Last year was the first time that USA Climbing decided to hold bouldering divisionals as well as rope divisionals, as a way of making the two disciplines of the sport more similar to each other. The idea of having regionals, then divisionals, then nationals rather than simply going from regionals to nationals got mixed reviews, but the organization decided to keep divisionals in the mix. So, last weekend, I drove ten whole minutes away to the Gravity Vault to compete for a stop at nationals. I felt like I was in pretty good shape, but I was still pretty nervous.
The comp was entirely onsight format, with four qualifiers and four minutes to climb them, and three finals with five minutes of climbing time the next day. There was a rolling isolation, and I was in the third category, so I slept later than I would otherwise be able to and then headed over to the gym. I had to wait in the lounge area of the gym with them, since we got to the comp a bit before our iso time, and eventually we went in. The iso was actually pretty big for a normal comp- there was room for everyone without being at risk of people landing on you. I managed to get a decent warm up in, and then went out to go climb.
As I was looking at the first climb, I couldn’t tell whether I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was, or if the climbs were just really hard. It turned out they were really hard. I sent the first one on my second try; I read the sequence right, but there was an easier way to do it that I did second try. I flashed the second and third climbs. The second was good crimps and pinches on an overhang, which is completely my style, and the third was your average comp climb- lots of moves on ok holds, campus down to a jug, then bigger moves up smaller crimps. I was feeling pretty confident, and then I got to the fourth climb. It had about a V5 beginning, and then a really hard, balancey crimp sequence finishing in an awkward jump from a terrible crimp to a good pinch. I misread the sequence on my first try, fell at the last move on my second try, and managed to send on my third try! I was really psyched, and figured that I was definitely in finals. As it turned out, no one else sent the last climb, so it put me in first going into finals. Most of my friends qualified for the next day as well, so a bunch of us went out to dinner and then I went home and crashed.
The next day, there was no rolling iso, which made warming up much harder than the previous day. I sort of warmed up, and then got called out to climb way sooner than I would have liked. I went out, saw my first climb, and almost threw up a little. I was really nervous as it was, and the climb was all balance moves on slopers. I managed to get to the last move on my first try before I greased off of the last hold, but then I brushed it and sent the next go. The second climb was way more my speed- crimps and pinches on a steep wall again. I flashed it pretty quickly. Finally, there was the last climb. It was pretty confusing; there were a lot of holds in odd places on the wall. I fell in the beginning on my first go, and then managed to send it second try, which put me in first! I was really excited- I’m now going to compete at the ABS Youth Nationals in Colorado in early March. I also felt like I climbed better there than at just about any other competition, which was definitely reassuring. To make it even better, a lot of my friends qualified as well. I’m going back to lots of training, and getting psyched for spending a week climbing in Colorado with my friends from all over the country.
Thanks again to Five Ten for their incredible support!
Photos from Chattanooga: Philadelphia Rock Gym
Comp Photos: Anne Kavalerchik