As I said in the introduction to the last post, so far I have trained with the climbing team here 10 times, climbed once more on my own, gone down to Ticino in the south of Switzerland for a weekend bouldering trip, and competed in the Mammut Blacklight Bouldering Challenge. That’s a lot for 3 weeks!
First, the training. I train with the regional team in Zürich, called the SAC Regionalzentrum Sportklettern Zürich. We train 3x per week, 3 hours each time. There are two optional morning training sessions as well, which I opted out of due to school (I have to at least pretend I’m here to study, right?). There are also national team training sessions once or twice per week. Which brings the maximum total number of training sessions per week to somewhere around 7! With double sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When I was training on the Edge Team or Canadian National Team we trained at most 4x per week, 3 hours per session, so this seems like an insane amount of training. I guess they’re just used to that here though – no wonder they’re so strong.
The training we do is fairly intense by my standards (from what I recall from team training in my younger days). No offense to any of my former coaches, but Vladek’s ab workouts are by far and away the most tiring ab workouts I have ever done. It’s amazing to be able to train with a big group of such like minded high level athletes again. I have missed training with a coach and a team!
One really interesting thing I found is that in Zürich there is only one climbing team, and they train at multiple gyms around the city. This is in direct contrast to Vancouver, and I believe pretty much everywhere else in North America, where each gym will have its own team which will train pretty much solely at that one gym. I think the system here helps to foster more team spirit between climbers from the same area.
We train once per week in a gym called Milandia, once in Gaswerk/Schlieren, and the third day changes every week. The gyms that I’ve seen here so far are pretty amazing. Milandia has 4600 m2 of wall surface spread over both indoor and outdoor bouldering and roped climbing, which is over 3x the surface area of my home gym in Vancouver, The Edge. Gaswerk is 17m tall, is amazing for route climbing, and has the best use of space that I have ever seen in a climbing gym. Behind the overhanging lead walls are 4 stories of bouldering walls, warm up/conditioning areas, washrooms, and change rooms.
On February 7/8 I headed down to Ticino to go bouldering with one of my coaches, Vladek Zumr, and some of his friends. We left early on Saturday morning and took the train down. He rents an apartment down there so he can do overnight trips with friends. We climbed in Cresciano, about a half hour walk/Grouse Grind-esque hike from the apartment. Saturday it was a bit foggy and wet still, so the climbing wasn’t great. I still managed to send Bergsteigerkante 7a/V7, a super cool technical and balance-y arête climb.
It was pretty cold, so I was thankful that Vladek had brought me an extra down jacket – more like a down dress on me because it was rather large!
That night we had an amazing fajita dinner and celebrated one of the girls’ birthdays. The next day was amazing weather – sunny and extremely windy! Overnight everything had dried, and we had a great day in the boulders. I managed to send this sloper-y 7a with a huge mantle at the end, which was a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve never been good at mantles so I was really happy – even after I discovered all the cuts and bruises I had sustained in the effort.
The climbing in Cresciano is fairly similar to Squamish climbing – lots of slopers, heel and toe hooks, and compression moves.
For more (amazing) photos, check out this album from my coach Vladek: https://plus.google.com/photos/110327523697227011777/albums/6114364466194012145
On February 14th I competed in the Mammut Blacklight Bouldering Challenge in St. Gallen, a city about an hour from Zürich. A blacklight competition is where the lighting is all UV and all the competitors dress up with neon clothing and body paint. Qualifiers started at 17:30, and lasted 3 hours. We arrived around 15:30 to start getting ready – the comp organizers had provided us with body paint and hair spray. Unfortunately I forgot to get photos, but rest assured we all looked super cool (or mega cool if you want to sound Swiss). There were 40 set problems, all on walls lavishly decorated with neon glowing tape. None of the 40 problems crossed another, which was important because there were no judges, so no one to regulate the number of climbers on the wall. All 40 problems counted towards your score, which made for an exhausting 3 hours! At the end, I had managed to climb all but 8 problems, which landed me 4th place. Unfortunately only 3 went to finals, but I was decently happy with how I had climbed.
Finals was a ton of fun to watch. It started around 22:00, less than 2 hours after qualifiers had ended. There were two finals actually, the “Zero” final, for the three people who had qualified in the very middle of the pack, and the “Hero” final, for the top 3 qualifiers. The top 3 girls were all from my team in Zürich, which definitely made it more interesting to watch.
After finals, Rebekka Stotz had edged the win from Petra Klingler on number of attempts, and Alina Ring had finished 3rd. (Side note – the winner of each category won a wheel of Appenzeller cheese. So Swiss.)
Being a fun competition, it was really all about the after party. The bar had opened as soon as qualifiers had ended, and it was all free. We stayed right until the end of the after party, which wrapped up around 4 am. Luckily Natalie Bärtschi let a bunch of people stay over, so we didn’t have to make our way back to Zürich at that time in the morning.
Now I’m just focusing on training hard, enjoying life and school, and am looking forward to competing at the CWIF in Sheffield in a few weeks!