GoPro Mountain Games

As you all remember (RIGHT?!?!), I was training extensively for the GoPro Mountain Games Citizen’s Bouldering Competition for the past two weeks. While I did not stick to my proposed training plan (as it was written 2 weeks out), I feel like the adjustments I made along the way prepared me perfectly for the competition, and I “peaked” at the exact right time.

While I didn’t place well (I’ll get to that), I had a great time climbing, spectating, talking, meeting, and running into friendly faces while I was there.

It started with the drive. Make sure to be as ridiculous as possible.

Personal Photographer

When competing in the GoPro Mountain games, bring a personal photographer.

Beth was on a road trip and unsure if she’d make it to the games. I’m glad she did.

Dave and Beth at the GoPro Mountain Games entrance

Beth, Sprocket, and I at the GoPro Mountain Games entrance. (Photo by Shay)

Then we went to the concert where every song sounded exactly alike, it was cold, it rained, and it was great.

GoPro Mountain Games Concert

Believe it or not, I could smell marijuana smoke in the air.

Sleeping in the van for the first time with my new vent fan was incredible. It was significantly warmer and dryer than cracking the front windows. I also felt more secure without access to the door locks through open windows.


The Teton Sports ComfortLite XL sleeping pads are pure magic. I’ve never skimped on backpacking sleeping pads, but these are damn near as comfortable as my old bed. I rarely sleep in, but I made it to 9:30 and still didn’t feel like crawling out of my sleeping bag.

Side Note: The microfibre fabric on the top is so soft you can sleep directly on top of it in your bare skin. The rubberized, rugged bottom doesn’t slip. I’ve continued to sleep on these pads in my actual house since I sold my bed 5 days ago!

Teton Sports ComfortLite XL sleeping pad

These sleeping pads are basically sleep number mattresses.

Then we hung out watching events and tortured Sprocket a little bit on Saturday.

3Up Sprocket

He puts up with anything

And he got super excited watching the Dock Dogs.

GoPro Dock Dogs

Photo by Shay Skinner, Skin Poetry Photography

I called it an early night because Sunday was the Citizen’s Bouldering Competition.

GoPro Citizens Bouldering Competition Wall

Photo by Shay Skinner, Skin Poetry Photography

Citizen’s Bouldering Competition

When I started training, I wasn’t training to win. I was training to not get embarrassed.

I am not a boulderer.

I like trad climbing and sport climbing and summer alpine climbing. But bouldering? Only as a last option.

Nevertheless, I’m not half bad at it in the gym. I typically boulder the V4-V6 range and can do some 7’s and 8’s if they’re a little soft or fit my style perfectly. It just so happens that the Advanced division at the competition was exactly V4-V6. And I was starting to flash more 7’s in the gym than before.

I started to think I could do well in the competition?

GoPro Bouldering Advanced Route

Photo by Shay Skinner, Skin Poetry Photography

I either on-sighted or flashed the 4 easiest routes (out of 9) in the advanced division. Then I noticed how much FUN the easiest routes in the Open division looked (V7+). I decided to give them a try.

GoPro Bouldering Sit Start Campus

You can’t tell, but this is a sit-start campus move. FML

Dave Sandel GoPro Bouldering Competition

Getting here was the first crux. The next one was the next pinch. Focking hard!

And then I tried and tried and tried some more, neglecting most of the climbs in my actual division.

Dave Sandel GoPro Bouldering Dyno

By far my FAVORITE route.

Dave Sandel GoPro Campusing

After a huge throw, what’s a little campusing?

Dave Sandel GoPro Bouldering Open

This move would be a lot easier with a toe hook on the left.

By the time I got back to trying the problems in my division, I was worked. My brain was broken and my hands were numbing. The crux of this climb was the 2nd and 3rd moves, and I couldn’t even get there. lol?

Dave Sandel GoPro Bouldering Advanced

Nothing left in the tank for this one.


Dave Sandel GoPro Bouldering Comp

Nothing left but to go pig out and drink a beer.

Special Thank you

A very huge and deserved special thank you to Columbia Sportswear for paying my entrance fee AND being one of the major sponsors of the games themselves.

And of course, Shay. If you see the ‘/skin/ /’poetre/’ watermark on any of these pictures, she’s the one that took them. Obvs.

And if you think these pictures are good, they’re quite average for her (I think she’d agree). Please please please check out her other, much more impressive work, and be sure to like and follow all her pages. There’s a reason she’s been published in Trailrunner Magazine and the AAC Guidebook to Membership.

Shay Skinner Skin Poetry Photography

Shay Skinner, Skin Poetry Photography

And now it’s time to get ready for Thailand. Care to join me?

Don’t Miss Your Chance

I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.

Then I took control.

You can too, and it starts right here.