Dominion Riverrock 2014

Photo by Erin Barclay

Photo by Erin Barclay

At DRR, the boulder bash and speed bouldering competitions were held inside of a huge 25-30 foot tall metal cage structure.  Large volumes were attached to the metal beams, with climbing holds attached to the volumes.  Climbers started on the ground towards the back of the cage and had to maneuver from volume to volume following a steep path up to the finish hold--- 25 feet high.  Climbers that reach the finish hold can top out and take the stairs back down to the ground.  Everyone else had to take the big fall down to a 2 foot padding system below.  I can honestly say, that I fell so much last weekend that I could probably do a product review for the padding company!!

Boulder bash Qualifier Rounds

The first qualifier round was Friday evening.   Qualifier 1 was a short slopey boulder problem……not my favorite type.  Nonetheless, I came out and did my best trying to navigate some large, unfriendly slopers.  I ended the first qualifier route in 13th place.  I knew I had a tough fight ahead of me. 

Qualifier 2 - Photo by Travis

Qualifier 2 - Photo by Travis

The 2nd qualifier round was Saturday morning.  Qualifier 2 was a longer route type boulder problem.  I was much happier when I previewed this problem.  The beginning of the problem was weird.  It started on a slab and you were supposed to pressure your foot and throw for a crimp with your left hand.  I tried that move multiple times, but couldn’t make it.  I decided to change up a little and throw for the crimp with my right hand, instead of left, and I made it.  I had to match the crimp in order to get back in sequence.   I later found out that many people were unable to complete the starting move!  

After reaching the crimp, I had to quickly smear my hand on the next volume and balance my way over to a pair of positive slopers.  After a series of power technical moves, I worked my way up to the last volume on the problem.  The volume was positioned upside down and as I was climbing the volume (like a roof), I got confused trying to figure out where to put my feet, and I fell.

I was proud of myself when I found out I had the 3rd high point and combined with my Q1 score, I had moved up to 7th place going in to the semifinal round.

There was a two hour break between the end of Qualifier 2 and the beginning of the semifinals round. 

Boulder bash Semifinals

The semifinals problem was another long route type problem.  The route looked reasonable when I previewed it; however, when I actually climbed it, I quickly realized that the problem was much tougher than it looked.   The beginning of the route was very bouldery.  The first few moves had me eager to get to a resting spot.  I was happy when I finally reached a decent sized jug and got a little rest.  After a short rest, I continued through a few beta intensive moves, and then locked off to reach a really crappy side pull hold.   At this point, I flagged one of my feet, locked off and reached up to a pinch on the next volume above.  I had a firm grip on the pinch …………..….. and then I don’t know what happened!?!  My hand just opened up and let go.  I guess my muscles were tired?!?  I was only midway through the problem when I fell, so I wasn’t very confident that I had done enough to make it to finals.  I was really surprised when I found out that I was moving on to finals in 4th place.   

There was a two hour break between Semifinals and Finals.

Semifinals- Photo by Eva Kataros

Semifinals- Photo by Eva Kataros

Semifinals- Photo by Eva Kataros

Semifinals- Photo by Eva Kataros

Boulderbash Finals

Photo by Travis Wills

Photo by Travis Wills

The finals problem started very bouldery.  It began with a series of odd slopers, followed by a few powerful moves.  Overall, the problem didn’t look that bad, but the sloper start, had me a little worried.  When I came out to climb I began up the starting slopers, but could not figure out how to maneuver them.  I kept falling.  I tried several different methods, including a foot first sequence, but I could not figure out how to use the holds correctly.  I began to get frustrated with each failed attempt.  When I finally figured out the beta, which was much simpler than I was making it, I made a stupid foot mistake and fell.  My time was almost gone, and I was really disappointed that it took me so long to figure out the correct sequence.  I had slipped back to 8th place to end the competition.   Vasya Vorotnikov and Meagan Martin put on an awesome show and walked away with the win!

After a long day of competition rounds, I was glad to go back to the hotel and rest.

Speed Bouldering

The speed bouldering competition was on Sunday.  There were 2 qualifier routes that we were allowed to practice that morning.  As I practiced the qualifying problems, I realized I could reduce my time by campusing a few moves on the route.  We were told that we would climb each route twice and our lowest time would be recorded on each route.  The top 4 climbers with the lowest combined qualifying times would move on to finals.

