Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Long Road of Catch Up....Part 1

Now before you even start to roll your eyes at me for always starting a post with an apology, you may need to be aware of two very important things; first thing is that this will more than likely be one of the longest blog posts I ever write because I'm basically going to try and catch up on every comp and event I was a part of since February. The second thing is (and this is the start of of what will be a long and drawn out blog post of crazy comps, a road trip gone half right and half wrong and a new hold company making dope shapes and helping me set awesome finals) I moved.
Yup, after living a large portion of my life living in Southern Ontario, with a quick 5 year stint in Ottawa, I packed up my life into several boxes, put them on a Grey Hound to meet me there when I arrived, and got on a plane and moved to the west coast. Yes, this is the start of my many excuses of not being able to update my blog on time (please note that this list of excuses includes, setting a comp almost every other week from January to April, coming back from injury and beginning to climb again, the moving thing and... well you get the point right?) Now I know that some of you may be thinking, what about the gym? True North was amazing, and working there helped grow me into the climber and route setter that I have become, however, despite the fact that I've never wanted to move out to the west, this opportunity came up at The Hive (you remember, I flew out there to set a Tour comp that turned into a setting clinic) and I decided to take it. So I packed my drills and came out west, to see what spinning wrenches and slugging holds in Vancouver would be like.

So I left off in February:
Michelle LeBlanc snagging the only send on Women's final #4

On February 25th, I threw all my tools in a rental car and started the long drive out east, not exactly the coast but through Quebec and all the way to Fredericton, New Brunswick. Now, this is supposed to be a 16 hour drive. Supposed to be. So I get in the car, and make the plan to break it up into one shot of 5 1/2 hr to Montreal and one shot of 10 1/2 hours. I figured that it would be best to stop in at CHR head quarters and hang out with Jeremy for a night. So the night at CHR went like every time I stay there, we talk about holds until some ungodly hour of the morning, eventually pass out, and then in the morning, because of Jeremy's team status on the Pudge Knuckles team, I get the most amazing coffee of my life before I drive away. We did try and get a video interview done, but it turned out messy so instead we got the interview done when I set Nationals later on this year.
So the link above is the interview that was started on this trip to New Brunswick, and was finally finished a month and a bit later at Nationals. Anyways, moving on, try and keep up. So the morning after the failed attempt at what would later turn out to be the master piece above, I get into my rental car to start the rest of nightmarish and crazy long drive only for the car not to start. I won't bore you with the details or the list of explicit words that I uttered for the next 4 and a half hours it took for the rental company to get me a replacement, but after that giant hiccup that set me back a day on my comp prep, I was off, in a new car to Fredericton. 
John Bowles on the last move of Men's #2
Despite all the set backs of getting to the gym, dealing with my hotel, the rental car issues and all of it, Thursday morning before the comp, I finally started prepping for the comp with the local crew. To their credit, when I got into the gym it was completely stripped, all the holds were washed, everything was ready for me to go to work (the only time this happened this year in all my comps.) The two days went fast and despite the rocky start, on Saturday morning people showed up and they rock climbed (even as a snow storm threatened to cancel another comp on me.) Qualifiers went off well, no ties, good separation, the blocs did their jobs. So, on to finals. The gym is small, so I had to run Men's final after women's final was finished, which worked out well since most of the men finalists watched all of women's finals before going up into isolation. Women's final had some technical aspects to it, there was some trickery and some straight up pulling. My favorite bloc of the round was definitely finals #3, which involved a balancy stem to a tensiony mantle that you crossed off to a good jug leading to a crowd pleasing swing. Compression moves up an arete lead to a hard last move off a sloper. Although it didn't see a send, special mention to Kerrie Green, who read the sequence perfectly and fell up high, on the last few moves. 
Kerrie Green up high on Women's #3
In the end, women's final ended with a spectacular send by 1st place qualifier Michelle Leblanc on final #4 securing her win. On to Men's Finals. I was pretty happy with the way this round turned out. There was a big dyno, some foot first power climbing, a hard, tensiony, toe hook release and some complicated sequences. By far my favourite bloc of the men's final is Men's #2. Although two of the six competitors found a way to skip out of my sequence, I thought that the idea was really interesting. It started underneath a  mini roof on an undercling and moved out over the lip on a volume. Some men went foot first some did a hard match to go dynamically to the hold on the volume. Either way, the men ended up going around an arete to the bonus hold. Compression moves up using that arete to end up standing on the volume with a giant mantle hold just out of reach (see the picture of John Bowles above.) In order to gain that mantle you had let go of the arete and drop into the mantle before pushing up into the finishing hold. I really liked the concept of this bloc and I would like to try it again and maybe perfect it, as it didn't see a send with the beta that I intended (special mention to John Bowles who fell off the drop in mantel, twice.)

