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    Notes and advice from Sean McColl.

Some new Photos

Ive finally added some new photos to my site. The biggest problem is that the pictures take a long time to load although most of them are about 250 kilobytes. Im not sure why but you’ll have to be patient. This is the Bruno Boulder where the famous Never Ending Story is located. [singlepic id=29 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=] This is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Innsbruck, the infamous ”Golden Roof”. [singlepic id=31 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=]

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MelloBlocco and Magic Wood

The past couple of weeks have been quite an adventure for me. After the world cup in hall, I went down to Val Masino in Italy for an event called MelloBlocco. This event gets bigger and bigger every year. This year, there was close to 2000 participants. The best way to describe it would kind of be like a Petzl RocTrip but bouldering. The biggest sponsors are La Sportiva, The North Face and Petzl. The town of Val Masino is very small and 2500 people coming for the festival makes it quite packed. Once you park your car somewhere, chances are your not going to move it for a couple of days or you’re going to be looking for a parking spot for a while. The competition side of the event is really fun. Sportiva puts a 500EUR bounty on a bunch of boulder problems. To compete in the ”competition”, you pay 10 EUR when you get there and get a boody bag. Inside the bag, you get a map, a t-shirt, a bunch of stickers and a nice squishy warm up ball from The North Face. The men have 8 problems and so do the women. The 500EUR bounty gets split between the people that complete the boulder. I drove down to the event from Innsbruck with Jorg Verhoven, Nalle Hukkataival and Olga Bibik. Since it was my first time going, I didnt really have any strategy. I figured I’d just go bouldering with a bunch of guys for a few days and hey, if i did a problem, I’d get some cash. The first day, we did two problems that were pretty easy, I flashed one and Nalle and Daniel Woods flashed another. We spent the beginning of the day working on a prow problem, but when the sun came around the corner and put all the holds in the sun, we gave up. The second day, we went straight to the problem labelled A. We had heard that Adam Ondra had started his previous day at this problem and it took him a mere 2 hours. Also, on the first day, Adam had managed to do 6 or 7 of the 8 problems including a couple of flashes. We spend the good part of the morning trying this problem which looked like the nicest line out of the chosen boulders. There was only one line up the boulder and they had dragged a big gymnastics pad up to it to protect the lunge for the lip and the high mantle. After a good few hours trying the boulder, we were done with it so we went up the valley to Val Di Mello. We were up there for maybe 30 minutes when it started to rain and we walked back. We didn’t even look at the project boulder up there because it was raining. Nalle and I felt close on the problem we tried in the morning so we figured we’d go back there. After another 3 hour session, I finally topped the boulder in literally the last minute that the judge was going to be there. The ”competition” is only supposed to run from 11-5, and i did the problem at around 5:45. He had called his boss, and the man said if we were psyched, he’d extend the time for up to an hour. I was more relieved just to send the boulder but knowing only 3 people had done the boulder in 2 days was pretty cool. On another note, both Daniel and Nalle were ridiculously close as well to sending the problem. The last move of the problem was the crux, you had a very bad sloping crimp and you had to hand foot match with your heel, perch, grab a thumb hold, bump to a slopey gaston and bump again to the lip and hope your foot stayed on. Daniel almost stuck the lip only to have his foot blow and go spiralling down to the big gymnastic pad. After the whole event was over, the town cleared out in a few hours. It was a eerie being there after everyone had left. Going from a population of around 3000 to a population of under 500 was a bit strange. On the 11th, I drove to Magic Wood. I didn’t have to pick up girlfriend from the airport the 16th, and I’ve never gotton a chance to spend more than a couple of days in Magic Wood. The most direct way to Magic Wood was a pass called ”Splugenpass”. I went for about 45 minutes up the road only to have it closed… I guess they don’t post signs about these things and everyone just knows. I re drove the 45 minute uphill climb and had to detour about 2 hours before finally arriving at around 3. I walked around the forest for 2 hours trying to find problems that I had tried in previous years. I ended up getting lost for most of that time and I only found the Bruno Boulder and the Pura Vida boulder… When I was hiking out, I bumped into some climbers from Belgium who were leaving the next day. I asked if I could look at their guide book which turned out to be just a printout from the Internet a few years old. They said they were leaving the next day and I could have it! I looked over it, and most of the boulders that I wanted to try were on it. On the 12th, I