After Saas Fee I had to go back to Scotland for a week of university. This was not ideal! I worked long days at a GP practice, and then spent all night catching up on the coursework I had missed. I got about 3 hours sleep each night and did zero climbing. Travelling back out to Europe I had another night in an airport, and basically by the time I got to Italy I was completely and utterly exhausted. So you can see, here I have set up my excuse for how the next few days went.
Well it wasn’t all bad, because I did still manage to qualify for the semi-final. Our qualifier had a stopper move quite low down, and consequently almost all the women (22) made it to semis! Far more excitingly, Harry Holmes had just qualified for his first ever semi-final! It’s much harder for the guys – there are usually about 60 of them in qualifiers, but still only 18 make semis, so you have to beat about 40 other climbers! My semis were that afternoon, whereas Harry’s were the next morning, so I headed up to isolation with Eimir, a very strong and cheerful Irish girl who lives in Korea and has learned from the best!
Lots of coffee, lots of chocolate, and again I am tying into the rope. I make it up the steep starting board, and again there is a drop-down from a fig4 onto an ice block. I make the move, but drop an axe, which somehow lands on the rope and hangs in mid-air. I retrieve it, but am not quite sure about the rules for this unusual situation! Usually when you drop an axe, you are disqualified. Anyway, my arms just feel like lead and I really can’t hang on any longer, soon I fall and I finish in 19th. Disappointing!
The next morning I am so psyched to watch Harry in his semi-final , and it is quite a nice feeling driving to the venue knowing that I all I have to do it watch! He is out first and climbs steadily and precisely. He cuts loose on the long roof section, ends up hanging by one arm, and unfortunately rotates so the axe pings off. Many of the men fall along this roof section, and harry finishes in 18th; he is happy with this, ready to make more semi-finals!
A little European adventure
Now we have some spare time before the competition in Champagny. Cora Lie, who I have met in Rabenstein, invites us to go and stay at her beautiful home near Grenoble, close to the dry tooling cave L’Usine. So myself, Harry, Eimer and Will Woodhead go and have a very enjoyable 3 days, also with the company of Canadian’s Gordon McArthur, Nathan Kutcher and Rebecca Lewis. I won’t speak much about the tooling as I have written a separate post which contains that, but suffice to say that by Thursday afternoon when we arrived in Champagny-en-Vanoise I was feeling rested, fit, and very happy.
We arrived into the little skiing town of Champagny-en-Vanoise and checked into our apartment. A short stroll into town, and suddenly we were part of a lively opening ceremony, where the teams were presented on stage. There was music, lights, fire, and free-mulled wine. Next came the pasta party, where we consumed massive portions of pasta, washed down with far too much cake!
The climbing structure was a further 5km up the mountain, in an idyllic setting complete with a children’s “Eskimo village” and husky dog sleds! The structure was largely made from ice. The women’s qualifier was a long ice route; vertical at first, then a short traverse, some steep ice, and then 4 dry-tooling holds to finish.
My turn to climb and I start up the ice wall. In all my competitions so far, I have never timed-out; I have always fallen off either from a slip or being pumped, before my time has ran out. So as usual I decided to take my time and assume the clock would not be a factor. This climbing was very easy, so that should probably have rung some alarm bells, but I continued like a snail and suddenly heard my “one minute left” call. I moved up the steep ice as fast as I could, but it was not enough, my time was called and most of the other girls had got further than me. I later learned that clipping the next draw would have put me to semi-finals and I had been just beside it. I was so disappointed. My first ever world cup to not make semi-finals, my first experience of timing out, and all when I was feeling at the peak of my fitness! But that is all part of this game, I suppose.
Watching the finals was super exciting. Particularly the men’s this time, where 17-year old Swiss climber Yannick Glatthard climbed like a rocket and topped out the men’s final taking 2nd place. Usually the competitions are won by older and more experienced climbers, so this was pretty cool, and especially when another 17-year old Swiss climber Kevin Huser managed to finish in 4th!
Suddenly it was all over and time to go home. But the journey is not over because the final world cup is in Russia in just three weeks’ time! I just can’t wait to get back out there and soak in the atmosphere once more. And next time, I am desperate to make the final…!!