Tag Archives: Nathan Kutcher

Saas Fee Wins


Fun times on France’s world cup structure

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.


Would be so great if we had one of these in North America… or Canmore : )

Gordon and Nathan headed into L’usine
Gord showing us the lines
Love the belay seat
such a cool cave near a factory…
me having a blast ‘almost’ flashing SAT… a super classic line
we earned our beer or our vin rouge ; )

Saas Fee, Switzerland is a great place to visit for skiing and climbing

Image 13
Me enjoying the opening moves of the qualifier

Me and Cecile. I am looking more like the stay-puff marshmallow man than a world cup athlete!


Nathan crushing the in Men’s qualifier.


Nate cruising on pink panther – a classic Kandersteg climb


Gaetan cruising yet another line


Simon onsighting Pink Panther


Filed under Friends, Ice Climbing, inspiration

Korea World Cup 2013

My travelling partner Nathan Kutcher takes a bit of ice to his lip on our first day of climbing in South Korea just north of Seoul

just a flesh wound


Garebi quarry

So far this is an amazing trip. We have met the friendliest people in South Korea and had some great adventures. A highlight was traveling to the East Sea to Sokcho and then heading up into Seoraksan National Park to climb a route called Towangsong Falls


Very cool Position

Unfortuately, we got a late start (because we had to ‘register’ our climb) and didn’t realize there were SEVEN people above us. Luckily, we managed to summit without getting hurt too badly by falling ice. Although, Nate took a chunk to his knee.


Nathan on the first pitch before we realized the magnitude of parties above


top 100m of climbing — where the gong show begins…

We also managed to be the first team on top, and get down just at dark…


yay! summit

We could see the East Sea from the climb….


Beautiful Scenery. Surprisingly cold on this route… humid climate in the shade — very brittle ice

Sorry, no time for editting and long story telling… on the road! here are a few shots from our travels:


love the temples


Amazing trees and granite summits


hilarious safety posters


stunning granite sculptures


colorful temples with music emanating from them in the wilderness


Temple balcony


happy jetlagged tourist


Sokcho by the East Sea

and now onto world cup…..


a super cool venue with artificial ice behind the world cup structure


my tools with gold and pink representing excellence and the feminine ; )

Well there is a lot to tell about my past 24 hours. The quick update is that I placed 13th in the Qualification round and 20th (last) in Semi-finals. I had to wait in isolation for 6 hours before I competed in the qualifier! in that time I managed to burn a lot of energy anticipating the route despite my best efforts to relax.

I did spend a fair bit of time distracting myself sharpening my tools and visiting with other athletes from Italy and Mongolia. I did meditate and breathe and do lot good self-talk, but none the less… I felt very nervous on the route. I was lucky not to ‘pop’ off sooner in both semi-finals and qualifiers. I chalk my anxiety up to lack of experience. No matter what I tell myself– this is a new experience for me. I don’t have much mileage on plywood/plastic and competition climbing.

I am psyched I got to climb twice in Korea. Its an honor to climb on these walls. Its really challenging that we only get to climb for maximum 6-8 minutes in the whole time we come to these competitions. The ratio looks like this:  3 weeks of international travel costing thousands of dollars :  only 30 minutes of climbing!!!

There is no opportunity to train, practice or play on these competition structures for us North Americans without living in Russia or Italy, etc. Would be great to live and play in these other countries with their climbing athletes.

Many other countries athletes train full time on these structures. I am so inspired watching and meeting all the other athletes. Its exciting to see talented climbers and learn from them– I love the learning!

I am out of time for today. Later tonight we take a five hour bus ride to Seoul and then, hopefully, pulling an all-nighter to combat some jetlag on our way to Switzerland…

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Filed under Ice Climbing, inspiration