First Climbing Comp: Recap

We braved the snowstorm, drove up to Duluth last weekend, and I participated in my first climbing competition ever.  First of many to come, I think.  I loved having a goal to work towards, and I thought the competition itself was interesting and fun!  This was more of a fact-finding mission for me.  I wanted to see what a comp was all about, wanted to see how I would handle the added pressure, and how I would do.  I learned a lot.

Photo: Seth Iverson

Here’s the recap:

What: North Shore Climbing Competition 2010
Where: Vertical Endeavors, Duluth, MN

Rules: 37 routes available, all marked with a set amount of points for completing the first, second, or third attempt.  Routes were not divided into categories, so everyone there could choose from any of the 37 routes, no matter what level they were competing at.  4 hours to climb, top 4 scores counted towards total.  This resulted in some folks scoring alongside folks in higher divisions, so I took that into account when looking at my own results.

I thought the toughest part was figuring out strategy.  I ended up getting a solid 4 scores in a range I was comfortable climbing, and then scrambling at the end to bump it up with harder routes.  It was a decent strategy, and gave me a respectable finish, but I flashed most of the routes I tried, which makes me think I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough.  I was working hard, but wasn’t falling off routes until the end, when there wasn’t enough time to do 2nd and 3rd attempts.

Photo: Seth Iverson

As far as the climbing goes, I surprised myself.  In a good way.  I climbed with control, I never felt like I was flailing about, and I received some genuine compliments on the smoothness of my climbing.  This is something I’ve been working on, so it was awesome to feel that kick in during the competition.  I was nervous going in, but once I started climbing, that feeling of control gave me a lot of confidence.  I felt really good.

I also felt like my level of endurance was where it needed to be.  The walls are taller than in my home gym, so it was a concern.  I’ve been doing something right in my training, because I felt comfortable the whole way up.

What I need to work on for the next competition is reading routes and knowing more precisely where my ability level is.  I underestimated myself on Saturday and played it safe.  By the time I realized that I could be climbing harder routes, there wasn’t a lot of time left to do so.

With all of that being said, it was a LOT of fun.  The routes were great,  I got to climb in a new gym with new people and all new routes.  It was like a playground and I wanted to climb everything in there.  Kudos to the the folks who put the comp on.

Going forward?  I have a couple of months until the next competition, which will be at my home gym.  I’m taking it easy this week and then back into it.  I’m going to spend more time reading routes and trying to hone that skill a little better.  Oh, I also need to learn how to deal with slopers.

So with all of that being said… what have your comp experiences been?  Any advice for strategy?

11 thoughts on “First Climbing Comp: Recap

  1. Chicks Climbing

    Congratulations, and thanks for taking all of us along on your journey as you trained mentally and physically for the competition.

    I'm sure you'll continue to have fun training for the next one, and will look to up the ante with more aggressive climbs since it will be at your home gym and you now have a better idea of what to expect. Thanks for making us proud to be chicks!

  2. jrmontag

    Great job, Liz!

    It's great that you had a positive first comp experience. I thought the first one was much more intimidating than any subsequent ones. Though I've never participated in a route-climbing comp, I use a little strategy in bouldering comps:

    I always start with a supremely easy problem, one that I *know* I will top out with ease. Struggling on problem #1 puts my head in a bad place for the whole comp and my climbing suffers.

    I try to simultaneously warm up and pad my scorecard to be *sure* I'll have enough counting scores. Then, I just slowly ramp up the difficulty and with some practice peak-performance lines up with hardest (for me) problems!

    Great photos and thanks for sharing the experience!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Thanks, Josh!

      Your strategy makes a lot of sense, thank you for sharing! Seems like a great way to get warmed up, not get pumped too early, and cover your butt score-wise.

      Looking forward to returning the cheerleading for your next comp!

  3. Bill

    Nice post. I'm a little intimidated by climbing comps. never done one. After reading about your experience, i'm inspired. may just go for it. Now I just have to find one.

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Bill, you should totally do it! It really did feel like a bunch of people climbing, not intimidating. All new routes, great people, and people who’s sole job it is to belay you. Pretty awesome. 🙂

  4. Bill

    ooohh.. private personal belayer, sounds exotic. 🙂 yeah, like I said, now I just need to find a comp close to home.

  5. richard

    Hey good for you Liz. That's brave of you to compete. I know a guy who's competed in hundreds of events and he says that each competition is a way to practice for the next competition.
    I think it'd be tough to figure out which routes to climb and when.
    Good write-up too.

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Thanks, Richard. Yeah, the toughest part was definitely figuring out what and when to climb.

      Lisa and Richard, wanna compete with me in the next one?

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