had one of the best days of bouldering I’ve had in a long time. I spend the morning warming up on the Bruno boulder. This is where the famous ”Never Ending Story V14” is. I did Massive Attack (V12) in about 2 hours then made my way up around the darkness cave. I wasn’t sure what to look for but since I had my new found guidebook, I headed up towards the Darkness Cave. I met some other climbers who said they were up to the ”Octopussy” boulder. I really wanted to try Jack’s Broken Heart, so i followed them. It took me about 1.5 hours to look at and do Octopussy (V11) second try, flash Free For All (V12) and flash Jack’s Broken Heart (V12). I really wanted to go and try One Summer In Paradise (V13) but when I got down there, there was no one there and since it’s a pretty long traverse, I couldn’t do it with my one pad. I’ve done the last two-thirds of this problem which is ”Pura Vida”. Pura Vida does a really hard move into the 5th move of One Summer In Paradise which starts just down and left. Last year I did the shorter one second try and fell on the last move of the long one about 15 minutes later. We wanted to check out another boulder and I was pretty pumped so I figured ”there’s always another day” and left. On the 13th, I spent the whole day in the Darkness Cave. I did The Right Hand of Darkness (V10/11) on my first try, but I’ve done some of the moves doing the left variation and to call it a flash would just be wrong. For the next 2-3 hours, I tried Remembrance of Things Past. Daniel Woods put up this line a couple of years ago and also added a sit which runs at V15. The stand starts about 7 moves in on the left side of the rood on a nice incut edge. It does 6 super hard moves out the almost roof, then traverses a bit right and tops out where everything else tops out. I thought I was going to do the problem on that day but one move in the roof was really hard. I figured I’d take a rest day and go at it again on the 15th. When the 15th rolled around again, I went straight to my project. I warmed up and tried the boulder, I fell off pretty fast with both my lats just aching with pain. Obviously my first day on the problem had made my lats extremely worked and it had taken 2 days for the pain to set in. I’m pretty sure if my lats aren’t sore the next time I’m there, I’ll do the problem on my first try. I could do the first 3 moves easily and it was just getting my right hand set in this awkward finger jug to do a hard move to the right that was shutting me down. I could never get my fingers in right from the left gaston way out left. You had to press across to the right hand finger jug that was also slightly gaston. Working this double gaston move is what made my lats impossible to climb on. If I started on the double gaston holds with my fingers properly in the right hand hold, I could climb the rest of the problem. I still tried the problem for another couple hours before giving up and going back down to the Bruno boulder. I tried the first part of The Never Ending Story for about 30 minutes before getting really tired and going back to the campsite. I dedicated my last day to doing a couple of problem around the Bruno Boulder. I warmed up and did Nana Bianca (V12) in a few hours and then went to my main goal of the day; The Never Ending Story Part 1 (V12). It was the last move that was always spitting me off. 3 years ago, during my first European adventure, I had fallen 8 times in a row at the last move of this problem. The previous day, I had added another 3. I tried it again from the start, and fell at the beginning. I spent the next 30 minutes dedicated to finding a good solution for the last move. Eventually I figured the best idea was to go right hand to the second to last hold so the last move would be easy. The hardest move for me was putting in my right foot heel hook, once it was in, the last move was easy. After doing this a few times, I took a long rest and tried it again from the beginning. Again, I fell on the last move but almost got my heel in. I rested another 10 minutes and fired the problem. Just like I predicted, once my heel went on, the last move was piss. I campus matched the last move and did a victory pull up. Later that day, I drove down to Milan, Bergamo to pick up my girlfriend Mathilde Becerra from the airport. I picked her up at 8 and then made the 3 hour drive back to Innsbruck. For the last week, I’ve just been training for the world cup in Vienna next week. I also climbed outside in the Zillertal once as well. While I was up there, I bumped into Thomas Neyer who was setting for the upcoming European Youth Championships in Imst. A couple months ago, when I knew I’d be attending this event, I sent an email to the organizers of the event asking if they needed help with routesetting or even fore running. I know how tired you get after endless days of route setting and fore running routes is extremely hard, especially for the 18-19 categories at the European Level. My email got no reply. When I talked to Thomas in Zillertal, I asked him directly and he said it would make it so much easier if someone else would fore run. Now I’m fore running for the European Championships tommorrow in Imst. I went today and ran the route I’ll be fore running. I’m fore running the Juniors second qualifyer, which is the hardest route in qualifyers… hope I don’t fall.

