After ABS Nationals in March, I had to take a few weeks off to nurse my broken finger, which I talked about in my previous post.
Once I got the green light from the doctor, I was eager to get back into climbing. At first I was really excited to see how fast I was recovering my strength and endurance, but after a while I realized that getting back to 80% was really easy, but the last 20% proved to be really, really hard, and took much, much longer than I had hoped for...
I went climbing for a week at the Red River Gorge, but, while climbing pretty well, I just didn't have the stamina and power for the really hard routes I was hoping to try. It was quite depressing...
But I kept training hard, and climbing outdoors as much as possible on weekends, and slowly I started to recover my fitness.
I climbed a few times at Mickey's Beach north of San Francisco, and managed to send a few hard climbs including the classic Surf Safari, 8b (5.13d)... My Dad was pretty happy when I got done with that one, because he was getting poison oak rashes every time we went there... :D
Just before leaving for Europe, I got to spend a few days in Smith Rock again. I had some unfinished business, and went right on working on it.
I'm happy to report that by the end of the trip I had sent the iconic Scarface 8b+ (5.14a).
Scarface starts with a very bouldery section with pockets and monos, and ends up with a long, very scary, runout slab. I was so psyched to send it, and by now I felt really good, and ready for my summer climbing trip!
On the morning of June 10th at 5am I heard a screeching grueling noise... My alarm. Ugh, but wait... June 10th, 5am... that could only mean one thing... TIME FOR EUROPE!!! This year was different than the others, as I had decided to skip SCS Sport Climbing Nationals in order to be able to climb in Europe for a longer time. You see, my school ended on June 7th and Nationals were July 8-11, which meant that, if I wanted to compete at Nationals, I would have to spend a whole month training indoors just for four days of competition, when I could instead go to Europe to climb, on real rock, in world class crags, for a whole 2 1/2 months.
Seriously, which one sounds better to you???
When we finally arrived in Europe after 20 hours of traveling, I stumbled out of the plane jet lagged and half asleep. Although I did have a good time listening to music, watching movies, and doing pretty much nothing in the plane... What am I kidding I was so happy to finally be out of that flying metal can! We got our rental car and drove to my aunt's house. After arriving and getting through all the "Hey, how's it going?" 's, the "It's been such a long time!" 's and the "You've grown so much!" 's I finally passed out on the couch. When I woke up I didn't even know what day it was, but I did know I was in Europe which was good enough for me.
Europe is a big place and there are a lot of good places to see, so one day after arriving, we were off to Magic Wood for a week. Magic Wood is an iconic bouldering site in the Swiss German region of Swizzy.
After a week of bouldering I felt good by sending two 8A's (V11) my jet lag had gone down and I finally felt like a human again. I was even lucky enough to meet Nalle Hukkataival and even got to witness him sending his mega project... The Understanding 8C (V15). But before we knew it the week was over and we moved on.
We headed to the Petzl Roc Trip in the Gorges du Tarn, which is a world class sport climbing crag in France. I was really excited as I had heard of some awesome climbers who would be there including Dave Graham, Chris Sharma, Dalia Ojeda, Dani Andrada, Mélissa Le Nevé, Klemen Becan, Anthony Gullsten, and many more! Some I had already met such as Chris, but I was still excited to catch up with him. My first day in the Tarn went great as I got to experience some great climbs and meet some great people. That night I got to meet Dave Graham and Dani Andrada. Dave and Dani are two people that I've always looked up to. Dave is one of the world's best ever boulderers having established countless FA's in the 8A (V11) to 8C (V15) all around the world. Dani on the other hand is a Spanish powerhouse sport climber who tends to stay a little more under the radar, nevertheless he continues to crush all the world's hardest sport climbs. Dave is a really funny, energetic, and happy guy. He also speaks amazingly well French and Spanish, lots of slang laced with a heavy American accent. Sooo funny!!!
Dani, well I didn't really get to know him much as he didn't speak English and I can't speak Spanish, but he did seem to be a very nice person. For the rest of my time there I climbed a lot with Chris and Dave... it... was... AWESOME!!!!! Finally it was time for the Millau Natural Games a huge international Outdoor Action Sport event including climbing, BMX, and paragliding, pretty similar to the TEVA (excuse me GoPro) Games, but much, much larger...
Erwann, the Petzl Team manager signed me up for the bouldering comp... The Pro category bouldering comp!!! Being a 12-year-old, and youngest competitor, in the Professional category, against at least 30 professional adults, was quite intimidating, but in the end, without the stress of real competition, it was really fun! I even competed against Dimitri Sharafutdinov! The competition qualifiers was a pretty unusual format. There were 36 boulder problems, and we had 6 hours to complete them. However, in France, they count every problem, so you pretty much have to climb all of them if you want to have a good ranking. Also, every problem is initially valued 1000 points, but the real value is 1000 divided by the number of climbers that send the problem. Pretty cool... I climbed the full 6 hours, and managed to send 31 of the 36 problems! In the end I placed 19th out of 42 and I had a great feeling of accomplishment! Just to put things in perspective though, Dimitri showed up 2 hours late, sent every problem, with only 2 falls in total, and left with 2 hours left to climb... 36 problems sent in 2 hours, and he was the only climber to send all the problems!!! I didn't qualify for the finals (top 6 climbers, duh...) and so I got to watch them, fully relaxed, among 20,000 other spectators (yes... twenty thousand!!!). Crazy!!!
After this it was back to Geneva for a day and then off to Magic Wood for round two! This time I managed to send one 8A+ (V12) and an 8A (V11)... in a day! I spent several days after that trying to find a new project and just continued on my "other" goal of climbing at least four 7x's for every 8x I sent).
