Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Some new stuff from Uncarved Block

 Hey what's up guys?! Hope you've all had an awesome summer. As the comp season gets under way again I'll be hitting this blog up more and more. I wanted to try out this whole video blog thing, let me know what you think in the comments below but huge shout out to Uncarved Block for throwing these holds my way, these are so dope! Now I know I mention it a couple of times in the video but this new texture is so cool. Unfortunately I didn't get a pick of the holds before I threw them up on the wall because, well frankly, I really wanted to just set with these bad boys. Anyways, I stole a pic from the facebook page (I know, so wrong.) Here's a closer look at that texture.

The bottom left holds is blurred out but its the U-turn.

Alright that was a really quick update from me. I am heading to Coyote in 2 weeks to set the years first Tour De Bloc. If you're competing, I'm looking forward to seeing you guys and I'm getting psyched for the rest of this comp season. Alright I'm out. Stay psyched guys, Climb safe. 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The World Cup In Toronto (Hamilton)

The Crew on the Friday before the day of qualifiers
Alright so its been about a week and a bit since I got back from the maddness that was SETTING A WORLD CUP! That's right, no big deal right, I'm only still slightly loosing my mind about it. I should say that everyone in my life did put up with me ranting, raving and generally being incredibly annoying about how psyched I was once I found out about this so all of you, you know who you are, thanks for putting up with me.

The next thing I will warm you all about is this is the mother of all blog posts for me. This thing has been three days of writing and suffering and sifting through pictures. I appreciate that you even read this section, but be prepared, its lengthy and full of spelling errors. I apologize and if you read the whole thing you're a hero, also, maybe, bored. This was literally one of the coolest things I've ever done and right now, the high point of my career as a setter, so that's why this thing is so long. You've been warned and again, thanks for reading.

So, I left on the Friday night to head back to my home town, Newmarket, which is only an hour away from Toronto. I went, hung out with my rents, saw some friends from the area that I never see cuz I live in Vancouver now and before I knew it, I was in Hamilton. I was joined by two other Canadians to fill out the crew, Simon Parton, who for those of you keeping track, I did set the Abbotsford (Project Climbing Center) Tour De Bloc with him, and Jody Miall, who I've done so many comps with that I've lost count.. The three of us would be the Canadian contingent of setters that would be put to work by two IFSC route setters.

Now if you get the chance to see this live, then you wouldn't even believe how big of an operation this whole comp was and right now I'll throw a giant shout out to Luigi Montilla that man must have worked his butt off for this to happen. There were giant bleachers that got set up (I have a picture of them somewhere...) Getting the setting crew and all the holds sponsorship, the use of the gym (which was Gravity by the way.) All these things plus I'm sure a billion things I didn't even know about I'm sure, got organized by Luigi. The reason I'm ranting about all of this is because, yes, I want to give Luigi mad props of course, but also to point out that with all of these things that the final product is dependent on, something is bound to go wrong.

So the first glitch would come from no ones fault, but Jamie Cassidy, the IFSC Chief, was a day late due to plane problems. So when we started on the Monday before the comp at 8 am in the morning, we met Martin Hammerer (he ended up being Chief in Vail the following weekend) for the first time.
So this is Martin, no I didn't get a better pick of him, he's a very talented Austrian route setter and since Jamie didn't arrive on the Monday because his plane issue, we all differed to Martin's knowledge and planning. My understanding of how many days you get to set a world cup, from Martin and Jamie, is usually you get 3, sometimes 4. We were given 5 days, so of course, this meant that our first day without our chief, wee would take an easy day and then, and this is what we said all of Monday, "Jamie will fix it." The first day concluded with the four us setting a women's and men's qualifier bloc each.

Now I know what you're thinking, I can hear it cuz I'm thinking it too; 8 blocs in one day set by 4 setters, that mean's you each did two blocs...yup you're correct. My first day setting for a world cup I set 2 blocs and I'm so damn proud of those two blocs. In case you're curious, those two blocs were women's qualifier number 5 and Men's qualifier number 3. The rest of women's qualifiers looked like this:
Anna Stohr on Martin's Q1.
For Q1, Martin created this really cool almost slabby bloc involving a crazy lean over from the corner and catch a gaston and mantel press to oppose it and keep you on the wall. The finish of this bloc was pretty interesting too, forcing competitors to press on a sloper in the roof.
Alex Puccio on Q2 and Anna on Q3
Q2 was Jody's bloc. I'd like to point out the giant volcano hold that none of us wanted to use, at one point we even hid it in the hold room but somehow (*ahem* Luigi) it made its way up to the bouldering wall and then onto this problem. Sigh.
Q3 was set by Jamie on the Friday before, since he wasn't there the first day and climbed out the right side of the steepest section of the wall. The powerful moves out the roof, led the a really hard section on jugs, yea you read that right, finishing on some very slopy holds.
Akiyo Noguchi finishing Q4
Q4 was the coolest bloc of the round for sure, in my opinion. Simon set some crazy funk, using an insane amount of volumes. This was also the hardest bloc of the round I feel but such a cool bloc, mad props to Simon for this.
Anna on Q5
Q5 was set with the intention of some tensiony moves on slopers (yes the slopers were probably a poor decision due to the insane heat during the qualifier round. Oh yea, if you didn't know, it was stupid hot and ridiculously humid all week setting and the day of qualifiers. I found this incredibly ironic since it snowed at the last world cup in Canada.) I used two Friction Chrome Domes and then Friction Augments on the volumes. If you haven't gotten a chance to climb on/use those holds, they're so sick! I managed to secure a set for the Hive, thanks Luigi
Sean On Q1
So men's quali number one was set by Simon and, as I learned from setting this comp with him, Simon has an addiction to Volumes, included an obscene amount of volumes. Jamie and Martin did decide that we would reuse volumes but here's a little bit of fun fact for you guys. We were given a total of 28 volumes from Motivation Volumes and surrounding gym's of the area. Out of this, by the end of setting the first day, Simon had managed to use 22. Jamie actually cut him off of using volumes by the third day. Just sayin, Simon likes his volumes.

This is also the portion of the day where my camera ran out of batteries so no more pictures from the men's qualifier. Yup, terrible descriptions are the future of this post till we get to semis. So Q2, Jamie's bloc, started with a dyno to two scooped features, then crushed out some funky screw on pinches on an arete to a sloping finish. 

Q3 was mine and I wanted to create a very american style of bloc. Big thuggy moves out the roof two a foot first style move, that Sean managed to break, but you got on an undercling and gaston in the roof and swung your foot on to a volumes with three slopers on it, using those slopers and a heel out further for your right foot, you pulled on to those slopers and then a big move up to a volumes with two bad screw ons on it that you eventually used to get a really insecure wrap. Using the wrap you can't a side pull sloper and then the finish. 

Q4 was Martin's and was completely heinous. SMALL, TINY, DISGUSTING crimps, did I mention they were awful, led to a really hard, shouldery and slopey holds, which were also disastrously bad, to finish. Hard. That's the word I would use to describe this; HARD.