So that was the trip out east. Now before we move to the next comp, the Tour De Bloc stop at True North, I'd like to give a huge shout out to my new sponsors (ugh I'm sorry I'm so late on this.) Uncarved Block.

This is a really awesome company from Australia that makes really sick holds. I'm really honoured to be a part of this team and I can't wait to see the amazing shapes they come out with. Which is a great segue into the True North comp. Uncarved Bloc gave me this for our comp:
That is the Twenty One Set, The Hourglass Pinches,The Mikey Finn bolt ons, The Brain. Awesomenss!!
There will be a full review on these holds, along with a new set I just received from them. I just want to actually finish this blog post first, since I've been working on it for a full day now and I would like you, the readers, to actually get through it as well and not think terribly of me.
This leads us to the Tour De Bloc at True North. Now the prep work that led up to this comp was huge. The long list of sponsors for this comp was also huge. ClimbingHoldReview  Climb It Uncarved BlocHoldz Core Climbing Friction Climbing Evolv   and the list goes on.
Evolv gave us two pairs of shoes to give away in the qualifying round to competitors who completed the 2 specific Evolv blocs. Climb It, who has been continually supportive to me, gave me some holds for two finals blocs. Core Climbing and Holdz did the same. I already showed you the pictures of what Uncarved bloc sent me right? Did you miss the picture above of the cool holds? No? Ok. Moving on. 
One of the coolest things about this comp for me, was what I made for Climbing Hold Reviews sponsorship. Check it out.
Yes that is a 3 and a half foot long pipe with the CHR logo on it. 

