This year I showed up to the Portland Boulder Rally (one of the better acronym’d events around) bright-eyed but broken-butted. Even though I couldn’t compete, this event has plenty of other draws.
Raffles: Our crew usually kills it at the raffle, and this is because we are good at raffles. How can you be good at raffles? By winning a bunch of them, doi, let’s stop asking me stupid questions.
Beer: Beer is fun to buy, but it is even more fun to sneak in in the stainless steel water bottles that come in our competitor goody bags. Also to spill on children to remind them that this world does not belong to them yet.
Alex Puccio: My most favorite of competitors. She is a beast and can do a million one-arm pull-ups and is the buffest and burliest and since I can’t be her, I want her to be my life-size climbing doll that I take with me everywhere even places other kids aren’t allowed to bring their dolls. Plus she always wins the Portland Boulder Rally!
The Spirit of Competition: It would be reasonable to think that a competitive person at a competition would be a recipe for disaster and cringe-inducing bad sportsmanship, and I did watch scores of awful dudes scream and punch the floor after falling this year, but luckily I am a reverse-bro, not a real one. Eli likes to joke that I basically hulk-out into some kind of jerk who crushes other female climbers when they are around, but that is a gross (yucky) misinterpretation. The truth is that I don’t have very many girl friends who I climb competitively with (One, I have one, and I love her very much.), and I do climb better when I have competition. I need more girl-bros! At competitions I always find myself rooting for and working with my competitors, talking about beta, and sharing which problems are softer for the score. This year I enjoyed watching the pros do this. I was a judge, and during qualifiers I got to watch Ashima and Alex Puccio, Angie Payne and Lizzy Asher, Alex Johnson and Meagan Martin, and Daniel Woods and Jimmy Webb come through and work on problems together. They do this for money, and they are still helping each other out.
PBR 2014 was different than it has been the last few years. It has gotten much bigger. Daniel Woods didn’t even make finals, which there wasn’t enough room to watch anyway, there was an entire section of the parking lot designated only for Subarus, none of my friends won anything in the raffle, and one of my friends even crapped his pants. I wasn’t even drunk when I asked Alex Puccio to take a picture with me! It would have helped because I still can’t figure out why that is a thing to do when you are a fan of someone. That isn’t true, I did it to steal her soul with voodoo.
Despite the Portland Boulder Rally being bigger than myself this year, there were some serious highlights that made all the growth worth it. The first one was finally realizing our dream of asking Obe Carrion when Rampage 2.0 is coming out. Short answer: it isn’t, at least not until they can come up with a good story. So if you have any good ideas, leave them in the comments and I’ll get them to Obe and Sharma, stat… The most important thing that happened as a result of all this growth was the new Tigard location of The Circuit. It is huge, beautiful, well laid-out, and packed with fun bouldering terrain. It was supposed to have enough room for everyone to watch finals too, but the event was too compelling for its own good.
The ultimate silver lining of all this PBR growth in my eyes was that they roped Kasia Pietras and Flannery Shay-Nemirow into setting/forerunning the women’s finals problems. All four problems were exciting, and as aesthetic as plastic can be, but they also did their job perfectly. Finals problems have to separate the field and be fun to watch. This is difficult for setters to achieve, and the only way to know if they have succeeded is to watch finals! In past years the women’s finals have been adequate. They have always separated the field (well, at least Puccio from everyone else), but this year everything was perfect. The dynos, commitment, and sequence-reading were what separated the field, not the awkwardness of a couple stopper moves. Spectacular job, route-setters.
I do wish the live stream hadn’t been narrated by comatose golf announcers* and had shown Shannon Russell actually making moves instead of fixating for one hour on Elan Jonas-McRae stuck in a mantle. I still forced a whole room of people who don’t climb to watch the entire thing the next day, so they definitely got most things right. Elan Jonas-McRae is a badass dark horse, by the way. He got into finals when Daniel Woods didn’t, did a double-paddle dyno statically, and climbed extra problems purely for fun after qualifying instead of saving his energy for finals. At any other time I would have been honored to watch him get stuck in a mantle.
Even being injured probably was good in some way because I never would have made the decision to volunteer as a judge if I was healthy. Getting to hang out while all of my favorite pros worked problems on my wall was an incredible experience that every fan should have. Next year though, watch out Women’s Advanced! We are gonna be friends!
*I know this is really rude for a post about climbing, and I am sorry… but OH MY GOD I don’t understand how Brian Runnells keeps getting hired to announce climbing events! Is there no one even slightly less dead that wants to do it?! Maybe a zombie?