Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Climbers Rock TDB

What up!! So yes, this was the next stop on the Tour De Bloc from Grand River Rocks, the Climber's Rock Tour De Bloc. This was more than likely one of the most up and down comps I've ever been involved with. I wasn't chief at this one, my friend, Aaron Eden (fellow Flashed and Evolv team member) was the guy in charger, I just got to put up blocs, which was awesome for the first bit, not towards the end. So without further noise from me, let's get into the quick and dirty of this comp.
The first thing I would like to point out, and something that we all said afterwards, we could have avoided a lot of the little hiccups in this comp with a little bit more time. Aaron did all the organization and stuff, like a Chief should, but we started officially setting on the Wednesday when we could have started a day earlier and that would have kind of relieved a lot of the pressure of this event. However, having said that, I'm sure if you gave any route setter a month to put together a comp, it would be the best damn comp that there ever was. Comps are like that, they are time sensitive and therefore there are times where certain things just end up on the wayside because there are other things that absolutely have to get done. One thing that Jody has told me over and over, and I find myself constantly saying it as well, "On Saturday, people are going to show up and they are going to rock climb." I know it seems simple but this seems to best describe our priorities at comps. On Saturday, if there are 20 or 50 blocs up, people are going to come and rock climb so if there are only 5 blocs up, and it's Friday night, although you should never be at this point and if you are, my best suggestion, call more route setters or cry (please note crying is totally a viable and realistic option.) Anyways, if it is Friday night and you only have 5 blocs up, now is not the time to be focusing down on complicated and tweak dependent sequences. This is the time where you draw on your best resources, your very commercial and hold based setting, the tried tested and true; right-left-right-left or as the french would called it; the droit-gauche speciaux. Anyways, I think you get my point, we could have used I think one more day.
Now to relieve for the time pressure, Aaron did call in a lot of setters. We had Climber's Rock's own Francis Scherer and Tyler Norton as well as former and visiting Climber's Rock setter Eugeni Kremlev plus visiting setter Joe Layno (who I would like to point out, was my little sister and I's day camp councilor when I was super young climbing at Rock and Chalk in Newarket, just saying.) So it was a super rad crew but we had a mountain ahead of us and I think everyone involved would agree that the battle was on, and it was a back and forth brawl for sure.
So I started on Wednesday, Aaron had already gotten a couple of Finals up and put away, I rolled in and started throwing up my finals blocs, which was a little bit of a difficult process. The gym was staying open so I had to work around most of the regular set blocs that were going to come down for Saturday. Aaron was good about it though, as always its hard to balance between commercial establishment and competition venue, so he just said take down holds, people will know that stuff is missing and what not, so it wasn't that bad, just adds another step right? Anyways, the other issue I found was the organization of the holds was hard for me because every Head Route Setter has a different way of organizing holds into buckets and searching through buckets for "the perfect hold": is always time consuming. Please note that I'm not saying Aaron's organization is terrible, its just not my way so obviously it's going to take me a little more time to find stuff. Anyways, I got three of my four finals blocs up and down before the gym opened and then headed back to True North to teach an intermediate technique lesson.
On Thursday I got my last finals bloc up, put the other 3 back up to forerun, helped strip the bouldering wall which included getting off some stripped holds. This is where I think we get really lucky at True North. Our T-nuts are fucking bomb proof. I'm not joking. I think in the history of the gym being open for 2 straight years and having pulled off and put up an inconceivable a shit ton (this is actually a legit measurement, more than a crap ton but less than a fuck ton) of holds, we have had 2, only two, yes route setters, eat it up and let your draws hit the floor, 2 stripped t-nuts. At this comp we had a whole lot of stripped t-nuts and at the start, whether it was Aaron, Francis, myself or anyone else put the hold on it was "I don't understand, it went in easily," but towards the last 18 stripped holds that saying lost all meaning and I really think that there is a good lesson in this for me. No matter how good of a route setter you are, doesn't matter, stripped holds happened, granted experienced route setters will know when to back out of rough t-nuts and shit but at the end of it, stripped holds are going to happen and putting the blame off on nothing, or making the excuse of "it went in fine" is really just wasting time. They're going to happen and one of the things I took away from this comp is the next time I strip a hold during a comp, I'm not going to say that, I'm just going to grab a pair of vice grips, get in the back of the wall and pull it off instead of wasting my time making that useless excuse. MARK MY WORDS! Ok, back to the comp. So Friday morning we started the day by Aaron and I forerunning finals. I know, maybe some of you are thinking "but Dustin, how did you forerun, your finger is still injured" and the answer is yes, it is, so I developed a new and futuristic way of forerunning for the injured. I had one, left handed rounded jug that I carried around with me and every time there was a questionable move, that jug went up right beside the left handed hold that was more than likely tweaky and scary for my left hand, and I tried the move using that jug. I used this method also for qualifiers as well but that comes later. Anyways, I coined this method the lunch box jug because I just carried around all day on Friday like a elementary school kid with a lunch box. Anyways, while we were doing this, the rest of the guys were putting up the 50 qualifier blocs. This is kind of where things start to slide, I mean realistically we could have been forerunning finals on Thursday and had finals down and away by Thursday night but again, time constraints and all. So Aaron and I get through all of the finals by about 3 except for men's number 4 which was my bloc, but the movement that I had in mind was a little tricky so it needed a little extra forerunning and tweaking. Now one thing you should know about Aaron Eden is he is likely one of the fastest setters I know. If someone called me and said; "I'm opening a gym up tomorrow and I need 50 routes and 100 blocs up in the next 24 hrs, can you help me" I would say to that person "I have just the person for you and he's not me." So in order to use our resources better, Aaron moved to throwing up qualifier blocs and I took Francis off of setting and onto tweaking, forerunning and taking down finals. Anyways, we get finals down and get back to throwing up qualifiers and before we knew it, 50 blocs up and Aaron decides it would be a good idea for us to go to the Tim's up the street, get a little food and some needed caffeine in us before the forerunning of qualifiers goes on. I really do believe in this tactic of getting out of the gym, not only for the simple fact of getting ourselves some fresh air and also seeing that there is a world that does exist out of the gym but also to get us all into a fresh state of mind. I think this decision was really smart.
So after some coffee and a fresh look at things, the crew comes back and we split in two; myself, Joe and Francis forerunning, tweaking and putting into an ascending order blocs #1-25 and Aaron, Eugene and Tyler looking after blocs #25-50. Now, one of things that we did realize and was spoken up in our debrief that the blocs were a little out of order but that happens. I'm not saying that we should not strive for perfect order, however this does happen and usually due to fatigue. I mean forerunning often takes anywhere from 4-7 hours for qualifiers depending on time and number of runners so climbing for that long and being able to realistically and concisely take into account that you are tired out of your mind, especially since we foreran finals in the morning, it was bound to happen. So with all in all, stripped holds, late registrations and everything else, we finished up around 1 amish...with some things being left till the morning. Right now I'd like to give big props to the whole setting crew and Maria (one of the owners of CRock) and my girl Michelle, who came out to put up the numbers so that there would be no confusion like last time at Grand River Rocks....ugh.
Bloc of the comp goes to Eugeni for his sick bloc that finished by sitting on a feature and putting your hands in a box between your legs, I think it was somewhere in the 30s....
So qualifiers happened, there were too few blocs, I mean 50 blocs for 250+ competitors was a little too little however, again a lot of this comps little things could have been cleaned up by more time. At the end of the qualifying round, we had a pretty good separation with only one time going into finals, being a three way tie for 3rd that we broke with a count back to their next hardest send.
Eric Sethna catching the dyno on Men's #2
Onto finals. So if you didn't know, finals was a little late in starting. We did have a couple of slight technical issues (stripped holds...ugh) and because of top end competitor late entries (like Garry Posey, John Bowles, Iyma Lamarche and Thomasina Pidgeon) Aaron and I both agreed that things needed to get stepped up a couple of notches. So, in change over for finals, we grabbed fellow Evolv team mate Max Dugal and just started forerunning and tweaking finals. Also because the wall at Climbers Rock is so big, Aaron had also decided to run both Men's and Women's at the same time, which really gave the crowd a good show and because we were running so late, it definitely helped out with the catching up on lost time. Also, in case you were wondering, technology again won the battle against me and both my camera, and video camera were uncharged so all the photos I'm providing you were given to me by Aaron Eden you can also check outhis blog here.
Eric Sethna catching the dyno on Men's #3
Women's #1 was set by me and I really wanted something that almost all the women would get up but would be a little tricky and draining. I decided to go with a big cross of the start with a good heal which let you float out to a pocket, from here you would swing your feet over and cross under to an undercling on a feature that you could also use as a hand. One you got both hands on the feature you crushed yourself into this dihedral and with big feet made a long reach to a giant undercling which was the zone hold. The hard thing about this was that you had keep the tension on the left hand or, due to how big the jug undercling was, you would pull your self off the hold and end barn-dooring off. From here, you matched the undercling and went around the corner onto a slab to gain a slopping lay back. moving your feet onto the slab you used smearing feet to gain an upside down gaston for the left and an undercling side pull for your right and keeping the tension on your feet, stepping up to that layback sloper to reach the top. The overall bloc was long, but I felt it really did it's job and I really liked this bloc as a whole. I think it was something different that got the women thinking a little but not too hard and I got some separation out of it. We didn't really tweak anything accept the first two holds got a little smaller. 
Men's #1 was Aaron's and started with a jump start to a hold on a volume, then a campus out right to another hold on a volume, after a hand foot match you pulled up to a good volume stalactite on a roof which was the zone that you matched, from there a long move out to a pinch over the lip with a big move to unwind to a sloper over the lip to top out. Again a lot of guys got up this and it created some separation with attempts. The only tweak I can remember that we made to this bloc was that the pinch got way worse over the lip. 

