21 Sep Climbing World Championships!
If you’ve read back through any of my posts, you might know that at the beginning of 2018, I decided to do something a little crazy and quit my full time job to focus on climbing, traveling, and pursuing freelance work. I had been suffering from depression and anxiety and thought a break from the norm might help. When I quit, I knew I would be facing all the challenges and hardships that come with not having a steady job, but I promised myself that I would see it through, have faith, and be open to any opportunity to chase my passions.
Well, the hardships came, the struggles definitely came, but so did the opportunities, often completely out of the blue. One of those opportunities came one spring afternoon in the form of a fellow climber, who walked into my home gym and set me up for an adventure I never would have forseen!
As is common in the small-ish climbing community, I had known of Jake previously through Instagram, and he in turn had known of me. So when we both showed up at the gym at the same time one afternoon, it was with mutual excitement that we exclaimed, “Hey, I know you!” We were friends in an instant, and over the next few weeks would be together non-stop, climbing, driving to competitions, even producing and starring in a large social media campaign!
After work on the campaign died down, Jake approached me about another big project. Having recently placed second at Nationals in his category, Jake had qualified for his first World Championships, and asked if I might be willing to coach him for the upcoming competition. I immediately said yes, and from then on, our hectic climbing schedule only grew more crazy. We were in the gym or outside nearly every day, climbing and training, doing everything possible to get Jake ready. As the days passed and the competition grew closer though, we began to realize that it wouldn’t be climbing that held Jake back at Worlds, but rather, finances.
Unfortunately, with climbing still being a relatively new sport, and only just about to have it’s Olympic debut, there isn’t much funding available for our competitors, especially on the adaptive side of things. The expense of traveling to such a competition, paying for airfare, hotel, food, and registration fees, while still being able to cover bills back at home, is nearly impossible for many athletes. Even at the highest levels of our sport, as ‘professionals,’ we are most often working full time jobs and trying to balance full time climbing.
Jake and I had put so much effort into his training though, that we were determined to get him over there! We brainstormed, reached out to our industry contacts, hosted events to raise awareness for adaptive climbing, and began a fundraising campaign. So many amazing people rallied to the cause, and about two weeks before the comp, we had enough for Jake’s trip! If that wasn’t exciting enough, one of the companies I’ve done work with, impressed by our partnership and hard work, decided they wanted to fund me to go to world’s as Jake’s coach!
Like some sort of dream, we were on a plane bound for Innsbruck, Austria! And over the next two weeks, that dream never seemed to end!
Not only did we get to train alongside incredible athletes from all over the world, but I was also given official press access and able to take photos for team USA. Jake gave it his all on two extremely difficult routes in qualifiers, missing finals by little more than one hold, and afterwards, we got to sit back and watch the best in the world compete! We explored a beautiful city, climbed outside in the magical forest of Zilateral, and ended the trip with a cable car ride up to the incredible Nordkette!
The entire experience was amazing! I left Innsbruck feeling so proud of Jake and very motivated in my own life and climbing as well. Not only did I come home wanting to train harder on the wall, in the hope that someday I might attend World’s as a competitor myself, I also came home feeling like maybe I was on the right track after all. Though my journey over the past year had been difficult and I was poorer than I’d ever been in my life, with no idea what I was going to do next, I was also so incredibly happy as compared to the year before. I didn’t have much in terms of comfort or security, but somehow that was teaching me to better appreciate everything I DID have. Great friends, a supportive community, crazy opportunities, and big goals to work towards.
Our greatest accomplishments aren’t meant to be easy, otherwise they wouldn’t be great. But working with Jake and traveling to Innsbruck definitely taught me that whether your facing down the toughest climbers in the world, or trying to start a new career, if you help others, and work towards your goals everyday, somehow life will show you the way!