Touchstone Climbing Series 2016
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Touchstone Climbing Series 2016

This past weekend I participated in my second big bouldering competition, the southern region final of the Touchstone Climbing Series!

To be perfectly honest though, I almost sat this competition out.  I haven’t been able to train much for almost two months due to finger and shoulder injuries, and I wasn’t feeling particularly fit or confident.  I knew there would be many strong female climbers participating and, like most people, I definitely have the bad habit of being too competitive and too comparative at times.  I focus too much on other people, rather than just focusing on challenging myself. I was worried that I wouldn’t be “good enough” and that I wouldn’t stack up to the competition, which almost scared me away for good.

This same fear though, is also what made me realize that I should compete! I realized that I needed to get out of my head, out of my comfort zone, and stop thinking so much about what other people did or thought.  What mattered was challenging myself and just having a good time climbing!  In the end, I’m happy to say, that’s exactly what happened.  The competition was really fun, and I’m so glad I faced down my fears and went for it!

Last year I participated in my first Touchstone competition, where I learned quite a bit about the strategy involved in competitive bouldering.  More than just climbing well, I learned how important it was to keep in mind all the other participants and the potentially long lines for problems.  I also learned that I had to manage my time and strength really well, trying to pad my scorecard with enough solid climbs to get a good score, while still conserving energy for harder climbs.

I figured all of this out the hard way last year, climbing way too many moderates early on and kind of burning myself out for harder problems. Since I wasn’t feeling quite up to par strength wise, for this year one of my big goals was simply to try and improve my strategy and manage my time a bit better.

I was competing in the advanced division, which would include anybody who sent two or more v6’s, thus I made it my goal to get all V6’s or higher on my scorecard. I thought this would be feasible at my current strength level, but also produce a good score.  I did a quick warm up on a handful of 4’s and 5’s and then jumped right into the 6’s.  In a competition with over 100 people in the advanced division though, it turns out 6 was a very popular grade!  It took me almost the whole comp to work my way through these problems. I also tried to take advantage of shorter lines and less popular problems along the way and I ended up knocking out one V7, as well as coming super close to sending a V8.

In the end, my scorecard consisted of onsight points for the four hardest V6’s and second attempt points on one v7.  I was pretty happy with this result, although I feel l like I could have planned things out a bit better and probably climbed a few more 7’s and 8’s along the way.

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All in all though, I’m very happy with how I climbed at this competition. The setting to me felt a bit harder than the average Touchstone set, with lot of problem solving and very thoughtful movement, so onsighting the four highest 6’s and snagging a quick 7 was a good achievement.  And though I tried not to focus on it too much, there were definitely a lot of strong climbers in attendance so I was happy and surprised to find that I placed in the top 10 of over 150 women! That was way better than I had expected!

In the end, I was really glad I pushed myself to do the comp.  It was a ton of fun, with lots of great sets.  My injuries didn’t give me any trouble and now I’m feeling extremely motivated to step up my training again.  I feel like I’m coming back to full health, and with the fall sending season right around the corner, the timing couldn’t be better!  Rocktober is coming! 🙂

Special thanks to all the Touchstone folks for putting on such an awesome climbing series, and shout out to all the setters who did such a great job! Can’t wait for the next one! 🙂

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