Wednesday, 21 January 2015

France to Saas Fee

I've spent the last week since Korea in Europe. The first few days in Europe I was climbing in France at a cave called L'Usine. It has one of the biggest collection of difficult dry tooling routes in the world. The cave is massive! I was here two years ago but didn't get to spent much time. On this trip I got to finish off the route "SAT" which could be one of the most difficult D8's anywhere. Originally rated D10, it was downgraded as harder routes were climbed and people became more fit. I was happy to climb it my first try this time. I'm happy to have also climbed two D10's and a D11 (L'Usine the namesake of the cliff) first try.

Over the weekend we went to Saas Fee Switzerland for the Youth World Championship. I didn't climb, but watched two young Canadians compete against others their age. After the youth competition we went back to France for two days. The plan was to climb at Usine again but I came down with the flu and was way to sick to go climbing. I have been trying to recover as quickly as possible because we are now back in Saas Fee for the World Cup which starts Friday.

In Saas Fee

The view out of my hotel window.
Castles along the highway on the way to Saas Fee.

Somewhere along the south shore of Lake Geneva.

Evian-les-Bains, France

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Signing up for disappointment.

The competition in Cheongson Korea is over. Two years ago this venue was my first Ice Climbing World Cup competition. This was after winning at Ouray the year before and I had big expectations for the world cup, having never done it before. I fell off halfway up the wall and came in 29th. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed. My friend Marc told me something I take with me now to every competition, "You signed up for disappointment."  For me its more of a life lesson, things don't go your way and you can either quit or pick yourself up and move on. Lately I have been pretty satisfied with my failures, up until this last competition.

In the past I had always taken the bus from Seoul to Cheongsong, but this year I rode with friends and got to Cheongsong a bit early and got to look around a little before all the competition stuff started.

Once again the men were split into two groups with each group climbing on either the left or right side of the wall for the preliminary round.  We were given 5 minutes to climb the route. Last year was the first time that I didn't fall off the route and finished by timing out. This year I timed out again, but climbed three holds from the top, which was more than enough to get into semifinals. 

Things were looking good for the semi final. I went into that round ranked fifth in my group. I climbed 11th out of 19, which put me in the middle of the semifinal pack overall. I was hoping to finish semis somewhere in the middle and maybe be close to finals. Things didn't work out that way. At the top of the beginning section of ice I hooked a hole that seemed okay and probably would have been, had my foot not ripped thru the ice as I was reaching for the first drytool hold. When my foot slipped the pick of my ice axe took more weight and it ripped thru the crappy ice. Ending my climb in the semifinal before it really even began. There were a lot of big upsets in Cheongsong this year. Some competitors that normally make finals didn't even make semis and some that have won World Cup didn't make finals. The penalty for mistakes was quite high and a minor slip or bad judgement often meant you were flying thru the air, your attempt finished.

Moving on to the next one…… I'm in Europe now and the next competition is in Saas Fee, Switzerland.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Back in Korea!

I'm back in Korea for the second competition in the 2015 Ice Climbing World Cup tour. The travel to Korea always flips me upside down. They are 14 hours ahead of my home timezone. The travel time is quite long and it makes for a long day. I woke up at 3:30 AM at home and didn't reach Seoul until around 4pm local time. Then it was another few hours before we could get to bed.

Ample leg room for an 11 hour flight.

Baggage claim in Seoul.

We arrived two days before we need to be here, We have spent the time getting accustomed to the time change. We spent a little bit of time training and a lot of time trying to get caught up on sleep, which could have went better.
Everyone else seemed repulsed by whatever this was, I didn't think it was so bad.
Korean BBQ

Today we drive to Cheongsong. Tomorrow morning we will be competing.

So many bags!

I am still way short of my fundraising goals for this year. I'm excited to finally have our third batch of Team Canada hats finished. as well as the simple acrylic hats we have been getting made up, I got some hats from Rab stitched up as well. They have a built in fleece headband for extra warmth. Those and other Team Canada items are available for a donation here: