On Saturday, Sander, Shaun, Vivienne, Darcy, and I went to Prime Climb’s bouldering competition to watch the climbers in all their glory. It was a perfect way to get pumped about rock climbing. We arrived just in time for the finals. The finals consisted of three bouldering problems which each of three competitors would attempt to vanquish.
The ladies were up first.
Each competitor was given five minutes to take on each problem. Each time you fell, it would be noted on the scorecard. Whoever gets the furthest in the climb wins, if two people reach the same point than he or she who did it with fewer falls wins.
The challengers are not allowed to watch each other climb. That way they won’t learn anything important about the route before their turn.
I recognized two of the three women competing. The same was not the case with the men climbers. While one of the men in the finals is a student at local college Wesleyan, I believe the other two are sponsored climbers from out of state.
The top men climbers were ripped to an unholy degree. Their backs were extremely defined.
I’m currently putting together a video (hopefully to be posted tomorrow) that shows the true ridiculousness of the third male climber (first place winner) cleaning the final route in the competition.
I’ve been very pleased with my gym climbing over the last week. Last night I was trying hard to keep things smooth and calculated on the walls. I find it much easier to run through a route desperately than to try and plan and perform the moves statically. For me, getting a route so it’s graceful is nearly as rewarding as finally sending a project I’ve been working on for weeks.
It’s funny, when there are a few minutes of break at the gym I’ll often take a seat on the couches there and flip through a climbing magazine. Usually there’s some 5.14 junkie talking about climbing and how there’s some natural (or super-natural) spiritual bond between man and rock, or how climbing is purification for the soul.
While I appreciate how strong their passion is for climbing, I can’t help but also think that talk of zen and feeling at one with the rock is a bit pretentious. I think it’s easy to confuse spirituality and just general relaxation. That said…
I think I’ve mentioned on this blog before how John Gill, the father of modern bouldering, once talked about how deep training in climbing could, as Jon Krakauer describes in his book Eiger Dreams, “induce a telekinetic ability to levitate, if only slightly.” Krakauer continues: “Many of those climbers [who were listening] might ordinarily be inclined to scoff when talk turns to telekinesis and the like, but when Gill talks about levitation they listen very, very carefully.”
This weekend saw some tennis, some board games, and some kung fu – but the real fun was a Sunday afternoon trip out to Lamentation Mountain. It turns out that there’s a beautiful part of Meriden that I hadn’t visited before. There’s a park and a ton of trails in addition to a little remote climbing crag. The cliff is nothing that’s overwhelmingly amazing, – maybe 20-25 climbs, at 50 or so feet tall – but I think it has potential. The climbs are comfortably despite their simplicity and tendency to be overgrown with greenery.
Since this was our first trip there, Jesse, Joel, and I had to hike the bottom of the crag to find out the best spot for our rope. It was a bit of a harrowing trip down a gully of leaves and loose rock, but the immediate base of the cliff face was pretty clean. There were a few other really steep cliffs at the park, but I think a few of them might be quarries, or extremely hard to get to. We climbed a 5.8 while there. It was enjoyable, though I think it’d be wise to heed the advice of the book and only consider this location in the early spring or late fall when there’s less heavy foliage. Overall though, a successful trip!
Last night I had a bit of a scheduling screw up that resulted in my going climbing instead of to Kung Fu. The night was not wasted however, as I tried a bunch of new climbs. The highlight was a 5.12 that, though a bit reachy, had some really exciting desperate moves within its sequence. Not desperate like consistent huge dynos – though there is one of those – but more like difficult to the point where you can begin to feel holding-failure within your fingers.
I think my favorite part of climbing is managing to stick a hold right at the cusp of defeat. Or struggling through a series of brutal slopers to snag the monster jug at the end. Yes, it’s flirting with the edge of collapse that makes me appreciate climbing the most.