Finally it was time to leave. We went back to Geneva to pick up Ashima at the airport, and the same day we then drove to Céüse to meet up with Alexi and his Dad, Vladimir, and our friends from Seattle... Rudy & Drew Ruana, Sean Bailey, and Bret Johnston.
The next three weeks were incredible climbing with everyone. We made a lot of friends from different places all around the world. In Céüse we climbed a lot and played a lot of ping pong. Climbing is such a small world, we met again with friends we had met last year in France and in Spain. Alizée Dufraisse was there again with her dad, and once again she gave me beta on several hard climbs.
Over the three weeks I tried a lot of (and got close to) very hard 8c and above routes, and managed to send one 8b+, several 8b's, and a lot of route between 8a and 8a+'s including many flashes and onsights.
Ashima climbed two 8c's and a few 8a's. Sean sent his first 8c, then a week later his first 8c+!!
Drew focused mostly on onsighting, as he was preparing for the Youth World Championships later in August, and managed to climb many 7c+ to 8a+ flashes and even picked up some tips on ping pong from Bret who climbed lots of climbs in the 7c+ to 8a+ range including a flash of Sueurs Froides 8a+!
Alexi managed to send his first 8a (5.13b). He worked really hard for that one!!!
In the end it was amazing and I can't wait to climb with them again!
On one of our rest days, we went to watch the World Cup in Briançon, it's always amazing to watch the world's best climber's compete in front of 8,000 spectators, no less.
I also got to meet John Ellison, the founder of Climbers Against Cancer. John really inspires me! He's ill with cancer but has dedicated his life to raise money for the fight against cancer. Amazing!!!
A couple of days later some of the Pros came to climb in Céüse. I got to meet none less than Jacob Schubert, Akiyo Noguchi, Sachi Amma, and Dani Moreno, and climb beside them for a few days!
After this we were again off to Geneva to pick up Ashima's Dad, and then to Magic Wood to climb with the Raboutou's!
We spent two weeks climbing and hanging out together in Magic Wood!
Shawn & Brooke Raboutou are really talented climbers from Boulder, Colorado. Their Mom, Robyn Erbesfield-Raboutou is a former world champion climber. But more than anything, they were just really fun to hang out with! I had a blast climbing with them, and we had many amazing goofy evenings, laughing our butts off. Before this trip I had only met them during US Nationals, a week during which we're all pretty stressed out, so hanging out with them, being totally relaxed, was just really great! That being said, it didn't stop us from climbing hard.
On our trip Brooke was able to climb several 8A's and one 8A+, Shawn climbed an 8A+ and several 8A's and 7C+'s. Ashima climbed two 8A+'s and one 8B!
I was able to climb many 7C+'s and 8A's, four 8A+'s, and My very first 8B (V13)!!!!
Climbing with Alexi, Ashima and the Raboutou's was a great experience with many fun filled days and exciting adventures... I can't wait to climb with all of them again!!
After this we drove back to Geneva, and Ashima and Popo (her Dad's nickname) left to go back home. As for us we moved on to the last week of our journey in Europe...
We went back to Magic Wood for a few days, and on our way to the next crag, I got asked to be a forerunner at a "Mammut Youth Swiss Cup" in the town of Näfels.
I got to watch a Youth Competition in Europe, and ended up getting a pretty good workout, as I had to forerun five routes during the day.
It was actually a little nerve wrecking, as I really didn't want to fall in front of all these people.
Well, good news, I didn't... :)
I forgot to mention that during our first week in Magic Wood I had also met Adam Ondra... The ADAM ONDRA!!! We didn't climb together, but had a nice chat by his VW van. He was complaining that the weather was too hot and humid, and the friction less than ideal in Magic Wood, so he was planning to visit a crag called Rawyl. 10 days later I read on 8a.nu that Adam had just onsighted his first 9a (5.14d) in Rawyl! So, I begged my Dad to go check it out during our last week in Europe...
Rawyl is a beautiful climbing area in the Valais region of Switzerland, and we have a chalet (cabin) 40 minutes away which we stayed in (the only week all summer where we didn't camp in a tent). There's a wonderful dam in Rawyl located in a mountainous region with amazing climbing around it. On my first day in Rawyl I had my sights set on an 8c (5.14b) called Stop Sika in sector M12. I tried it twice and felt good on it. The next day we went a little earlier, and on my second try of the day on Stop Sika, I sent it!!!
My first 8c (5.14B)!!! And in only four tries! Amazing!!!
We still had a few days left in Rawyl before going home, and after 2 1/2 month of hard projecting I was psyched on just trying some easier climbs. In the last few days I managed to send several 8a's (5.13b) to 8a+'s (5.13c) before we left. We drove to Geneva, packed up, and the next day drove to the airport and began our long 20 hour journey home. This EuroTrip has been one of the best experiences of my life. I got to climb with many friends and idols, and met tons and tons of people. I sort of got to live the life of a Pro for 2 1/2 months, literally climbing 3-days-on 1-day-off for most of the summer. I had mixed feelings about going home because I am going to miss Europe, but I was overwhelmingly happy to get back to my normal life and all my friends in Cali! Au Revoir Europe, Hello Cali!!!
In the end this was a trip with many amazing firsts for me. I sent my first 8B (V13) boulder, my first 8c (5.14b) sport route, flashed my first 8b (5.13d) route, and onsighted my first 8a+ (5.13c) route... During my summer in Europe, I also sent 22 sport routes 7c+ (5.13a) and above, and 16 boulder problems 7C+ (V10) and above. Definitely not a bad summer vacation... ;)
Ohhh, and before I got home I was notified that I was one of four recipients of the 2013 Five Ten Core Award!
Not a bad summer indeed... :)