Rockhead's Team Member Kacy Wilson up high on Women's #2
Women's #2 (Aaron's) was in my opinion what every women hates. It started by compressing your way up these bad slopers to gain a mig edge that you matched. After that you got your foot high in a crunched position and moved way out left in an opposing gaston shoulder move to a sloper on a volume that you ended up matching. This sloper was the zone. after the match you got your feet up and crossed big to a bad sloper (that we changed after the original broke while we were putting up this bloc) or you moved out left first to a bad crimp. From these two holds you either went left hand bump or right hand cross to a good sloper that allowed you to top out.
Mathew Moreau sticking the swing on Men's #2
Men's #2 (Mine plus Francis on inspiration) I'll admit I had something completely different planned for this block however, this is how it turned out. In forerunning, my idea got completely botched, however we also discovered this really cool way to do this dyno by pressing out the starting hold, adding another bad sloper that you could press off of in order to get a balanced, crowd facing stem off a giant MEC volume. From this position you jumped out and left to grab a huge jug that would spin you around to face the wall. After this you grabbed a bad sloper over the lip and did a sketchy mantle. My thoughts on this block are a little skewed. I really wanted the original idea (which I am saving for later so don't ask) but sometimes you have to let go of ideas for what is good for the comp. This bloc definitely was crowd pleasing, I like that it got competitors to face the crowd, that's always cool and I really enjoyed that after you stuck the dyno, it wasn't over as there was one or two competitors who did fall on the top out.

True North Team member crushing it out on Women's #3 Su En Neo
Women's #3 (Aaron) was steep and powerful on big pinches and positive slopers. I don't really think I can say much about this bloc cuz the pictyure says about all you need to know. Thugged out pulling on slopey and pinchy holds, quick, dirty and powerful. In tweaks we did end up taking out a foot for the move going to the lip and we turned the starting two slopers. 
Gary Posey cranking the big move on Men's #3
Men's #3 (Aaron) was an interesting bloc. This is one of the ones we thought could have been turned up a little bit more but hindsight is always 20/20 right? Anyways, this bloc had the men changing gears which I really like to see in blocs. I like to see competitors have to adapt from thugs moves and power where they're feet are swing everywhere to slowing things down, making them keep tension and being more controlled in their climbing. You started off with a one handed jump start to a good crimp with your hand on another good crimp. after you crossed under to a big undercling with your foot on a very slopey foot, you made a giant move out to a pinch (pic above.) From this position you had to make another fairly long move to a pinch on a volume created by two screw ons. All of the competitors lost their feet and this created a very cool helicopter kind of affect. after sticking this, you got into that gear change I talked about with competitors fully having to keep tension on this foot.