My two runs on the first qualifier problems went as planned and my lowest time put me in 5th place going in to the 2nd qualifier problem.  As the guys began to climb the 2nd qualifier problem, I noticed that they decided to campus the entire 15-20 move roof problem!  They were flying through the air like Tarzan swinging through the jungle, making 360° campus dyno moves!  They were cutting their time significantly using this method. 

When my turn came up, I did the only thing that came to mind at the moment.  I jumped up on the problem and began doing my own Tarzan impersonation and campused the route, 360° moves and all! I was proud of myself for being able to pull off some of those moves.  When I came down off the route, my arms tingled a little as I returned to the line for my 2nd run.  My 2nd go, I took the same approach and cut my time even lower.  When I came off of the problem the 2nd time, my arms felt like they were on fire!!!!!!!!  At first I didn’t understand why, but as I thought about it, the reason was obvious.  I’m a sport climber.  I’ve been trained to use my feet efficiently and minimize pulling with my arms.  And although my Tarzan experience was FUN, I quickly realized that my arms weren’t as excited about my adventure.  They needed a few days to recover………..  I ended the speed competition in 6th place. Ultimately, Josh Levin, and Meagan Martin came out with the win!

I’ve competed in A LOT of climbing competitions, but Dominion River rock was unlike anything I have ever done before.  I had a blast competing this year, and I look forward to next year’s comp!

Next stop, Mountain film Festival in Telluride, CO next weekend………………..

2014 Ring of Fire Final Round

This year I had planned to attend the 1st and Finals round of The Ring of Fire competition series.  After the first round I was excited to return for the Finals event.  The routesetters had promised even harder routes and “fun” sequences.

Qualifiers

Qualifier 3 Route

Qualifier 3 Route

Friday, 5/2, was the qualification round for pro climbers.  The top 8 climbers from qualifiers, in addition to the winners from the first two rounds of the competition series, would all move on to compete in the Finals round the following day.  Since I did well at the 1st competition of the series in March, I had an automatic spot in finals and didn’t have to compete in the qualifier round.  Knowing my qualifying round wouldn’t count, because of my bye to finals, I decided to climb during the round anyway.  I couldn’t resist getting good competition training, on 3 well set routes.

The first route was pretty simple, a little balancey, but not very long, or steep.   It was a good warm up route to get you ready for the next two problems.  The second route was much longer and was on a slightly overhanging wall.  The last route was also long and was on a steeper overhanging section of the wall.  The route started with a neat jump start to pinches.  The coolest part of the route was the pocket section, with no feet.  They had three pockets lined up that you had to traverse, while campusing.  After reaching the last pocket, you had to bump up (still no feet) to a sloper on the side of a volume.  That route was pretty cool.

I had fun climbing during the qualifier round, but knew I had to get focused to climb a hard finals route.  With both Daniel Woods and Vasya Vorotnikov competing, I knew the setters had a hard route in store for us.

Finals

Our finals route looked long, bouldery, and featured an upside down double kneebar move towards the beginning of the climb.  When I returned to ISO, I discussed the route with several of my friends.  Despite their insisting that the double knee bar was the easiest way to go with the sequence, I quickly decided against it.  I had a bad experience in the past with my knee slipping during an upside down kneebar, resulting in a fall.  I came up with an alternate plan that involved bypassing the upside down sequence, reaching directly for the two finger pocket with my right hand, and crossing into the next hold with my left.  As I reviewed the entire route sequence in my mind, I knew I had a tough fight ahead of me.

Right Hand: Mono match pocket

Right Hand: Mono match pocket

When it was my turn to climb, I came out of ISO determined to do my best.  I started the route, made the first two clips, and then got into position to climb the intended kneebar section. As I began the sequence I had planned, I hit the two finger pocket with my right hand and realized that the next hold was too far away too cross in to!  I needed a backup plan.  The first thing that came to me was a middle finger mono match that I had done several times before at the gym.  I took a deep breathe, knowing I was going to get blasted for making the move, and completed the sequence.  After a series of crimps, and multiple bouldery moves, I was finally at a rest, where I could shake out, and regroup for the next section. 