Q5 Was set by Simon and Martin and involved some hard moves on crimps screwed onto a Teknik Mathematic and a Svelt Pinches. Eventually you got set up on two crimps, to cross over double clutch dyno to two slopers on a volume and then a hard, low percentage move to finish over the lip. 

The Hive's Own Mile's Adamson on S1 and Meagan Martin on S1 
So I'll try to rifle through these really quickly. We all agreed that Men's qualies worked out really well and we're the perfect difficulty. The women's on the other hand, we were all a little shocked. The hardest bloc, number 4, only saw two sends and also, to get to semis you needed 1 top and  1 bonus. The eventual feeling was that it was just a little too hard. So we toned down some of the women's blocs.

Men's Semis #1 was my favourite of the round. Set by Martin this thing started with some weird balance, as you can see Miles working it out. You popped to the zone hold and then had to do a really cool bad tension (meaning reaching pushing with the same foot as the hand you're reaching with) to do a one-two catch of two opposing gastons to a surprisingly hard last move to a jug. 

Women's Semi #2 was set by Jody and I, sloping holds up a slightly blunted arete. This was easily the easiest bloc of the round and only saw one person not send. 
Julia Wurm on Semis #2
 Women's number two saw the most interesting use of a giant jug I have seen in a long time. That big blue hold that Julia has her foot on is a giant, massive, tongue jug. It's literally almost two feet long. Seriously. When we pulled it out of the box, we stuck it almost right where it is, except it was underneath the lip of the roof, jutting out as a giant ledge. Everyday, one of us moved it to a different, weird position until Martin finally put it there. We actually joked that that hold was just going to stay on the wall and we would just black tape it for different rounds. Anyways, the bloc started with foot first to the giant jug that you ended up doing two or three hand reconfigurations (I know that's not a word) before pulling the lip on thin crimps to pop for a bad finishing hold. I'll give Martin credit, the girls do like to heel hook on the smallest, tiniest holds. 

Men's Semi #2 was set by Simon and was just plain hard. It climbed out the roof, unfortunately I don't have a good pic of it but it involved long moves on really, not so great holds. Catching the sloping ledge on the lip lead to very small crimps on the head wall. 
Julia on S3
Alright so Women's #3 was mine, I only used 7 volumes, and I would like to point out that this was set before Martin did his foot first start. Just saying. Yes I know that the start was foot first, just like Martin's, but my came first. So there. After you used the toe hooks to gain a match on that triangle volume, you made a big move to a pinch and got another triangle volume as an undercling. This lead to a big cross to a gaston that you needed to really focus on keeping the tension so that you could float out to an undercling. From this position you set up and just throw for the finish. 
Sean finishing Semi #3
Men's number 3 was a Jody Miall bloc that involved a really tricky use of a blunt corner. A hard start on a volume lead to tensiony moves on sloping holds that involved you toe hooking this blunted arete, you can see Sean using that toe all the way to the finish. It doesn't show it in the picture but the moment before this pic was taken you could actually feel how stressed the crowd was for Sean as he felt around, blind, for that finishing hold, because Sean almost reached past that black tape there.

Both semis number 4s were set by our fearless leader, Jamie. The Women's bloc saw more sloping holds in a corner leading to a blind toss to the finishing hold on a volume. The Men's bloc involved the men using sloping underclings with horrendous feet to stab a slot. After gaining the slot, a hard sloper led to a blind toss to the finishing hold. 

Semis turned out to be just a little too easy for the women but the men's breakdown actually went along perfectly. 

These are the epic bleachers during their construction

Oh man it's almost over. If you're still with me you're a true hero and you're more than likely at work reading this. Whatever your choice is for keeping going, you're awesome. So as I said before, we agreed that the Men's category was completely well broken down and needed no tampering, to that end, we didn't touch a single thing in Finals for the guys. The women on the other hand....well, its not like we were sitting pretty. There was one tie headed into finals for third place, between Alex Puccio and Shauna Coxsey. Needless to say from the Canadian Setting contingent, we didn't want our second World Cup in Canada to go to count backs. I'm pretty sure Martin and Jamie didn't want that either. So we made a fairly large tweak to Women's number four, I won't tell you what we did but we did tweak it.
Jacob Schubert and Momoka Oda on Finals #1
So we'll start with the Ladies first finals. Simon set some weird funky corner craziness for the women that involved a lot of trust on your feet and some really wonky opposition. You can see in the photo above, Momoka working through the first press to gain the zone hold. From there the women were forced to turst their feet on this heinously sloping foot to stand and get the Teknik Pinchetite in the roof which would then lead them to the finishing hold.

On the Men's side, Martin made the boys do an awkward sideways dyno on crimps, to stick to really wide pinches. A hard press up move on the smallest footholds ever (above) led to matching two slopers and going to a good finish. I'm pretty sure all the guys sent this. I will point out that while setting qualifiers, the bouldering wall at Gravity felt giant but once we had to have 8 blocs on this wall, it felt a little tight, nothing detrimental but I will say that there was only couple of times where we were all feeling a little squished.
Shauna up high on finals #2
Women's two (Jamie) found the girls crimping hard with a significantly hard pull to a gaston with a very sloping foot hold. The other hard move of this bloc was the last move that made the girls make a blind though to a small crimp. This made many of the girls frustrated and got us a good portion of the separation that we needed. There was a collective sigh of relief from Jody and I when this bloc was finished.

Jorg into the business on finals #2
 For Men's number two, Martin had cooked up a very difficult to read bloc that saw two of the men try insane beta that, although it didn't work, was very inventive. Above you can see Jorg getting into the hard dihedral moves that characterized this entire bloc. From Jorg's position you would gain two slopers that you can't see and controlled a very hard foot release that lead to matching the sloper around the corner. The last move of this bloc was no give me either. A very cool bloc, something I would have never thought of and very unique.

