The first half of 2017, abounded in all sorts of routesetting trips. Thanks to it, I not only had the opportunity to develop my skills, working with new holds and exchanging experiences with many people, but also I visited the corners of the world, where I had never been before.
In February, together with Mathias Woitzug from Austria, we were invited to Japan for a two-week action, during which we had to set the routes and boulders on three different gyms. All of them, belong to the PUMP group and are located in the area of Tokyo. After work, we managed to visit a very nice climbing area under the name Jogasaki. It is located just above the sea, so all the time, during the climbs you can hear the sounds of the waves crashing behind you. It is built by volcanic rock, which reminds a soft sandstone, in touch, and it’s full of the edges. Japan itself is, of course, delighted with its difference, from everything that can happen to us in Europe. Their food, or way of being, can not be compared to anything I have ever known. When it comes to the facilities we stayed on, for work. The first things that we noticed were: their attention to detail and the number of customers, especially climbers in the fifties.
In March, once again, I visited the phenomenal Studio Bloc (http://www.studiobloc.de/). On the hall in Pfungstadt, with Tomas Oleksy, Julius Westphal, a group of Klatterkultur and local routesetters, we prepared boulders for the first international event of this year. At the disposal of the participants we gave 80 problems, in four colors representing difficulty levels. The climbing surface and the number of holds and volumes allowed us to offer “something for everyone”. Year after year, this climbing event attracts more and more people loving bouldering, and the organizers are doing their best to provide them the best possible experience.
In April, it was time for the first World Cup, so I went to Meiringen in Switzerland. After almost two years break in routesetting for the Boulder World Cup (recently, I was only routesetting the Lead World Cups), I knew it will be very interesting and fruitful experience. Especially because, I was supposed to join the following company: Laurent Laporte, Marc Daviet, Manu Hassler. The materials, we were supposed to work with for this event, came from two companies, Cheeta and Flathold, and they were in a huge amount. Among them, many news, which the athletes had to experience for the first time. I have to admit that the level of difficulty of the proposed problems was unexpectedly for me, very high. The number of athletes who can confidently think about a promotion to the final round is currently reaching about 40th place on the starting list. Also among women, the bar is rising, from season to season. Currently, about 20 women are able to be in the finals of the World Cup. The head of our team seemed to be aware of this. And so, with each successive round of this competition, the problems were getting harder and harder. At least when you look at the results. In our opinion, the two final rounds were a bit easier than the semi-finals. However, the finalists were struggling much moree than we expected and it was due to the conditions, caused by a special lighting and big number of spectators in the venue. As a summary, I would like to point out that the boulders were hard, but not impossible to climb. During the entire event, only one boulder stayed undone, and it was the first male final, which in the sense of routesetting team, was the easiest in this round. The winners of this World Cup were Shauna Coxey and Kokoro Fujii.
Just after returning from Switzerland, I learned that there is an urgent need to replace one of the routesetters in the planned team for the nex stage of the World Cup in Chongqing (China). I took a quick decision. The next day, I was standing in line for the Chinese embassy in Warsaw, and after receiving a super fast visa, the next three days, I was sitting in the plane to China. On the spot, we found a completely new facility and a huge amount of structures and holds of one manufacturer, Chinese hegemon – GecoKing. Our team consisted of 6 people. The chief routesetter was experienced Reini Fichtinger from Austria and the second IFSC routesetter, Gen Hirashima from Japan. Additionally, we were supported by three local and very helpful setters. Because Chongqing is one of the largest cities in China we had to endure unpleasant odors from nearby factories. And when we add to it, high humidity and over thirty degrees of heat, I have to admit that we lived hard times, sometimes. Despite minor obstacles, the work went smoothly. As usual, before the start of each round of the competition, emotions were spreading my heart, and the head was full of question marks. Eventually, everything went well and once again my fears turned out to be unnecessary. During the entire competition, only one problem remained not conquered, and it was the first male semi-final. I could say, it was close, because three athletes fell from the very last move. The competition was won by Janja Garnbret and Jongwon Chon, who were the only ones to climb all boulders in the final.
In May, for the first time, I was the chief of the European Youth Cup in bouldering. This type of events, always scary with the amount of boulders to set and vision of complicated logistics. Coming to Soure in Portugal, I knew there would be four local routesetters in the team, but I had no idea what level they would be representing. My worries, have already dissolved on the first day of work. It turned out that each of the four Portuguese musketeers are not only very creative, but in addition, represents different climbing styles. We quickly created a paper sketch that served as our plan for the next six days of routesetting. At our disposal, the organizer prepared enough holds and volumes from such manufacturers as Flathold, Cheeta, 360 Holds, Enrte Prise, Blue Pill. Not knowing the exact level of the young athletes, we were forced to leave a margin of possible modifications, larger than usual. We managed to get out of this task with a positive result. All rounds worked well, some very well, and some of them, almost perfectly. The event, as a whole, has been received enthusiastically and hopefully will remain permanently on the juniors calendar.
In July, I was chief routesetter for Lead World Cup in Chamonix. Soon, you will read about the details of this last event, in my next post! But now, dear readers, I invite you to comment. Please, ask questions that could show me the way, I should write the next posts concerning my routesetting experiences.
See you in the rocks or in the competition!