I just got back to the USA from spending a few days in San Juan de los Morros in Venezuela for the Adult Pan-American Games. I had a great time- Venezuela was definitely a crazy new experience for me. The town was apparently pretty dangerous- especially for Americans- so I wasn't able to do much sightseeing, but the hotel and competition area were enough of a culture shock for me. No one spoke any English- which was expected, and I was excited to practice my Spanish- but also, no one understood my American accent, so it was extremely difficult to communicate with people in any language other than pointing and nodding. The “five-star” hotel was pretty run down with half the glass in the bathroom windows missing, no shower head, and no door knob. But even though we were not living the high life, we had quite an adventure. We were never totally sure what we would get at the restaurant, no matter what we ordered and trying to communicate with the locals was definitely a challenge, but we made some cool and interesting friends.
Because I couldn't miss many days of classes, I was in Venezuela for only the bouldering portion of the PanAms. Sasha DiGiulian and I were the only competitors from the USA competing, and Sean McColl was the only person from Canada.The field of competitors was small for sure, but usually that means that only the very dedicated and strong climbers are there to compete, and the theory held true for this comp.
The competition was also something I had to adjust to. The walls were wood, holds were old and it was ridiculously hot in the gym- which didn't have AC- so there was not nearly as much friction as I'm used to. It took a while to get used to the fact that I couldn't smear and I had to chalk up sometimes multiple times on a 10 move boulder problem. The climbs seemed to be primarily slaby, which isn't really my thing but seems to be getting more and more popular- not just internationally but in the US as well. Even the more powerful climbs were more tricky than actually hard. They seemed to all be very difficult to sequence from the ground; they usually got much more straightforward on the wall, but most of the time I ended up doing something completely different than what I originally planned.
I went into finals in second place to Sasha, and after a rough start, I managed to keep my place. I was the only girl in finals who wasn't able to finish the first climb. It was a slab with a tricky move where we had to rock hard onto a good foot and stand up into a slopey side pull, which I just wasn't able to do. Luckily the climbs got more powerful as they went on, so they seemed to get easier. I finished the second climb with one fall and flashed the last two. The climbs were all really well set and fun to climb- even if they were slabs- and I'm really glad I was able to compete.
Congratulations to Sasha, who won both bouldering and rope climbing at the Games, and to Sean, who won rope climbing and got second in bouldering. Way to represent!