a huge turnout. Even South Africa sent a team for the first time! I felt like I climbed the first qualifier route very well making it almost to the top. There was a stopper move that tied up at least 8 people, leaving us all fighting for a spot in the semi-final round. Qualifier two unfortunately was not as successful. I climbed the route with great technique and flow but just got pumped. Unfortunately, that’s as simple as it gets for a boulderer. I just missed out on semi-finals and I was pleased with my results considering the training I had done was solely for bouldering. It is a great feeling to leave the youth circuit with a result that you are not disappointed with. I know I could have done better if I had trained specifically for it, but I didn’t expect better, so I can’t be disappointed.

After being released from the team, I joined up with my coach and a couple friends to head down to Kalymnos for a week! After finally making it to the small pear-shaped island by taking planes, trains, and busses I was absolutely astounded by the volume of climbing. And all of it within a 2-15 minute hike from the road. Our daily schedule was to wake up around 8, head to the local bakery to pick up lunch, and drive along the road until we spotted a wall that looked nice. We’d climb there until the sun hit and then make our way back into town for some beach time and relaxing before doing an evening session at a shady area. And then repeat! It was sooo much fun and the climbing was phenomenal! Gigantic stalactites and tufas stuck out of the wall in every way imaginable. The climbing style certainly took a few days to get used to. I onsighted some low 13’s and quickly redpointed some harder 13’s. For the most part I was trying to get in as much climbing as possible and didn’t want to project anything. I would love to return there someday and spend at least a month exploring the island. There is too much rock and too much potential on the island to ever run out of climbing! Amazing!   

So now I’m back in Toronto on my co-op placement until the end of December. I have been exploring the crags around the area and getting on as much of it as possible before the weather closes in and we migrate back indoors for the winter.

I will keep you updated on the competition season as it projresses! I’m psyched!

Thanks again for the support,

Eric Sethna"


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