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Plastic and Rock - Nicholas Milburn

Plastic and Rock - Nicholas Milburn
October 02, 2012 - 

Last weekend I flew out to Seattle to compete in the Unified Boulder Championship at Stone Gardens. First thing that I need to point out is how organized the UBC guys are. They emailed a packet out to the competitors that was the best comp packet I have ever seen. I didn't even know such things existed! They even gave the competitors a free Adidas jackets. Stone Gardens is a brand new gym, and its newness definitely shows. Brand new walls, brand new holds and brand new mats. The first part of the gym I saw was the isolation room, which is nicest I have ever been in. Some of the walls were so tall that I was afraid to grab any hold that wasn’t a jug. They even had a fridge with food just for the competitors. Then I made it out to the competition walls, and I was blown away! It’s not every day you see the two of the nicest bouldering walls in one sitting. Some new gyms go overboard with crazy angles, and it ends up being too much, but Stone Gardens did good. Walltopia is truly one exceptional company.

I was the second person out in qualifiers, so all the holds were nice and clean, but that didn’t help much. The first problem was a slap in the face. It was by far the hardest qualifier one I have ever done, or I guess I should say tried. All of the qualifiers were like that. Usually I can finish at least one of the qualifying problems, but not there. I ended up getting up about half way on every problem. Sending a qualifier was something to be proud of. There were only a handful of flashes. Some of the only people to flash were Ian Dory, Matty Hong and Josh Larson. Jimmy Webb was the biggest exception. He walked out and flashed the first problem, flashed the second, flashed the third, did the fourth problem in three goes and flashed the fifth. Nobody else even sent the second problem. I ended up 22nd, and they took the top 20 to semi-finals. If I grabbed one more hold on any problem I would have qualified for semis. "What would you do for one more hold"

Since I didn’t qualify, my uncle, David, and I went sport climbing at Little Si. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect other than that it is a super technical area. The first route I did was Technorigine which is a nice 5.12c/d. Then I was going to warm up some more, so I got on a route that I thought was 5.12b. Once I got to the first set of chains, I just kept going. I hit a pretty hard crux and fell, and then I got back on, ran it up to the top, which is another crux, and fell again. After I made it to the chains, I yelled down that I thought it was stout 5.12b. My uncle looked at me funny and told me the real grade. It is 5.12d to first set of chains and 5.13c to the second set. So basically I had no idea what I was climbing, but I was right, a stout 5.12b. Then I jumped on Chronic, which is 5.13c. This route is my aunt’s project, and she told me it is great, so I was pretty psyched to get on it. I got on Chronic, barely pulling through moves that I’m pretty sure I did wrong, but I got a solid way up it before I fell. I made my up it with a couple more falls. Chronic is definitely up there on my list of awesome routes. After that, we drove out to watch finals. 

Qualifiers were pretty chill, not very many spectators, and no special ambiance or anything. Finals were the complete opposite. The gym was packed, and the organizers brought in special lighting and a DJ to finish it off. The audience was off the chain. It was one of the most amped audiences I have ever seen. I managed to squeeze near the front and take pictures. The finals problems looked sick hard and dope to climb. Just watching these guys and girls throw themselves at these boulders made me psyched to train harder so that next time I will make finals. It was an intense hand sweating, nerve racking time. Josh Larson ended up winning, with Jimmy Webb in second Michael O’Rourke in third. Matty should have at least podiumed, but he missed a hold. Of the women, Alex Johnson won, Angie Payne got second, and Shannon Russell came in third.

If a UBC comp is your area and you know what climbing is, you should compete try it out. Even if it is across the country you should go. It is one of the best comps I have been in and I didn’t even make semifinals. 

On my last day in Seattle David, Jimmy, Kasia Pietras, Alex Fritz, and Kyle Francis (Tiny), and I went bouldering in Goldbar and Index. Fritz gave himself a nice big flapper doing sideways campus dynos, so he didn't do too much climbing. We started on Five Star Boulder. Once we got nice and warm, we did Ross Bongo, v8 or v9, and then got on Eebriosity, v11, which only Jimmy did. Then we all went down to River Side. While Jimmy was checking out Hagakure, v12, everyone tried Leggo My Ego, which is a dope V7. It has a nice all points off dyno, which we all missed the pads on. Jimmy ended up doing Eebriosity in about 3 or 4 goes and dynoing passed the crux gaston straight to the finish. I couldn't even stick the first move although I was getting pretty close. Our last boulders were on the river. These were some of the most polished climbs I have ever seen, but I guess they are sometimes under water. Everyone tried this v8, and everyone flailed on it. It was hands down the most burly slab climb I have ever done. Trying to squeeze this river stone as you are sliding down it is no easy task. Last climb of the day was a slab v5, which is the hardest v5 I have ever done. After it made my fingers bleed, we headed out. Kasia, Kyle and I had to catch our planes.

I need to give a big thanks to the UBC guys because without them, I wouldn't have even gone to Seattle in the first place. Also thank you to David and Kanisha Speyrer for letting my stay at their house and driving me to and from the comp and taking us climbing. It was an awesome weekend!


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