I was scheduled to be in the first group to climb at 9am, and also the second climber, so after a fitful night of sleep, chugging many espressos, and forcing down a bit of food, we made our way over to the Palacio des Desportes early in the morning to give me time to warm-up. As I was walking over, I wondered to myself why do I even do these things when they just make me feel so nervous and, frankly, not very good.
The warm-up wall was good and I was able to work up a little sweat before cooling down again. The format of qualifiers was a flash-format, so we were able to watch an official climb the route on video in the warm-up area beforehand. Still, the setting style and holds are quite different here so I did not know what to expect.
There are a lot of very strong women in my category (Neurological and Physical Disability A - Category A is more "able-bodied" than Category B, but there is a lot of debate over how the paraclimbers are assessed, how disabilities in different parts of the body are weighted, etc. I would argue that it isn't quite fair. I saw women in my category who has less function than women in Category B, myself included. But, whatever, it's not like it is the Olympics or a professional event). It was a bit intimidating but also really cool to see strong women similar to myself. One Italian climber in particular, has muscular dystrophy and a very weak left leg as a result, so it was neat to see someone climb like me and pogo up routes, flag her left leg a lot etc.
I climbed nervously and hurriedly for my first qualifying route. No tricky holds; the route was probably a 5.10+ just for length and steepness. It was enough to top out and put me along four women for a four-way tie for first place going into the second qualifying route: http://www.ifsc-climbing.org/index.php/world-competition#!comp=1501&cat=121&route=0
|Blast-off. They had two ropes attached to us so that we wouldn't take too big a swing out if we fell.|
|Mid-route, Qualifying Route 1|
|Very strong and tall Italian climber in my category|
My second qualifying route was scheduled to be climbed starting at noon, but the entire schedule was shifted by 5 hrs. I had just finished warming up for the second time when the announcement was made, so it was a bit untimely. The team got a lazy lunch but I was still anxious because I was in the first category to climb again. Walking to and from the venue, warming up again...felt like ground-hog day.
The second route made me nervous because I knew it was a lot harder (5.12) and I just didn't have a good idea about what the holds would be like because the holds they use here are really quite different to anything I have seen in the U.S. I saw other women in my category fall off anywhere from 25-75% of the way up the route, but what worried me were these sections where a left foot would be key/useful. Again, I did not climb as well as I could have. I think the biggest thing was nerves and tunnel vision. I did not use my rests to scope out the moves ahead, like I usually do. So, need to remember to breathe, relax and climb smart.
|Near the start of the second qualifying route|
|Higher up. Making the transition to the left from that volume to the next one up and left of it was hard for me because I just didn't stay calm and read the route well and figure out where to put my right foot.|
In any case, I ascended high enough on this route to make it to Finals (top 4) on Saturday. The finals will be broadcast via live-feed, so if you have nothing better to do this Saturday 1500 hr (GMT +2), you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In_wfczl0q8
Using my rest day to let the broken bits of me calm down a bit. Super nervous, still, but glad to be here.
My internet connection is horribly slow, but I will post pictures of the other paraclimbers at some point. I had never seen a lot of visually-impaired climbers climb and seeing their stamina as they hang out and reach around for holds was incredible. As was seeing some upper-body amputees missing entire arms (and even collarbones) use their incredible core-strength to stick to a wall. Quite a few of the lower-limb amputees choose to climb without their prosthetic and just pogo up the wall. Very impressive, and shows me just how much stronger I can get.