Sunday 26 January 2014

Intro and Summary (PART 3)

Photo: Christ Hampton
Such a strong performance at nationals was the cherry on top of a super exciting season so far! I looked forward to worlds, knowing and believing that I could make the top 26 and progress through to the semi-finals. Friends showed me a lot of support, and so I trained my heart out in the last few weeks before the World Youth Championship.

 I believed so intensely that this was the year I'd make my first semi-finals, I put a massive load of pressure onto myself. My mental state became fragile. On a good day I was invincible, and would climb harder than ever before, building onto a positive mindset. Just as easily though, on a bad day, it would all come crashing down. One bad redpoint or onsight session, getting too pumped too quick or losing my composure on a route, falling off on moves I felt I shouldn't have. All of these things were enough to send me crashing. My mind would fill with thoughts of how I KNEW I could make semis, and that I HAD to! The whole idea of going to the WYCH was no longer fun, it was just an opportunity to break out onto the world competition stage. I almost felt that if I didn't climb hard in comps now, then I never would.

Second qualifier WYCH 2013
Photo: Yvette Harrison
Before travelling to Canada, we stayed in San Francisco to train and build a sense of comradery as a team before the event. I cant speak for the other members of the team, but I know for myself that these sessions were mentally the hardest sessions I had been faced with all year. I felt like way I climbed in SF would indicate exactly how well I was climbing and how I would perform at the WYCH. Our first session on rope for the trip went horribly. It was my first time climbing on taped routes, as opposed to colour, and I was getting frustrated. Coupled with some not-so-great climbing I was having some serious doubts about where all my training had gone. But then, sure enough, we came back to the same gym a few days later and I climbed some of my hardest routes indoor, putting me back into a positive space. It was fickle and irrational, but the pressure I had put on myself had well and truly gotten to my head.

Slowly but surely the event etched closer. We flew out to British Columbia, Canada and took a look around, including a visit to the gym at which the competition would be held. Vancouver Island was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. To just have deer walk through the university campus we were staying in was incredible, and I'll always remember the sights, sounds and smells of BC.

Soon enough we found ourselves at the opening ceremony for the event. The roller door that covered the wall rose up, and for the first time we were able to see the routes we would be climbing on the following day. None of them were marked, so of course we began to make assumptions as to which routes would be ours. Aside from one nasty looking green climb, which just so happened to be my second qualifier, I was pretty happy with all the climbs. Most of them looked my style, and the holds did not look nearly as bad as I was expecting. I was looking forward to the event with optimism.
I could not have been given a route that was more my style if I had asked for it! It was steep and powerful, with some cool shoulder and drive-by moves at the top. I was so sure that I could top, or at least climb close to the op of the route. I was the last climber of the whole day, and with all eyes on me, I pulled onto the wall. I had viewed my route countless times... you could almost say I overviewed it. In my mind I overcomplicated simple sequences and tried to dumb down those I thought I might struggle through. When I started climbing, the route felt easy. Every hold was good, but I couldn't shake the sudden tsunami of nerves that overcame me. The route became do or die, and I crashed into disarray before taking a low fall about mid way up the route.
I came off the wall, untied and left. I needed to be alone. I climbed much further than I had on either of my qualifiers in Singapore, but I was far more devastated than I ever could have been then. I felt disappointed, shameful, embarrassed.... Everything I had worked for felt like it had been for nothing. I was in 34th place going into the second qualifier, meaning I had to climb at least into the mid teens if I was to have any chance of earning a semi-final ranking. The next day I climbed only so-so on a technical, tricky route, and placed 28th for that route, giving me an overall placing of 33rd..... no where near semi-finals. I came off the wall, took my gear off, walked out into the middle of the oval out past the wall, and just lay in the grass.
It would take me a good long while to fully come to terms with and accept what happened in Canada. It sounds silly, but I poured my heart and soul into that one competition, and it was difficult to know what to do when it was all thrown back at me.
Now I realise that what happened there was not all in vain. I have never learned so much about myself as a climber and an athlete. There I uncovered the weaknesses and strengths I can and have been building on in order to succeed in my goal of one day becoming a top international competition climber. I might not happen this year, maybe not the next, but I will take each experience as it comes and try and learn from what occurs.
So with a new-found mindset, I'm training for the 2014 AYCT tryouts harder than ever before. This year, all I'm asking myself to do is find the simple enjoyment I once got from climbing. I want to go into competitions with at peak physical condition and a positive perception of my abilities, but overall just tackle climbing with the goal of enjoying world class competition routes in incredible places, with incredible people.
I eager to see what 2014 has in store. With the 2014 Melbourne Leading Ladder beginning tomorrow, I've made the decision to take a more casual approach this year, and use the opportunity as training as opposed to a high pressure competition setting. My next competition in which a title is up for grabs in the Victorian State Lead Championships, in which I will be vying to win the Youth A title that I was unable to compete for in 2014, and defend my title as Open A champion!
Thanks for taking the time to read these posts if you have stuck around for the whole series :P I felt like I needed to get a lot off my chest, and I really appreciate having people who take interest in and support me and my climbing. I'll try and make an update after the VIC State Titles, but until then, climb hard and enjoy yourselves!! :)


  1. I have read all 3 posts and have 2 you are an excellent writer and I hope you pursue writing as a profession.
    two: really please to see you have caught on early to life being a journey that needs to be enjoyed...

  2. Well said Campbell, Keep on training and "Believe". mum xxx

  3. Hi Campbell,

    It was really wonderful to meet you at WYCH and glad you enjoyed BC!

    I read your posts and especially the last one really resonated with me. I had an almost identical experience and it has adversely affected my climbing throughout the last ten years. However recently I have been able to work through it and have changed a lot of my mental approach to climbing for the better.

    Let me know if you want to skype sometime as I would be happy to share my experiences if you think it would help. You sound like you're on the right track though!!!