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The Way Forward!

It’s been quiet.  A no pressure, under the radar, relaxing type of approach since my season ended. And it’s been good.  Real good. I believe that any athlete, constantly on the go; travel, training, trying hard, whatever the case, needs a rest…quiet time.  You see, when i got home from  my last comp of the season (The World Championships in Russia), I was so fired up by how it went, that i didn’t want to stop trying…all i could think about was to keep going-to keep training.  Well, that lasted about 4 days and then realized…wow…yet again it’s been a long, intense winter…I need a rest.

So here we are–just shy of three months since i posted last.  In past, i wouldn’t go more than a month without posting what was up/going on.  However, this time “off” was much needed.  A time to decompress, focus on a few things without distraction or pressure, a time to chill and let my soul settle.  Now, that’s not to say I’ve been just “sitting around”, no no.  I’m not not one to sit around and just let “time pass”.  I”ve always got something on the go, or so some idea of what’s next.  Which brings me to this, to what i’ve been up to for the last couple of months:

I call this sucker “TheGreatArch”.  When i got home from world cups this winter, i realized a commonality between those who were winning consistently: They were all training on “structures” – World cup specific climbing walls, designed to mimic the movement on the real stage.  I realized that in order to compete with the top top athletes, i needed to train like they do, move like they do.  And so…i drew on a piece of paper what i thought would be the raddest structure for the shape of my backyard.

Looking at the “final draft”, laughing as it was pretty much drawn on a napkin, I thought…”there’s no way, this is way too rediculous.”  But after a few nights, laying awake, envisioning having my own world cup structure in my backyard…I came to this conclusion: “Why the heck not?” So the next day, i called up my carpenter buddy and got him to show me how to actually build something like this so that it wouldn’t collapse and kill me. lol.

The look on the neighbors faces as we were craning in 30′ poles from the alley way into my yard was priceless.  At first we were trying to be somewhat “unnoticeable”  but as the crane was swinging these poles around, some 40ft in the air, crashing through the trees in my backyard, our inconspicuous plan turned into somewhat of a circus.  Needless to say, we were laughing our heads off the entire time.

After several days of digging 5ft holes (by hand – which by the way sucks) we dropped these 30 footers and buried them square.  It was time to start building.  It seemed like such a drastic project, trying to picture the end result, but discouraged by the vast nature of the project.  But it didn’t matter, because i believed.  I believed in the vision, the passion, and the commitment.  I’ve realized that with certain goals…you need to push as hard as you can, to try as hard as you can, and to create whatever regimen so that you set yourself on the right path, the path to victory.

Day after day I’d head outside in the crap weather and work on TheGreatArch.  Some days I felt like I was making great progress…and other days i’d stand out there, in the backyard, soaked and pissed off.  The weather was killin’ me, I was super busy with work, and annoyed i wasn’t climbing.  But day after day, change would start to take form, and before i knew it…plywood was being strung up, holds were being set, and all of a sudden i found myself tying in.  I couldn’t believe it…I had met my goals of building a structure in my back yard, i could actually train like those i was trying to mimic, to compete with.  My backyard’s stage had been set, there were no more excuses, no more “I’m from north america…it’s too hard to compete with the Euro’s”.  And as i found myself climbing through the crux on my first route of TheGreatArch, an electric force of insurmountable energy rushed through me, and I thought to myself…Game on.

Every morning, from the view on my side of the bed, I can see TheGreatArch perfectly framed through the window.  Waking up to that site is like a reminder of sorts.  It tells me to get out there and train.  It tells me that anything is possible.  And it tells me that I do “want it”, that I am committed to achieving my goals and that it doesn’t matter what it takes, because anything is attainable if you set your mind to it.

When spring hit my goals were to rock climb as much as possible and build TheGreatArch, along side of  hangin’ out with my family lots, landscaping around my house, and tryin’ to finish the dam kitchen renovation (which i might add is almost on year two now).  In the spring I was givin’ er tons on my local project (at my local crag) which i got real close to before the weather turned to crap (and it’s still crap as it’s way too hot).  Soon after I jetted down to Tensleep, Wyoming, and got my steep climbing on for near two weeks, hangin with my buddy Malcom, and good friends (Tensleep locals) Kevin Wilkinson and Alli Rainey.  Always such a rad time down there, climbing and hanging with them.

After Wyoming, the weather wasn’t very cooperative anywhere.  My usual “overnighters” to the Bow Valley were on hold because of rain and a touch of snow, and then of course the travesty of the floods that rampaged through Canmore, Calgary, and High River (Alberta).  When that happened, the natural disaster, I found it hard to think about climbing.  All I could think about was, “shit, i gotta help somehow”.  Unfortunately, when something like that happens, sometimes there’s nothing you can, but sit back and watch (on the news).  An opportunity did however arise for me to jump over to Calgary and help out with a particular street that was hit hard by the floods.  ‘Til this very day i still can’t fully describe that experience, the intensity of it all, but what i can say, how that city came together, the volunteers, etc., despite the loss…people will recover, they will rebuild, and the sun will shine again.

In amongst all the ups and downs, because of the arch i’ve managed to still “climb” lots.  The 34′ overhanging arch allows me to rock climb as much as possible.  It can be pouring, snowing, high winds, crazy heat, or freezing…it doesn’t matter.  That rig is water proof, wind proof, and flippin’ near everything else proof.  I even taught my wife to belay me so that I can step out at any time and get a session in.

Which brings me to now.  Well, a few days ago.  July 1st marked the first day of “training”.  My training partner and I devised a 6 month plan that’s going to prepare us for this upcoming season’s world cup competitions. And, oh right…a “little event” called THE OLYMPICS!!!!!  Yes, a few weeks ago i received my official invitation to represent Canada at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.  Competition ice climbing is going to be featured as a demonstration sport at the upcoming Games.  How rad is that?  I get to go to the Olympics and climb for my country.  Now that’s a dream come true.  Throughout the last winter comp season, there had been a lot of buzz about the whole Olympic thing and ice climbing being a part of it, but to get the official word, to have that incorporated into my season’s plans…wow…seriously…there’s no words to explain my excitement.

6 months of training, filled with intensity, specificity, long days, nights, etc.  But wow am i psyched and fully motivated, more so than ever before.  Last season, at the tail end of competition there was light.  My results took a boost which brought a relief of sorts, meaning things were becoming clear.  My mind was beginning to believe, and my body was starting to perform at its potential.  And now (well not now as i’m sittin’ on the beach of the Olympic Peninsula, near Seattle), it’s time to get even more psyched, even more fired up, and even more focused.  The training plan is no easy task.  But 6 months, at times might seem like a long time away, is really just around the corner.  Of course, too, i’d like to still get a pile of rock climbing days in, as i love rock climbing, and there’s still a bunch of family stuff going on (camping, riding bikes, trampoline time; trying to keep up with two little princesses), etc., etc., but with the tools in place, i’m ready to get at it, ’til the time comes to strap on my competition face again.

Life is good.  I have my family, climbing, great friends, and motivation that’s going to give me the will to kick some ass.  I’m ready for the way forward…

I’m back on track now with blog posts so stay tuned on training thoughts, ideas, and more backyard TheGreatArch action, mixed in with some rock climbing, travel, and everything else in the middle.  And remember, if you have an idea…as huge and unrealistic as it may be, push forward, because before you know it, you just might find yourself hanging from it.  Peace.

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