A couple months back I enjoyed my first-ever trip to Hueco, and now one week ago I attended my first Rock Rodeo! It was my first outdoor competition I'd participated in and was quite the experience. I'm glad I went down a week beforehand to toughen up my skin and get used to the climbing style; I had some great days with sends of Free Willy, Purple Flowers, This Is Your Brain On Drugs, Better Eat Your Wheaties, and New Religion before the weekend had even started. With these reinforcing my confidence I went into the Rodeo relaxed and psyched, with just one or two butterflies flitting around.
2012 Hueco Rock Rodeo - A First! - Nina Williams
Saturday arrived and I had trouble remembering it was a competition! Most of the Open category women circuited the problems together and I was so motivated to climb with such a strong crew of ladies. Angie Payne and Natasha Barnes were new introductions; I had met Courtney Sanders the previous weekend at Nationals and Flannery Shay-Nemirow back in Colorado. I placed third with quick repeats of A Good Day For Swiss Crisp Mix, Mr. Serious, and Sex After Death. Frogger was a new problem I sent, and rest of my energy went into attempts of Focus and Glas Roof. I fell again and again at the finishing moves of these last two problems, but they unfortunately eluded me. Angie crushed second with her top climb being the FFA of Sub Zero and Austrian Katharina Saurwein placed first with her repeat of Rumble In The Jungle. Our guides Ana Burgos and Melissa Strong added to the psyched female vibe; props to Melissa for the effort she put into organizing the Rodeo in the first place!
The combination of outdoor climbing and competition was certainly intriguing. I really did forget about the comp for most of the day except for an underlying sense of urgency; this only affected me on Focus but otherwise I didn't notice it. It's a bit daunting to achieve a goal of 6 hard problems in one day and difficult to pull off; I only managed 4 and was still satisfied with how I climbed. Overall an outdoor climbing competition is still that: outdoors. I felt much less pressure and intensity than I would in a rock gym, but in a good way! The Hueco Rock Rodeo was the best of both worlds; the relaxed, fun atmosphere of the Tanks coupled with just enough friendly competition to spice things up :)
The post-comp celebration was the perfect end to the day. New Belgium beer and Dave Graham's DJ-ing made the night a blur; slideshows, free burritos, and bull-riding made up only part of this awesome evening. There was even a dyno comp, which Sam Tingey and I both grabbed the gold for! A giant bonfire kept everyone warm as old friendships were rekindled and new ones were made. Huge thanks and congratulations to Melissa Strong and Emilia Rafaela for making the Rodeo such a great first-experience!
As fun as the desert is, I'm very glad to be back in Colorado. I am settling into my new house in Fort Collins and buckling down on training for the next few months. I am thinking of attending the Dominion Riverrock Boulder Bash coming up in May, but real rock calls and a trip to Joe's Valley is in order (not to mention the Poudre right outside my own town!). I have a lot to prepare for, and psyched as always ^_^