Climbing Competition: Passion for Flashin’ 2012

More than several weeks ago, I competed in my first climbing competition, Passion For Flashin’, at Vertical Endeavors in St. Paul, MN. Let me tell you, I learned some things.

Since this was my first competition, I really didn’t know what to expect. I tried asking some of the employees at Vertical Endeavors how the competition worked and about the rules or anything else I needed to know. Turns out, the two I asked didn’t really know how to explain it either. Awesome. Guess I’m showing up to the competition blind. That didn’t bother me too much; I was pretty confident in my skills, at least enough to not be embarrassed.

Speaking of skills, I have only been climbing for a little over a year. At the time of the Passion for Flashin’ competition, I had only been for a year, almost to the day. Within that time, I progressed to the point where I was competing in the Advanced category, grades 5.10b to 5.11b. I can almost assure Adam Ondra has heard of me.

Pregame

I show up an hour prior to the official start. I can’t remember why. It was probably the best idea ever at the time. This did give me a chance to look at all the routes and try plan my strategy since you only have a set amount of time to climb as many routes as possible in your category. As I was looking at routes, I wasn’t overly confident that I could get any of them! Even the easiest routes on the card looked hard from the ground. Yikes! I went and looked at the boulder problems and at least the easy one’s there looked really easy. Phew! At least I can get some warm-ups in.

Did I mention how nervous I was? WOW! I’m no stranger to competition. In my previous lives, I was a 3-sport athlete in high school. I was “ok” enough at football to play at a small, Division 3 college. After college I have competed in numerous lifting competitions. Here’s the thing: if I actually care about my placement or the outcome of the “game”, I get super nervous. Not debilitating, can’t function, screw-up all over the place nervous, just heart-bursting, bowel emptying nerves. I was a wreck in hich school before a football game, but as soon as I’d step on the field for warm-ups, they disappeared. I was hoping that would happen here after the first route. Nuh-uh! The nerves didn’t completely go away until I was climbing my last few routes. Guess I cared about the outcome more than I thought.

Showtime

I warmed up with a super easy, juggy boulder problem. It incorporated some gratuitous heel hooks, but I experienced after the competition, when there were no judges involved, the whole route was easily campused. Then I went to the next, only slightly less juggy boulder problem. After that, I got some beta from Youth Female ABS Bouldering Champion Kyra Kondie on the boulder problems in the other area. She said the hardest one was pretty easy. Yeah. Easy. To the bouldering champion of the U.S.

I guess she was right. All-in-all, I flashed the first 4 boulder problems I attempted, which also happened to be the 4 most difficult on my card. It was nothing but super duper easy boulder problems after that, but I wasn’t going to waste my energy on those. I had some walls to climb!

Just as I was getting the nerves out of my system, they came back with a vengeance. I watched several people climb on several different routes before I finally chose my first route. It looked to be a pretty easy 5.10 (though, none of the route’s ratings were displayed) with one crux move, which was nothing more than having strong enough hands to support yourself on open handed pinches. I got this!

Then it was on to the passion route. Or maybe it was called the heart route. I don’t know. I literally made up both of those names as I typed them. There was a big-ass heart in the middle of the wall so I’ll let you come up with your own name. That route was a stemmy, scrunchy, Philly-fakeout, sloper kinda thing with a direct roof pull nonetheless. It was probably my favorite, much like smiling.

The route after that was on a completely angled wall with a traverse dyno right at the beginning. I made the dyno the first time, no problem because my calves get angry, but then I screwed up my sequence shortly thereafter. This was the first route I didn’t flash. No worries. I got it on my second try.

I’m not going to go through every route, but they were a lot of fun. My favorite was one that started out in a cave that put me completely inverted for the first 3 moves. After that, I campused my way down, almost back to the ground, where the route “restarted” on the climb up. There were some really fun moves and strong pulls over a small roof I had to make. In my opinion, a perfect balance of technique and strength.

Postgame Recap

All in all, I flashed all but 3 of the routes I attempted, and I flashed all of the boulder problems. Surely that will get me in the finals, right? Not true. The key word being “attempted”. Because I wasn’t completely aware of the strategery of this event, I ran out of time. I took some poorly placed breaks between some of my climbs. I didn’t realize that those breaks in addition to having to wait in line for routes really add up. I got 5 out of the 8 hardest top-ropes, maybe 4 or 5 more intermediate routes, and ended up skipping all of the super easy ones. And by “skip”, I mean “ran out of time”. DAMNIT!

I finished 18th out of 43. I’ve no doubts that could have been higher. Who knows, I may have gotten to the finals. But, if I had, I can damn near guarantee that I’d be too pumped out to accomplish anything good. This was by far the most routes I’ve climbed in a single day. I was sore for a week after. You can imagine my stupidity of trying to climb the very next day. Which was also humbling because I saw 8 of the 12 finalists in the gym that very same day climbing like it was any other day of the week. Guess that’s why they were finalists and winners.

Can’t wait for the next competition!

PICTURES OF ME (the best kind, right?)!!!1!!1

Winter Camping on New Year’s Eve at the North Shore of Minnesota

Howdy, howdy! It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I can assure you, it’s not because I haven’t been doing anything outdoors. There’s been plenty of that, mostly deer hunting stuff. (Which reminds me, I need to post about that on here…) I figured I should write about this outting because it was the most awesomest New Year’s Eve celebration I’ve ever had.

