2016 Recap, Dark Horse, and Red River Gorge

•October 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment

So again, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post.  I’ll summarize quickly what happened this year in the big events.

I went to Bouldering Nationals in Vancouver at the Hive. It was a great event and I had a lot of fun, big thanks to Jake and Shelley for letting me crash their house and stay with them! For the actual event, I didn’t climb super well, but I also didn’t climb poorly, so somewhere mediocre. My large takeaway from that event is that my footwork still needs a lot of work and I am not great at committing the first time around when I need to. I’ve spent a bit more time fixing those things now.

After nationals I took a pretty long break and just relaxed for a while. I did a few summer sweatfests here and there but mostly took a break from training. I spent a bit more time playing badminton ( my team won our recreational division, woo go Warriors!).  I resumed training around beginning of August, but I’ve had some finger problems lately that stalled my  progress a bit, so I’ve been a bit more careful in pushing myself to do crimps or heavy hangboard.

I attended Summer Sweatfest Finals at the Hub, where I ended up placing sixth. I didn’t climb particularly horribly or well either, so somewhere in between again. I’ve noticed my power is still at a good level, but my power endurance definitely took a hit after not doing circuits for so long. Overall it was a nice local competition and I had fun climbing it.

I decided this year that I would go attend a Darkhorse Series, because it was something I had never done before and I wanted to see what it would be like. Luckily, they decided to hold one in Essex Vermont, which is only  about 7 hrs away! Zen and I decided to stay in Montreal, and drive back and forth the two hours to Essex.

Darkhorse itself is a very cool event, and there were some big names at the competition such as Kai Lightner. It was an incredibly humbling experience to compete against climbers of such caliber, and motivates me to train a lot harder in the future. I did find the set for qualifiers quite reachy in span, and that’s saying quite a bit since I’m 6’0″, but with a -3 index. Overall I was happy with how I climbed in qualifiers, and it was a cool experience for my first Darkhorse. I also got to see some friends I don’t normally see, so that was great as well. I think I placed 13th or 14th in the end

Finals was an awesome show as always, with the finalists putting on a great show pulling ridiculous moves on every problem. I also found out that Kai is basically a giant, as he’s now about 6’2″ and has a +6 reach. What I found truly incredible about his climbing was that even at that size and having massive hands, he has such powerful fingers and balance to easily do tiny crimps as well.

In October, my friends Yuri and Mike decided to plan a trip to go to the Red River Gorge down in Kentucky, I hadn’t been in a few years, so I decided with Zen that we would go for a short period of time, so on Wednesday this past week we drove down to meet up with them.

So truthfully, I haven’t actually climbed outside in probably two years as well. I had been so focused on training for indoor comp climbing, that I haven’t actually taken the time to go outside much in the last while. I don’t really miss it, as I actively choose to train over doing it, but it’s definitely a nice break away from training and indoor climbing. Another thing is that I mainly focus on bouldering, so I have little to no endurance for routes, and generally am not very well versed in route climbing. I just don’t do it often enough to be very comfortable.

What is nice about my trip though, is that it is the first time in quite a while that I’ve gone out to climb, with pretty much no expectations of any sort. I love heading down to these trips to hang out with friends, meet other great people, and just enjoy the outdoors. If I manage to get up a route, that’s great too.

We started off the trip by heading to the Zoo. I got to warm up on a great route called Monkey in the Middle, that goes at 11a. I managed to flash the route, but due to the length of it (80ft!!), it drained quite a bit of energy. I also top roped an 11b next to it called Cannonball. This one was a bit less fun for me, as there was a slab section at the top I didn’t enjoy so much. After doing those two, I went to go look at Hippocrite, 12a. The best part of this route for me was that it was only 45ft, and just had really large moves, basically a boulderer’s dream. Joë was kind enough to show me a video of him sending it (he made it look like 5.9) so I could get all the beta. I rested a bit  as I was still pumped from the other two routes, and then gave it a go. I got lucky and managed to actually flash the route, and I was so pumped I almost fell trying to clip the anchors off the jugs at the top of the route!