The next section started with a big move to a crimp on the side of a volume, and was followed by a series of strength moves to crimps, until you cleared the lip of the steep section.  Once you cleared the lip there was a dynamic move to a crimp on the side of a round volume, followed by core intensive moves to crimps on a second round volume.  At this point there were three moves left in the route.  I made a big move to sloper, and quickly realized it was HORRIBLE!  I looked up at my next hold, and thought to myself, “my left hand hold is horrible, I’m tired, and the next hold is all the way up there.  This isn’t going to happen.”   I decided to go for useable surface on the next hold, and call it a day!

 After falling, I took a deep breathe, and was proud of myself for doing my best on the route.    When I hit the ground my mom had to tell me twice that I had high point on the route, before it actually soaked in. 

Finals Route

Finals Route

Showcasing our "Rings of Fire"

Showcasing our "Rings of Fire"

After getting fussed at by everyone for the mono match move, I was told to report back to the gym for “inverted double kneebar boot camp” in the morning.   Although morning boot camp didn’t sound fun, I eventually discovered that the move was actually pretty easy and it doesn’t bother me anymore. 

Working on our game faces, trying to get psyched before Finals

Working on our game faces, trying to get psyched before Finals

Overall the competition was incredibly exciting with amazing routes!  I am really glad that I was able to keep everything together and do well.  When I enter pro events, with insanely strong climbers, I know that I am going to see sequences that I have never seen (or done) before.  There are so many foreign things that I expect to face, that I can’t really have expectations.  I just tackle one thing at a time, try to mix in a little fun, and hope that things come together in the end.  Sometimes the result is me winning, other times the main result is me learning something new.  On a good day I get both :-)

What’s Next?

In two weeks I will compete at Dominion Riverrock.  At the beginning of the year, I had planned to compete in 3-4 pro competitions, since next year I will be eligible (by age) to compete in World Cup championships.  Since the age of 10, I set a goal to one day be a strong representative for the US at World competitions.  What better way to train than to compete in comps that physically and mentally push me to my limits?  I realize that although I may be physically strong enough to handle hard routes, there are many more factors at play (that I will have to learn) in order to handle the open world competition stage.  Several pro climbers have been very cool about helping me learn both physical and mental training skills that I will need to progress.  Daniel refers to it as “training the next generation.”  I guess not only is it helpful to me, but it kind of sets the stage for what I’ll be expected to do one day. 

Looking forward to a new set of challenges at Dominion Riverrock………..….wish me luck (and lots of fun)!

RRG 2014: Sending Lucifer

My April 2014 trip to the Red was my longest outdoor trip ever. My ten day trip was 50/50 climbing versus hanging out with my friends.  It was awesome! On this trip, I quickly became obsessed with the route Lucifer.  Despite the 20 minute hike to Purgatory, my friends Dru Mack and Dylan Barks, drove, hiked and belayed me every day until I sent the route. After quickly working out all of the moves, it got pretty frustrating at times trying to link them. Luckily, I had a great group of friends that kept me entertained and helped me deal with my frustration.

Couldn't stay frustrated too long with these two around

Couldn't stay frustrated too long with these two around

Hanging Out with friends

Hanging Out with friends

Lucifer is a slightly overhanging route filled with shallow (and razor sharp) pockets and crimps.  It’s very bouldery, with poor rests during the crux section. This route is very different from the usual types of routes that I enjoy climbing. In general, I love steeply overhanging, long routes, similar to those that can be found inside of a gym. Climbing a route that shreds your hands with each attempt, forcing you to learn how to climb with cut and bruised fingers (and limited skin), really pushed me outside of my comfort zone. At the same time, it intrigued me to push myself and expand my skill set.

Working out the beta with Dylan

Working out the beta with Dylan

Photo by Elodie Saracco

Photo by Elodie Saracco

By day two, I was able to link the moves all the way to the final crux hold. I kept falling trying to grip the jug that would have ended the hardest section of the route. A few days later (following a rest day) I was incredibly frustrated because I was unable to link the route through the first crux move. I felt like I was moving backwards.  I was eager to come back the next day (hopefully with a better mental game).  When I woke up the next morning snow was covering everything, despite the fact that it was 65 degrees the day before! I was really disappointed that I wasn’t able to try Lucifer that day; however I enjoyed spending the day at the movies with a bunch of my friends.

The following day, the snow had cleared up, and we headed back out to Purgatory so that I could climb Lucifer. That day, the sun was shining bright, yet ironically, the rock was freezing cold. On my first attempt of the day, I cleared the main crux move, but fell a few moves later after being blinded by the sun. I regrouped and got back up for my next attempt. As I approached the main crux move of the route, for some reason, I decided to go for a different hold and discovered it was a much better choice!  Then as I approached my final crux move, my body told me to change to a higher foot, drop knee, and reach (instead of dead pointing) to my hold using a different hand. It worked and I began to be excited! Reaching that hold ended the most difficult section of the route. The remainder of the route consisted of 13a climbing on really good crimps all the way to the chains. Just when I thought I was home free, I discovered a new problem… my hands were freezing (from the cold rock), my fingers were numb, and I could no longer feel the holds! I climbed the next section at a snail’s pace! I didn’t want to make a stupid mistake on the easiest section of the route. I kept stopping to warm my hands on the back of my neck. After almost slipping twice in the easier section, I finally reached the anchors. I was really excited!!

Photo by Elodie Saracco

Photo by Elodie Saracco

Seconds after untying, this was my response when asked how I felt about my send.

Seconds after untying, this was my response when asked how I felt about my send.

Although my hands were cut and bruised (with a layer of missing skin on my fingertips), reaching the anchors made it all worth it.  I tried to continue climbing the following days, but after 1-2 routes each day, my hands would start to hurt, and I quickly flipped to hanging out at the crags, opposed to climbing.  Overall, it was one of my most enjoyable outdoor trips ever! I had accomplished a goal and spent a lot of time hanging out with my awesome (and crazy) friends.

Next stop the 5Point Film festival in Carbondale, CO next weekend …………

Rock & Rave / Ring of Fire- Round 1

Rock & Rave 2014

Hundreds of people piled into Stone Summit Climbing Center to party hard, compete for awesome prizes, and most important- help raise money for a good cause.  The event raised over $24,000 which was split between the Access fund, Southeast Climbers Coalition, and the Carolina Climbers Coalition.  These nonprofit organizations work hard to keep our crags safe and accessible.

I had a blast competing in the Super Highball Bouldering challenge, Table Bouldering with Salewa, hanging out at the Evolv booth, and eating until my stomach hurt at Pranacopia.  I definitely had more desserts than healthy food, but it was for a good cause……right?  Last year I was sleep in the corner before all major events ended.  This year I lasted through all of the climbing events before my eyelids got heavy and I had to go to sleep (10:30 PM).  Next year, I’ll have to plan a long nap before the party begins!

Photo by Travis Wills

Photo by Travis Wills

The Ring of Fire- Round 1

This year the Ring of Fire was expanded to a three part series.  The first stop was Glastonbury, CT on March 15.  I competed in the Open division alongside a few strong, 5.14-5.15 climbers.  The qualifier round was scheduled to be flash format, with video recordings of the forerunner climbing the routes.  Before I talk about the actual competition rounds, I have to comment on the “female” forerunners in the videos………. Huge muscular guys, with a long black wig (and a headband).  That was a HILARIUOS way to get the competition started!!

Qualifier Round

The qualifier routes were pretty straightforward.  The first route was fun and wasn’t very difficult.  The second route was a little more interesting.  A few campus moves, a fun flow of movements, and a neat move that required a little power after clearing the lip.  The third route was a little technical, with a few slopers toward the top (just when climbers were starting to get a little tired).  Josh Levin and I topped all routes, and Matt Londrey had a heartbreaker, falling for the first time of the round, on the finish hold.  I moved on to finals tied for first place.

GKWANPHOTO

GKWANPHOTO

GKWANPHOTO

GKWANPHOTO

Finals/Superfinals

When I first turned around to see the finals route it looked pretty amazing.  A long route on an overhang with several unique stalactite features.  Although the stalactites looked cool, they also looked a little tricky to navigate.  When I finally climbed the route, it wasn’t very difficult for me; however, it was really fun!  I topped the route and was really excited.  Josh Levin and Vasya Vorotnikov had also topped the finals route, pushing Josh and I into a superfinals round. 

