Tag Archives: climbing competition

A Weekend of Climbing – Competition and Smith Rock

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A Weekend of Climbing – Competition and Smith Rock

Weekend of 10, 11, 12-Mar-2018

 

 

Friday, 10-Mar-2018

 

So far I’ve been to three instances of the PDX Pulldown – the first year where I made it into the open professional category, the second year where I had a broken knee, and now this, the third year in a row.

Each time it’s been a bit of a madhouse. Competitions always are, but this one was particularly impressive; they don’t cap attendance, so it usually ends up with a 30+ minute wait for any individual climb. But, in my opinion at least, it’s still totally worth it.

Why’s it worth it? What could make that much craziness and such a press of stinky rock climbers worth it?

The routes.

When they have a competition, they pull out all the stops. They bring in route setters from… I don’t know, route-set-topia? From somewhere. And they set interesting challenges; neat sequences, tough footwork, and powerfully dynamic moves. It’s awesome, and I love climbing them in the heat of competition.

The climbing went pretty well, although we went kind of lightly, truth be told. We could have probably pushed a bit harder and maybe even broken into the open category, but since we had a trip to Smith coming up over the next few days, we didn’t want to hurt ourselves or burn too hard. We need the fuel in the tank for the real rock climbing, instead of just competing in the gym, right?

It was an excellent competition, though. We didn’t end up winning any prizes for how hard we climbed, but we were both pretty proud of how well we did. On top of that, we won a few random raffle prizes, which is always nice. Nothing too nuts, but I got a $50 mountain hardware gift card, and Sarah got a set of stretching tools and a set of nutrition consultation appointments, which are also pretty neat.

 

 

Saturday, 11-Mar-2018

Our trip out to Smith was supposed to start on Friday evening… but let’s be honest. Who wants to drive 3 hours in the dark, just so that you can set up a tent, in the cold, sometime after midnight? No one, that’s who. Or… strange people, maybe? Not us, is what I’m getting at. Instead of driving out late, we decided to go early. Early to bed, early to rise, and early to drive the long drive to Smith.

Ollie was already in puppy camp, so our goals for the trip revolved almost exclusively around multi-pitch routes and big climbs. While Ollie can do well sitting at the base of the wall, she’s only good as long as someone is with her… multi-pitch routes, where both Sarah and I are on the wall for a few hours, don’t quite work with little miss separation anxiety over here.

Our goals hadn’t really been chisled into stone when we left Portland, but the drive clarified it up a bit as we sped on, deciding on what we wanted to work on.

That first day, we finally completed a long-standing goal of mine – a route I’d started calling “The Moscow Palace Traverse”. It’s not a single route, but instead it’s a traverse of the entire Smith Rock formation, starting on the East side with Moscow (a 3 pitch, 5.7 trad climb) and ending with a route called Matthew, in an area called Pleasure Palace (a single-pitch, 5.10 sport route). I’d come up with the traverse while climbing at Smith with Daniel a few years back, but had never had a chance to actually make it a reality.

But this was our time! This was our place! The Moscow Palace traverse was completed!

It went really well, too! Both Sarah and I got some successes in; Sarah led the two harder sections of Moscow, which had been giving her trouble for a long while. I climbed Matthew (not on lead, I’m sorry to admit), which was a really solid benchmark for me, since it’s a tough climb and I’m still a little unsteady on my healed knee. I busted it out though, and felt strong doing it. I think I need to start doing some more deadlifts though, to keep bulking the stabilizer muscles out a bit…

Anyways, the climbs went really well. The hike out went really well. Dinner… Ohh man. Dinner went so absolutely well, you don’t even know.

We made mac and cheese – a double portion, if I recall, made mostly with butter and a little bit of half and half. But we also made some chicken apple sausage, sliced it up, and added it in. Seriously, you don’t understand how amazing that meal is, after a whole day of climbing and hiking. It’s… well, I probably would trade it for gold, since gold is just super valuable. But… silver? I’d probably weigh it against silver, yeah.

After dinner, we embarked upon our final adventure of the day – sharing my ultra-light tent. I’ve had it since before I went to New Zealand, and it’s amazing for solo backpacking trips. It’s light, it’s small, and it’s quick to set up… all on top of being windproof and quite rainproof too. But… it’s small. As in, a bit cramped for two people, and definitely cramped for two people and a dog. So we didn’t want to test it out when Ollie was with us.

Results came back… neutral. Not super positive, since it was definitely pretty cramped, with not too much space for any gear. But not negative either, since it still easily had enough room for us, and it’s majorly lighter than any of the other tents that we’ve got. Will we take it on our next backpacking trip? Ehh…. maybe. Depends where we go, I think.

With that scientific experiment ongoing, we slept under the stars (in a tent, under the stars).

 

Sunday, 12-Mar-2018

While the tent experiment went well, our sleep didn’t go quite as well… not really sure what caused it, but somehow we didn’t end up quite as rested and refreshed as we’d hoped. Simple to solve, though, especially since the morning dawned rather bitterly cold. We just curled a bit deeper into our sleeping bags and slept in a bit.

Or… I slept in, I should say.

Sarah’s kind of a badass, so she didn’t want to sleep in. She wanted to wake up and make breakfast and brew up some coffee. When I say “she wanted to make breakfast”, I usually mean “Sarah looked at some food, then thought better of it and just drank some more coffee”. Today, though, it meant that she tied her hair back, rolled up her sleeves, and made us mini pizzas.

Yeah, seriously. While camping. Sarah made. Pizza. For breakfast. While I slept.