The second day, Zen felt sick as she caught a cold at night, and Mike took a rest day, so Yuri and I went out to check out the Bowman Fork area in Miller Fork. Miller Fork itself is an incredible addition to the already amazing RRG, and now there’s even more climbs to be had!  Yuri and I tried out a few climbs, but they were all 80 ft long, so I pretty much had no chance to send any of them. Great rock quality, but since it is new, it was very VERY sharp. Near the end of the day Yuri told me to to try a climb he had sent earlier in the trip called Return of Zohan, 11d. He was nice enough to put up all the draws and give me all the beta for the climb. I managed to flash this one and would highly recommend the route as it is a lot of fun.

The third day was Yuri and Mike’s last day and we went to Military Wall.  I’ve been to Military Wall probably the most of any crag in RRG now, and up to that point I had completed most of the moderates, and last time around I sent Gung Ho 12b. Mike and Yuri had been working Tissue Tiger earlier on in the trip, so they gave me the beta as I went up and hung the draws. After a bit of rest I went for the send and managed to get it second try! You can see a video of the send here. After that, I tried Reliquary 12b, which is the last one left on the 12 wall. I found that climb much harder and more technical. I will likely come back and work that climb next time I am in RRG. This wall is amazing, and if you’ve never tried any of the climbs, I would highly recommend any of them. We also went to Miguel’s after and ate pizza =D

The last day, we decided to do a half day at Roadside Crag before heading out.  Roadside is a crag I hadn’t been back to since I had first come to the RRG back in 2009, due to the closure of it. It has recently reopened with limited access, so I was happy to go back there. I warmed up on AWOL and set up a toprope for zen to climb it, and then moved out over to the Ro Shampo area. Unfortunately too many people were in line for Ro Shampo, so I decided to skip it and try Wild Gift 12c. I took a first exploratory attempt  and climbed the climb clip to clip to figure out my beta. After that, it took me three tries and a bit of refinement of my beta to send, which marks my hardest route to date! Great way to end the trip, and we went to Miguel’s after for a celebratory meal.

I had a great time visiting the RRG again, and it was great to go out and just enjoy climbing again. I think that’s something I can lose sight of and burn out in training and competition climbing, so it’s a great way to recharge. Next time I head to RRG, I hope to have a bit more endurance, so I can tackle some longer route projects!

 

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Oops…

•January 22, 2016 • 1 Comment

Alright, so I’ve lapsed an entire year somehow in blogging. Too many events have happened since then to actually go through all of them but I had a few highlights throughout the year. I competed in Nationals,  I did a bunch of Summer Sweat Fests and a Backyard Bouldering Series in the summer, and I did a few Tour de Blocs to start off the season as  well as the Quebec National series! So, not much changed, I climbed a bunch as always.

Currently I’m training hard to prepare for this year’s Canadian Bouldering Nationals taking place at the end of February out in Vancouver at the Hive North Shore. I hope to do a lot better than last year, but I think the experience will be good regardless.  Before that though, I’ll be doing the Tour de Bloc at Boulderz Etobicoke tomorrow, as well as  the National Series at True North Climbing, my home gym! That will serve as somewhat of a trial run for Nationals as well.

I’ll try and update on individual events again and maybe some stuff about my training and preparation as well, I’m just not great at time management sometimes…

Tour de Bloc – Bloc Shop

•January 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

So, my posts have been a bit short in the last few recaps mostly because I’m behind on my updates and the competitions are getting to the point where they were more than a few weeks ago, so I can barely remember all the details of them! So with that said, I’ll be writing a nice long one regarding the Bloc Shop TdB that happened on November 22nd!

The weekend started off pretty normally as most when I come to Montréal, I was sick. I was trying to get over the flu and so I wasn’t feeling the greatest. For some reason though, I seem to climb well while sick. I think it might have to do with me having little expectations for the competition due to me being sick, or my immune system kicks into overdrive and I become a superhero. I like the second version more. Regardless I wasn’t feeling the best, so my friend Ben drove Yuri, myself and Zen to Montreal, so I could rest in the car (Thanks Ben!). We got to the hotel around the usual time of 1am, there was a bit of some run around with the hotel, but overall we ended up going to bed around 1am. Unfortunately due to me being sick, I couldn’t really sleep well, and felt terrible when waking up. We ate breakfast quickly and then headed off to Bloc Shop, as climbing for the open round would start around 11.

