To the Rock and Back

Finally I’m off to go compete in bouldering again. I’ve been looking at going to a competition since the summer and I booked a flight in September to go compete in Newfoundland. After a really bad climbing related injury (a grade 3 pulley strain in my right ring finger) in late August, I tried to train through it and continue to get ready for my trip. After a while of feeling my hand getting weaker and weaker, I decided to see an athletic therapist.Stewart Munroe ( was the guy I went to see just about twice a week, until I left for my trip. We both worked hard to get me back into shape, but I still had to leave without feeling 100%. I left it too long before seeking help. Booking so early was a gamble on my training and health, but I’m excited to go compete and see how I do.

Nov. 18th- It’s 9 days until my competition at Wallnuts Climbing Centre ( in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I’ve traveled to Halifax International Airport from my hometown of Quispamsis, New Brunswick, to fly to the farthest eastern point of Canada. I’m really pumped for the trip, I haven’t been to Newfoundland since I was 8 years old and I’ve heard only positive things about the people and the province.

Nov. 19th- Went to a St. John’s IceCaps (AHL- game with my girlfriend, Morganne. I highly recommend that to anyone visiting Newfoundland. These Newfies love their hockey. I also encountered the infamous George Street. Enough said.

Nov. 21st- My girlfriend (who has attended university in Newfoundland for 4 years) did her best impression of a downtown tour guide. It was fun time and I got the opportunity to meet some local climbers and experience some warm Newfie hospitality. As nice as the people are, sometimes their accents and mannerisms are just puzzling. Also went to scout out the climbing gym where I would be competing. It’s not too far from my temporary home at the Memorial University (MUN) campus, and it trumps my current training facilities by far. I’m pumped.


Nov. 22nd- Went for a heavy training session at the climbing gym. I’m very happy I went. Even though many of the bouldering routes were stripped in preparation for the upcoming comp, what was left up gave me a great idea of what the routes would be like. Unfortunately for my 5’9 self, the routes were SUPER reach-y. It definitely plays on a route-setting pet peeve of mine: Getting thrown off not because of technique or strength, but because it’s simply too long. However, the routes were extremely creative and I’m glad I got the chance to test the way they set in Newfoundland.

Nov. 24th- Overnight snowstorm shut down MUN, which allowed Morganne to come watch me scream out some routes at the climbing gym. I concentrated a little less on power today, and more on getting some movements in motion that will put me beyond the restraints I believe my height give me. My injury has without question hindered my strategy that revolves mostly around my grip strength. Spending a few hours rediscovering how my footwork will help me at this comp really gave me a confidence boost.

Nov. 25th- Took my cousin (who lives in St. John’s) climbing today to keep me company on my last training (endurance) session before my comp. I’m feeling good about the gym and my technique, but the pain in my hand and the fact that I’ve gone a whole week without therapy is definitely getting to me and getting in my head. We got some lead climbs in before we were overrun by a kid’s birthday party. It’s great to see so many young people getting into the sport… but do 30 kids hopped up on cake and ice-cream REALLY mess with your flow of climbing!

Nov. 26th- Rest days are just as important as training days. Overtraining can really ruin a body… Also university residence dining hall food (everyday… thank God I have a treadmill at home) can as well. Whoops. The competition is tomorrow so today I took the day to do some more sightseeing and go to another hockey game: IceCaps versus Toronto Marlies. I feel relaxed and ready for tomorrow.

Nov. 27th- Competition day! Up early to get a good breakfast in and head to the gym. It was a great turnout from a tight Newfoundland climbing community. It seemed everyone who works at the gym came together to transform it into climbing Mecca. 40 routes set by the Wallnuts staff and some climbers from British Columbia. Over a thousand dollars went into new holds and creating new volumes. They also hired the best local DJs to spin during the whole comp. These guys really know how to climb and party. It all made for a really stunning atmosphere. While looking at every route before I started climbing (which is a good strategy for a comp) I noticed that not all hard routes were based on reach. Sweet! Every route looked great and showed a lot of creativity by the setters. The comp was a Tour de Bloc setting. Basically, 40 routes for qualification, do as many hard ones as you can (the harder the route, the more points you get), log each route (losing points for every unsuccessful attempt) and top scores advance to a send vs. no send final. I attempted all the most difficult routes, with a few flashes. I had a really good time. Unfortunately I didn’t win; I came just shy of making finals. I was happy with my result. It felt great to be competing again. After a 3+ hour qualification my arms were dead and I was ready to see my family (ones that live in St. John’s), have a homemade cappuccino and tell stories from the day. The most important thing about the comp is that it forced me to look at what I need to improve. The biggest thing is my endurance. Had I made finals, I don’t think I could have been very productive. I was spent. The second thing would be that I need to figure out a way to train that will emphasize better footwork. Just in case I get injured again and just general technique, I need to find a way to climb boulders that really doesn’t rely on my strength and grip strength.  Coming back to the competition scene is going to take time and constant reminders that mistakes and failures can be made, as long as I learn from them. I’ll get there.

Nov. 28th- I leave tomorrow, so today was a last hurrah. I slept in as I was still exhausted from the comp, but stayed out late to make up for it. Morganne took me to get screeched in, a common NL ceremony that usually happens down at a pub. I learned some Newfoundland history, ate Newfie steak (bologna, pan fried with…stuff), kissed a cod (yep, a real fish), downed some Screech (a Caribbean rum that runs deep in Newfoundland roots) and all this makes me a honourary Newfoundlander... I have a certificate.

Nov. 29th- I’m flying off The Rock today. I had an amazing trip to see a gorgeous province and some great warm people. I’m disappointed my trip is over but I can’t wait to go back to St. John’s again.

Special thanks to the people who made it an especially great trip: Mike, Judy and Andrew Kay, Wallnuts Climbing Centre (, Morganne Foley, the extremely welcoming Newfoundland climbers and all the great people of Doyle House (MUN) and St. John’s, NL.