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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Ups and Downs

About two weeks ago, Jamie Chong and Sarah Austin joined me in my European adventures. I picked them up from the Nice airport and we stayed there for a couple of nights. The beach in Nice is borderline perfect. It is about 3km of beachfront with the perfect blue-turquoise water. The temperature was hovering around 30 degrees for the whole day. After nice, we went to the Tout A Bloc competition. Last year, i attended this competition with JJ Mah and Marshal German. The competition is a scramble format for qualifyers and then World Cup format for finals. The only catch in the qualifyers is that they take top-all problems. This year there were 47 problems. You get two 3 hour sessions, one on the first day and one on the second. They also run three waves of competitors per day so that the line ups are a lot less. Let me tell you now, trying to do 47 problems in 2 days is a lot harder than it sounds, especially when a lot of the higher number problems get in the range os V10 and V11. The way that they score it is by giving every boulder problem 1000 points. They then divide the points by the number of people that complete a problem. Therefore if you´re the only one to do one problem, you´re almost guaranteed to make finals. When i attended this competition in 2008, you had to complete all the problems to make finals, all 46. This year, you had to do atleast 45 out of the 47 problems tomake finals. After two extremely long days of climbing, i completed 46 problemsand secure my place in finals. The finals were at the end of the third day of competition. For finals, they used the World Cup format, you get a preview of all 4 boulder problems and then you have 4 minutes per boulder. Also, if you start your last attemp at 3:59, you get to finish your attempt so you´re not stressed about running out of time. I flashed the first boulder,took 4 tries to do the second boulder, couldnt do the first move on the third boulder and flashed the fourth boulder. With my 3 tops in 6 tries, i finished 2nd for the second year in a row! After the tout a bloc competition, we drove to Ceuse and decided to stop at the biggest man made lake in Europe. We parked in a decently busy parking and went down to the beach for the day. When we got back to our car, we realized it had gotton broken into… They had bent back the passenger side door far enough to stick a tool to unlock the door. We figured they didnt take more than a minute to rob the car because the took anything in plain sight. They took Mathilde´s purse, my toiletery bag, 3 mid size backpacks and 2 computer bags. F@#$ I couldn´t believe it, we had parked the car no farther than 20 meters from the main highway road. After filing a police report, we finished our drive to Ceuse. Talk about a downer for our trip. I don´t really want to get into it too much because it just makes me too sad. I´d say they took about 3000CAD from the car. They also took all my climbing stuff for the bouldering comp but its hard to put a $ amount on my climbing stuff. For the rest of the trip, it looks like we´re going to be heading to internet cafe´s again… Now that that was done, we had to get back to the trip. There was no point in crying about the stuff that was lost because we knew we weren´t getting it back. I guess to look on the bright side, we weren´t hurt and everything that was lost is replaceable… After that, we spend 5 days in Ceuse. We climbed 4 days and took a rest day in the middle. The crazyest part of Ceuse was seeing a guy deck from 20 meters. We were chilling at the Berlin secter eating a late lunch when a guy fell off Rat Man (8a+) from 20 meters. His girlfriend either dropped her brake hand or wasn´t paying attention but he fell straight to the ground. We thought the worse but somehow, someone was looking out for this kid. In the mass of rocks and boulders around Ceuse, he managed to land in a perfect circle of bush with one meter of bush to help his landing. After 15minutes, he was just laying on the ground covered in blankets and looked like he was ready to climb again. There was no blood, no swelling, no cuts. Just to make sure, they didnt move him or anything. We called a helicopter which came in about half an hour and air lifted him out. We found out later that he broke his ankle and 2 discs in his back. To me, I think he was really lucky to suffer just those injuries. After Ceuse, we headed to Barcelona for the World Cup. After dropping Mathilde off in Valence for her French training camp, we made the 5 hour drive down to Spain. The whole drive it ranged from 28 degrees to 34 degrees. When we got to Barcelona, we found the hostel that Jamie had booked in advance and got settled in. The hostel by the way is very nice, it´s about 10 minutes walk from La Rambla street and it looks like they get a lot of traffic through here. They also have free internet which is where im writing this post from. Qualifyers were on the first day and it was flash format. I flashed both routes and made it to semis tied with another 9 climbers. The wall was really crazy as well, it was almost 20m high and probably 10m overhanging. It started with a 20 degree overhanging wall, they a roof, then a extremely long middle section of about 20 degree overhanging, then another roof, then finished with a vertical part on the left andanother 20 degree overhanging top on the right. In the 3 World Cups that have done flash format, Imst, China and Barcelona, I haven´t fallen (knocking on wood). Semi finals were the next day and the route was extremely hard. The whole botton section was huge finger jugs until the part in the middle. When you pulled the first lip, it got hard right away. It stayed super hard until the next roof. I managed to fight my way through the bottom, rest a bit and fight my way through the second roof to fall trying to travers onthe vertical panel at the top. Because the middle section was so hard, almost everyone fell in the middle and it turned out, you just had to get through the bouldery section at the bottom and control a flat crimp just above half height. I climbed really well in semis and finished in 4th place. Finals was later that day. They ran the women first and told us that we would preview after the women finished. I thought that they were going to finish the women and then make our route go across the whole wall. Luckily that wasn´t the case and our route went almost straight up, besides at the top where it started to weave. In the middle of the finals route again was a super bouldery move. I almost fell on that move but got just high enough for the next hold. The next 5 moves weren´t that hard and you could recover from the bouldery section at the botton. Just before the roof, I made a big move up with my right hand and knew i had to match feet. When i matched feet, i could feel that I hadnt done it perfectly and a second later, it slipped. I almost hung on with just my left hand but after what seemed like a long second, i fell. After everyone else climbed, I ended up in 4th place. The boudery section at the bottom got to 4 of the climbers including Patxi Usobiaga who was the World Cup winner in Chamonix a couple of weeks ago. Now we´re off the Rodellar and then Imst!!

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