If you’ve never been to Bloc Shop, its definitely a gym worth checking out. They had some great angles, great setting, and some really aesthetic problems the last time I went there for a visit, and this competition was no different. I warmed up and got all my falls out on problem # 39. I find nowadays that my first problem I’m always still quite shaky so I try to climb something that is hard, but will likely not count towards my score. Usually I’ll fall once or twice, and calm down a bit. Unfortunately, for this comp, it didn’t really seem to help. After I had warmed up, I started on Problem 45. This problem matched my style as it was an initial dyno to two pinches, and then a down campus to a jug, into a few hard pinches to a sloping top. It took me 3 attempts to stick the dyno, and then I sent the problem after that.

Climbing Problem 45 Photo Credits: Ruby Photography studio

Climbing Problem 45
Photo Credits: Ruby Photography studio

 

One of the coolest problems I climbed in qualifiers was this slab problem (#46) where you do an initial dynamic move to a large sloping feature, and while you are barn-dooring, you backflag to a foothold to stop your swing. It took me probably over 20 tries to get that movement just right and stick that backflag. I actually fell off the top once not being confident in my feet, but eventually sent the problem. Definitely one of the coolest problems I’ve seen in a while.

With about 1 hour left in the competition I managed to have sent 47 down to 42. There were 50 problems in total, so my score was quite good, but I had sent everything with 3+ tries, so I knew I’d need one more problem if i wanted to make finals. I tried 48, but it was not my style with small crimpers, and very taxing on energy. I also tried 50, but a few moves felt too hard for me. This left me with 49, which was a tricky slab like problem with horrible feet and a strange finish. The problem involved traversing across bad sloping holds using bad feet, and then a strong move off of a sloping pinch and a bad foot to hit a good volume. I popped off a few times but eventually hit the volume. I knew it wasn’t over yet though, as quite a few people had fallen off the last volume which was quite slippery. The last move ended up to be a strong wrist turn mantle to get your feet up onto the volume where you could balance and match the final hold.

This is one of the instances for me where something I learned in outdoor climbing helped me complete this move. If you’ve ever been to Horse Pens 40, you’ll know that at the top of most climbs, there are no holds, the top is just slopers, making topping out very tricky. Talking to a few locals there, they said the easiest way to top out climbs is to learn how to turn your wrist inwards and mantle so you can get above and over. On that trip I learned to navigate a lot of the tricky top outs in that area, and I used the same move here and managed to send the problem!

With my having sent the problem. I handed in my scorecard with about 20 minutes left in the competition. When the results came out, I was in 8th place, and had just made it into finals!

We grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then I was in isolation for about 6 pm. We had a bit to wait because they ran womens problems first, so luckily they moved the foozball table that is normally in the middle of the gym into iso as well! I played a game and talked to some of the other athletes. I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy the time in iso to get to know the other athletes and network with other climbers.

Soon enough it was my turn to head out to problem 1 in finals! Finals Problem 1 was an interesting problem starting out in the cave, moving out into a slopey edge while keeping a toe hook. from there. you could reach up and cut your feet out onto two good holds. From there, you had to move a foot up, grab a sloping hold and make a large dynamic move . I got to the last move, but was unable to generate to the last hold. In retrospect, when I first got to the move, I hesitated and didn’t feel very solid on the holds. One thing I took away from this problem was trying to block out the hesitation. I felt that I really only had one good attempt on this problem and maybe the result might be a bit different if I didn’t hesitate.

Mens Final 1 Photo Credits: Ruby Photography studio

Mens Final 1 – Getting Ready for the last move
Photo Credits: Ruby Photography studio

 

Problem 2 was a difficult, slightly overhanging problem moving through bad slopers while keeping core tension. I only managed to get bonus on this problem after 3 attempts. I stuck the hold beyond the bonus once, but couldn’t get any further than that.

 

Problem 3 was a problem made of many volumes and started in the deep cave. When I turned around to look at this problem, I was kind of at a loss for what to do. That unfortunately didn’t change in the 5 minutes I was given to climb the problem. It turns out the beta was to go feet first into the volume above and kind of work your way out. I didn’t really get past the 2nd or 3rd move on this problem.