Akiyo going for the last move on Finals #3
Simon set yet another volume heavy bloc for finals number three. Somehow he managed to score these volumes before Jamie cut him off. After gaining the two vertical volumes, you made a hard move to gain the volume undercling. You can see above, Akiyo standing on that incredibly slopy volume while you stared down the last hold. I'm sure most of the women were hoping for a hero jug for the finishing hold. They were definitely disappointed. You'll notice in the picture above, that the finish to men's final #2 is really close to the finish of this bloc. We didn't think this was going to be an issue however, Alex Puccio managed to go left hand up to the finishing hold, and disregarding the match, threw out to the finish hold of the men's final. she did climb back to the correct finishing hold, gaining the top but the atmosphere within the gym when she climbed past the finishing hold.
Jorg finding the toe hook on Finals #3
Men's number three was of my setting and, although it was the only bloc in the comp that didn't get sent, despite both Jacob and Killian's best efforts, I still am really proud of this bloc, along with all the other blocs that were set for this comp, whether they were mine or not. We all had a hand in the fore running and tweaking of each bloc and thus the blocs, I feel, were more the comps and less each setters. The bloc started with the men facing out, towards the crowd, in a corner stem underneath the roof. You pawed your way, leaning out, to gain two crimps. From here, you cut your feet, still facing out, and campussed, or used a very tiny foot to go out to a very sloping hold on the front of the half ball in the roof. This is where a lot of the guys tried to just bump again to a set of small crimps. Jorg was the only one who found the toe hook. this is where most of the guys attempts ended as well, save for Jacob and Killian, who managed to secure the bonus hold and head to the terrible gaston for your left hand right at the arete. The men who tried to right hand up to this found themselves crossed up and further away from the finishing jug. If you got it as a gaston, then you moved out right to gain another side pull. This would allow you to flip your left around the corner to a really bad sloper to go to the finishing hold. Jacob was the closest to getting this bloc, and I was really happy with how it turned out, despite no sends.
Akiyo getting to the business on Finals 4
Ah the last two blocs. This has been an epic. I think my blog has never been open for so long and I know I haven't worked this hard on it in a while. I've just been keeping this one window open and walking by my computer from time to time trying to get this thing done. Ugh. Ok. Women's final number 4 was easily the hardest for all the women (well duh Dustin, only one of them sent it and it was the winner.) I know! Jody set a really cool bloc, climbing out the steepest section of this wall, using that feature that Akiyo is on. This bloc started on that dome feature and moved across that scoop style feature, its the Entreprise Taijitu by the way, into where Akiyo is right now. Now, for those of you who haven't seen this yet (I'll be leaving a link at the bottom for all the videos of each round) Akiyo managed to do the splits between the feature that she's on in the pic, and the scoop/urinal to match that feature, it was insane and epic and for the first time in a long time, I was motivated to start stretching (yes I know I should be stretching, shhh.) Alright so after that you gained the zone hold, which was a terrible sloper, and an undercling on the feature, you did a big move to a crimp that led to the feature and then a hard move to the finish. Only Anna was able to do this bloc, securing her the win in a, what I think was a come from behind victory.

Oh man, it's almost over, this big beautiful monster of a giant blog post. This experience was easily the highlight of my setting career so far and I did learn a lot, not just about the little nuances of putting up holds but also my concepts of what can be possible. Martin's men's semi number 1 was insanely awesome and I have never seen that kind of movement done. The stuff that both Martin and Jamie did in the corners was really cool, I've always felt that setting dihedrals has always been a big weakness (I know, we have tons of them at the Hive and I have been working on it.) so it was interesting to see what they came up with.

In the end, we got a really good breakdown, almost perfect in my opinion. Women's semis was aa little too easy but overall, a really good comp I feel. Very cool experience for myself, personally. Thank you to all of my sponsors including the Hive, all you had a huge role in getting me this far.

Alright, I'm out, the thinks are below, thank you for reading, stay psyche and I'll be periodically updating this with random shenanigans until the next comp season starts. Peace!

Men's Qualifiers
Women's Qualifiers

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Canadian Nationals

I always forget that I have a blog. It's terrible I know, cuz by now I should get used to using it and trying to keep it up but no, I just keep getting later and later with updating this thing. I also warned all of you that I suck at writing right? That coupled with the fact that every I set a comp I basically come back to Vancouver and need at least two days of recovery plus another day to catch up with all my work at the Hive....yea I know, all of you out there are just rolling your eyes thinking "excuses, excuses Dustin." Well you're right, so I'll stop.

Aaron Eden surveying the wall the first day.
So before I start ranting and raving about things, I'll give you all a little background of the situation. At the start of this comp season, I had just moved to Vancouver and was really psyched on seeing how I matched up against West coast route setters and how different the field was out here, but also I made a very serious goal for myself, to Chief this years Tour De Bloc Nationals. I based a lot of the comps I accepted to work this year, as well as the ones I offered to do despite having an already qualified Chief Route Setter (an example of this would be Calgary with Simon Villenueve or Coyote already having Jody Miall,) I still wanted to set these comps because I wanted that experience with those setters but also to get that knowledge of the field across the country. So I was a little disappointed when Luigi Montilla (the Director and Founder of the Tour De Bloc as well as the Owner of Friction Climbing Holds) called me and told me that I would have the Apprentice Position at Tour De Bloc Nationals. Now before you go thinking that I'm working my way into an online, 15 year old blogging pity party it was right after Luigi told me this that he informed me that the Chief I would be apprenticing would Tonde Katiyo! Now for those of you who don't know of Tonde, he's a freaking genius of Route Setting 1, but he's set a bunch of world cups, including the Eindhoven and Barcelona World Cup stops I attended 2 years ago 2, and 3, he was the one running the National Team Training camp I went too 2 years ago as well. This guys is one of the best in my opinion and at the bottom of this post, I'll be re posting the interview I did with him 2 years ago for Climbing Hold Review. Long and short of that whole above rant was that despite being disappointed that I didn't get Chief, I was really happy to get the opportunity to work with and learn from Tonde.

The crew doing what we do, not all of it is just throwing up holds

So I wanna do something a little different this time around. This comp for me was a lot of learning how to do things differently, to see what a different process creates and how to adapt to it, so in the spirit of that, I'm not going to cover all the problems, I won't tell you of all our trials and tribulations, what I will discuss is the things that I found interesting in Tonde's process of running a crew (some of this will include complaining.) So without further preamble by me, I give you, my experience of setting Tour De Bloc Nationals 2013.

Tonde's Board
Tonde's Board

Now all year I've been ranting and raving about how amazing the new program I've been using to order all of the scramble format blocs and I know it doesn't apply to an Iso round but I was incredibly impressed by the organization that Tonde used. This is just one of the tools he used, in conjunction with a crazy spread sheet, I'm currently writing this and scouring my emails and computer for a copy of this spreadsheet, to complete organize every step we took as a crew towards getting this comp set.

Tonde's Excel Sheet
So let me explain both of these really quickly cuz I think these two tools were both super cool for setting comps and I'll definitely be using these in near future. So the white board above shows each bloc, who was setting it, the style that it was, it's status, how many tops we thought it would get and it's placement in the circuit of the round. The cool thing about that board was really the use of keeping track of the status of each bloc. You can see the column with the "L's", "|'s", "U's" and boxes? That was the way that Tonde was keeping track of each blocs status. The "|" mean's its been set, "L" means its been climbed by one person and tweaked, "U" is when a bloc has been climbed by everyone and tweaked yet again and a box is when it is comp ready. Super cool way of keeping track of things especially since it allows you to just walk by the board and know how far behind, or ahead you are. 

His spreadsheet worked on the same kind of principle except that it added three more very important qualities to keep track of for each bloc:
Intensity: How physically hard it is. Just get your crush on. 
Complexity: How hard is this to figure out, doesn't necessarily need to mean the sequence is difficult to read, could mean very specific, learned movement. 
Risk: How committed do you have to be to send this. (ie if you can do some kind of dirty, weird match to get yourself back in sequence would be a 1 or 2 but a full, all points off dyno would be a 5)
Each of these were given a rating out of 5, 1 being the low and 5 being the high. It's a pretty cool way to look at blocs I think and it covers all the necessary qualities you want to look at when comparing blocs in a a circuit round. Specifically I think it allows you prepare a really well balanced round of climbing. 

Men's Finals #4, the all features nightmare on the left, Women's Final #2 on the right.
Qualifiers First
Now if you've been following my blog, or even if you haven't, I'll tell you right now, every comp I've set up until this one, with the exception of USASCS Youth Nationals in Atlanta about 4 years ago, I always, always, ALWAYS, set finals first. Gets them out of the way and allows you to basically go into the very casual setting of qualifiers. First day we sat down, all of us on the crew, and Tonde threw it out there, thinking of doing qualies first. My instant thought was "um, I don't do things that way." But out of iut came a lot of interesting things. When I talked to him later about it, Tonde said that he always likes shaking things up from a regular schedule and seeing the effects of that change. If you always do your routine then the products you're putting up will become routine as well. Sometimes shaking it up creates new ideas and interesting results. I won't say I'll be doing this in the very near future but I do think this approach provided a bunch of different results that we may not have come to without setting qualies first.

My way of ensuring the finals holds don't get lost or stolen
Now I like talking about boulder problems as much as the next climber. I admit to being completely infatuated and obsessed with certain blocs, specifically some in the world cups. (On a side note has every watch the Milau finals recap? Cuz if you haven't you need to, just to watch Women's Final #2. I don't know how long I've been talkiong about it with fellow Hive Setter Andreas Lerch but that problem is so insanely awesome and dope it makes me want to mail the Chief route setter of that comp the Bloc Of The Year award. Gah! It's so amazing! Anyways.) I enjoy discussing and talking about blocs BUT every night after setting we would discuss every bloc, how the field would receive it, how many people get up it, possible tweaks, things we liked, things we didn't....ugh! The night before finals we spent two hours talking about maybe tweaking finals only to come to the conclusion that we wouldn't. I know this sounds like all part of the process and what not but after nationals I never wanted to talk about a boulder problem ever again. I completely understand that the results and breakdown we got from this comp came from this whole process, and I think it was a very successful com, however this was just one of the things that I didn't see a whole lot of benefit in. I'm much more a judgement call, go with your gut feel, fly by the seat of your pants, shoot from the hip....yea you get the point. 

Matt Johnson flashing Qualifier #2

All The Forerunning 
This was the comp where we foreran the most. By far. I think we ran blocs at least twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. So much climbing. I think we climbed every bloc a billion times. Literally. The thought process behind this was that we would know how each bloc felt so that last minute changes would be easier but seriously Tonde, by Friday he's asking us, "how does that feel" and in my head I'm thinking; "I don't know! could be V0 but I've been climbing straight for days now man!"

National Champion Miles Adamson (left) and Tour De Bloc overall  winner Matt Johnson. Both Hive Team Members
So that'll be it for me for Nationals. If you want to watch the interview from two years ago with Tonde the link for the video is here. Keep checking in guys, I'm going to have another HUGE post really soon (I'm done giving you guys timelines cuz I never meet them) but I'll give you a little about what it's all about. 

On the way back from this comp, Luigi dropped me off at the airport and informed me that I would be on the crew that would be setting the World Cup in Toronto!!! SO STOKED!!! Ok, I'm out, I just got back from Toronto so I'll be posting about the world cup soon, I still need to go back to my gym and make sure my guys and girl didn't burn down the place and catch up to life. Alright guys, stay psyched and thanks all for reading. 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Western Regionals at The Hive

Alright, Alright, I am almost caught up. Almost. I know I've been saying this for a while but I am almost there. This comp was something I was looking forward to all year. I'd been planning, scheming, late nights seeting during the year thinking about what could I do to create an amazing Regional. I know that, with setting so many comps all year round, a couple of people have asked me if I've started reusing ideas, or extrapolating some of them, the answer is no. I've been trying to keep everything I'm doing fairly new, trying to make sure that I don't rip any ideas off of any comps that have happened this year or the year before. I have a huge database of blocs that I've set on my tablet so I try and look at that very extensively before going into any comp but this comp, This comp is extra special for me because I have basically all season, except when I'm away setting other comps, to think about the ideas that I want to put on the wall. There's also a little bit of pride in this comp since it is my home gym, its the first time The Hive hosts western Regionals and since I'd been taking so much time to set everywhere, it was a little bit about me just wanting to show case the skills of my crew and I. Plus, my friend and mentor Jody Miall was setting Eastern Regionals and the competitor inside of me was thinking one thing: time to show my Master up. You know that scene in the first Star Wars, not the new ones but the old classic ones that are clearly better then the new ones, where Darth Vader is getting ready to take on Obi Wan Kenobi in a one on one lightsaber battle to the death and he says "the circle is now complete, once I was but the learner, now I am the master." Yea, that was going through my head basically all week long.
Thirza Carpenter fighting for those last moves on Women's Final #4. Photo Cred. David Tam
Anyways, a comp at the Hive is a little epic, since we're a bouldering only facility and we really can't just close down some section of the gym to start presetting. It's kind of all or nothing endeavor in this facility. So Wednesday night Andreas Lerch, Fracnis Sherer, myself and a ton of the Hive's staff and volunteers rolled into the gym, closed it early and started the long haul of stripping all 250 blocs in the gym and washing literally a bazillion holds while we try to reset the finals blocs that we had preset over the course of the Monday and Tuesday night and get them forerun and done. Huge shouts out to Andreas Lerch, for basically looking after and managing the setting at the Hive while I was away doing that jet setting and route setting thing. Also to Olivia Ridgely (who's the newest member of my route setting crew at the Hive,)Tyler Thompson and fellow Evolv team member Lizzy Asher for all their work forerunning. These three, plus Francis, Andreas and myself basically climbed each move in finals about a hundred times. I think it took us less than an hour to get all the finals blocs up, so we closed the gym at 9 so I would say we started forerunning no later than 10:30 pm. I think we finished this night at maybe 2:30am...maybe. I'm not so sure about that number to be honest but we were there for a long time running these finals blocs.

The whole things about this comp is how hard it is on your internal clock. The logistics of being on a night clock because we only ever set at night for our regular setting and then switching to two long days of working days is really hard on every setter involved. I know what you're thinking, there's some one out there singing "It's a hard knock life." Shut it. I'm not complaining I'm just letting y'all know that what it takes to get a comp done at the Hive. I'll continue, Thursday we set 60 of our qualifier blocs, which on this day because we all foreran till 2:30 am that morning, so I make the rule that no one tries anything. Just get the blocs up and let's get out of there, if it needs tweaks, we'll get it in forerunning.  And that's exactly what we did. We went in early on Friday morning ready for the hurt and suffering of running 60 blocs and putting them in order.

Let's talk about the actual comp. Really good turn out, really strong field, the best of the west showing up to do battle for those lead spots going into Nationals. Two of the top blocs didn't see a send in the qualifying round, but not for lack of attempts by the competitors and personally I don't really mind a scramble format round that has one or two blocs that don't go, as long as competitors try them. It adds a little bit of extra strategy to the opening round, competitors need to consider whether extra attempts or even one attempt on those blocs is worth it. 

The men's field worked out really well, we got really solid separation throughout the top 10 guys that went to finals, not a very close race but it did come down to sends on different blocs not just the top 6. On the women's side we only had one tie going into finals between second and third place. We knew our finals blocs needed to do a job. 

