In case you haven't heard, there was a climbing competition in Utah recently. Much more than a competition, I would call the first ever Psicobloc Master Series in the United States a demonstration. If you've weaved through the plethora of media surrounding the event via twitter, facebook and now the ever growing Instagram; a swift referral to the hashtag #psicocomp and you're able to view basically everything there is to see about the comp in Park City.
The wall was set up by Walltopia over an Olympic training pool for ski jumpers, with Chris Sharma leading the vision of bringing deep water soloing to the US. I was nervous at the thought of climbing on a 50 foot wall with nothing but water to break my fall but I have not been deep water soloing and the idea was tempting.
An adventurous bunch us climbers...but the hesitation showed on the first day of practice. Many of us climbed half way and dropped. This process continued inching its way to the top of the wall until, Chris Sharma of course, climbed up and jumped off. Once that happened, everyone started becoming more comfortable above the water and most climbers were able to climb up and take the plunge. It was cool for me to see, the most obvious difference, besides the soloing and water, was that the climbers were much more encouraging and supportive. You don't often see this in 'safer' more 'competitive' events, because climbers are comfortable, not needing the support of their friends, but here, the outcome is uncertain and I think it showed a more genuine attitude. This alone is great for our sport, especially if outsiders are watching.
By the evening of the competition everyone was dialed in. Our shoes and chalk bags were dry, falling techniques practiced...we were used to the wall, the fall, and even the route which we had the opportunity to practice on the day before. The only factors that were different were the 3000 live spectators and the estimated 19K who tuned in on the live stream. It was more clear to me that this was not your typical competition. Our format was different too, a process of elimination. Climbers were bracketed up based on how they climbed the day before and would climb head to head on identical routes. Endurance, strength and speed would be critical to perform well. I think this was one of the most unique features of the competition as, in the moment, there is usually always a clear winner.
We sorted through our brackets and only after one of the most exciting races of the competition with Carlo Traversi did I find myself in the top 4 bracket. I was to climb head to head with Jimmy Webb. I was still basically out of breath, with no dry shoes available, so I grabbed a lone pair and chalk bag from DG and prepared to climb. We started up the wall but I knew immediately that I was completely pumped from my previous round, I tried my best to climb strong and fast, as I knew Jimmy is capable but it was no use, and I fell about halfway up.
Regardless, I was ecstatic on the competition and my climbing. Everyone eagerly waited for the finals to start and we cheered as loud as we could. In the end it was Jimmy Webb against Daniel Woods with Webb inching Daniel out near the top of the wall.
Everyone's performance was impressive with a wide range of styles, especially the women where Sasha Digiulian and Delaney Miller showed their endless endurance. We had basically everyone you could think of from boulderers, sport climbers, big wall masters, comp climbers and rock climbers. The psyche was unparalleled to any other competition I have participated in before!
Video is soon to come and if you missed the live feed I suggest you check it out!