The last problem started on  volumes to make a slab, and required a bit of tension and back flexibility to move out and around some triangle volumes. One of the things I have been working on as of late is my flexibility as it is notoriously poor. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far on this problem either, falling just before the bonus hold each time.

problem 4

Mens 4
Photo Credits: Martin Morissette

 

Overall I had a great time at this competition, and big hats off to Bloc Shop who ran the comp very smoothly and set some amazing problems for all us to climb! Definitely check out Bloc Shop if you are in the area, it’s a great bouldering gym!

TDB 12 – True North Climbing!

•December 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

On Nov 11th, We had a Tour de Bloc weekend at my home gym, True North Climbing! The open category qualifiers were at 11am, so we woke up early, had some breakfast and headed out.  I started out climbing by regularly warming up as always, and then jumped into attempting #52. I think I may have tried this one a bit early, as I made a fair amount of mistakes on it and slipped off quite a few times. After about six tries I finally managed to send the problem. I ended up sending most of the problems the other top competitors sent, except for two. I couldn’t send 55 and this frustrated me because I felt it was well within my ability to do so, but I also know crimps are my weakness, so it’s something for me to work on. In the end I needed problem 55 to qualify for finals and ended up in 11th place.  Overall the competition was fun and I felt that I learned a few things I needed to work on, which really is my end goal anyway.

Allez Up – TdB 2014!

•November 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

On Oct 25 weekend Zen and I traveled to Montreal along with a few others for the Tour de Bloc taking place in Allez Up. We got in pretty late at 2 AM but luckily the competition wasn’t till 11am, so we had a decent amount of time to sleep. I didn’t really sleep very well, but I usually don’t, so its pretty normal.

We woke up and had breakfast and made our way to the competition. There were 50 problems and they were laid out pretty well. One comment I have is that some of it was judged and some of it was not. I found this actually more confusing than it being all judged or all not judged, and I think I would prefer it to be not judged. I climbed decently well and ended up with a pretty decent score. In my last 20 minutes or so, I went to do my last low problem to finish up my score, unfortunately, I slipped twice on this problem due to carelessness. We went out to have a snack at a Mexican restaurant to have some food, where we found out the results. Turns out I missed finals by ONE point. Oops. shouldn’t have slipped off of that last problem. Oh well, live and learn. We went back to watch finals after hanging out a bit and finals was a great show! They had really cool problems and it was a lot of fun to watch and cheer.

For my own climbing development, one thing I took away was my poor execution. I’ve had problems with execution and making silly mistakes on climbs, so I will be working more and more on that in the future. All in all it was a good first competition and I had a lot of fun climbing it

Summer!

•September 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So, it’s been a while since I last posted anything and I have seemingly been MIA for the last few months. After the competition season I decided to take a small break and just relaxed a bit. I still climbed, but took a break on my training and just focused on enjoying climbing and having fun. I found this really important just to give myself a physical and mental break, so I could then focus on next year’s competition season later. The break has been good, I still did some summer sweat fest competitions just for fun and had a really enjoyable time at them.

In other news, I’ve recently taken up more route climbing! Everyone who knows me knows I am a pretty terrible route climber, I have very little endurance ( like 8-10 moves at most) and have never really focused on getting better at route climbing. Well this year I made my obligatory climbing trip to the Red River Gorge as usual, but actually sent something! I sent Gung Ho (5.12b). It was a fun route to climb and really sparked my interest for investing a bit more time into routes and rounding out my climbing a bit. It also is great for my pretty stressed out bouldering fingers, so it’s a welcome change as well. Who knows, if my route climbing progresses well maybe I’ll think about doing roped comps this season too!

I started training again about 3 weeks ago, and have based a lot of my exercises off of the Gimme Kraft! book. I find it quite useful and have been able to pick and choose exercises that i know I have pretty large weaknesses in. I’ll be looking to up my crimp and lock off strength for the coming season as well as just get stronger overall.

That about wraps up my summer, and I’m looking forward to the coming competition season! I’ll end this with a quote I read recently:

“You can be on the right track, but if you just sit there, you’re still going to get run over”. Train hard!

 

Tour de Bloc : Nationals and Season Wrap up!

•April 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This past weekend the Tour de Bloc circuit concluded with Bouldering Nationals, a 2-day event, at Coyote Rock Gym. The format was a little bit different this time, with two iso rounds and an ifsc format finals.  Looking at the running order, unfortunately I was third last to go out, meaning I had to spend about 6 hours in iso before being able to climb. I spent a lot of my time in iso talking to other friends and competitors and meeting some other competitors, as I find that its always great to meet more climbers from all over.

