My first bouldering (non) competition

I showed up at MetalMark Climbing and Fitness last Saturday for my first bouldering competition, clasping a Café con Leche from Café Corazón.

That’s the way I’ve always been when it comes to competitive sports. Ever since I played soccer in elementary school, I’ve been in it for the fun and the snacks, and maybe to do cartwheels during intermissions. But I’ve never been in it to win it. The competitive gene must have gotten lost somewhere, along with my height gene.

But I quickly learned that a rock-climbing competition, at least at this amateur level, might just be my type of competition.

During the event, I would attempt a bouldering problem, mostly at the V3 level. If I completed it successfully on the first try, or the second try, a nearby climber who witnessed it would happily sign my score card.

The atmosphere at the comp was incredibly positive. It hardly felt like the other climbers around me were “the competition.” Rather, people I didn’t even know would watch my every move in suspense, cheering me on until I completed the problem – or encouraging me to give it another go.

After just a few problems, I was shaking – though it was hard to tell if it was my muscles quivering, or adrenaline coursing rapidly through my blood. Calming down was easy, though – a deejay was spinning great, energetic music, and I whole-heartedly embraced the bucket of free Twizzlers, and the massage therapist who offered free chair massages.

If I had more of a competitive streak, I might have pushed myself to climb throughout the entire four-hour competition, ignoring my raw fingers or my exhausted biceps. But that’s not me. About three hours in, I handed in my score card. A more competitive climber might have been mentally tallying their score, but I completely miscalculated mine – even though I had used a calculator. As Rick Perry said: …oops.

I returned to the gym that evening to check out The Reel Rock Film Tour. It was then that I learned I had placed 7th out of 10 in the Women’s Intermediate category (with my corrected score.) I didn’t win, but that had hardly mattered. I had pushed myself beyond my personal limits, and taken on a new challenge.

Oh – and I got a sweet T-shirt just for playing. If there was ever a competition to participate in, just for the fun of it, this was it.

Photo: Heather Campbell, MetalMark Climbing and Fitness

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