Last weekend I was in Irvine, California to participate in the first competition at the new Aesthetic Climbing Gym in Lake Forest. I was asked to participate in this event by a great team of organizers about a month ago and decided that it would be well worth the trip. The event took place on Sunday, the grand opening of the gym itself. There would be two rounds, a semi final in the morning (which ended up to more a qualifier) and a finals round in the evening beginning at 5 p.m. I was fresh off a good result at the Adidas Rock Stars about a month ago in Germany so I had a good feeling about entering another competition. For those who know me well, I'm not much of a competitive climber, and I almost always prefer to spend as much time as possible outside on the rocks. At the same time, competitions are a great way to bring our community together in one room to celebrate climbing so from time to time I really enjoy participating.
Sunday kicked off with a competitors meeting at 9 a.m. and was followed quickly by the start of the competition. The format was similar to a world cup; onsight 5 boulders, with 5 minutes rest, except instead of bonuses and tops the problems were scored hold for hold and a bonus for flash. The round went exceptionally well for me. I began by flashing the first boulder, and quickly got into a rhythm of climbing fast and efficiently. At the end of the round I had flashed all five boulders to qualify for Finals in first. Close behind were, Matt Wilder and Rob D'Anastasio.
Finals began right on time at 5. The format was the same except there would be three boulders instead of five. Since I qualified in first that meant I would be climbing last. There's a bittersweet feeling about climbing last, you feel confident on your performance in the previous round but you have a wait much longer to climb while hearing the reaction from the crowd and climbers. It can become stressful at times but such is a part of competitions. I was psyched regardless, the isolation room was comfortable and the crew gave us multiple rooms to relax in. I warmed up quickly and awaited my time to climb.
The first boulder was a true test piece. In some ways it was more of a route than a boulder but well set. It began up one wall and jumped into a adjacent roof to gain another wall where you had to climb down then traverse over to an arete, climb up, traverse along the lip and top out. It took me an epic 4 minutes or so to figure out the boulder, but luckily I flashed it, and judging by the reaction of the crowd I was almost positive I was the first to climb it. I was excited but also extremely pumped, completely fatigued. Problem two was much more powerful. My first attempt felt good but the pump was quickly back from the first problem and I was shut down by a long shoulder move in the roof. It seemed hopeless after my first couple attempts but I decided to take a longer rest, and ended up sticking the move, but only to fall at the last move. At least I felt content. The third boulder was shorter and less steep so with my fatigue looming I knew that I had a chance to climb the boulder because it would probably be more technical. I pulled on and after a tricky dihedral start I was on the slopers, which were much worse than they appeared. I thought I would slip off at any moment but It must have been the crowd, I motivated to pull harder and ended up flashing the boulder. Two for three was good enough, I knew that I had climbed well, whether it was first, second or third I didn't care. In the end, the results were extremely close, especially between Kyle Owen and myself, but I ended up in first. I couldn't believe itm being in such a strong field. I congratulated all the competitors, and we accepted the awards shortly after.
Full results and more info can be found on the Aesthetic facebook page here - http://www.facebook.com/AestheticClimbingGym
A HUGE thanks goes out to the awesome crew of organizers for executing a great competition. I was thoroughly impressed all around, from the welcomes, to the route setting and much more. I will definitely make a return trip and If anyone is in the area I highly suggest a visit to the Aesthetic Climbing Gym. Also, a big thanks to Five Ten, Adidas and Petzl for continually supporting me. I couldn't be more thankful!
Another competition finished, and at this point I feel slightly on a schedule. I'm not sure how long it will last though, the temperatures are dropping, and with a big trip planned for the fall I can't help but look out to the mountains and get psyched. Much, much more is to come!