This festival it is my favorite, I can see friends that I haven't seen in a while, teach clinics for some of my sponsors and do the mixed climbing competition.
The festival opening was on Thursday starting with two slide shows, one given by my room mate Dawn Glanc and the other was given by myself about the last expedition that I did in Kyrgyzstan. The theater was full and we all had great time.
Friday, I woke up early to teach some clinics. A half day on beginner ice for Petzl, and the rest of the day I had the chance to hang out to talk with some friends and rest for the competition.
At 4 pm all the competitors had to go to a meeting to talk about starting time and route details. We all were informed that one of the competitors was caught scoping the route with a high power lens and he got disqualified. The rules were super clear in terms of not looking at the route with any extra eyes. In fact, it has been like that for the past 10 years.
After the meeting we all had our jerseis and starting numbers. Mine was 7 and I was pretty happy with the number not too early not too late. It was time to head back home and get some rest.
Morning came fast, and it was time for the competition. The morning was beautiful and pretty warm too. I teamed up with my good friend Brian Gilmore to warm up, also our recent friend Simone, from France, joined us. Simone, an extremly strong young climber, who I had the chance to climb with for two weeks prior to the event, was a huge inspiration for us. His fitness level is incredible.
After couple of pitches for warm up, it was time to get ready. While I was putting my boots on, I saw that one of the competitors got to the top!!!!!! At that point, the bar was raised. Anybody with the aspiration of making it to the podium pretty much needed to make it all the way to the top.
Finally, it was my turn!!!!
Close my eyes took a deep breath visualize myself climbing all the way. The judges gave me the one minute left to check out the route, then, three, two, one! Climbing!
The first part of the climb was pretty intense since the rock is smooth at the bottom of the canyon, and the feeling of falling down early is always there. After that section, it was time for the first crux the Ice bridge!!!!! The route traversed across an ice loaf,from one side of the gorge to the other side. It looked hard, my commitment level was super high. The sequence started with figure 4 and 9 and 4 and 9, after some more crazy moves, there I was on the other side of the canyon.
At that point it was time for the final and last crux section of the route, the head wall. I was totally focused on my breathing and each movement that I was doing, with pure intention. Rest breath, BIG move, clip. Do that same sequence again. It is kind of a surreal experience, and I start realizing that I'm getting higher and higher on the route to the point that I'm swinging into the ice near the top. A couple minutes later I'm standing on the top of the canyon and a couple hundred people cheering with me on. What a cool felling!!!!!
Now, it was time to wait for everyone else to go and see the results. The rest of the competitors went and nobody else topped out the route. Looking at the results, I ended in second place after the canadian guy climbed the route 6 seconds faster than me!!!!!! Great job Nathan Kusher, an unknown climber who showed how it is done.
People ask me if I'm bummed to lose just for 6 seconds? To be honest my answer is NO NOT at ALL. Getting to the top for me was a personal goal regardless in which place I end up. Plus, I had a knee injury about month and half ago where I wasn't sure if I'm gone be able to climb for the rest of the winter, so I'm more than happy with how I climbed
I want to thank to Brian Gilmore, French Simone, Will Mayo, Sam Elias for all the inspiration. Competitions are 70% luck 30% fitness. It is extremely difficult to predict what is going to happen and this year Nathan and I got that 70%.
After the comp it was time to celebrate like a rock start with some great friends!!!!!!!
Next and last day of the Fest was very the snow finally show up I did one more clinic and the most especial moment of the weekend happen when a bunch of friends got together to celebrate Alison and Bean lives with some histories and good moments.
I want to thank to everybody who make this great event happen and I'm looking forward to be able to part of it for awhile.