After two weeks of being in Rodellar and climbing some amazing rock Alex, Josh, Nick and I took a flight to Zurich and drove to Imst, Austria for the Youth World Championship. We picked up Danny Aleowski and Alex Fritz and took a 3 day detour to the Zillertal Valley, an amazing climbing area in the magnificent mountains of Austria.
Between a Rock and a Schnitzel: Climbing in Zillertal and Imst - Joseph Gifford
Our hotel looked like something out of a kids Candy land game or Santa’s workshop, with its red and white striped shutters. The so called idyllic church that was directly behind our hotel rang its brain jolting bells every hour and we didn’t get a lot of sleep.
We met up with some local climbers that directed us to some incredible climbing. All of the climbing was remote and often short with all types of features and the weather was just about always perfect except for the rain that would sometimes roll in unexpectedly. While we were there, almost all of us did two really fun 13b’s called Down by Law and The Extension. I also attempted a really cool 14a called Graceland, but I didn’t send it because of the crazy hard boulder move in the middle, but still a great climb.
After climbing some beautiful climbs and eating enough Wienerschnitzel to last a lifetime in Zillertal we drove to Imst where the Youth World Championships were being held. The wall in Imst is impressive at 22 meters. The opening ceremonies included a slack line walker, local officials, an Oompah band and of course climbers from 46 different nations! My first climb went decently well I placed 25th in the first quali round putting me in an okay position to make top 26 which went on to the semi-finals. But on the second day of quali’s I slipped up pretty low and ended upcoming in 31st place. I could have done a lot better but it happens. The route setting in Europe is definitely different than in the US, It’s a lot more technical with very few places to rest but if you’re going to compete there you’ve got to own it.
Worlds in 2012 are in Singapore and I hope to crush it next year. I didn’t make it to the semi- finals in 2011, but I still enjoyed watching all of my fellow American team mates that did make it. Following the competition I packed up my gear and all the Swiss chocolate I could legally get through customs and headed back to the USA. Our 2 month epic journey in Europe was sadly at an end but, an experience that I will never forget. What did I discover in Europe? Easy answer; great friends, incredible climbing, gallons of gelato, cool cultures and a new perspective on climbing and training for competitions. Can’t wait to go back but it’s great to be home!