This past week I got real scared. Local Salt Lake climber Mike Beck and Chris Sharma resurrected the famed Summer Outdoor Retailer Show competition but added a twist, water. The Psicobloc Comp gathered an impressive crowd to the Olympic Park in Park City, Utah to witness the first deep water soloing competition in The United States. Besides the crowd at the Park, it also attracted attention from 19,739 people in 104 countries through live streaming.
Prior to the competition I was faced with a challenge, to make up as many excuses not to compete as possible. Being that I struggled with being creative and unfortunately have some compelling friends, I had no choice but to compete. However, now that I’m on solid ground and all dried off I can easily say that I’m glad I participated in it.
Unfortunately, I had a final exam during the majority of the competition which prevented me from being able to participate in the practice runs of the route. Immediately following my final exam I learned that the rest of the competitors had already finished their attempts. Luckily, the organizers still allowed me to compete that night. Fortunately one of my friends and fellow competitors gave me the beta to the route before I gave my first attempt, however; it must have seemed like I ignored him as I managed to completely forget most of his beta while climbing.
The initial start of just pulling onto the wall proved to be more intimidating than I had anticipated. This was probably in large part due to the fact that I was staring at the water below as I pulled on. Since some competitors fell early on in the route or had captivating falls with even more impressive splashes, some holds received a slight watering. However, the holds at the beginning were positive enough that being slightly damp proved to not be a problem. I ended up climbing up to the 40’ mark before pitching off the wall and letting out an embarrassing yelp. Something I didn’t anticipate was that you would only be able to catch your breath after returning to the surface of the water. The whole falling into the water aspect seemed to grasp too much of my attention to catch my breath beforehand.
I’ve realized two things from this competition, 1) it wasn’t as terrifying as I thought, and 2) it was more fun than I could have imagined. First of all, saying that it wasn’t quite as scary as I first thought doesn’t mean anything…it was still absolutely terrifying. I also managed to squeak out an embarrassing yelp while falling which I am less than proud of. Besides making a fool of myself, I also had the most fun I’ve had in a climbing competition. The whole event went above and beyond all expectations.
Words by Griffin Whiteside, Ibex Athlete
Photos by Lance Hansel