It's right about now I'll bring up something. If you've been reading my blog for a while now you'll know that I made a pack with myself never to use grip tape ever, ever, ever again since that whole fiasco at Climber's Rock a couple of years ago. So I'd like to hand out just a little bit of advice, once you make that mistake once, and you learn from it, you take away all the necessary parts of that specific lesson, you make a vow never to make that mistake again, DON'T convince yourself 3 years later to do it again. Ugh. Sometimes I wonder about myself and whether or not I am actually paying attention.
Thirza Carpenter starting out Women's final #1. Photo cred. David Tam 

So women's #1 was this really cool finals bloc on the slab section of our gym involving a ton of features that myself and Andreas made, plus some really cool holds from the bloc's sponsor, Orogen Climbing Holds. I thought this bloc was super different then a lot of things I'd seen this year. I always like putting a slab in my finals and the other thing I like about leading with a slab bloc is that competitors get into iso, they get warmed up, they get really pscyhed and come out ready to rip holds off the wall and instead they  need to slow themselves down and be slow, patient and in control. It messes with their expectations in my opinion.  Anyways if you'll look at the photo above you'll notice the bane of my existence underneath Thirza's right foot. That grip tape would turn out to rip, for almost every woman competitor, and would end up causing 3 technical incidents. ARGH!!! This bloc turned out to be WAY too complicated as I think only one woman got zone. I could be wrong though since I was so mad at myself for using grip tape, again, despite my promise to myself never to do it again.
Jelisa Dunbar looking for zone on Women's #2 Photo Cred. David Tam
Women's #2 was sponsored by Uncarved Block and what we were looking for from this bloc was more sends, an easier bloc to follow up the curve ball that we threw competitors with the first one being a slab. I'm pretty sure all the women got zone on this bloc. We wanted something with some more tensiony, shouldery moves. The entire bloc was basically built around Uncarved Bloc's The Leach, which is the really long ledge in Jelisa's right hand. There was a fairly shouldery move leading into the hold, you still had to work your hands along it once you got control of it and there was a really cool knee drop to this next hold, again referencing the pic above AND you had to use it as a foot after. So a lot of uses of that hold. I think only two of the women in finals didn't send this but we still got a lot of separation off of this bloc with attempts, which was good since #1 was a little too complicated.

Tiffany Melius up high on Woemn's #3. Photo Cred David Tam
Women's #3 was the Project Holds sponsored bloc. We used mostly the Classic Font series holds in conjunction with some of the Shellshocked series. This bloc was meant to be the beat down. We wanted only one or two women up this bloc and it was meant to be taxing. Slopers and compression on a steep face with a really hard last move, unwinding from a cross to the finishing hold. This bloc was super cool, I thought. Nothing ridiculous but super fun to climb and I thought it was a good place for the hardest bloc to be. Remember, up until this point the women, in my layout of finals, hadn't really been tested. Not to say that they hadn't had their challenges, what I mean is that they'd only faced a slab and the easiest of the blocs, so they really wouldn't be that worked yet, right? So what we were hoping for from this block was straight up, thugged out, guns a blazin, bouldering. I feel like that's what we got, only the winner, Thirza Carpenter sent it, special mention though to fellow Flashed team member, Stacey Weldon who fell off the finish hold. 
Stacey Weldon get up there on Women's #4 Photo Cred. David Tam

Finally Women's #4, the Friction Climbing bloc. For this bloc, what we were looking for was the show. What I mean by this is something a little spectacular, something that had some real cool sequence, which in this case was a 360 campus that didn't work out. I don't know what to tell you, I thought it was really forced and felt really comfortable, apparently, not. Happens. I'll remember that for later and the next comps. Anyways, thew other thing about the show bloc is that its meant to be easier. We were thinking at least half the field gets up. And like everything else about this bloc, we were wrong about that too. Yea, I know, I'm being a negative Nancy, which I'll admit a little yes, however, I'm also looking at this in a critical manner. We wanted a showy bloc that would get women doing a 360 campus. Not achieved. We wanted an easier bloc that 5 women would get up. Nope didn't get that either. We did  achieve some separation through attempts to bonus, which was good but it's not what we set out to do. All in all, I'll never use grip tape again and I think that this round of finals blocs was a touch to hard. 
Jamie Chong staring down the slab movements of Men's #1 Photo Cred. David Tam  

Onto the Men's final. #1 was sponsored by Project Holds again, but to be honest, didn't use that many of their holds. The nature of this bloc was looking for a more complicated and committed bloc. Something that you didn't really know what do when you're previewing it, a bloc that you kind of needed to figure out while you were on the wall. Again, because it was the first bloc and the men would have been warmed up and ready tear holds off walls, we wanted to something that was slow, involved patience and honestly wasn't that much pulling. We did get some separation off of this bloc, through attempts, which is always good. I believe not everyone got up this bloc too, so we still managed to get some separation off of this and come on, look at how rad those features look. Right?
Matt Johnson sticking the throw on Men's #2. Photo Cred David Tam
Men's #2 was another Orogen Climbing bloc which I thought was kind of a cool little bloc. The wall was a slight, blunted arete that we wanted to do something a little more hold based with these really cool Olivine Series Crimps  which are these geo style edges that I really like and enjoy. They're about 1/2 to full pad and, I feel, not as sharp as some geometric styled holds. Anyways, with this bloc we wanted something a little tricky with holds, which we got at the start with some cool ticky tacky moves between those edges, to a long one handed dyno, to a quick and dirty finish. We wanted something easier, again, they had just finished the slab so we wanted them to actually be rock climbing by now. I'm pretty sure that every one of the dudes got up this bloc. It was a little showy with that rock over dyno and we got separation with attempts.
Robert Stewart-Patterson crushing out Men's #3. Photo Cred. David Tam
For Men's #3 we used those beautiful chocolate milk coloured Friction Holds. This bloc was meant to sap the men's core. We didn't want it to be the hardest bloc but we did want it to make them tired. This is a different then I had taken all year long and I wanted to see how the best of the west would react to it. Instead of deciding that this bloc would get us get clear separation of the field by it being the hardest, or most complicated, we wanted to bank that only the top guys would be able to do this bloc AND the next one. It's a little weird to think of but that was our mentality towards this bloc, we wanted to get the guys tired so the guys that could dig deep for the next bloc, would only be podium worthy. This entire bloc was basically set with any of the Friction Comp Series, specifically the chrome domes and the dome cuts. 
Mike Foley killing the last move of Men's #4. Photo Cred. David Tam
Men's #4 used all Uncarved Bloc holds, you guys know how much I love these holds, but we used mostly the 21 set crimps and some holds from the shattered series. The finishing holds were from that seeing stars set but anyways, yea, I love these holds but you guys know that. Ok, so this was the bloc. Above I said that we wanted #3 to make you tired that was because we wanted this bloc to be the decider. If you got #3, which I'm fairly certain a good portion of the field did, obviously not all on their first goes, then you needed to dig deep inside of you and find the extra go, that extra fitness, to get up this straight up, powerful bloc. The opening moves of this were really hard moves on bad holds on volumes leading to the above long, powerful cross. Only two guys got up this block and it came down to attempts to who won but in the end Mike Foley took the win. Since he is an American, The Hive's own Matt Johnson got the first place Canadian points going to Nationals. 

