Southern Comfort XVI

This past weekend Appalachian State University’s climbing team hosted their spring climbing competition, Southern Comfort XVI.

soco3

It was a total blast! I haven’t competed in ages, and I thought it would be a fun excuse to visit all my friends in Boone. I didn’t climb as well as I had hoped, but placed #1 in Women’s Advanced and came home with two sweet Organic bags.

omg bags
OMG BAGS!

When I first got into the gym and started feeling out the problems, I’ll admit that I experienced a fair share of frustration at so many climbs being height-dependent. In general, I feel there is a lack of understanding in gyms about how short a “short person” is. Perhaps setters just don’t believe a person can really be so short? I understand sometimes larger moves can be compensated for with tricky beta, and sometimes it’s just my fault for not being strong enough. But especially at indoor comps, it can feel like being a child on one of those roller coasters when you just don’t meet the height requirement and you have to stand by and watch all your taller friends having the time of their lives.

Just as a quick ruler idea from Drexel: when setting a move that is not intended to be a dyno, check the span from one fingertip to the opposite elbow. This may seem ludicrous, but that is actually my span compared to his.

height
THIS ^ IS MY LIFE!

Accepting the fact that I would not be able to do some problems, I decided to give everything a three-go limit, starting with the hardest problems and working my way down. I’ve learned from previous comps that sieging is not the way to go. It quickly became apparent that all the advanced problems and most of the higher level intermediates were not feasible. I felt my capacity to let this get to me. I felt the tension and despair in other climbers. I saw other shorter girls getting upset. I actually saw one girl crying. But I didn’t want to go there. It’s not “real.” It’s just a fun gym competition. I forced myself to reframe the situation and told myself that it was my attachment to a certain outcome that was the problem, not the outcome itself. If the ultimate goal is fun or happiness, then winning a comp should really just be a middleman. Which means it is completely arbitrary. I shouldn’t need to “win” to have fun and feel good about myself.

I had left the competition early to answer my phone, went back inside to turn in my scorecard, and then finished up dealing with some really ridiculous situations going on back home — one of the plights of being an on-call therapist is that I have to stop whatever I am doing, 24/7, and deal with a client who was, in this situation, pooping all over the place as a power move against their parents. And then I got another call about a person trying to kill herself and had to somehow wave my magic wand and fix everything.

Sometimes I wonder why on earth I would choose to work in the mental health field, especially with high-level children and their families. Why didn’t I just stay in the minivan with Drexel, where everything was clean and calm and free of feces?

why god

I took a walk to clear my head, ate lunch, cuddled my puppy, and still ended up scoring a front row seat to watch finals. I got super excited watching Melise, Rose and Kelsey cruising through all the Women’s Finals problems. I appreciated that they switched up the format from top 3 coed to having both the top 3 males and top 3 females compete. Everyone took their seats and the heat was on.

Southern Comfort Girls
You can’t see it, but that dude on the right was super jealous of Melise’s guns (do you have a permit for those?).
socoboys
Carter was able to make that cool face in the split second after noticing I was take a photo. That takes some mad skillz.

The highlight of the finals was most definitely catching Melise flying through the air in slow-motion and completing potentially the hardest single move of the day:

When everything was said and done, it was a great competition and a great weekend. Everyone went home with something cool, whether or not they placed, because of the insane amount of raffle prizes. On top of that, we ate Cha Da Thai for dinner two nights in a row, some ladies took the plunge and bought themselves a pStyle, AND we (minus Carson) had a really nice group hug slash kumbayah circle to say goodbye. Already looking forward to our next trip back to Boone!

pstyle
Photo stolen from http://cruxcrush.com. This could be you!

Comment below and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win your very own pStyle!!!!

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Dik-diks, Dixon, and Dilly-Dallying

Drexel is still on the road, doing his best to keep the cross country crimpers alive and crushing projects left and right. He claims his fingers are so sore from climbing that he’s unable to write any of his own entries, so here’s a quick list of his latest sends: Osiris V10, Bubba Gump V10, Bread Loaf Factory V10, and the most epic, Western Gold V11.