Mark Button Crushing on Men's #2
So we started setting and as per usual, the guys and girl of my former crew at True North Climbing brought their A games and put up some amazing blocs and we had help from my friend and fellow Evolv athlete, Kaleb Thomas from Newfoundland. He brought a refreshing style to the mix of the True North crew and it was well seen in the qualifying round. We did end up with a couple of ties in the qualifying round, but we weren't really worried.
Now I'll interrupt the recap of this comp to let you all know a little secret. Whatever gym I work at, the Tour De Bloc at my home gym is the biggest event of the year for me and I spend months (quite literally.) If you all remember last years TDB at TNC, I set this bloc for finals: (Sorry I couldn't get the video to upload but if you hit the link it'll take you right there. Anyways, that bloc, the whole foot first above your head while facing out to the crowd, that concept was thought up in the September (6 months) before. Even though I set multiple comps before that, with multiple finals and on walls that would have worked just as well, I saved it. So the tour at TNC was something I had been looking forward to, pondering over and basically obsessing over this comp and how it would turn out. So when there was a couple of ties in qualifiers was a little unsettling, but we knew our finals blocs were super solid.
So back to the comp. As I said, we had a ton of sponsors, and I wouldn't be doing the people that support these comps justice if I didn't give them a quick shout out.
My girl Kerry Briggs doing her thing on Women's #1
Women's Final #1 was sponsored by Holdz, a wicked dope hold company from the UK. If you didn't see the CHR review, you can revisit (which I highly suggest since it has a lot of heavy hitting route setters reviewing it) here. This bloc was set by Shaun Hunter, and it climbed beautifully. It was a really technical and balancy line that moved across volumes on a slightly over hung wall to a hard match on the finishing volume.
Iyma Larche on the last moves of Women's Final #2
Women's Final #2 was a Friction Holds bloc, created by Shaun Hunter. It started off with a jump start. Just a side note I love dynos and jump starts for women's open finals, I know that it's low percentage and some may say its a terrible way to get separation but on the other side of that coin is that being good at low percentage moves is still a skill set. The best comps are the ones that award not the strongest climber, but the most well rounded climber. This includes (in my opinion) low percentage movements, flexibility, technical  skill, power endurance, raw thugged out pulling etc...Anyways, after the jump you made your way around the arete using underclings to pull the last moves out on slopers and a volume. 
Kerry Briggs starting out on Women's Final #3
Women's Final #3 was another friction holds bloc. I put this one up. It was meant to be the easiest of the four. It started on in the roof with a heel toe cam facing out to the crowd. From there you made some tensiony moves on slopes to a powerful undercling cross. Then a big move to the finsih.
Kerry Briggs up high on Women's #4
Women's Final #4 was a Climb It bloc, featuring that beautiful Climb It that Jovana painted for the gym but also featuring some the always so cool Tufas and PowerDome #10. This one was originally set by Andreas Lerch however after heavy tweaking by Shaun and myself, I'm calling it a joint effort. This bloc, after a couple of starting moves, you had a hard tension release move to the zone sloper. Then you either matched a hard pinch, or a long bump leading to a big dynamic cross off the last hold to the finish. The women's final concluded with Elise Sethna making the dynamic last cross and clinching the win.
True North Team Member Flo Balsez making short work of Men's #1
Now on to Men's final. The first of these was sponsored by Uncarved Block. Now you saw the holds they gave me and you must know how stoked I was to get these up on the wall. It was my dream to put up something awesome and gnarly with these holds but as it would happen, as Chief you have to give up somethings you want. Andreas Lerch set this bloc and it really was something awesome. Technical and balancy on the thin crimps of the Twenty One set, leading to a hard finish around the corner.
Men's Final #2, you already saw the pic above of the beautiful pipe bloc sponsored by both ClimbingHoldReview and Climb It. This was my bloc and special thanks to Gareth Ryan for fiber glassing the ends of the pipe and again big ups to Jovana for the awesome paint job. So after you man handled the pipe, you moved out to two Climb It Power Pinches 1 and 2. From there you made a big move, using a drop knee on the pipe and a volume out left to layback on a sloping volume to go for the top.

My buddy Fred Charon on the last move of Men's Final #3. It sucks cuz this was the highest anyone got on this bloc and he fell with his hand just below the lip.  
Men's Final #3 a Core Climbing sponsored bloc that was of my creation. It was most definitely the hardest of all the blocs in finals. It started facing out in a heinous stem to transfer on to a block volume (side note, when this volume was made, we all said it was the ugliest thing on the planet and that it would never get is is, bottom left corner of the above pic.) After messing around on the crimps on that ugly block volume, you moved out of roof onto the overhung head wall on sloping compression moves to a tricky wrap on a sloper to go up right hand to the Union Jack hold that Core Climbing so graciously made us. From there you got yourself all stemmed out and mantle to the finish. Poor Fred, he was so close.
Flo Balsez for the win on Men's Final #4
The last of the Men's final, another Core Climbing bloc by yours truly. I had a really great concept for this bloc, involving a toe hook, hand foot match on the hold in Flo's left hand however, the only one to read it was Fred Charon (who I will say had a fantastic comp, the strongest I've ever seen him.) This turned out just as good to be honest, both Eric Sethna and Flo read the bloc this way. After this hard and dynamic tension release, you made a big cross over pull to a pinch. From there you pulled up to two horrible slopers to a hard move to the finish. Flo was the only one to top this out, securing his first place win. 

Alright, I think that's enough of part 1, part two is in the works as you're reading this but with a shot of me getting ready to MC the finals at True North. 
That's right, I MCed the whole comp in a suit.

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