Alright, I know I said I was going to get this down last weekend but I just got busy and it couldn't happen and now this one is done and it's time to start working on the post for Nationals. Alright guys stay psyched and stay tuned, the Nationals one is going to be epic! Oh also go and check out David Tam's photo site here, he provided all the pics for this blog post since I was busy crying about the grip tape, he's super talented so definitely take a look at it and I'll get the next post up ASAP. Thanks for reading and climb safe.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Once Again to Grand River Rocks.....

So I'm still playing catch up, I just got back from Nationals and I will get that post out by the end of this week I promise but I really did want to cover this comp because I think that this was one of the best set comps of this year. I mean, I do believe Nationals did what it was supposed to do and was incredibly set, definitely the best set comp of the year but I would give this one a very close second, just because the finals blocs were so entertaining, they were so different from each other and I feel, very different form everything that had gone up this year.

Before I go into what I'm going to call will be a very short recap, because I am desperately trying to catch up but also, I didn't manage to get any pictures from this comp, I want to talk about how much I love coming to this gym. I know, I know, my photography skills are just off the hook and you're all so disappointed but, I will make up for it, I found a video of all the finals blocs that will be posted at the end of this so you all will get the treat of watching all the finals. Anyways, I love this gym. I love the working with the owners, I love the hold selection, the walls, everything! These guys are awesome and their gym is awesome and I highly recommend this facility to everyone in the Kitchener Waterloo area.

Anyways, right after the Oasis Youth comp I went back to Newmarket (my home town) to see my folks, have a home cooked meal (which hadn't happened since basically February) and catch up on some well needed rest and recovery. I only got one day of relax but then I headed off to Kitchener, Ontario to set the last local Tour De Bloc of Eastern Canada. I was, as I said, really psyched to be headed out to work with these guys again and after setting a route comp, I was really excited to not be hanging in a harness.

So I get there Monday, the boys, as per usual when we work together, had everything together and planned out. I may have tweaked a little of the distribution of qualifiers but other than that I came in ready to set finals and some of qualifiers and basically forerun. These guys have such good heads on their shoulders and know how to put on a comp. They never try and rush it, they stripped their entire bouldering area on the Tuesday morning so there was plenty of room, holds and since they put up tarps to block sight of the entire boulder, there was plenty of time. So like we always do, finals went up first, more on them later and then we just crushed out finals. Like always at GRR, we got so far ahead. Finals were finished by the Wed. morning, qualifiers were finished by Thursday evening and of course, reinforcements arrived that night.

I had asked my friend Francis Sherer to come out, help forerun and basically I wanted to get used to working with him again before I brought him out to help out at Western Regionals. He rolled in on Thursday night, which I had totally forgot I asked him to come out and so when he arrived, I thought to myself "might as well get more ahead." So Thursday night we foreran the top 20 blocs, cutting the forunning down to only 40 blocs, which is huge! Friday came along and the rest of the boys joined us and we just crushed through everything else and ended up, of course going home early except for me, Francis and one of the volunteers, Jamie. Here's where it got a little interesting.

Now if you're not interested in listening to me rant, skip this paragraph. All year long I've been using this program called Springpad. It's like a Pintrest app but the way we've been using it is to take pictures of all the blocs in qualifiers then you can use this app, on a tablet or smart phone, to organize those blocs into a difficulty order (ie. Bloc #1 is the easiest and #60 is the hardest.) So I've been using this all year, for every comp I've done, including the youth comp. I've never had any problems with it. In fact, at The Hive's local, with Josh, one of the owners of GRR, and he even agreed that its a better way then the way we've been doing it before. He also doesn't like technology and I fully agree but this is making our lives as setters running a scramble format round, easier. Anyways I have used this app at every comp, east or west and seriously, how is it that GRR can screw it up?!?! We had to spend 3 extra hours, the 3 of us, reordering and hanging up placards and to this day I stioll have no idea how they messed this up! Unbelievable. I will give a little credit to Jamie for taking at least 40 min while Francis and I walked around the gym counting blocs to make sure that 60 blocs actually existed. Still. Unbelievable.

Ok so comp day rolls around and the qualifying blocs did their job. On the men's side Ayo Sopeju took first and we got very excellent separation with 5 points separating 2nd place and 5th place! So cool that those places came down to simply attempts. Women's side, not as close but still clear and concise separation with Holly Reid "The Beast from the East" taking it.

On to Finals. I'm going to be quick about this because of the video but I'll highlight my favourite blocs in both finals. For the women I thought #1 was a nice intro to the rest of the finals circuit. Nothing too serious, one powerful movement in the middle catching a flat edge and controlling the swing, then leading to a difficult top out. #2 was just straight up crimping up a 35 degree wall which I thought we were being generous about since women finalists will just eat that up. #3 was my favourite of the round with a balancy section of volumes to start, that had Bonnie De Bruijn lying flat down ontop of one of the volumes, leading to a hard section on slopers to a bad top out. #4 was meant to be a small pop around a corner to a giant jug that all the women some how found a way to crimp the back of a hold despite what are female forerunners said, couldn't be done. My error, and I made a note of it for the upcoming comps and for Nationals.

Men's Finals was spectacular, I think. I loved all these blocs. I thought they were all five stars but anyway. Here we go. #1 had a really cool, frogging start on edges with a couple of tension moves leading to a kind of release one hold to swing out and kick a volume in order to oppose the hold in your other hand. So cool. Watch the video seriously. #2 was a weird outward facing stem dyno that some of the boys found a way to do inwardly facing. After the dyno we intended a figure 4, which some of the men did, to a hard top out. #3 was my favourite in the men's circuit and I think could be a challenger for bloc of the year. It was the same volumes as the women but instead of going out right to those slopers, you had the same volume undercling as the women and you simply had to balance and patiently stand up an grab a really terrible sloper on the lip to top out. So amazingly cool, only two guys got it but they were really psyched and so was the crowd. It was pretty awesome. Again, watch the video. Finally #4 was where the men just had to pull. Hard moves on bad holds with a good toe hook to release it and just control a really hard swing, moving around a corner to bad a bad sloper that you had to match, go out to a terrible crimp, and hand flip the sloper to throw again to another bad sloper. Only Ayo got up it but when he did the place went nuts and he secured his victory.

In the end Ayo took it for the men and Holly took it for the women. I was really happy with the seperation you can check it out here. The only thing I didn't like about this comp other than the Springpad screw up was that we used topout finishes for finals and the only thing I don't like about that is that you can time out while you're topping out and it can create appeals. The bigger issue is that when someone tops out, the crowd does go a little crazy but while they're screaming, the final whistle may go off, which it did in this comp to Kaska Kowalska, and she didn't end up being given a top for bloc #2. Those things I think kid of suck and I'm more inclined to say hold finishes are much better. Just my two cents.

