Reuniting with old friends + seriously considering entering my first pro competition

charlottehill

First off, I’ve noticed I’ve (unintentionally) ended the title of almost every of my blog entries with an exclamation mark. I’ll try to break that habit, starting with the title of this entry (see above there is no exclamation mark).

Lately, I’ve gotten a chance to catch up with old climbing friends, and that has been great fun! One of the best things about climbing is the social aspect or getting to hang out with a lot of cool people while you climb. I don’t know what it is exactly, but climbers just tend to be really awesome people! A little over a week ago I ran into Grace and briefly talked to her for the first time in quite a while. Grace used to be on the same climbing team as me–Team Vertical World (VW). It was nice to see how much she has grown up and to see her start to get excited about her future and going to college. Grace is a going to be a senior in high school soon so she’ll be going to college before she knows it. She wants to go to Western, so I hope she gets in and gets to go there!

I also finally got to see Amelia, who currently lives in London and attends Cambridge University. Like Grace, Amelia used to be on the VW team too. Amelia came back for a little while to visit her old hometown Seattle and see friends. I have not seen Amelia for many years so it was great to be able to climb with her not just once but twice! Last week I lead climbed with Amelia and she did very well. Despite not lead climbing for months she was able to get up a 5.11-which I thought was very impressive. She also did well considering that she was climbing at the new VW gym in Seattle for the first time, and their 50 feet walls (a.k.a tall walls) take a while to adjust to.

watching on as Amelia is belayed by Alex (VW team member and assistant coach), photo credit: Denise Nerison

I climbed again with Amelia and Kayla last night as well, and I had a particularly good time.  There were some new bouldering routes so I tried those, and I was excited to be able to get a v6 first try which was a good confidence booster because I often find the bouldering routes at VW quite hard.  After bouldering for a while, we all decided to lead climb and to my excitement there were also new routes on the lead wall. I did a new 5.11a and 5.11b, both of which I liked, especially since there were a lot of big, positive holds. I also tried a 5.13b at the urging of Amelia and it was ridiculously hard. I think I would have been better off trying the 5.13c nearby which is saying something.  I got up the first few moves of the 5.13b without too much issue because there were crimps and I’m good at those, but after that I got completely stumped. I hit some horrible, smooth slopers that were truly bad and I couldn’t figure out how to move off of them–and that’s as far as I got. For my last climb I decided to tone it down just a bit and try a 5.12c that I had not done very well on before. This time I was more relaxed and had much more success on this climb. I got several moves higher than I did before but eventually I got tired and decided to rest. After my rest, to my surprise I made it up the remainder of the climb without falling or resting.  Interestingly, the hardest part of the route for me was the first 1/3 of the climb or so. After that the climb got easier but the challenge then became just to not get too tired and to just keep holding on, which is unfortunately easier said then done.

Amelia and Kayla also did well. Amelia also did the new 5.11a and put forth some good effort on a couple of 5.12s. Kayla almost got the 5.11a–I think she was two moves or so from the top!

The other news of late is I’m pretty much about 99% sure I’m going to participate in my first pro competition this coming September.  The competition, called the Seattle Bouldering Challenge or SBC for short, will be held from September 21-22 and will take place at Stone Gardens Bellevue–a brand new state of the art climbing gym (just opened this year) that has amazing bouldering and is near Seattle. Accordingly, this competition will be all bouldering.  Anyone can compete in this competition provided that they are willing to pay some money to enter. The harder task will be to do well. Qualifers will be on the 21st and finals on the 22nd. I don’t know how many people make it to finals but definitely no more than 10, and there’s a good chance it will be as few as eight. Registration opens on July 30th so I think I will try to register as soon as possible–I’ll update you on what ends up happening.

There are several reasons I want to enter this competition, including:

  1. 1. I haven’t done many big competitions lately, and it would be fun to be able to compete in a big event like that.
  2. 2. I have wanted to do a pro competition for a while but have never gotten around to doing it. Often the big competitions are located in places like Colorado that are fun to visit but expensive and hard to get to, especially when I’m in school.
  3. 3. On the same note, this competition is closer to Walla Walla or in Seattle and therefore easier to get to. I don’t have to book a hotel and that saves a lot of money because I can just stay with my family–plus it means I can spend a bit of time with my family.
  4. 4. I’m familiar with the Seattle climbing community so there’s a good chance I will get to compete against some friends I know. It’s always easier and overall more enjoyable to compete when you know some of the other competitors.
  5. 5. Since the competition takes place early in the semester I’m hoping I will not have as much homework, but that definitely is wishful thinking and may not be what actually happens.
  6. 6. Also, I’m hoping that since it is in September I will still be in really good shape from climbing a lot during the summer but once again hope and reality are not (unfortunately) the same thing.


I could win some money-which is always an added bonus. The top climbers at the competition divide a $17,000 cash purse between them. I honestly I am not sure I will place high enough to win even the lowest cash prize (I’d just be excited to make finals) but I guess you never know. I’ve won a cash prize once before by getting third place- that time I think I won $175 but I can’t remember for sure.