Wednesday 4 June 2014

Comps Comps Comps!! :D (TAS Boulder, QLD Lead, NSW Lead)

Sorry for the late update, but I've been super busy trying to train and keep up with school all at the same time!

So I recently competed at a string of three consecutive State championships, which made for a very busy three weeks, but SO much fun none the less. I figured I should do a write up for each comp, as they were all fantastic in their own right.
The first of the three saw me in Tasmania for a bouldering comp of all things! I love to boulder, don't get me wrong, but I've never been particularly successful when it comes to competitive bouldering, so I approached this comp with a bit of an anxious drive. The event was to be hosted by Rock It Climbing Centre, a nice new shiny gym that has just popped up in the Hobart CBD. As the first state level competion that the gym had hosted, the organisers were, of course, nervous, but ready to put on an awesome day. And they certainly delivered!
Qualifiers were a bit rough for me. I got my usual boulder comp jitters in the first couple of problems and tunnel vision had set in, however I still managed to top all of the problems and put myself in third place going into the finals. I was very much intent on having a better run in the final round.
Our observation time revealed a set of five problems, considerably more difficult than those found in the qualifying round. The first problem consisted of a slab-to-slab leap across a gap hanging from a small, swinging wooden ball that proved too much for all but a small couple that managed to just nab the bonus. I moved forward onto problem two very optimistically, as it looked to be just my style. However, just as I moved to match the final hold on my first attempt, I slipped, and I just couldn't manage to make my way back through the final move of the steep and slightly pumpy problem. Problem three took me four attempts, but I managed to top it, being the only climber to claim victory on the problem. The fourth problem I flashed. I felt strong and technical, much better than the previous round. The 5th and final problem was ever-so slightly overhanging on tiny little edges that I just couldn't fully take hold of, scoring myself a bonus in one attempt.
Callum Hyland cruising the qualifiers!
Marine Cusa took first place in the Open Females.

Despite a relatively small number of tops, I was overall very happy with my climbing, and I had managed to take out first place with 2 tops in 4 attempts. Second place was close behind with 1 top for one attempt, and the remaining places were decided between bonuses and countback. It was reassuring to know that when I really tried to relax and prepare myself right, I could pull my way through a bouldering comp with a clear mindset and climb strong.

My next competition took place one week later at Urban Climb, Queensland. I'd never been to Queensland before, and the competition was on lead, so there were a number of things to be excited about :) My first qualifier had me calling my first ever technical (on the advice of both my belayer and my judge) after falling due to a hold was poorly placed under a folded quick draw. After having the draw removed, my second attempt went much more smoothly, falling in the midst of the final move. The second qualifier ended with a top for myself and a number of others, meaning that I was in equal first for the final. The final was very short with a high crux, and saw my entire category split by about three moves. I managed to take out Youth A by a plus! Giving me my second Youth A lead victory and continuing a good season in the Youth.

Ben Abel making the best of a solid clipping jug on the Youth A second Qualifier.
Around the mid-point of the Youth A final, shortly prior to a series of tentative
moves that split the field.

The Opens consisted of one of the largest fields I've seen at an Australian State level competition. With well over 30 competitors finals was looking like it might be a real challenge. luckily enough I managed both the qualifiers and went into finals again in equal first place with two other athletes, Matthew Tsang of NSW and Matthew Cochrane of QLD. The trend carried through to the finals, with four of us scoring to the same hold! The fourth athlete, Sam Bowman, had skipped a draw that prevented him from topping the first qualifier, putting him down into fourth place. The remaining three of us were split on time, putting Matt Tsang in third, myself in second and Matthew Cochrane into 1st. Whilst I had a lot of fun on the route, and I was super happy for Matt, no part of me was ok with my final result in the circumstances, especially after having worked so hard to make myself a slower, more efficient climber. There was no more I could have done, however, so I simply moved on and vowed to always just climb further ;)

The finals route was a lot of fun, and a great crowd
pleaser, however it failed to split the field.
Matt Cochrane catching the winning hold in record time.
Lucy Stirling backed up her efforts at the VIC State Lead Titles with another first in Opens on countback to Roxy Perry, who came off at the same move.
 Finally, the last comp of the month, the New South Wales State Lead Championship at The Edge Rock Climbing Centre. The walls at this gym were much taller than the last, coming in at 18 metres in height. I was perhaps lacking the endurance I've had in the past, but one of my strengths in comps has always been pulling through despite being pumped. My first qualifier in Youth A was long, but I managed to find a nice knee bar to take the pressure off before topping the route, followed by a top on my second route, which consisted of mostly positive holds to a final face on small, sloped jibs.
The Youth A finals route, full of a mix of styles, from crimps, to slopers, to drive-bys to compression.

Qualifying again in first, things were still looking up, and I was only a step away from taking hold of a victory at every State Lead Title in the Youth A category. The only thing standing in my way was this one route, and the only issue for any of us, we thought as myself and my fellow competitors mapped out the route from the ground, would be the sequence... Man, the sequence... I worked my way through the majority of the route only to pull myself into completely the wrong position, my right hand on a hold that I then realised was clearly set as a left. Normally in this instance I might panic, desperately try to match the hold and throw for the next with no hope... but I stopped, shook out, and considered my options. Calmly I moved down the route through some tough compression moves, and worked my way back up to a top and a third title was in my grasp. Whilst perhaps I could have climbed better, I was, and still am, infinitely happy with my ability to think under pressure, and knowing that my hard work in that regard is paying off!
Opens went by nicely once again, with double tops for myself and a number of others, bring it all down to the final, which appeared to be mostly comprised of big, nasty slopers, then on to smaller edges before some big moves to the route's finish. The men were able to watch the women's final prior to competing, as our route was in a different section of the gym. Hats off to Lucy Stirling, who topped the route in effortless style, but a special mention to Olivia Campton who put in a stellar effort to place a well earned second :)

The crowd gave me no hint as to how the final was going, so I tuned out completely and tried focus on my own climbing. I pulled onto the wall and worked my way through a funky start up to an overhanging delight of slopes and pinches. Each hold felt infinitely better than I had imagined, and I moved up through the route past some crimps into a nice left hand before a big push to what turned out to be a terrible little sloper. I clung to the hold for dear life and somehow, I managed to stay on the wall, bring my foot up nice and high for a final pop to the last hold, and before I knew it my rope was through the draw and I was done :D

Bryson Klein making light work of
some slopers.
I'm so happy with how the past couple weeks have played out. I think I'm climbing better than I ever have before, and I'm managing so far to keep my head together amongst it all. There's so much training to do before I'm truly ready to head to worlds, and this will be my focus in the next seven weeks leading up to Nationals.
 TAS State Boulder

 QLD State Lead
 NSW State Lead
Thanks to Rock It, The Edge, and Urban climb for all putting on fantastic events! The routes/problems were so much fun to play on and the comps all ran so smoothly! Credit to all 'Climb Media' photos goes to Chris Hampton. Check him out at and

I'll see you all at nationals! But for those athletes reading from overseas, I'll see you at worlds!!