Here's where you can find the video. Check it out. Seriously, I think these blocs are some of the best this season. Ok, I'm out for now but I'm going to get my Nationals write up done before the end of this week so stay tuned. Stay psyched guys, climb safe.

Monday, 1 April 2013

The Youth Comp at Rock Oasis

So, I'll open this post up with an apology, I do not have any photos from this comp. I know that you're all disappointed since my photo skills are off the hook right? No this was the beginning of my two weeks in Ontario and my camera didn't make the trip for some reason. I packed my tools and all but I was far more concerned I think with the fact that I had to borrow a harness to set this comp than whether or not my camera was going to make it to the east.

I flew out and got to the gym on Tuesday before the comp. I was very nervous about setting a roped comp, especially a youth roped comp. I hadn't set for youth for a least a year and honestly I had no idea about the field, had no idea who was climbing well, who wasn't climbing anymore. Basically I was going in super blind and it did worry me. I sat on my flight, thinking up easy ways to separate a large field with just straight up, low percentage moves. I remembered all the things I learned last year setting so many youth comps; kids are bad at slopers, younger kids are bad at underclings because they don't have those big muscle groups yet, same goes for gastons, and dynamic moves are height dependent. All these things lead me to a very successful year of youth setting last year but this year, with my focus solely on the Tour De Bloc, I was worried about being able to do a decent job at this comp. 

I can hear one of you already reading this saying "well Dustin, then why did you take the job? You don't even own a harness anymore." I know that. What you think that when I was packing I was looking around going "I wonder where I put my harness?" I understand that but this is a gym that was very good to me when I was between True North and The Hive. They gave me a ton of work while I was saving up to get out to the west coast and while I was committed to other comps in the east, The Rock Oasis was very generous at giving me setting shifts, keeping me working and, letting me climb a bunch. So when Karen contacted me and asked if I was able to make this work in my calendar, since I was already committed to a comp the week after in that area, I was more than happy to arrange my life to make this happen. Also, at this point I should probably bring some mad big ups to my boss, Andrew Coffey and The Hive, for giving me the time to go out and set this, and the next comp, back to back. 

Anyways, the things about this comp that I would like to talk about are; 1, the crew and 2, the results.
My crew for this comp 2 people that I hadn't worked with ever, and the Head Route Setter of the Rock Oasis, Cort McElroy, who, since they did give me a ton of work last year, I really enjoy working with. The two other setters were fellow Evolv team athlete Max Dugal and Sean Milligan. Max is someone who I've known for a longtime, we've trained and climbed together for years, I've heard really great things about him as a forerunner and setter but never had the opportunity to work with him so I was more than happy to hear he was going to be part of the crew. Sean Milligan is a route setter who has worked in the GTA for years. Many, many years. I've heard he's set a bunch of comps but I've never experienced or even climbed any of his routes to be honest. He was a wild card in my head and although I never really worry about working with anyone, this was just something that was rolling around in the back of my head. Let it be clear right now, I think Sean Milligan is an incredibly talented Route Setter. He was an excellent member of the crew, he has a very technical style of setting, which was really good for me and Max cuz we're both boulderers, which really just means, we have no idea how to use our feet. I was impressed by Sean, if you live in the GTA, I think he is setting at Oasis still but he runs a company called Flowstate, you can find them on facebook, he's got some real skill, serious.

Now, if you've never been to the Rock Oasis, they have, one of the largest roofs I've ever seen. Thing is a mission to set. I will not lie, the first day we were there, Max and I stood underneath the roof and looked at each other and said "I don't want to set that." Seriously, there were two routes out this roof and I was thinking if I had to set them, that's my week probably. Enter, Cort McElroy. Dude took both routes, no issues, no complaints and ran them both up in one afternoon. An afternoon! Man's a hero. 

All in all the prep for this comp went down without a hitch mostly. There was one instance where I over slept because my phone decided not to switch over to Toronto time, but other than that we were ahead for most of the whole thing. We were finished setting routes by Thursday afternoon and got a good chunk of the forerunning done that night. All in all I was very impressed with the crew and I thought the routes turned out really, really good.

Just briefly, I'll talk about results. The results for this comp can be found here  but what I want to talk about is the Youth C (12 and 13) boys category. This is the category that a lot of the Route Setters in the east warned me about when I was looking into the field for this comp. A lot of guys told me that the top of this category was very hard to separate and hadn't been separated well this year with a bunch of three way ties that led to count backs, sometimes as far back as their warm up routes! It's one of the things that I was very worried about going into this comp but luckily, because we did so much forerunning and my crew was so talented, we got clear and concise separation. 

Alright that's it for now, stay psyched guys, I got two more posts to go before I leave for Edmonton tomorrow. Climb safe! 

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Finally back from 4 comps in 5 weeks....

I don't know what it is about this blog but it seems to be one of the hardest things to keep up on. I think, at least for the last month its been set a comp till Saturday, get home to my apartment on Monday or, go to next gym pending on the point I was at during the last month, rest till Tuesday and begin the process all over again. At some point I would sit, very briefly and think about how I should be updating my blog but it didn't happen. Obviously right? Anyways, I'm finally back, I've got five days before I leave to set Tour De Bloc Nationals in Edmonton and someway, somehow, I'm going to punch out 4 blog posts of my last month. So without further excuses I will get right into it.

Hive Team Coach Matt Johnson up on his last attempt of Men's final  #4
So, I rolled out on the Thursday morning, a week and a half after returning from Coyote Rock Gym and drove the 50 minutes, I remember this morning being a little over an hour because I'm convinced Vancouverites, despite complaining and telling you constantly that the only kind of whether they get is rain, (FYI as I write this its beautifully sunny and gorgeous out) they cannot for some reason drive in the rain. Anyways, I rolled into Project Climbing Center  to chief up a crew that, to be honest, didn't really need a chief. I joined Tim Catcher, Gary Foster, Simon Parton and owner Brock Tilling. When Brock and I talked about me being Chief, I didn't think I was going to be getting myself in a crew with some of the best setters in the west and it really showed. 

Finals went up very quickly and got forerun even quicker. I think we were done with finals by almost 2pm. This was the comp, I will admit, where I set the least. By the time I got there, Simon already had his first men's final up, Gary had half of his up and Brock was working on his second. It was crazy. Qualifiers went up just as fast. It was a very fast pace and every time I turned around, another bloc went up that looked quality. By the end of Thursday, I was driving back to Vancouver (I knew I wasn't going to be sleeping in my bed a lot over the next month so I was taking all the opportunities I could,) with a small relaxed feeling of "we're so far ahead" and of course the very large worry in the back of my head "how much of all of that needs tweaking?"

