Saas Fee 2013
On competition day, I reminded myself in the morning not to have expectations in either direction. I was very hopeful for an improvement in my performance. I don’t want to fall off until I am pumped out of my mind!
There was an improvement, not seen in the results. The published result of my 3rd world cup competition was my worst one yet. But, I did have a personal success. I felt incredibly anxious during both qualifiers and semi-finals in Korea – somehow, I managed to feel more relaxed in Saas Fee. In moments, I could feel anxiety rising and I kept managing it, trying to focus on the relaxed confident climber inside.
When I watch even the best world cup ice climbers, I see their anxiety in their shaking tool or their rapid breathing. Its one of the many distractions that gets puts aside during the climb. Who cares if you feel pumped, or shaky, if your lover is watching or your enemy—just climb. Just do what you love and know. Give it your all.
Dozens of talented climbers, come to these events and fail miserably in a very short amount of time. There is no second chance. Not even the opportunity to climb on the wall after the competition is over. Months or years training, thousands of dollars.
In the Ouray competition last year, I popped off the route early. Later that day, I got back on and I did as well as the winning girl. Knowing that made it all worthwhile. I felt so gratified that my training paid off – that winning was possible. I never knew that it was possible for me before.
At these world cups, I have no idea how far I could get up the comp route if I didn’t make a silly mistake or be completely terrified of failure. I suspect I wouldn’t onsite some of the cruxes- as I watch many athletes stronger than me fail. But it would be great to know where I stand. There is a huge gap between the top ten and the rest of us. That I know. I have no illusions of a podium finish. I have a great respect for these athletes; they all deserve their medals.
The stress of objective hazard in the mountain climbing shares similarities to the stress of performing in a competition. Both are very challenging, worthy endeavors. Both give humans the illusion of control. Neither can be completely controlled. There is some grace and wisdom in accepting the unpredictability of both these environments.
Just by showing up as a competitor you put yourself at risk for failure, just like so many things in life. Only a select few win the gold medal, but for most the rewards lie in the journey. The perseverance, discipline, connecting with people and foreign cultures, the side trips…
So far, the side trips are the highlight of this travel. Experiencing new crags like L’usine and Ueschinetal and the enthusiasm and generosity of other passionate climbers.