After waiting for what seemed like forever, I was finally able to go out and climb!  The first problem was an interesting problem with just 3 moves in total to get to the top. The last move proved to be the stopper for me: I could not lock off far enough on the pinch to push myself over and rock onto the volume to balance, to make the large move to the finish move at the top.

Problem 2 had a few easy campus move off of pockets to a very hard section with an incredibly different sloper. I got to the bonus hold on my first try (3rd pocket) but I knew the rest of the problem was too difficult for me to be able to complete, so I called it after 3 attempts.

The 3rd problem was  on the vertical wall and involved a bit of balancy movement to a dyno off of an undercling to the finish hold. I made a crucial mistake my first attempt by attempting to grab the bonus with my left hand in my right, leaving me in a very difficult position where I attempted to match the bonus hold but fell off doing so. My second try I got to the dyno but misjudged the dyno itself and fell.  My 3rd attempt I rushed and just slipped off the balancy part of the climb. My fourth try I finally sent the problem.

Problem 4 was a burly problem that started out in the roof on incut holds but required a lot of body tension to unwind the moves. I was unable to get the unwind on this problem and didn’t even get bonus.

Problem 5 was a very long problem with many crimps and “thumb-derclings” to get across a long traverse, and then back over up high towards the finish hold. I couldn’t get very far on this problem either. It turns out that a lot of competitors were able to dyno to the finish hold from the starting holds. I tried that solution once but I didn’t get my feet high enough and it did not feel plausible.

Overall with 1 top in 4 attempts and 3 bonuses in 3, I ended up in 27th place and did not make the cut to semi-finals.  In order to have made semi-finals I needed to send problem 3 in 2 attempts or less. I was a bit disappointed with my result, but felt I climbed reasonably well.

I have a few things to take away from this competition after qualifiers.  I felt that this time around in iso, I played my attempts relatively smart and didn’t expend unnecessary energy on problems I didn’t think I would be able to complete. I was able to conserve energy reasonably well and had enough energy for all the problems.  One thing for me to work on is to plan more carefully for the problems, as each attempt really matters. I could have climbed problem 3 quicker than I did and that could have made quite a difference in the results. The last thing to take away is to trust my body more, but also be more in tune with my strengths and reading sequences. While its unfortunate that problem 5 could be skipped and a dyno straight to the top was unintended, I find it truly impressive for the competitors that were able to read that sequence right off the bat and execute it on their first attempt! The mindset of knowing that solution will work for you is incredibly impressive in itself and something I can definitely learn from. It serves as a good reminder that you are not looking to find THE solution to the problem, but YOUR solution, whether or not that aligns with the setter’s intent. I will definitely be practising more isolation formats and gaining more experience for the future.

After semi-finals on sunday, we had the citizen’s competition for the competitors who were in other categories and the competitors who did not make finals. I had a lot of fun playing on the semi final problems as well as doing some of the qualifiers problems. I climbed quite well in the scramble and ended up taking first place in the elite category!

Finals was an incredible show with the insane field that was present and I really enjoyed it from a spectator point of view. IFSC format is quite good for being able to watch every competitor, and it was very exciting!

All in all, this has been my most successful season in tour de bloc, and I’m quite happy with my results. It’s unfortunate I could not finish stronger in regionals and nationals, but that is something for me to work towards. I ended up in overall rankings as 20th in canadian rankings, so I am pretty ecstatic about that!

 

I’ve been climbing and competing for 4.5 years now, and this is my 3rd year in the open field. Hopefully my 4th year in open will be even better than this one! Now that it’s the off season, I will have a lot of time to focus on my training, and much of it will be focused on iso format as well as footwork, and just general strength training overall.

Thanks to all the people that have contributed to my climbing over the years by motivating me, climbing with me, telling me to use feet, training with me, taking me to climbing destinations, and so on. Thanks to my sponsors for believing in me.

Special thanks to Zen for accompanying me to all my competitions and climbing destinations, coaching me and encouraging me, and helping me through my frustrations, as well as sitting with me for hours on end while I try my projects.