I step onto the wall. I know what I need to do. I've watched several of my competitors all struggling with one sequence two thirds of the way up. If I want to progress beyond this round, I'll need to make it past that point. I can feel the rush of energy as I make my first move.
At times like this, I often feel like I’m meditating. All other feelings and desires are gone. It’s as if all of humanity’s journey has propelled itself to this one moment, this one feat, for this one human being…Obviously, that’s a little dramatic, but it definitely gets my blood rushing J. I focus on every move, and tune out my surroundings. I get to the sequence, I know what I need to accomplish for my attempt to count. I squeeze as hard as I can. I get past it, but then, as I continue on, the climbing gets even harder. I reach for a hold and miss a critical foot. I fight, but before I know it, I’m off.
As I’m lowered to the ground I’m psyched! That was so cool! This isn’t just any competition. This is my first World Cup! No youth, just the big boys. I’ve been watching these competitions since I was a little kid. Admiring the Sharma’s, Ondra’s, and Stoehr's. It seems surreal to be able to now throw my name in the same ring and be tested at the same level.
My next climb, I feel a little bit more jittery. I see my name flash in 23rd place. If I do well on this one, I could make it to Semis! I hope to be able to turn on the same fight I had on my first climb. But, as I'm nearing that same section of the wall two-thirds of the way up, I can feel my forearms tightening. I get to a sloper just over the lip and lurch for it. But it isn't enough.
I watch from the sidelines as my name falls lower and lower on the list. 25th – 26th – 29th. I feel a sinking pit in my stomach. But then as we’re leaving the venue I remember…
Every competition comes with a new lesson. This one, reminds me of the importance of just showing up. Few people go to their first World Cup and win right off the bat. You have to take the risk, learn, and come back stronger for the next opportunity. Just like in life, you'll fall more times than you'll succeed. But without taking those falls you'll never know what you can do. If it’s what you love, the feeling of competing with the best can mean just as much as coming out on the top of them. I’m like a Game of Thrones character, either I’ll be continuously beat down, so that I’ll learn to come back stronger, or I’ll die (in this case dying is falling - maybe not the best simile).
Every time I’ve watched a World Cup, I always say to myself “woah that first move looks hard, could I really ever get that first clip?” I never thought I could have had a shot at making Semis. But being here for the first time gave me the confidence I need. Next time I’ll know I can make it through the easier sections of these routes. Now I just need to do the same with the higher and harder ones.
I’ve been listening to a podcast called Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell (would recommend), and one of the episodes is on the difference between Picasso and Cezanne. Gladwell says that when Picasso first paints a piece, it’s instantly a success. He envisions it and then brings it to reality. But Cezanne works tirelessly, draft after draft, changing his paintings a detail at a time to finally come up with a masterpiece. Climbing for me is the same. It takes a lot of work, diligence, and drafts to perform on a world stage. But luckily for me, I love my art. I love every draft of it, good or bad. And hopefully, eventually, I’ll get a “Boy in a Red Waistcoat.” (I mean I think that’s what I want!)
I'm ready and eager for my next run at a high caliber competition. I know I can perform better. I just need to make that a reality. My first World Cup was just that, the beginning...