Matt Moreau staying tight at the "gear change" on Men's #3
After this you matched that big lip and went out to a good crimp leading to good holds over the top to the lip.

Women's #4 (Mine) I went into this bloc with a very solid idea that I think turned out. Before I start the recap of this, I want to first give the biggest props out to all the women in finals. For a long time we as route setters have been scared to set the dynos for women's finals because its a risky game. If it's too big, no lady will stick it, and please do not take this as me condenming the women's field, this is the first ever dyno that I have set for women's finals and the nervousness of putting out there and hoping that the women will stick it and that they won't find some sneaky way to crimp a foot hold or something to get out of it or worse, none of them stick it, since it was the first move. But the women brought all of their game and it was AMAZING. after you dynoed out to the holds on a large feature. From here you got a wrap on the corner of the feature and a dual textured for your right hand and you hand to stand on a small foot chip on the feature while your right foot stood on one of the dyno holds. this put the women in a hunched over kind of position with you left hip into the wall and you keeping tension against the undercling by pushing with your right foot and palming the top of this feature with your left hand. From here you made a quick dynamic move to catch a tiny foot chip over the lip of a traingle feature, match with another small chip for your right hand and finally a big move out left to a good sloper to a very dicey top out. I'm really happy about the way this bloc turned out it's too bad I didn't get any video or pics of this comp, however my buddy Aidas Odonelis got some awesome pics, here's his flickr page for the comp: here.
Eric Sethna working hard on Men's #4, like to point out, not my intended beta
Men's #4 (mine) So finally we come to the last bloc. I would like to point out that I thought for sure this would go, however I think the last minute tweaks we made (and yes I know if you're reading this Tonde you are shaking your head reminding me that you should never, ever, make last minute tweaks,) made this bloc slightly too hard but it just means the next time I try something like this I'll be more prepared for it. So the bloc started out with a hard undercling move to crimp that was spun to be a gaston for your left hand. To oppose this you had to make a quick jump to a bowl volume on a triangle feature. After you stuck this you matched, got your foot high and crossed to a crimp or went out to a pinch. Either way you had these two holds with nothing on the right to oppose them. So you had to get a heel or a toe hook on the bowl volume. You used this opposition to get a triangle volume ontop of a triangle volume with a thumb catch for the left hand and moving again with your right hand to get a huge right jug (the bonus hold in the pic above.) This put you almost horizontal holding the tension with your toe hook or heal. This position was really hard to hold and you had to release this the toe hook and control this massive swing only using that jug and a horrible sloper volume with a thumb catch. If you controlled the swing, you hand put your right foot up on a terrible sloper on a triangle volume and get a wrap on a large Climb It tufa. This is where we turned things up a bit and I should have remembered that the competitors will be tired and it was a longer bloc. From this wrap/undercling you threw big to a sloping rail (another Climb It tufa) that in tweaks we had turned upside down. Using that jug ring as a heel/toe cam, you matched the rail and had to throw big to a sloper over the lip to an easy top out. None of the guys got up this bloc but a few did make it past the swing. If I was to go back i would definitely not make the tweaks at the top of this bloc.
Thomasina Pidegeon killin it on Women's #3
So at the end of it, the comp happened, we got perfect separation out of the women's field and the men's blocs could have been turned down just a tiny bit but we did still get separation with out any sort of count backs. Thanks to all my sponsors; Evolv, Flashed, Climb It, Project and of course Climbingholdreview as well as True North Climbing for giving me the support I need to continue setting comps.
Well I'm out for now, I think I've written enough. I hope you guys like the comp recaps cuz there are tons more comps coming. I'm scheduled to set at least 4 more TDBs and a bunch of Youth Comps also maybe, maybe some setting clinics. Anyways, peace all, stay psyched and if you're around, drop into Grand River Rocks on January 28th where I will be Chief at their Youth Comp and giving an Intro to Route Setting Clinic on the Sunday. Stay Psyched guys.


  1. are you giving a setting clinic at GRR on the sunday?

  2. i wanted to but i don't think there was enough interest. Talk to Josh or Mike this week to find out more. I guess you could also search me out, I'm leaving for there tomorrow morning and will be there all week long.