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World Cup Hall, Austria

Well another World Cup has come and passed. This one was in Hall, Austria. Hall is about 10km just outside of Innsbruck. The competition started with 78 men and 46 women. Because there were so many people registered in the competition, the organizers decided to run the climbers on two different sets of problems. They split the competitors in two different groups and ran them on different 5 qualifying problems. Some might argue that this is unfair because the best climbers could be in one group and it a way, they´re right. Although, the way they split the climbers is based on their WorldRanking, so every second person based on their WorldRanking would go in a group. If all the top 10 climbers were there 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9 would be in one group and 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 would be in the other. All in all, they assume all the strong climbers will make it through to semi finals where the problems are usually a lot harder. I had a World Ranking of 11 because of my competitions last year and the fact that I didn´t go to the world cup in Japan. I was in group B which I thought had more strong people in it, but really it just doesn´t matter. I was really nervous most of my warm up just because I hadn´t competed in a world cup for over 8 months. The last few world cups I have done were all lead in September. The last Boulder world cup I did was back in July in Montauban, France. I always warm up expecting the qualifyers to be the hardest problems I´ve ever tried. I mean, this is world cup right? Hardest problems in the world aren´t they? I figure it´s a pretty good mind set so when I am able to flash a few, it´s a great morale booster. For qualifyers, there´s always 5 problems and 5 minutes per problem with your 5 minute rest in between. I´ve done the format so many times it´s almost second nature to me. I came out and my first problem was a nice little slab one… great. In fact, I quite enjoy doing slab problems, it´s so different than all the problems back in North America, it feels like even an easy slab problem is challenging for me. I flashed the first problem as well as the second problem which went up a little dihedrial and then made its way up a small prow. After flashing the first two problems, I felt pretty good, 3 problems left. I expected the last 3 problems to be pretty hard to make up for the first two being pretty. When I saw the 3rd problem, I wasn´t sure what to do. It seemed pretty obvious until the bonus hold but from there, I wasn´t sure whether to make my way left to a bad yellow sloper and then throw to the corner, or just match on the bonus and go straight to the corner. I got on and fell trying to throw left to the yellow. On my second try, I tried to match the bonus hold which was a big sloper and my feet popped and I fell. Kind of annoyed, I rested for a good minute and a half and tried it again. When I went to match the sloper, my feet stayed miraculously and I drove up the corner, I kind of reverse cupped the corner hold and threw to the finish. It turns out that the 3rd problem was actually the hardest, followed closely by number 4. The 4th problem was just a plain and simple dyno. The hard part wasn´t the dyno itself but where the holds were placed. You set up for the dyno one move off the starting holds by doing a little cross over. The hard part was the fact that they put a big round volume right in front of the next hold so you couldn´t see it. Before dynoing, you had to pull back, spot where you going to go, then pull back and in and fire blindly. When you caught the hold, I think you were supposed to palm the round volume to control the swing, but it was very strange indeed. It took me 3 tries to stick the dyno and the last moves were extremely easy compared to what you had just done. The 5th problem wasn´t super hard but really tricky. The first move looked painfully easy to read with a hard move up with your right hand, but when you got on the problem, it seemed impossible to go up with your right hand. Turns out, I always went up with my left and then had to match it by palming the other side of the hold. The 5th problem was mostly just figuring out how to get on top of an enourmous red feature. On my first try, I made it just before the zone and tried to jump to it. I barn doored really hard and almost stuck the zone but still fell. On my second try, I came at the zone hold from underneath instead of the right and send the problem. In total, I sent all 5 problems with a total of 10 tries. I was pretty sure it would be enough for semi finals and I was right. In my group, you had to do at least 4 problems in 5 tries, which meant you had to flash at least 3 problems if you could only complete 4 