Yesterday I climbed my first ever lead competition. The competition was held at Mountain Network Nieuwegein and is the first out of three competitions in to qualify for the National Championships. We had to climb two routes flash in order to qualify for the final on-sight route. It didn’t go as I had expected.
The first route started as 6b and gradually went up to 6c. I had to start second, after Eva Vink who steady climbed to the top. I knew that I could lead 6c easily but the nerves still got to me. I climbed steady and started climbing carefully at the crux. Unfortunately I wasn’t careful and made the wrong decision to put my right foot very high up (instead of my left). It didn’t feel right, but because I couldn’t see my feet anymore I decided to pull through. A big shouldery move and as I got higher and higher I knew I wouldn’t make it to the next hold. At the same time I was thinking on the fall that would come. Then I fell! Wow, super far! It gave me a nice kick, but I quickly realized that I should have climbed this (easiest) route for a place in the finals. I got really grumpy, especially when I saw one after the other topping the route. I felt ashamed and didn’t like it at all but I also hated myself being so grumpy. So I tried to cheer myself up and started in the second route.
The second qualification route was super nice. Started 7a, ended 7b(+?). I climbed steady to the overhanging part, felt strong not tired, climbed further and wanted to clip on a two/three finger pocket. I wasn’t able to stick the hold long enough and fell. Again a really nice fall.
It took a while before I could get my anger tempered and adjust my shame. My recent climbing performance led to expectations that I wasn’t able to live up to in this competition. That made me feel terrible, never had that feeling before. After this experience I understand the importance of mental strength (in many ways). It’s very different from boulder competitions, where you often have a second change if you make one mistake. I ended up 11th, that’s a big bummer but knowing I could have done better, give me confidence to try it again another time.
After the competition I couldn’t wait to jump into the second men’s qualifier. The route looked awesome and it was! Small crimps, cross-overs and powerful moves on my favorite continuous overhanging wall. To my surprise, I managed to lead this route pretty far.
It was interesting that I was scared for falling again, something which was less apparent while competing! This last thing was one of the reasons why I wanted to participate at a lead competition: to experience how it feels to lead while I’m excited and nervous. That feeling was nice! Of course the mistakes I made and knowing that I failed on something I was hoping to do better wasn’t great at all. It was hard to deal with, but after all probably a good lesson. Other peoples expectations led to some critical, or even nasty comments. That was difficult to hear and really hurt my feelings. I was glad it was well compensated by the majority of people who encouraged me. Thank you guys!
All the (six) competition routes were awesome, make sure you come over to check it out!