In my last post I mentioned that the school year was winding down for me, and with that came a ton of work that just about killed any spare time that I had. I grit my teeth and dealt with the work, and I think it paid off; I am now done with my junior year of high school! It’s so hard to believe that I only have one more year of high school and then I move out and go off to college. However, during those two weeks of insanity where I was up to my eyes in work, I was also trying to stay in decent shape for the increasingly competitive comps that I had coming up in the near future. Although I was relatively happy with my performance at regionals, I knew that divisionals was soon, and was going to be a tough comp, so I decided to really buckle down and train. This meant four days of climbing per week: three days of strict workouts for endurance, and one day of just climbing for fun. On those fun days leading up to divisionals, I ended up either messing around at my gym, or going climbing at other semi-local events.
The first weekend after regionals, I would up going up to the Gunks in New Paltz, NY, to get on some real rock. The Gunks has a no bolting rule, so the options for climbing anything over 25 ft are either gear climbing, soloing, or top rope. Since I am by no means proficient enough at gear climbing to climb anything without a serious risk of injury, and I wasn’t too psyched on soloing, we ended up top roping a bit. We went up to Lost City that Saturday, and decided to try working on a line called Survival of the Fittest. I almost never go to Lost City; I have gone once a year for about three years, since I started going there. It’s a really nice area, I just usually have trouble finding a ride there, since I don’t have my license yet and most of my friends will pass it up in favor of a trip to Peter’s Kill or Carriage Road. I had only ever taken about three runs on Survival, and had not been on it in a year, so I had low expectations for it. I warmed up on some easier stuff, then watched my friend Jesse get on it. He did really well, and ended up falling at the last redpoint crux before the easy climbing because he had not in on it in about the same amount of time as me. I watched what he did pretty carefully, and then decided to hop on. I felt pretty good after I stuck the beginning dyno, and felt that way all through the middle of the climb. Then, as I began to get to the hard climbing, I started to get really pumped really fast, and began rushing to try to get to the end jugs before I pumped out. I just barely stuck the redpoint crux, and managed to send the route! I was really psyched, and definitely surprised, given that I had not been on the route in so long. Jesse jumped right back on the route after me and made it look easy, so overall it was a pretty good day. We all went out for dinner later that night, then passed out so we could get an early start the next day. That Sunday turned out to be some pretty nasty weather, so we all decided to just call it a day and head home early.
A week after the Gunks, on my next fun climbing day, I went up to Central Rock Gym in Massachusetts to compete at their annual Ring of Fire comp. The event was pretty crazy; there were about as many big names competing there as there are at nationals, which made for some fierce competition. I fell low on my second qualifier route, and did not end up making finals, but I had a blast watching Five Ten dominate finals. It was a very well-run and well-set comp, and I will definitely aim to get up there again next year. During the next couple of weeks, I was too busy with finals and standardized testing to travel anywhere far, so I just stuck to training for divisionals, which took place last weekend at the newest Central Rock Gym.
Although I had only been to their Hadley facility before, the new Watertown Central Rock Gym is definitely my favorite of their three (soon to be four) gyms. The layout was pretty basic, but it was a really nice place, with both great bouldering and good, tall sport walls. I drove up to Massachusetts Friday afternoon, and spent the night wandering from hotel to hotel, visiting all of my friends who had come up for the event. I was super nervous, since my age group for this comp was beyond stacked, so I went to sleep later that night, and headed over earlier than I needed to the next morning to watch the guys climb before I went.
The format of the event was the one USA Climbing began using at open nationals a year or two ago, in which I had never before competed. Basically, for qualifiers each age group is divided into two stacks. There are two routes of the same difficulty, and each stack starts on one route. After everyone in both stacks has climbed, the running order changes, and each stack climbs the other route. The route my stack started on did not seem too bad; it was a lot of very good holds for about six clips, and then it got harder with a tough clip and a weird turnaround bat hang move, followed by a pumpy run to the top. I was really nervous about the bat hang, but I wound up being able to do it easily with just one toe hook, and finished the route without too much trouble. The next qualifier was a bit different from the first in that it was much more consistent. There was no real fluff on it; everything pumped you out, and there were very few opportunities to get anything back. My turn on it came a bit sooner than I expected, and unfortunately I was pretty beat from my first climb. I moved as efficiently as possible, climbing fast and only stopping when I needed to, and was at the last bolt pretty quickly. I got to the last few holds before the finish jug, where I thought I would fall if I tried to grab the last crimp before the jug. I jumped for the jug, and ended up just missing it. This performance put me in fourth place going into finals the next day. Most of my friends also qualified for finals, so we all went out to dinner before heading back to our hotels for the night.
I was very nervous the next day, but luckily I was climbing early, so I could get the nervousness over with. My finals route was much different than the qualifiers. It was very bouldery, with no real rests after the second bolt. I managed to get to the last bolt before I pumped out, which was enough to keep me in fourth and secure my spot at nationals. I was excited to do so well in such a tough field, and even happier that so many of my friends qualified for nationals as well. I left earlier this morning for the Red River Gorge, where I will spend a few weeks training, then come back for another couple of weeks after nationals. I’m psyched to get some good training in, and hopefully to head to nationals feeling ready for the comp.
Also, a big thanks to everyone, especially to Five Ten, for the awesome support over the last month!