Competition Day 1!
Qualification Rounds
I woke on Saturday 19th of August somewhat nervous. I knew I would be a little nervous, after telling myself for the days leading up to the competition “it’s ok, you’re just going to go have fun, climb, enjoy it and promote paraclimbing” but my mind had other ideas. I’ve always been “sporty” and competitive and that part of my brain kicked in and the mental game was on.

My first qualification round wasn’t until the afternoon so I tried my best to “relax” at the motel until my impatience got too much and we made our way to Extreme Edge, Glen Eden. As we drove the motorway towards the gym I was a strange mix of excited, nervous, stoked and terrified I was going to fall low and people would be watching, which just makes me nervous to start with.

As we got closer to the gym the nerves and excitement continued to build. I had to continually remind myself that it’s just climbing and I love climbing, but bringing competition into the mix definitely brings another level of mind game to the climbing.

Trying to relax in the warm up area
We got to the gym around lunch time, the paraclimbing qualification rounds were due to be at 1.45pm and 3.15pm so I had plenty of time to meet up with people, pick up my competition number, warm up and get my “head in the game”.  The atmosphere was buzzing, with the youth rounds well and truly underway and people were stoked that Paraclimbing was starting in New Zealand.

Three of us had entered the category; Diane Drayton from Wellington, Rachel Carter from Whanganui (climbing with the Taranaki club) and myself (climbing for Wellington), and we all have lower limb physical/neuro limitations, and we all had generally one limb affected. So it was looking like we were going to have a good battle on our hands for the top spot!

Myself, Diane and Rachel


For Qualification Rounds, although all the routes are pre-set, they are not labeled so you can’t go and study the route for too long, the labels go up about an hour before you are scheduled to climb. Basically you get one attempt and 6 minutes to get as high as you can. If 2 or more people make it to the top, then climbers are ranked on how long it took them to reach the top.
Concentration Face while planning Route 1
I took my time in my route planning, and went back several times to try and see if there was any alternative beta that I could be using during my climb. I had my plan in my head and was ready to go. I was drawn 3rd for the starting line up, which meant I was waiting longer; but in qualifiers climbing later in the order can be an advantage as you get to see the other climbers on the wall.
Diane was first up and her calm, smooth climbing saw her to the top of the route.  Rachel was next and unfortunately had a slip part way up. Rachel slipped at the point that I had some worries about when I was doing my planning. It was time to take a deep breath, center myself and head for the top.
Rachel on Q1
Diane heading up Q1
I took a breath, tried to shut out the fact that I was climbing in front of a crowd (I hate climbing while people watch because I do things a little different) pulled on and slowly worked my way up.  This climb felt pretty good, a couple of tricky moves; I even busted out the “my foot it not going to put itself in place so I will put it there with my hand” move. There were a couple of moves that I had to take a little more time on, back off a little and reset on.  I seriously thought I was in trouble on the top-out move, as I somehow led with the “wrong” hand, but I got both hands on the finishing hold and a quick check over my shoulder and got the thumbs up from the judge.


After we’d finished our first Qualifier the routes were then labeled for the next round. When I got to our route to start mapping it; my heart sank, the whole route went left, towards my “bad” side. So for Qualification 2 I had to contend with a leftward route, being later in the day my anti-spasm medication was wearing off and that I was first climber which meant I couldn’t gain some sneaky insights while the others climbed the route.

This climb didn’t really go the way I wanted. First I had a “wee moment” with my balance near the start and I came off completely unexpectedly lower than I would have liked. I think I tried to load up on my left (“bad”) foot without checking my foot placement correctly and just rolled off the hold.


The video of my Q2 climb


Both Rachel and Diane topped this climb. This left Diane ranked 1st on points and Rachel and I were 2nd equal headed into the final. It was going to be GAME ON for finals.


Rachel headed to the top of Q2
Diane headed to the top of Q2

It was an awesome day, we met a heap of people; most of whom were stoked to have Paraclimbing to be part of the National Lead Championships. The gym staff, Auckland Sports Climbing Club, route setters and all those involved in organizing the event made us feel really welcome. I had some amazing conversations with people about climbing in general, para/adaptive climbing and made some amazing connections with people who just want to see more people climbing, regardless of “functional ability”.

Still pretty happy even though I fell off!

We made our way back to the motel to relax, I tried to relax as much as I could, but it was another night where it was hard to sleep!

Again I’d like to thank everyone for their support getting to this competition. In particular VertX Climbing, and Hawkes Bay Vapour; Palmerston North for their ongoing and continued support. Huge thanks and gratitude for those who donated to this trip! A big shout out to Sian Moffitt Photography for the use of your images!

“Part III: Finals day” coming soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *