After 15 hours of travel which included missing my plane, sprinting through the airport and riding the bus for about four hours I finally arrived Hadley, Massachusetts. The whole reason for this full day of travel was to compete in the Ring of Fire competition at Central Rock. I went to the competition they had last year and it was super fun and well run, so I wanted to go back. This year it was a lot bigger with a stronger field of competitors and much more hype. A bunch of big names showed up such as Daniel Woods, Sasha DiGiulian, Vasya Vorotnikov, Jimmy Webb, Jon Cardwell, Chelsea Rude, plus some others. Making finals this year would be much harder, but I thought I could still make it happen.
The first climb had a very easy bottom section with a difficult top section. It had a section where you had to drop down and swoop around. When I was on the wall I thought I could just go straight up. This sequence would have worked but I tried to move too quickly and popped off. I was mad at myself because I was not tired and I should have finished it.
The next climb had some crazy technical body positions and knee drops on the first half then it moved through a powerful section through sloping pinches. The bottom section climbed well and was super fun. I pumped out and fell near the top.
The third climb moved through a crimping beginning then changed to a move powerful top section with pinches. After watching people climb it I was worried about the bottom sequence. When I got on I felt like I was floating the climb. All the crimps felt like jugs. I hit the first pinch and it felt a bit awkward and I almost fell busting out to a crimp. I forgot some technical beta and tried to jump to the middle of this huge sloper instead of meat-wrapping the sides. I grabbed the only bad part of the hold and fell. I was more mad at myself after this climb than the first one.
I ended up 12th(ish) or something which sucks because I didn't make the cut to finals. Now I know I need to climb more relaxed, slow and thoughtful. That is how climb normally, but something about competitions makes me climb and react faster rather than take my time, think about different betas and experiment while on the wall. I just realized this about myself, so now I can began working on this.
Finals was amazing to watch. Jon Cardwell and Sasha DiGiulian did work and took home the gold as well as a some bling to show off at home.
Kai Lightner disserves some special recognition. This kid is only 13 years old and he was first after qualifiers. He fell low in finals, but he has a lot of potential for the future.
The next day everyone went to the new Central Rock Gym in Watertown. I heard that it was a amazing gym and saw some pictures on the internet, but I was not expecting what I saw when I walked in the door. This may be my favorite gym in the nation right now. It is way up there at least. Some shiny new Rockwerx walls and holds so new they will rip your skin off. Most gyms focus more on either bouldering or sport climbing and the other one sucks. This gym did not forget. Both bouldering and sport climbing are amazing. There are diverse angles, but they did not go too crazy. I suggest going up there if you are in town.
I left a bit earlier than I would have like and went with Doug Ianuario, Jimmy Webb and Meagan Martin and ate an amazing seafood dinner. Thanks Ralph! Jimmy, Meagan and I did a spice challenge after dinner. We ate a bunch of this stuff called volcano dust. It's made from a scorpion pepper and taste a little bit like death. We all held our own and took it like men, but it hurt. It was a lot less fun coming out the next day. We also spent many hours working on some intense tavern puzzles. This one crazy one took forever to figure out. Finally Jimmy got his brain swole on solved it.
Now back to climbing. We all went climbing at Farley which was the reason I was with them. I really had no idea what to expect, but I was psyched! The first climb we got on was Pipe Dreams. Doug had an amazing and almost sent, Jimmy flashed it, I sent after some working and Meagan did most of it. This climb is amazing! I climbs so well. Next we got on Full Sized Man. This climb was significantly harder. I have never seen Jimmy try so hard. He sent despite the less than perfect weather. I did all the moves except the crazy crux toe hook. My toe hook muscles were tired from a route at the gym where I got 8 or 9 bat-hangs. Next problem was Cat Daddy. We all flailed around for awhile, except Doug. Doug already sent it and was going for a repeat send. Next was Babies with Rabies. This climb was super cool other than the fact that it hurt my hands a lot. Last climb was Stereogram. This is one of the coolest boulders I have ever done. Compression awesomeness. I climbed smooth and it is a one of kind. I barely sent and was surprised I did at all. I almost gave up, but everyone was doing levers and pull ups, so I tried it some more, got my psych on and sent!
We called it a day and headed home. We had another amazing dinner except this time we had pulled pork, chicken and more deliciousness. Now I just needed to figure out how the hell I was getting to the airport to catch my flight at 9 in the morning. I thought everyone else's flight left early too, but I was horribly mistaken. Luckily Doug happens to be one of the coolest people on the planet and he agreed to drive me part of the way to Boston and Kerry Scott and her dad, Doug, would pick me up. Kerry and her dad are two more coolest people on the planet. Thanks to them I was able to get to my plane. Josh Levin let me stay at his dorm that night which makes him another one of the coolest people on the planet.
Turns out when I was at my gate the next day my plane was full so they put me on a later flight. I ended up being in that airport for about 5 hours, but I did get to hang out with Jimmy some more. It was worth it because I got a free flight out of the whole thing.
Thanks to Justin and Allie for letting me stay at their place for the competition. Thanks to Ralph Rogers for letting me stay at his place and eating his food. Thanks to Doug for being awesome. Thanks to Kerry and her dad for picking me up. And thanks to all the people who made the competition awesome!