Apparently they proposed a superfinals format, in the event of a tie, back in ISO.  Unfortunately……. I missed that info, so after topping the route, when they announced the superfinals format, my mouth flew open.  We had to speed climb the Female Open finals route, onsight!  The format was very different, but that wasn’t the kicker that had me a little stunned.  Of all people to speed climb with, it was Josh!  Ten time National speed champion and former bronze medalist (in speed) from the Youth World championship!  For years I watched him fly up routes (with smoke in his path) and now I had to race him up a route in superfinals.  Probably because it was Josh, I instantly knew that I had to go lightning fast or I wouldn’t have had a chance.  I have never climbed that fast in my life!  I shocked everyone (especially myself) when I flew up the route and clipped the anchors in under 90 seconds.  I had won the superfinals challenge and the competition.   

GKWANPHOTO

GKWANPHOTO

GKWANPHOTO

GKWANPHOTO

I am really excited and looking forward to The Ring of Fire- Final Round in May!!  The routes should be more challenging with even more insanely strong climbers!!  If the goal is winning, why does a harder challenge excite me?  Easy answer ………it’s all about the training.  What better way to train than to compete with some of the strongest climbers in the world.  Can’t wait!!

Next stop….Real rock!  I’m ready to get back outside in a few weeks!!

2014 ABS Nationals

Shortly after arriving to Colorado Springs for ABS Nationals, I realized my trip was getting off to a great start.  I received a large box that prAna had overnighted to me with a coat, sweater, and a lot of warm clothing.  They wanted to make sure that I was warm and in style :-) Big thanks to prAna! Colorado was a little cold, compared to North Carolina.  It was also great that some of my friends were staying in the same hotel.

Qualification Round

The first competition day was qualifiers.  Four climbs, four minutes each.  The first and last climbs were on slab. They consisted of the usual slopers, crimps, technical, and balancey movements of classic slab climbs.  The second problem had a foot first sequence on a steep overhang.  If you misread the sequence, the problem was significantly harder.  The third climb was supposed to be the hardest.  It was relatively straightforward, but powerful, and on a slight overhang.  I ended the day flashing all problems and advancing to semifinals in 1st place.

On my way to Qualifiers (prAna)

On my way to Qualifiers (prAna)

Qualifier Problem 3 (Photo by Greenz Productions)

Qualifier Problem 3 (Photo by Greenz Productions)

Semifinal Round

Semis consisted of three problems, four minutes each.  The first problem was on the steep overhang.  My favorite part of that problem was the dyno to a two finger pocket (on the overhang).  The second problem was one of my favorite for the competition.  When I read the problem, I read a triple dyno sequence in the middle of the problem.  Although I believed I may have been able to statically reach the first hold of the dyno sequence (if I used the right feet), there was no way I was going to miss my chance to do one of the coolest moves I had watched in Open comp videos.  So I climbed up the problem and went for the move, but missed it on my first and second attempts.  Since the move wasn’t burning a lot of energy for me, I decided to try it again, before moving on to a more static approach.  On the third attempt, I missed the hold again, but I was certain that I could make the move (since I almost had it that time).  I tried it one more time, stuck it, and sailed through the rest of the problem!  The last climb was another slab route with tiny foot chips that we had to use as handholds.  For the finish, I had to stoop down on one foot (on the last hold) and reach down between my legs to control a tiny foot chip screwed on to the bottom part of the hold, which was marked as the finish box. That problem was fun and creative. I ended this round flashing two problems, but topping all three.  I moved on to finals in 1st place.

Semifinals Problem 1 (Photo by Greenz Productions)

Semifinals Problem 1 (Photo by Greenz Productions)

Semifinals Problem 2 (Photo by Greenz Productions)

Semifinals Problem 2 (Photo by Greenz Productions)

Finals

Finals consisted of three problems, four minutes each.  Before this competition, I secretly had two things I hated in problems/routes- climbing a lot of features and mantle moves.  Prior to ABS Nationals, I had given in to training regularly on features, but I held firm and avoided mantles.  When I turned around to see my first final problem, I shook my head and smiled inside.  It was like someone had revealed my secret to the setters.  The first hold was a huge feature which required a balancey mantle start (the one move I refused to train), and the entire problem was features!  It took me 8 attempts, just to get onto the start hold!  Eight attempts in under 90 seconds had to be some kind of record!  After getting on the start hold (on attempt 8) I cruised through the rest of the problem to the finish hold.  I WAS SOOOO RELIEVED to get that problem done!  (SIDE NOTE TO ROUTESETTERS:   Give me 2 weeks max and mantles will be my best friend :-)  )

Problem 2 was fun; an overhanging route with big moves, slopers, and a cool drop knee move.  The finish hold was a sloper that I had to match using a high toe hook.  Based upon the reaction of the crowd, I was almost sure I had won my division, by completing that problem.

