It felt like the trip was ill-fated from the start. Shortly after I had booked the tickets for the original comp date the comp got postponed due to bad weather. So i begrudgingly changed tickets and wondered if I wasn’t taking a risk on a comp that might very well be rained out again. But I was keen to compete and to hang out with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time who would most certainly be competing as well.
So the weekend began. From past experiences I have learned not to “save” myself for comps. It almost always turns out to be the wrong decision and I kick myself later for not getting the most out of any potential climbing days. So with this in mind we ventured off to The Narrow (after having climbed at Kirk Falls the day before). In the back of my mind I still thought “what if I get to the comp completely trashed and dork it just out of fatigue”. So I didn’t go guns blazing into the Narrow. Besides that I found myself completely un-used to the style of climbing there and was soon flailing on even the easier routes. The overhanging quartzite walls lend themselves to a very specific style of climbing. Your accuracy and concentration have to be on form to get anywhere there and you often have to siege a route and get a precise fitness and set of engrams for it.
It’s one of those days where you can’t be chasing red points so much as enjoying getting out, getting some climbing in, enjoying hanging out with friends and being fascinated by the small chameleon that we found and most of all being treated to the sight of Andrew opening Double Dragon. He reckons it’s a 33 but knowing Andrew and hearing what Brian had to say about the route (regardless of how effortless Pedley made it look) it is most likely a 34.
As we were driving home that night, fairly bushed from the last 48 hrs of activity, I contemplated how wonderful it would be to not have to get up at 4:30am to go to this DWS comp the next day. But I had come all this way, made all this effort, there was no bailing out now.
We arrived on a very hazy morning to find a rather sleepy campsite and very few competitors. Slowly but surely they started to trickle in and eventually things began to get underway. Briefings happened, competitors slapped together some make-shift chalk bags and off we trekked to the wall. The walk-in was slightly more treacherous as the water level had risen above the easier walk in.
Once things got underway we began to enjoy the vibe of hanging out next to the river, watching climbers bail in the water on their attempts. The women’s first qualifying route was far too easy, with all of us getting to the top and barely feeling like we had warmed up. But at least it was a gentle introduction to the comp and a way to shake off the comp nerves and get used to the fall into the murky water. I was amped to sink my teeth into the harder routes.
But as I was drying off on the spectators side we noticed the ominously dark grey clouds rolling in. We started discussing whether we could sit it out (as it seemed likely to be a flash storm) or whether we should make a break for it now before that walk out got even more treacherous. In the end it ended up being a bit of both. By the time we had all our gear collected it had already started pouring down and any thoughts of waiting it out quickly disappeared as the competition wall became soaked and the crowd scampered or rowed their way back to the campsite. I was quietly grateful that my Summit Series TNF jacket was so competent at battling the elements.
So we changed into dry clothes, went home and drowned our sorrows in sushi. *sigh* To come all this way and to barely climb and not get to finish a comp is bitterly disappointing. But these outcomes are not in our control and at the very least a weekend away where I get to see so many friends is never a bad thing. I probably won’t be rushing to the next DWS comp if they ever do organise another one but I can feel the spark ignited to compete again.