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June / July - Michaela Kiersch

June / July - Michaela Kiersch
June / July - Michaela Kiersch
June / July - Michaela Kiersch
June / July - Michaela Kiersch
June / July - Michaela Kiersch
June / July - Michaela Kiersch
August 04, 2012 -  Michaela Kiersch    

Well it definitely has been a long time sine I last updated! I can credit that to living at Miguel's for most of June. I spent about a month down in Kentucky climbing outside in the Red River Gorge trying to get stronger. I have spent a great deal of time down there this year, I think that is the reason I am climbing as well as I am. I feel stronger than ever!

 Living in a tent for almost a month is nothing glorious, but I can proudly say that I grew to love it. My daily routine consisted of waking up (often times earlier than I would have liked), having my built in chef Christian make some oatmeal or just order a delicious wrap, and then embark on the great approach to the Motherlode. We literally went there every single day. Although one might criticize this choice, I don't regret this one bit. The Lode offers so many classic climbs and is clearly the best place to get fit. While I was there, I finished the Madness 5.13c, onsighted Flour Power 5.13b, and got Bohica 5.13b second go. I spent majority of my time trying to make progress on Omaha Beach 5.14a.

 After climbing, we headed back for some incredible pizza. I have personally perfected my toppings- chicken, pasta spirals, pesto, feta, corn, sweet potato. Also, I found that putting hearts and smileys on the ticket is never a bad thing ;). If there was a desire, we went over the Stanton for some DQ dessert (Double Fudge Cookie Dough Blizzard of course!). The nights typically consisted of sitting on the benches in back of the shop, playing cards, stacking things, telling stories, and a collective groan when the lights went out. We all slowly stumbled through the dark back to our own tents and settled down for another humid night in Kentucky.

 On the rare occasion of a rest day, we would do laundry, go swimming, sit around, and basically wish it was about 30 degrees cooler outside. I am very thrilled to inform you, reader, that I did get a slight tan while "resting."

 Anyways, back to the important stuff- climbing. After my fun and extravagant trip south to the RGG, I began another trip that took place even more south in Atlanta, Georgia. Youth Nationals took place July 5-8. Feeling more prepared than ever, I was extremely psyched to get the competition started and to see all of my friends.

Qualification Day 1 went well, most people in my category flashed, including myself and my teammate Emily Pate (who had done her first 5.12d Tuna Town earlier in the trip!). We went into the next day feeling confident and ready to go. 
The next day arrived and I wasn't feeling very strong while warming up. I went into the climb with a positive attitude and thankfully flashed it. This left me tied for 1st place going into the Semi Final round. Emily climbed very well up the route and unfortunately had a foot pop with left her in 17th place.

 Semis and Finals are onsight format. This means that we have to be in ISO to warm up, can only see the route in preview, and are not allowed to watch each other climb or have any beta. Because of all this, the pressure in this format is insane. Lucky for me, I wasn't last going out so I didn't have much time to think before I climbed.

 When I got on the wall I felt pretty good, but only my right arm was getting tired. The route progressed and I worked my way up it. I took a rest before the crux and asked for the time- 5 minutes. I waited a bit longer and then went into the crux. It was an interesting transition between a main wall and one that stood above the roof. I pulled through the almost "rose move" cross and did two more dead points. By then I was feeling pretty pumped and couldn't clip. I went one hold further and found that it was a good pinch. I clipped and rested, and then pulled the final two dynamic moves to the finish! I was the only girl in my category to flash the route- this put me solidly in first place going into finals.

 Being in ISO is a mental game. I usually don't get nervous, but this time I was. There was a lot of pressure that I put on myself to do well. I know that my competitors are crazy strong and it wouldn't be an easy win. Shannon Lochridge and Cicada Jenerik were in second and third place. There was a tie in male B, so all of the Male As had to wait an extra hour in ISO. Lucky for me, since I was the last girl to climb, I got to wait in there with all the boys ;). When it was finally my turn, butterflies filled my stomach. I tied in and waited in the chair.

 My nerves fluctuated with the collective cheers and groans of the crowd. I stood up, knowing it was my turn, and then I walked over to the wall. After some moderate over hung climbing, I found myself on a techy vertical section. I was hoping my feet wouldn't pop! Relieved, I set my feet on bigger holds once I got to over hang again. I was feeling really confident and not pumped going into the last part of the route. I went for a dynamic moved and slipped!

 I lowered down pretty disappointed, thinking I had messed up my chances at being the National Champion. I walked over to my coach and he just laughed at me! Cicada and I had tied with the high point on the route! This meant that I was the National Champion with Cicada in second and Shannon in third.

 The rest of the day I was beaming, this was the first time that I had won Nationals. I am happy to say that this years FJR team is stacked and the kids going to Worlds in Singapore better watch out!

 I would like to say a HUGE congrats to my friends Dylan Barks, Alex Fritz, and Charlie Andrews for being North Face Young Gun Finalists! Each of you deserves it. Charlie was chosen as the winner and I am extraordinarily proud of him.

 Thanks to all of the volunteers and USAC members that make Nationals happen every year! Also, a big thanks to my sponsors- Vertical Girl and FiveTen!

 The rest of my trip consisted of driving. We went to the Red for a day on the way home. I was welcomed by my amazing friends with flowers and a nice retirement sign (found at Donna's thrift store). I am so lucky to have great friends like those.

 Now I am comfortably at home in my air conditioning, with a comfy bed and hot shower. Life is good, but training for Worlds in 6 weeks is going to be intense! Oh, and I'll be down at Miguel's again in a week. Some things never change.

Here's to a summer of adventure.

Photo credit: Faith Sullivan, Sydney McNair, Tris Sampson

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