I mainly know about these sends because I’ll be at work, in my “big kid” job as a therapist, in a session with a client who is yelling or crying or throwing things, when my phone will blow up with ten texts consisting primarily of exclamation points and excited emoji faces. My first thought when I hear the continuous earthquake vibrations of my phone is, “Uh oh, someone else is in crisis!” so I’ll find some excuse to check the screen. Lo and behold, Drexel has triumphed again! “I did it! I did it! I did it!” he texted.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to join Drexel, Carson and Jeff on a lovely outing to Dixon School Boulders. If you’ve never heard of this place, check out this neat video starring Zach and the Bakker boys talking about Dixon and sending some of the classics. As Zach says in the video, it’s definitely worth checking out, spending a day amongst the trees and rocks on a beautiful, quiet mountainside with gorgeous views.

Dixon boulders is a small bouldering area owned by Crowders Mountain State Park near Kings Mountain, NC. It’s maybe 1.5 hrs from Asheville, 2.5 hrs from Boone. It’s a metaconglomerate rock, which might mean nothing to climbers except that the grain size and quality changes drastically from one end of the boulder field to the other. There are maybe 40-50 total climbs, with only 20-25 being high quality and a couple big projects still waiting for a strong climber to give them a name.

dixon

We first warmed up at a large chunk of rock containing countless fun v0-v3s and also a tricky barndoor problem courtesy of Ian Rogers called Barnyard Banshees v5. From there we moved up the hill to Classic Overhang v3 and Beelzebub Roof v5. Zach makes this climb look easy in the video and Jeph flashed the pants off of it, but I struggled pretty hard to gain momentum to reach certain holds and still have enough power to clamp down on the pebbles up top. I flailed a bit, grunted, sighed, told the group we could move on, started to pack up, and then had a sudden burst of angry determination that I was able to ride to a final send. WHOOSH. Sometimes there really is power in a “last go, best go” gritty determination.

beelzebub
Image captured from Dixon School Boulder video of Zach on Beelzebub v5.

We tromped our way up and over to one of the best boulders at Dixon, Atlas v7. It starts with a really fun traverse leading up to a tricky face slab. Lil Bakker wistfully projected this boulder back in the day, and now he’s a lean mean climbing machine who eats v7s for breakfast.

Atlas v7
Drexel showing us all how to gently pat-pat-pat a teensy widdle crimp. “There there…. there there….”
jeph
Jeph claims he doesn’t do a lot of yoga, but he hand-foot matched like a regular downward dogger and said, “Namaste? Nah, mus’ go!” as he flowed to the top of Atlas v7.

 

For the record, I have never felt so supported in my entire climbing life as I did on Atlas. After everyone else sent, Carson, Jeph and Drexel became the world’s best support crew. They showered me with compliments and offered wild incentives that tapped into my deepest desires. Here I was on the brink of complete life satisfaction, and…. nothing. This might be my biggest deathbed regret.

Next up was Drexel’s biggest project, the terrifyingly tall Leaning Tower v8.  It’s arguably one of the best lines at the park, but is also extremely tall and intimidating and has a very committing last move. In the end, the fear factor was too much. This is a really good example of how sometimes climbing is more mental than physical – if this move was only a couple feet above the ground, it would be a relatively easy dyno. Take that same dyno and move it 20+ feet off the ground and that’s another story.

tower
Even scrolling through the photo takes a long time!

 

We ended the day on Venom v5 and Venom Direct v6, completing Jeph’s Dixon circuit experience.  We marched back to the Crowders Mountain State Park parking lot with smiles on our faces. We all agreed that the pebbles hurt, but our skin looked a lot better than it had before. My gym skin definitely needed some good pebbly scraping to get it ready for next weekend’s trip to Rumbling Bald.

Back at home, we had a lovely night with Drexel and Carson’s family, even when arguments got a bit heated. I felt bad, but we even pulled his Nana into the argument. In the end, it was hard to find a clear winner of “What is the cutest baby animal?” We’ve narrowed it down to five top contenders: Dik-Dik, Slow Loris, Wallaby, Wolf, or Panther. Please vote in the poll below so we can figure this out once and for all.

 

dik-dik
My vote was for Dik-Dik! It’s tiny, it’s awkward, it has oddly tiny ankles, what’s not to like?
dik-dik2
I won’t lie. I’m biased. So Dik-dik times TWO!

 

slowloris
Adult Slow Loris look like Pokemon.
slowloris
SEE!?!?!? POKEMON!!!!
wallaby
Willaby wallaby woo, an elephant sat on you!
wolf
Peekaboo, peekaroooooo!
panther
TIL: Even black panthers have spots.