I woke up to pizza chips. It was unbelievably delicious.

I mean, I don’t even understand. I didn’t realize we had the ingredients for pizza chips, much less the option to have them as breakfast-in-sleepingbag. It was like waking up from a pleasant dream, just to find out that I was having another, even more pleasant dream.

Anyways yes we ate breakfast and it was awesome.

Then, we went rock climbing again! Keeping with our plan of doing some trad multi-pitch routes, we re-did another legacy route that we’d worked before – this time one called Super-Slab. It’s a pleasant route, with a bit of scary exposure at a few points. Sarah lead the first two pitches, and I took on the third.

Nothing was really out of the ordinary, which was honestly a really nice aspect of the climb. Climbing is, too often, a stressful event with us… swinging leads, making sure we have the right gear, negotiating challenging sections, it gets tough. This time it was different though – we cruised up, ripped past the tough spots, and had a great time!

The day was honestly just a really pleasant and quick one – we climbed, we descended via three long rappels, and we took the long trek out to the car. It was fun!

I’ll admit, the Dairy Queen on the drive home was also pretty fun, same with getting to sleep in our own bed after a night of cramped camping, but I’m pretty confident that’s simply because of how well we’d climbed the previous two days. DQ food is good, as is any semi-fast food, but it’s honestly only truly delicious when you’re covered in chalk dust and exhausted from a few days of good adventure.

The Battle for Bolts – A rock climbing endurance epic

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The Battle for Bolts – A rock climbing endurance epic

Saturday into Sunday, 30-Sept-2017 & 01-Oct-2017

 

Summary: Sarah and I climbed for 12 hours straight, climbing 63 routes total and earning ourselves a solid second place overall in the competition.  That’s right – 7 months post injury, Ben placed 2nd place in a climbing competition.  With Sarah, since it was a team comp.  Where Sarah won most of the points.  But still!  Ben was on the team that came in second!

 

Today, we battle. 

We battle not for ourselves, but for climbers everywhere.  

Not for climbers everywhere, per se, but climbers in the Northwest.  In Oregon.  At three crags in Oregon, specifically.  We battle for climbers there!  Sport climbers.  Not trad, since trad doesn’t need bolts.

Today, we battle for a very select group of climbers!  Huzzah!

 

A few weeks ago, Sarah and I heard about a climbing competition coming up, and got really excited.

We got excited because it was pretty far removed from the ridiculous chaos of the previous competitions we’d been to.  It hit all the nice things we’d been hoping that a competition would hit: a cap on the people allowed to compete, It was held when my knee wasn’t broken, and it was roped climbing instead of bouldering.  Basically the perfect comp.  It wasn’t free, unfortunately, but the proceeds went to a climbing access fund that replaces worn bolts at crags in our area (see the opening poem thing), so that was pretty cool.

We planned the competition out, and arrived with our heads full of schemes and our packs full of gear.

This wasn’t a straight-up, who can climb the hardest route, competition – instead, this was an endurance comp.  Which meant that we’d be climbing for 12 hours straight, and that the number of routes we put up was going to be more important than just how hard those routes were.

Because of that, we had plans.  We’d packed a full meal (spaghetti and chicken), as well as a few thousand calories worth of snacks, bars, cookies, and coffee.  We also had a rough timeline for ourselves – how long we’d climb, when we’d nap, and how long we’d nap for.

We expected the napping to be critical – you can’t crush climbing routes if you can’t think, so we aimed to take at least two naps throughout the night.  The food we’d eat about halfway through, right before a napping cycle, and the snacks & coffee we’d spread out throughout the night.

For routes, we planned on starting easy, then quickly going toward the harder routes.  Then we’d taper off toward more moderate routes for most of the evening, before finishing strong with some of the hardest climbs of the evening in the last hour – since the last hour gained us 2x score on any routes climbed.

 

 

 

We arrived right before the start at 8:00 in the evening on Saturday; just in time to sign in, stash our gear, and hang out for a bit before the staff went through the rules and discussed the timetable with us.   That part was pretty entertaining… mostly because the staff wasn’t much better informed than we were – this comp was run quite loosely, which worked perfectly with the small group of people that were competing.  In total there were 6 teams, 12 people total… a bit less than the cap of 100, but still enough for some pretty stiff competition for top spot.

Then we climbed!

We stuck to our plan pretty closely, not pushing ourselves too hard and climbing routes that worked best to our skillsets.  Sarah climbed strong crimpy routes, and I danced up delicate slab routes.  We took breaks, snacked, and even played some of the games that the staff put on – Crate stacking and donut eating were the  best, though playing Ninja was definitely a good time as well.

Napping was definitely helpful too… but a bit frustrating since people kept stealing the beds that we’d made.  See… when you combine Sarah’s skill at making nests from her time on Grimm with my not-caring-about-stuff, we came out with some really nice beds.  I’d grabbed 10+ bolsters from the yoga room, which we then combined with a few blankets and some yoga mats, into glorious full double beds.

First nap, we made one and napped luxuriously.  Then when we went to our second nap, someone had stolen our first bed.  So we made a new one.  When the same thing happened the third time (both our previous beds were occupied), we did get a bit cranky, and may have made a little extra noise while making our new bed.

 

Anyways, we did well.

When the time came to tally our score, we’d come in cleanly in 2nd place!  We’d won with 4,200 points, roughly, where the next team had just over 3,900 points – so about two of our hardest climbs worth of points.  We did a grand total of 63 routes, with Sarah earning the lions share of our score.  But hey – for a guy with a recently broken leg, I think I did pretty dang well!