I want to talk very briefly, at this point about an opinion I have. I know, I know, I know that some people will disagree with me about this but that's why I'm prefacing it with: this is just my opinion. I don't believe that, in Canada, at the local Tour De Bloc events, or for that matter, at any Tour De Bloc event, we should be doing finals in World Cup Finals format. For those of you unaware of this format, it is, as it is described, used in Finals at all World Cups and most, if not all International events, as well as most countries national level competitions including our neighbours to the south. I know, I can hear the thoughts right now "But Dustin, if it's used everywhere else, why shouldn't we use it?" Yes I get that but here is the point of reason for my opinion; the only person from Canada who is making finals on a consistent basis and would need the practice in this format is Sean McColl. Fortunately for him, he's getting a poop ton of practice at that format by 1, competing at every World Cup and international event under the sun and 2, he lives in Europe and trains with all the top competitors at training camps and the like so although you can always get more practice, I think, he's good. So what type of format do our Canadian National Team athletes need to practice? Well since most of the time a good portion of our athletes are not making it in to semis, and if they do make it into semis they rarely place high at the end of that round, it is just my opinion that our athletes need to get better at 5 min on 5 min off format of World Cup qualifiers and semis, which coincidentally is referred to as "classic format" in the CEC rules. Again, the above is just my opinion, I do like World Cup Format Finals, we ran the finals that way at the Calgary Climbing Center when I was out there in November but, I believe we should be training and preparing our athletes to get better at what they're not good at yet. 

Anyways, the reason for the above rant was that we ran the finals in Abbotsford in the World Cup format, which meant there was no change over, both finals blocs (men's and women's) were on the wall at the same time. 

Qualifiers for women worked out very well. Gary Foster did an excellent job of knowing a field that I have been becoming more familiar with and after the last month I feel very confident going into Nationals with both the men's and women's field, but this break down was good. There was a clear first place, while the other 7 women we're defined through attempts and their bloc choices in the scramble format qualifier. One or two blocs separated 3rd and 8th. 

On the Men's side I think we were a little generous. The men sent their top blocs and the only thing separating them were attempts but that's the way it goes sometimes. The men, like the women, are so close in strength to each other so it's always a challenge in qualifiers to get the separation you need, especially since they're going to watch each other for beta, so anything tricky isn't going to be as soon as one dude figures it out. Pretty much, the tactic I've been employing more and more this year, especially at The Hive for any of our comps, has been too make sure that the top 6 qualifying blocs separate through styles. Meaning that they may all be the same grade, but there is one slab, one power endurance, one raw thugged out power, one vertical tech (not necessarily crimps) one roof (if able) and one kind of sequency funk bloc. 

Anyways, onto finals. 

I can't remember this climber's name, it was all the way back in February but she is crushing the top section of Women's #1

Women's #1 was powerful climb out a large bulge on the right side of the gyms bouldering wall. You started underneath the roof on ok holds, moved into a good incut gaston on the roof and then threw out right to around the lip to a good hold. All the women's feet cut here and it created a little bit of a swing leading to a powerful compression head wall to top out. All of the women topped this problem, most getting the flash.
Hive Team Member David after the balancy crux of Men's #1

Men's #1 saw the boys bring their technical skill and their balance. It started by traversing left onto a volume with no holds on it, to turn around an arete with big, bulbous sloping feet. After that you made a couple of powerful moves on slopers to a HUGE lock off leading to a sketchy finishing move off a very bad crimp. I believe that most of the men didn't get this and the ones that did I think podiumed...but I could be wrong. I know Matt Johnson, Elan McCrae and I think Robert Stewart-Patterson did this bloc and I think that was it. 
Erica Carlson high up on Women's #2

Women's #2 was a slightly overhanging balance battle. Starting standing on a volume, you crimped out a hard lock off move to a getting your foot on another volume which lead to a big move while balancing in to the wall on the large foot on the volume and reaching way out to a bad sloper before gaining the finishing hold. Erica Carlson, above is on that large balance move. It gave more of the women trouble then I thoughtt but it was cool how simple, yet devious this bloc was.
Fellow Flashed Team Member Elan entering the crux of Men's #2
Men's #2 was, what I think, every dude is looking for in the gym to boulder. Steep powerful moves out a giant overhanging spine leading to big moves on good holds out a roof to the finish, if you're a guy, I know that description made your palms sweat. I'm having trouble typing cuz I'm thinking about how much I love that style of climbing. Anyways, at the end of this bloc, we intended a 180 campus move to a high toe hook hand foot match finish but all the guys that got there didn't read it. In fact both the sends that happened on this bloc, Matt and Elan, they both matched out the first hold in the roof to avoid the campus. This though, lead to a really hard undercling unwind smearing against the side wall.
Tiffany Melius getting ready for the final sequence of  Womens #3
Women's #3 was all about how much you had left in the tank. It was a power endurance fest, with the first crux coming from transferring into an undercling on a slight overhang while the second found the women up high on an almost vertical wall on thin holds with big moves in between. Four of the women got up this but they earned every inch and there were attempts between them.
Matt Johnson getting his crimp on for Men's #3
Men's #3 was all kinds of heinous thin messiness on a slightly overhanging wall. There was some funk in the upper section of this bloc, with having to use a bunch of those thin 21 set crimps from Uncarved Block, multiple times by each hand. Only Elan managed to send this bloc, let it be known, the boy can crimp!

Women's #4. I wish I had a picture of you. Unfortunately, every time I end up MCing, I never get any pics. All the photos you've seen here were actually taken by Gavin Johnson, I don't have a website for him but I will get it and leave in my blog somewhere.  Anyways, this bloc climbed out that overhanging spine that Men's #2 cranked out. It was slopey, there were a lot of compression moves and just like #3 it was a long endeavor. At the end of it, only one woman dug deep and sent, on her first go actually, Hung-Ying Lee (Kris for short.) She was the only one to finish Women's #4 and with it, she took the win.
Robert Stewart-Patterson staring down the epic dyno of Men's #4
Men's #4. Up there on the list of coolest blocs I've seen this year. Started on two underclings, you dynoed out right to two holds sloping away from you. You couldn't stick these holds, no matter how much Simon tried in forerunning, but you used the moment catching them created to pop to the next long rail and catch that long orange rail. Such a cool movement, lots of big props out to Simon Parton for forcing this out. I believe Matt Johnson was the only one to stick the dyno and he battle for every inch of the disgustingly hard Squamish style top out that followed but despite best efforts put forth, this bloc went without a send.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed working with these guys. They had their head's on straight  they're truly a talented group of individuals and man they went to work. Awesome comp, good separation throughout each round, the crew lived up to, as Brock it to me in an email "the who's who of Western setting." Big talk but they delivered.

Alright, I'm off to take a break and go climbing before I start my next post about a Youth comp I did back in Ontario. I hope you guys enjoyed it and stay psyched., Climb safe.

Oh!!! One more thing really quick. Huge props to my sponsors; Climbing Hold Review, Climb It and Flashed for providing me with these new hats.

For those of you who don't know, I practically live in my hat. I use it to control thew giant mane that is my hair (although my comp beard is getting pretty fierce too,) I'm always wearing one of these, I think there is actually a picture on this blog somewhere of me napping with my hat covering my face. Sometimes, I'll even admit, I use my hat to carry extra bolts and foot holds. Anyways, HUGE thanks to the companies that keep supporting me and Climbing Hold Review, Climb It and Flashed, thank you so much for the fashion stable of my life/usable tool and storage. 

Alright guys, stay psyched and climb safe.