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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

24 Heures Du Mur

I got back from the competition “Les 24 heures du mur” Sunday night and it was definately a memorable competition. As I said in my previous post, it’s the same as as a giant scramble format competition but instead of 3-4 hours, you get 24. Pretty straight forward really. After the scramble format, there’s a finals a few hours later, world cup format. I drove to Oloron-Saint-Marie on Friday night with Mathilde in preparation for the competition which started Saturday morning at 10am. We left Toulouse at around 5pm because the drive was about 3 hours and we were supposed to register that night. Mathilde had school for some of the day, but had enough time to get everything organized for the trip. We actually got there too late for registration and they told us to just be there in the morning. [singlepic id=238 w=480 h=320 float=right] The next morning we came back and got registered, paid, and got a goody basket. It’s pretty cool what we got for our 25€. For the small registration fee, we got a t-shirt, some blister bandages and a bottle of wine! They give a bottle of wine to people of age and a box of chocolate to those under age. We figured we’d be sharing it anyways, so Mathilde took chocolate and I kept the wine. I was already psyched, I had seen the wall which was a 22m wall with most of the wall going between 15-25 degrees overhanging. On one wall, there was a small roof about half way up. The competition didn’t actually start until 11am which meant that we had until 11am Sunday morning to finish our qualifiers. They took top 5 routes for qualifiers although you were only allowed to try each route a maximum of 3 tries. I figured it would come down to flashing/onsighting your routes because if you had to take 2-3 tries for each one of your 5 route, plus your warm-ups, you were looking at 25+ routes. I started warming up straight away and tried to pick lines with small line ups. I did a few routes before finally getting on a harder route. The first harder route I did was an 8a. I was pretty sure I could do it, and at the same time, I wanted to have at least one 8 to start the day. It wasn’t too bad, and I onsighted it with Mathilde doing it flash just behind me! After climbing that one route, I looked over at the clock, and it was already 1:30. Almost 3 hours had already passed and I had only 1 route. [singlepic id=243 w=480 h=320 float=left] The day continued like that, because of the line ups and the length of the wall, you ended up waiting a bunch. Our plan was to get a few routes done before lunch, then go eat, and come back for the “ultimate route challenge” which I’ll explain in a bit. By 2pm, we had done 2 routes which we were pretty satisfied with. Mathilde had done a 7c and an 8a, and I had done an 8a and an 8a+. We had also done those 4 routes onsight/flash which was nice. We went back to eat lunch and just rested for a couple of hours. At 5pm, the ultimate route challenge was supposed to start. This small competition involved 1 route for the men, and 1 route for the women. They shut down the main walls and have everyone in “elite” try the route once. It’s also flash, the route setters fore-run for us. For the men, they gave it a grade of 8c and the women a 8a+. The point of this ultimate route challenge was to get a hard route for your top 5 climbs as well as a seperator for the overall results. Because they took the finals round and combined it with the qualification round, there’s a very easily possibility of a tie. If two people tie in the overall rankings, whoever did better on this “ultimate route” would ultimately win. They also set “bonus” holds at sections up all the hard routes. Supposed there was an 8b route, they would have one zone hold about half way up signifying an 8a portion. If you fall from there or higher, you’d still get the 8a part. Then 3/4 of the way up, there would be another zone hold which would mark an 8a+ part. Mathilde and I were in the last few to climb and Mathilde came 3rd on the route, getting all the way up to the last 3 moves. Mathilde got credit for an 8a part of the route. I ended up winning this little contest by getting up to the 8b+ part of the route, and falling a few moves later, just a couple feet from the top. After this ultimate route, Mathilde and I were getting pretty tired. It was already 8pm and we weren’t sure what to do. It’s hard to figure out whether to climb now and rest for tomorrow, or to rest now, and climb in the morning just like a semi finals or something. Mathilde tried a few more routes but felt like she didn’t have enough power so had to retire the day with only 3 routes she was more or less happy with. After the ultimate route, I ended up doing another 8b before resting for the day. Because Mathilde had to do 2 more routes, and I had to do at least 1 more, we decided to call it an early night and headed back. We ate dinner, tried to get some sleep and woke up at 6am Sunday morning and headed back to the gym. We got to the gym before 7 after breakfast, shower ect. There was almost no one there, it was great. We warmed up freely and figured out which routes to try. By 8:30, it was already pretty busy but Mathilde managed to send a hard 8a and finished with a 7c. I warmed up pretty fast, did another 7c+ to get a little pumped and fore run for Mathilde before getting on an 8b which I ended up onsighting. I wanted to try the 8b, because it had two zones, an 8a part, and an 8a+ part. Anyone of the 3 would’ve been good for my score and I was lucky to do it all the way to the top! I finished the 24 hours of scramble format with an:
  • 8b+
  • 8b
  • 8b
  • 8a+
  • 8a
Mathilde finished her round with:
  • 8a
  • 8a
  • 8a
  • 7c
  • 7c
