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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Worst set of Boulders?

Well I’ve just finished the qualifiers at the Munich world cup, and sadly I’ve placed 21st. Irregardless of my placement, I’m going to be quite honest on what I think about this set of 5 boulders. I would have to say that it is the worst set of 5 boulders at any competition I’ve ever competed at. Usually in a competition, especially in world cups, there’s 1 or 2 boulders that are tricky. You don’t really know the sequence from the ground, and you just have to kind of feel your way through the boulder. I felt like after climbing these 5 boulders, there wasn’t any real climbing on any of them. When I say real climbing, I mean like just hard moves where you have to contract your arms and pull up. Every boulder problem was just bumping around with your hands and trying to figure your way around volumes. After warming up in isolation, the competition was delayed by 30 minutes due to a problem with the timers. 30 minutes later, and two times between the competition and isolation, I was ready to go out. As I’m waiting for my turn, I hear the competitor before me finish the boulders, come back behind the wall and say something along the lines of “I didn’t know this was a route comp”. I prepared myself for a long boulder problem and when I got out, it was 10 moves. Pretty long for a boulder world cup. The problem was that you had to start backwards and it took a while to figure out how to turn around again. I got up past the bonus to a big move. This move could be one of my biggest pet peeves of route setting. When a route setter puts a giant hold that tall people can easily reach the next hold and where short people have to go on a terrible smear, ohhhhh it makes me seethe. Well this was exactly what happened. I knew if I was a couple cm taller, I could comfortably stand on the foothold. Sadly, because I was pumped, yes PUMPED, as I jumped for the hold, I barely stuck it but I couldn’t feel my hands because of the pump. I fell, tried it again 3 minutes later and fell on the same hold… Problem two was definitely the best problem of the set of 5. Aside from the first two moves that were just kind of dumb, because it relied on seeing a part of the feature to grab, the problem was pretty good. This could be another one of my pet peeves, when route setters set something and don’t put ticks or something on it. It’s like grabbing panel edges and not ticking them, of course anyone that’s grabbed that panel of volume is going to know exactly where to grab. I’m not asking for a lot, maybe just a chalk line or something. After falling 5 times off the first two moves in panic, I sent the problem 5 go. Actually the first time I stuck the second actual hold, I sent the problem. Third problem, ridiculous. It started in an awkward stem, then you had to just feel your way around a volume to get across the wall. Once at the zone hold, an easy heelhook mantle to the finish. I luckily flashed the problem after being on it for about 2 minutes. Fourth problem could’ve been the captain of the set. It was impossible, well I guess I should say almost impossible because Adam Ondra sent it, but out of 45 competitors, he was the only one… It had 4 hand holds on it, including the start and finish holds. It was something on a slab, where you were supposed to “skip” the zone until further into the problem. Almost all world cup climbers go straight for the bonus, because usually you have to grab it to get further along the problem, not in this case! You were supposed to mantle up, and then once you were almost at the top, grab the bonus for stability… The 5th problem was debatably one that used your arms. It had a super awkward start, and then a less awkward finish. The thing that bugged me royally on this problem was that they didn’t tick the wall for the hidden bonus hold near the top. I slapped 3 times around the side and never hit the hold… So after trying to complete 5 problems, I finished with 2 tops in an abysmal 6 tries. As soon as I finished, I was already seething. I couldn’t believe that I had just climbed 5 world cup problems and hadn’t really pulled on very many holds. I just couldn’t believe it… To top it off, yes I finished 21st, where 20 make it to semis… So after my rant, 20 climbers still made it to the semis, and I hope for their sake that the problems are better. Good luck!

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