Despite believing I had clinched the National title, I had one route left that I needed to climb.  This route was my favorite!  A steep overhang, with very powerful moves, and 10 out of the 14 holds were  volumes.  My first thought, “Volume climbing on an overhang?” Yup! And it was crazy cool! Nonstop, back to back, powerful moves.  And just when you think you are going to get a little relief at the second to last hold on the problem (since you finally reach a hold instead of a volume) you grip the hold, realize it’s horrible, but you have to commit to using it to bump up to the final volume/end box.   I powered through the problem on my first attempt and reached (but didn't control) the final hold.  By the reaction of the crowd, I was certain I had clinched the National title.

When I hit the ground, I turned and looked at the problem and my coaches words rang out in my head, "When you climb, always enjoy the journey".  With almost 3 minutes left I decided to go back at the problem.   For me it wasn't about a comp win, it was about enjoying the journey, all the way to the end!  I rested and jumped back on the problem, but fell low, when I slipped off a volume.  With less than 90 seconds left, I ran to my climbing bag to get some liquid chalk, chalked up really good, and jumped back on for my final attempt.  This time I made it to the top!!  I was super excited to conquer this challenge.   I had topped all 10 of my problems for the competition.

Finals Problem 1 (Photo by Travis Wills) "The 8th Time's a Charm"

Finals Problem 1 (Photo by Travis Wills)

"The 8th Time's a Charm"

Finals Problem 3 (Photo by Jennie Jariel)

Finals Problem 3 (Photo by Jennie Jariel)

The route setting at this comp was epic!! They challenged me in different ways, forced me to overcome my weakness, and made me rise to the challenges.   To top things off, I was selected to be a member of the 2014 The North Face Young Gun Rookie Team! 

An awesome start to my busy spring season!  Next stop, Rock & Rave- March 8 in Atlanta.     

2013 In Review

As 2013 comes to a close, I look back over the year, and begin planning for 2014.  I started the year with high goals of competing in my first youth world championship and climbing my first 5.14a route.  Looking back on this year, I realize I have so many reasons to be grateful for the experiences that I had, and hopeful for the year to come. 

Outdoor Climbing Adventures:  In addition to climbing my first 5.14 this year, I ended 2013 having sent 6 routes from 5.14a-5.14c.  This far exceeded my expectations.  Surprisingly, hard sends were only a small part of my amazing 2013 outdoor adventures.  Throughout the year, I had the pleasure of climbing with a host of people that volunteered to take really nice pictures/videos and/or teach me how to navigate and stay safe outdoors.  I’ve met people that live out of their cars near crags, work at local businesses, and donate half of their checks (and time) to replace bad bolts and draws at the crag so that we can stay safe when we climb.  Their generosity showed me how important it is for all of us to pitch in and help take care of our community.  I met a lot of people that have helped me get off to a good start as I continue to venture outside climbing more in the future.

Trebuchet, 5.14B, October 2013

Trebuchet, 5.14B, October 2013

Southern Smoke, 5.14C, April 2013

Southern Smoke, 5.14C, April 2013

Competing In My First Pro Comps:  This year, I was allowed to compete in my first Pro lead and bouldering competitions, Ring of Fire and Dark Horse.  During these competitions, I had the opportunity to climb alongside so many amazing climbers that I grew up watching.  Upon entering these competitions, I had to choose between competing in the Advanced division (where I would be more comfortable with the routes) or risk getting my butt kicked in the Open division with amazing competitors and tough routes.   I can never resist a challenge, so I took the 2nd option for both .  I made finals at both events, ending Ring of Fire in 8th place and Dark Horse in 4th place. After competing at both of these competitions, a lot of information was learned. I had to learn to adjust to difficult sequences in both a lead and bouldering setting.  Mentally and physically these competitions provided amazing training grounds.

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Competing at My First Youth World Championship:  My experience in Victoria and becoming #4 in the world (for my age category) was amazing!   I met so many people from around the world and got really close to so many of my US teammates.  We became a family at US team camp.  I am really appreciative for all of the close friendships I developed and experiences that I had during this event.

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Gaining New Sponsors:  Evolv has supported me as an athlete for over 3 ½  years; first as a grassroots member, then as a National team member, and now as a member of their elite team.  They have always been great to me.  

During 2013, I have also had the pleasure of becoming a member of the Salewa and Tent & Trails teams. These are amazing companies that I am very proud and honored to represent. The Salewa brand is widely known throughout the international climbing community. It was an honor to be invited to become an ambassador for their products.  Tent and Trails is a New York based outdoor retail store that has quietly supported the climbing industry throughout the US for decades.   I am very fortunate that they saw my potential and decided to help give me the opportunity to continuing growing in the sport, through sponsorship.

I am very grateful to have sponsors that believe in me and want to help support my dreams!

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I’m really pleased with my progress in 2013 and I look forward to pushing myself beyond my current limits and trying many new things next year.  I realize that when setting high goals, failure is inevitable.  Like most people, I hate to fail.  However, I really believe that if I keep working hard and pushing forward, success will ultimately come.  Thanks to everyone that helped to make 2013 an awesome year for me, and wish me luck as I venture into new territory in 2014!

2013 Youth Worlds Championship

I arrived in Victoria almost 2 weeks before the World Championships for the US team camp at the competition venue.  For 9 days, I trained hard during the day, and had a blast with my US teammates throughout the afternoon and evening.  I discovered that my teammates were not only talented climbers, but incredible and fun people.  Practical jokes, singing, dancing…… It was a perfect mix of hard work and fun.  The only downside was school work!  Since my school year began July 17, my teachers sent me work to complete each day.  I had 4 or 5 “drill sergeants” that stayed on me daily to make sure that I got everything done.  At the time, it wasn’t fun working while everyone else played, but it was worth it when I returned to school on track with my classmates.

us team pic.jpg

I had two qualification routes on day 1 and day 2 of the competition.  I fell on the finish hold of Q1 and flashed Q2.  I went into semifinals tied for 1st place with Swiss climber Sascha Lehmann.  Although I believed that I had entered the competition as prepared as possible, it was still hard to believe that I was actually strong enough to stand with the top climbers around the world. 

Day 3 was a rest day for me.  The speed competition took center stage this day.  US speed competitors were amazing!  John Brosler burned up the wall posting the lowest time for the Male Youth A category, 6.744 seconds!  In the end we walked away with 2 bronze medals, Kyra Condie and John Brosler, and 2 silver medals, Kayla Lieuw and Rita Marsanova. 

Buhrfeind

Buhrfeind

Semifinals and Finals were on the last day of the competition.  I entered semifinals extremely nervous, yet anxious to climb my best.  I was excited when I clipped the last anchor and was one of two competitors (in the entire competition) to flash my semifinals route, entering finals in first place.

Excitement and nervousness built up as I waited between my semifinals and finals climb.  I had dreamed about competing at the youth world championship since the age of 10.  It was hard to believe that I was actually there, and headed to finals.  The finals route was challenging, both mentally and physically.  I made it through some tough sequences up to the overhanging roof section of the route.  After a foot pop, I finally came down off the route, ending an amazing run of climbing at the world championship.  I later found out that positive movement was the difference between my 4th place finish and 2nd place!  At first I was incredibly upset and it took a minute for me to forgive myself and appreciate my overall performance at my first world championship.  Shortly after finals, Coach Shane spoke to me and said, “Sometimes you have to lose in order to learn to win.”  I wasn’t ready to hear that at the time. 

Now that it’s been a few days since the end of the competition, I have had time to reflect on the unbelievable events that I experienced.  I am really lucky to have awesome US team coaches (and teammates), private coaches (Emily and Shane), sponsors (Evolv and Salewa), family and friends that believe in and support me.  This competition allowed me to meet so many amazing people from all around the world.  I realize that I have dreams in this sport that go far beyond winning my category at worlds, and I have a lot hard work and learning to do to get there.  I’m starting to understand Coach Shane’s words.  This comp has made me really hungry to continue working hard and growing within the sport.  Two words that describe my feelings towards training for future events……..GAME ON!!!!

