Personally, I don’t see myself as much of a sport climber. I spend probably 95 percent of my climbing time on boulders. But after continued success in sport climbing competitions over the last few years, the allure of them for me continues to grow. This past summer, I was lucky enough (thanks to USA Climbing) to make my first appearance in a World Championship for sport climbing. The competition was held in Arco, Italy, and it was a perspective changing experience. Walking through the streets of the small Italian city was unforgettable. Posters of famous climbers adorned the ancient stone walls and for once it seemed that the amount of climbing-specific stores outnumbered pizzerias. Thousands of people showed up to watch the finals as each finalist tested themselves on the steep, unrelenting wall. I was physically unprepared for the style of climbing and finished poorly among the 140 or so competitors. But the magnitude of the competition still sits heavy in my mind. Sport climbing in Europe is a big deal. And with that realization it became a much bigger deal to me.
So here we are, merely a week and a half away from that “big deal” coming to America. I can’t pretend to understand the effect that a Lead World Cup in the USA is going to have on myself and the sport of climbing, but I do have a few predictions:
1. I want to progress as a sport climber to help offset the dominance by the Europeans. 2. I’m excited to visit more sport climbing areas (rather than boulderfields) in America. 3. I’m more motivated to bolt new routes. 4. My style of climbing will change and progress to be more efficient, smart, and controlled. 5. I will not go nine months without getting pumped ever again. (Due to lack of effort, of course.)
On the sport of climbing in the USA:
1. More young climbers will see sport climbing in a new light, and be motivated to expand outside of their normal bouldering routines. 2. Sport climbing areas in the US will start seeing more and more traffic from the younger generations. Because of this, we will start seeing ground breaking roped ascents on our own turf that mirror the ones pouring out of Europe on a weekly basis. 3. SCS Nationals will be taken more seriously and attended by more climbers in the future. Naturally, this will expand the pool of National talent and force everyone to try harder and get stronger. 4. The sport will continue to grow. More competitions means better chances for more people to be inspired and take up climbing on their own.
Because of these reasons, I’ve been doing a bit of training to prepare for the competition. Luckily, living in Boulder, I have a nice selection of gyms and areas for training. I’ve been running laps on the tread wall at The Spot and running circuits of 30+ boulder problems V7 and harder in short, limited rest time periods. At the Colorado Athletic Training School, I’ve been building a solid base of finger strength and core tension on their sea of small holds. Countless laps on some of the famous traverses usually gets me pumped in a hurry. And because the alpine is so nice this time of year, I spent my fair share of days on long hikes and majestic granite boulders. I like to switch it up. Keeps me motivated. Motivation goes a long way. And that’s about it. Excited for the competition. It will surely be a good time. Whether it’s a harsh learning experience or a successful endeavor to motivate me into the future, the opportunity to compete in the first Lead World Cup on US soil in over 20 years won’t be under appreciated.