The chick with the tent (Anh) and I aren’t too huge on monsterous NYE parties in the city, and none of our friends invited us to an NYE party at their place (that I know of). So we decided to take matters into our own hands. We planned our New Year’s Eve party up on Minnesota’s North Shore at a campsite wearing warm clothing next to a fire and celebrated outside. Don’t worry, there was extravegant food and champagne. We weren’t exactly “roughing it”.

Fun Stuff

I took off the Friday of New Year’s Eve, and Monday following New Year’s Day was also a vacation day. So, that meant we got to spend 4 days and 3 nights on the North Shore.

We were pretty lazy getting ready on Friday morning, but we eventually left the cities and made it to Temperance River State Park just in time to gather some (wet) firewood and get our tent set up before it was pitch black….at 5:30pm. I cooked some dinner, we fought the fire, and went to bed. For the end of December, mid-20’s at night was a welcomed surprise.

We slept in until 8:30 or 9:00 on Saturday. I hardly ever am able to do that, much less when I’m in a sleeping bag. We cooked some breakfast and headed up to Grand Portage right on the Canadian border to look at a frozen waterfall. We were excited that there was more snow up there than down in Mineapolis, though not nearly as much as there should have been. On our way back, I checked the weather on my phone and there was a winter weather advisory for 2″-5″ of snow that night (New Year’s Eve). This caused us some concern, having wet wood and not tying down our tent, so we stopped at a gas station to grab a tarp and a portable shovel. Whilst there, the cashier told us it was probably more likely that we’d get 8″ overnight (!). Rather than making another stop at George Crosby Manitou State Park, we decided to get back, gather some dry wood, and batten down the hatches for the ensuing storm. We even made sure the car was accessible in the middle of the night, should our 3-season tent collapse under the weight of 8″ of snow!

As we woke up around 8:30 or 9:00, again (so weird), there definitely wasn’t 8″ of snow. Or 6″. Or 4″. Or even 3″! My best guesstimate is that there was somewhere between 1″ and 2″ of snow. How weak?! It was now New Year’s Day and our last full day of camping. We went to Cascade River State Park and hiked a mile or so along the river and then came back and hiked around the shore of Lake Superior at our campsite in Temperance. The excitement for this night came in the form of single digit temperatures and below-zero windchills. Again, we somewhat cut our fun activities short in order to get ready for some cold and 25 mph winds!

We tried setting up a wind break with the tarp from the night before…

And by the end of the night, it looked more like this…

So, back to freezing our pants off…

We grabbed extra clothes to put in our sleeping bags, climbed in, and hoped for the best, in that we hoped our gear is as good as the marketing says.

Disaster nearly struck around 2:30am when I started to get a bit of a chill, and I had to go to the bathroom. Luckily, Anh did too. I didn’t feel so bad for waking her up. We did our businesses (separately), I put on some extra clothes, and then back in the bags we went. The next time I poked my eyeball out of my sleeping bag, I could see daylight, and it was 8:00. We made it! I checked my phone for the current temperature (no idea how accurate it was), and it said that it was 9 degrees F with windchills of -15 deg F. Whoa! That’s pretty awesome if you ask me.

It was so cold that we didn’t bother with breakfast or coffee. We just threw everything in the car (literally) and got out of Dodge.

As I said before, it was, by far, the best New Year’s Eve weekend I’ve ever experienced! Thanks, mostly to whom I spent it with.

Food and Booze!

As you saw above, we had some pretty decent food. The first night there, we had polish sausage over the campfire and some dehydrated soup. It tasted pretty good, but it wasn’t fancy enough to waste digital space on a camera. We did, however, take a picture of the beer that accompanied the meal. Ayinger Weizen-Bock. It’s pretty good for a wheat beer. I don’t like wheat beers.

For breakfast the first morning, we had breakfast burritos. Pretty much anything tastes good wrapped in a tortilla shell.

 

 

 

 

 

The appetizer on New Year’s Eve was steamed king crab legs. The main dish was shrimp and green beans in a white wine, garlic sauce (shown above) with crusty bread. The wine you see in the pic is Barefoot Winery’s Chardonnay. I think desert was some croissants and Nutella.

 

It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve without champaign. I went all out and bought some from Cook’s for $6 per bottle. I’m a high roller here, folks. We kept them chilled in our cooler.

On the morning of New Year’s Day, we had some bomb-ass bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on English muffins. We didn’t take any pics, but dang were they good! (My guess is that it was primarly due to “deep frying” them in the bacon grease. Just a hunch…)

I guess we didn’t take any pictures of supper on the last night either. Jeeze, I’m gonna have to talk to our photographer. I’m paying her waaay too much. It was venison steak with foil potatoes and onions. It was too cold to mess with making two packages of steaks, so instead, we went with an equally classy substitute: family-sized Spaghetti-o’s with meatballs. True story.

We did bring more booze than we actually drank. I was a little saddened by that, but now it’s sitting in my fridge waiting to be consumed. This is what I originally had planned:

I’m really looking forward to the Surly Smoke and LaGunitas Cappuccino Stout.

Gear Junkies

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the gear we used. This will be brief, please stay tuned for the rest of the pics.

All of these products, if interested, can be purchased through my links to REI.com or BackCountry.com

And now, the rest of the pictures!

(P.S. A simple request after the picture gallery. Make sure you scroll down to see it. Pretty please?)

I’ll be really impressed if you made it to the end of this post, and if you did, I want to know what you did. Leave me a comment, eh?!