The worst symptom of not climbing regularly when that is usually all you do is that your skin turns super soft and is essentially useless. You tend not to lose much basic strength, but when it comes time to pull your skin provides an unhelpful frictional coefficient. This bit of knowledge came flooding back to me in isolation when I tried to warm up. After 15 mins or so I realised that if I tried to warm up any further I wouldn’t have any skin left with which to try the problems.

This was my first World Cup and being out of shape left me in a rather odd position. I had no expectations and without expectations or demands of myself I also didn’t have any stress, nerves, jitters, etc. This resulted in me walking out to do my first problem in flip flops. I wasn’t really paying a whole of attention so I came out thinking there was a further 5 mins of isolation but it turns out I was supposed to be stepping up to the plate. After a bit of confusion I was on, but swiftly off. This was the beginning of the end. I was stood in front of a surprisingly large crowd wearing pink lycra and climbing like a man who’d never climbed before. The most bizarre thing was that I wasn’t deflated, embarrassed, upset, etc. I just found it all rather amusing. Lots of people were laughing at the lycra and to be honest I was too! Even the judges couldn’t help a small laugh each time I walked up to a new problem. Unfortunately the climbing went horribly and I failed to do a single problem! After the dust had settled I didn’t need to look up at the scorecard to know what place I was in, but I did anyway. Dead last. Some you win, some you lose! I don’t feel bad about it as this wasn’t a serious event for me. It was a testing of the water, and from my little samp I can safely say that I will return and I will do better. When you finish last the only way is up!

Usually this would cause me a great deal of annoyance but this time it was a funny turn of events. I was in bad shape, had bad skin, and climbed very badly. The positives were that I lost my World Cup virginity, had no nerves, and realised it is possible to be relaxed when in a competition environment. Perhaps it was the power of the lycra!

Being in the world cup scene was incredibly motivating for me. It allowed me to see what all the fuss was about and it allowed me to witness just how well the best guys and girls can climb. I have to say that I was probably most impressed by the women, who climbed with such incredible tenacity, movement, and skill. Being good in a comp environment is something which I’ve never put any energy into, as my sole concern has been trying to climb rocks. I still perceive there to be something intrinsically better about climbing your long term project on the rocks, but I can easily see how appealing it can be to want to put a lot of energy into competition climbing. It’s a new discipline, one which is asking to be mastered, and that’s exciting for me. I’m afflicted with a sickness, and that sickness is wanting to do everything well. Being average is not what I’m in to, so this world cup round motivated me to one day dedicate myself to improving at comp climbing, and returning to avenge my last place.

This whole experience is much the same as my experience with climbing on a rope. It’s something I’m terrible at, but something I’ve become immensely motivated to do. I didn’t choose to neglect sport climbing, I simply slid into a path of dedicated bouldering. I do love the search for the hardest moves, but the feeling of flowing up a big piece of rock is something which I’m learning not only to appreciate but also to desire. I’m not about to give up bouldering, but I am feeling more ready to embrace a rope if the situation is possible, and situations are always possible if you make them possible.