[singlepic id=240 w=480 h=320 float=left] Just after the qualification ended, I was told that there was a gift basket ceremony for the two who won the ultimate route contest. There was little ceremony and I was given a gift basket with some food from the local towns around Oloron. It was super cool, and pretty heavy. Inside the basket was a bunch of stuff including more wine, some cookies, some fois gras, some jam and probably some stuff that I don’t even what it is. Here are some close ups of the basket as well 🙂 [singlepic id=241 w=320 h=280 float=center] [singlepic id=242 w=320 h=280 float=center] We went back to the house we were staying at and tried to eat some food in preparation for finals. Finals started around 4pm and we got there an hour earlier. It was pretty cool in “isolation”. The “isolation” was outside but it was pretty open because once you were in the gym, you were kind of stuck there. Even for our observation there was already 1000 people in the gym. It was packed in the gym, and also outside. They hung a big screen projector screen in the gym so that the people that were just outside could look at the screen. Also outside, they had a giant LED TV broadcasting the competition as well. Both the finals route were long, pink, and went back and forth up the wall. I was excited just to be in finals. It’s been a while since I’ve been in finals in a lead competition and I could barely believe how nervous I got. I’ve been competing for 12 years and I still love the nervousness that I get during warm up and just before climbing. It’s not a bad nervousness feeling, it’s just there. I think “what if I fall off the 5th move”? Then I just say to myself “it’s ok if you do, but I hope you don’t…”. [singlepic id=237 w=480 h=320 float=right] Because I had qualified 1st but there were 9 girls in finals, I was second to last out. They were also alternating women, men because one of the spot lights broke. Also, Mathilde had qualified second after qualifiers so she climbed just before me. While I was waiting in the chair for my turn to climb, I could hear her climbing, and I also heard when the crowd kept cheering more and more, until finally, she topped her route…. The first of the finalist to top. I felt so happy for her, and tried to quickly get inside my own head, after all, I had a finals route to climb. I was mostly worried about the first 10 moves of my climb, but after doing them very quickly, I tried to calm down. There was a super awkward move for me in the middle and then again in the roof, but I knew I was climbing well, so I was happy. I felt very good while climbing the route, my months of training paying off. I could stop and rest on the good holds, and I felt like I was reading the sequence well. I got up all the way to the vertical section at the top of my route before starting to feel rather pumped. It’s very hard to switch from good holds in overhang to small holds in a vertical while losing your feet. I fell 3 holds from the top, and very pumped. I was happy. As I came  sailing down, I could hear the crowd cheering as everything came back into focus. I love the feeling of getting off a climb knowing that you climbed super well and pumped. It’s when you fall off a route and you’re not pumped where you get annoyed. I found out a few moments later that Flavien Guerimand had topped the climb a few climbers before me and I came 2nd in finals. I looked up at the route and remembered how pumped I was. I was also very impressed that he had topped, not because I doubted his abilities, just that it was very hard! After me, there was the last girl climber which was Florence Pinet. After around 5 minutes, she as well had made it up near the top in the last section of the finals route. She knew she had to top to win but still she remained focused. She worked her way through the hard section at the top and into the stem at the corner. She clipped the final draw and waved at the crowd, knowing she had won. Although I had placed 2nd in qulifiers, because I had placed 1st in the qualification round, my overall result was better than Flavien’s and I ended up winning the competition. It seems weird to win a competition after not getting the highest on the finals route but I guess 24 hours of qualifiers deserves some credit as well. Mathilde finished 2nd, after coming 2nd in qualifiers as well as finals. So that’s the 24 heures du mur and it was quite an experience. I’ll be most likely going next year as well as long as there’s no world cup conflicts or anything. Because it’s sanctioned by the FFME and on the IFSC calender, I don’t think that they’ll make it clash with anything which is pretty sweet. So to sum up my weekend, I went to a sick competition, had tons of fun and got to see some of my friends from around France and Spain. Also, for our 25€ registration fee, we walked away from the competition with a lot of stuff! [singlepic id=239 w=480 h=320 float=center] This coming weekend is the World Cup in Puurs, Belgium!

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Comments (3)

  • Avatar

    Gelu

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    Mr. McColl,

    I would like you to know that I really enjoy your competition reports. Very entertaining and well written. Keep it up.

    Blogging aside, I admire you as a climber and you struck me as a nice, honest guy. Tons of respect!

    Greets from Spain!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Sean McColl

      |

      Thanks a lot Gelu. It makes me happy and encourages me to keep writing when people say they like my posts 🙂

      Reply

  • Training weekend in Oloron | Sean McColl

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    […] to climb on their big wall. The wall is 20m and has a bunch of hard routes from the “24 Heures Du Mur” competition they had last October. I wrote up a post about that competition which can be […]

    Reply

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