of them. Semi finals was the next day. Fron qualifyers, they took the top 10 climbers in both groups to have 20 men and 20 women in semi finals. I woke up with my right tricep really sore. I spent the whole time during my warmup just massaging my arm trying to make it feel better. I figured with all the adreneline I´d have while competing, I wouldn´t even feel it. Semi finals is made up of 4 problems with 6 minutes climbing and resting time. When I came out, I felt pretty excited. The first problem was another slab, this time on the right side of the competition wall. Turns out, it wasn´t very hard and most of the competitors flashed it. The second problem looked much harder. The start had pretty much no feet for a few moves. On my first try, I spent so long trying to figure out where my feet were supposed to go for the first 3 moves. Turns out, you just paste your feet on the wall and campus. I screwed around too long and unfortunately fell going for the bonus. On my second try however, I just campused the first 2 moves and sent the problem on that try. The 3rd problem was absolutely ridiculous. Just matching the second hold felt impossible. I spent 6 minutes doing 2 moves of climbing and on my last try I almost stuck the 3rd hold, which was the zone. I figured if I struggled so hard on this problem, it was surely not going to get done. The 4th problem was also really hard. The first two moves were really strange, having to perch on your left foot and grab a pinchy undercling and then fire your right hand into almost the same hold on the overhand. From there, you just set up and dynoed up and left over the lip. There were two holds about a foot apart just over the lip. While I was trying the problem, it felt so close every time I jumped. I must have tried the problem about 7 times and got to the jump 5 of those times. The jump was just too hard. I finished the round having only done 2 problems in 3 tries and not even getting the zone for problem 3 or 4. After talking with Daniel Woods about the problems, he too had only done 2 of the problems but got the zone on all of them. Sadly, he took 3 tries to do problem 2 which put me just ahead of him by one attempt. Even more heart breaking was at the end of the round when I concluded that you had to flash 2 problems in make finals. Because of the way they divided the competitors for qualifyers, they aren´t allowed to do a countback. Gabrielle Moroni made finals by just flashing the first two finals and not getting zone on 3 and 4 either. That means that I missed finals by a try… If I had flashed the second problem intead of doing it second go, I would´ve made finals again… Oh well, maybe next time. After semi finals, I finished in 9th place. 7th place went to David Lama who also missed finals by a fall and 8th placed went to Cédric Lachat also in the same boat. Just after me in 10th place was Daniel Woods and in 11th place was Jorg Verhoeven. Finals were of course awesome to watch. The biggest problem was that they didn´t have enough chairs and it was really hard to see. Another fun fact was that of the 6 guys who made finals, they all came from group B in qualifyers, which I was also in. In finals were Killian Fischhuber, Gabriele Moroni, Adam Ondra, Lucas Preti, Mykhaylo Shalagin and Guillaume Glairon-Mondet. The 6 finalist for women were Akiyo Noguchi, Anna Stohr, Yulia Abrabmchuk, Maud Ansade, Natalija Gros, Anna Galliamove and Angelica Lind. Because two women tied for 6th place in semis, they took 7 women to finals. Full results can be found on the IFSC Website. Finals were fun to watch but for the men, it turned out the it came down to the first two problems. No one did problem 3 and 4 and Killian won the competition. The women put on quite a different show. Akiyo from Japana and Anna from Austria had tied in semi finals for 6th place and was the results of 7 people in finals. During the finals, they both managed to flash all 4 problems which meant a superfinal. After tweaking mens problem 2, they both came out and previewed then climbed individually. Akiyo went first and flashed the problem, Anna was second and flashed it as well. The cheers from the crowd were crazy and it turns out that according to IFSC rules, if they both flash the superfinal, they just tie… It kind of sucks that they didn´t go to a super superfinal but it was still pretty awesome to watch. After the comp was over, there was a big afterparty. They had a live band which played a lot of really funny songs. They start with Umbrella by Rihanna which they sung terribly. After that first song, they were a lot better. After a few hours, the party moved to a more Disco part of the venue which played really good music. The party ended at about 3am with the police trying to push everyone outside

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