Monday, February 20, 2012

Fake Plastic Rocks

A lot has happened here in Laramie lately.  Since weekly snowstorms have made climbing outside practically impossible, my main focus has been turned to route setting and working with the new UW climbing team.

What began as a simple idea last month has blossomed into reality, and the University of Wyoming now has an intercollegiate climbing team.  It took a lot of phone calls, emails, spreadsheets, and convincing, but I was able to throw everything together pretty damned quickly, and well organized at that. The team currently has about 15 members who come to train weekly, however attendances are pretty variable so far.  The group that we do have consistently coming out is a great one though, and its people like us with the insatiable desire to climb harder that are capable of starting something amazing.  We also have a fantastic coaching staff, consisting of Davin Bagdonas, Mike Hafner, and Mike Mills, all of whom bring something unique and beneficial to the training regiment.  All in all, we're building a solid base for the program to grow to be exceptionally strong- yeah, better than CU Boulder.


Jake Sumerall doing a "stick game" workout with Mike Hafner

Our first comp was this past weekend at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.  It was a red-point format top rope competition on the rec center's 30' wall, which is actually quite nice for what it is.  Haley Royko, Joey Pedone, Caleb Richter, and I rolled up to the gym lookin' like gangstas (we listened to Geto Boys on the way down) in mismatched Friday Night Bouldering t-shirts and Prana climbing pants, the stuff dreams are made of.  An hour before our heat began, the wall was already busy with activity, with climbers from various Colorado schools previewing the routes and the absolutely adorable Crimp Chimps plush chalk bags for sale.

A busy day at the UNC climbing wall

After a few brief announcements, the climbing began around 2:30.  I opted to compete in the Intermediate category (5.10a-5.11a), Joey climbed in the open category (5.12b+), and Haley, unable to use her left arm due to a recent surgery, climbed in the beginner category (5.9-).  Caleb could not climb due to a shoulder injury, but like a good teammate, went anyways to take photos and provide moral support.


Joey on one of the open routes


Me on an awkward slabby route

Haley crushing with one arm

The team

In the end, we made out pretty well for only having three competitors.  Haley won the women's beginner category (how badass is that!?), Joey won our heat and placed top ten in open, and I placed third overall in intermediate.  Thoroughly satisfied with our  performances, we left the gym excited by what the future holds for us.

Other than training and competing, I recently got a job as a volunteer route setter at the university wall.  So far, I really enjoy it; its the perfect way to relax at the end of a long day.  I just feel so "in the zone" creating a new problem and working out the beta.  My routes have been very well liked since I started setting, which I thus far attribute to the fact that I actually do each move as I go.  The entire setting crew as a whole is actually pretty good right now, and apparently this is the best that the wall has ever been.  I'm super stoked to set for the upcoming Friday Night Bouldering comp this week, it should be a good one!

So for now and the next few weeks, it looks like we'll be stuck pulling plastic until that Wyoming snow melts away.  Staying motivated will be pretty easy though, given the amount of epic projects to be done once it warms up- two new awesome sectors have been discovered on recent trips to Neverland, which you can read about in  Davin's blog.  Also, it looks like I may be relocating to Lander for the summer, putting me within spitting distance of world-class sport climbing and bouldering, not to mention a brand new area that you'll just have to keep reading to find out about.  If there's a time and place to get stronger, I believe it is winter in Laramie.