 

Tom Condie

Tom Condie

2013 SCS National Championship

I had an incredible weekend at SCS Nationals. After training hard for the 3 weeks leading up to nationals I came into the competition confident, but nervous. Ever since I was 10 years old, I have always wanted to compete at the Youth World Championship. This was the first year I was in an age category that was eligible to compete at this international event.  However, I knew I had to get top 4 at Nationals in order to get an invitation to compete at Worlds.

The qualifier routes were really fun! On qualifier one, I was able to get this really cool rest (see picture below)! I was very tempted to go for a no hands rest, but decided against it. :-)

August Heim 2013

August Heim 2013

The semifinals route was MUCH tougher. It was rumored to be 13b. It was a power endurance route with several balance and technical moves. During one of the balance intensive parts of the route, I decided to try out a few new clipping techniques (picture below). My coaches weren’t too happy about those moves………..don’t think I’ll try that again :-).

Travis Wills 2013

Travis Wills 2013

Travis Wills 2013

Travis Wills 2013

I was nervous going into finals. I knew that everything I had worked hard for all year, was on the line. When I first came out for route preview, the finals route looked harder than the previous rounds. I ended up being the last climber of the entire competition. The pressure was on! Luckily when I got on the route, I relaxed, and I felt good about my climbing.  I ended up flashing my route!! I was one of only 2 climbers (Delaney Miller) to flash all of my routes for the competition! I couldn't believe I had just earned my fourth consecutive sport national championship title!  I was also excited for my teammate, Jason Wills, for his 3rd place finish (in the 11 and under division) earning him a spot on the US team!

podium small.jpg

After years of staying up all night or setting my alarm for 3 a.m. in the morning so that I can wake up and watch my friends compete at the World Championship, I will finally get my chance.  I get to compete in my division along with my friends, Drew Ruana, Benjamin Hanna and Sam Enright.  Victoria, here we come!!!!

Pre-Nationals Training

School ended July 7 which marked the beginning of pre-nationals training.   First stop…..ATL with Coach Emily and Urban Core Climbing team.  It’s nothing like getting your butt kicked in training with Emily to put things in perspective.  I had to step up my conditioning, healthy eating, and training to hang with her program.  The picture below says it all.  She snapped the picture during the 15 minute drive from the gym to her house, after training.  I trained with Emily for the week, and then flew up to Boston for a week to work with Coach Shane.

The first 3 days in Boston, I got to live the life of a routesetter.  I helped to forerun for the Divisional championship at Central Rock Gym-Watertown.   14-18 hour workdays!  I can verify that climbing a 5.13 is definitely harder at 3am in the morning!  After the comp ended, we flipped to training mode.  It was fun to mix work, hard training, and hanging out with my friends in the area.  I got to meet Charlotte Durif while training at CRG.  That was really cool!

After training hard in Boston, I returned to Coach Emily in ATL for my last week of tough training before Nationals.   After 3 weeks of hard work (and fun training with friends) I think I'm ready to compete at the SCS Youth National championship this Thursday.   Wish me luck!!!!

Me sleep.jpg

Ring of Fire 2013

This competition was awesome!   It was my first time competing in an Open competition and I was competing with Daniel Woods, Jon Cardwell, Vasya Vorotnikov, Jimmy Webb, and some of my USA climbing friends.
 
  All of the routes were tough.  Unlike youth comps, they didn't have any easy, make you feel good about yourself routes in qualifiers.  The first route was mostly slopers and huge pinches.  The second route was similar to the first with TONS of slopers and pinches, but it was much more balancey and beta intensive with a huge feature you had to work around.  The third route was filled with pinches and nasty slopers where you had to dyno off a horrible hold to the finish.  AWESOME, but hard routes.  I was excited to flash the first and third route, and get the high point (falling on the finish hold) of route two.  I finished qualifiers in first place!
 
Finals was later that evening.  They took 9 ladies and 9 guys to finals.  I was 17th in the running order.  The finals route was insane!  It was long, tough, and VERY different from youth routes.  The 2nd and 3rd holds were nasty slopers that you had to mantle off to get to the 4th hold which was also a sloper. I ended the competition in 8th place, after a foot slip midway up the route. Overall, I had an amazing time at the competition, especially getting to hang out and climb with my idols. Can’t wait til next year!!

Finals Route

Finals Route