We’ve been here for 5 days now. Arco is charming; a quaint little town nestled between limestone cliffs and the pristine blue Lake Garda. The streets are classically cobbled, lined with romantic stone buildings and a castle that sits protectively atop the hill behind the city center. There are bars, pizzerias, and gelaterias serving the most simple and exquisite foods. The vibe is relaxed and yet simultaneously buzzing with an emotional energy. It is a climbing town, THE climbing town. Arco is the most celebrated and nostalgic place in modern sport climbing’s history, and rightfully so. Competition climbing has its roots here. Some of the very first competitions were held outside on the surrounding cliffs. Later, a climbing stadium was built and the prestigious Arco Rockmaster competition was born. I’ve had the privilege of competing in the Rockmaster in 2006 and 2007, both experiences that hold special significance in my memory.
Historic Photos Source: http://www.arco2011.it/index.php/gallery/rock-master-foto-storiche/
Me competing in the 2006 Rockmaster
No other event, however, compares in importance to the World Championships. It is the epitome of competition climbing, and appropriately fitting for it to be held in such a historical place this year. The bouldering event took place this past weekend, and the show was exciting and impressive. The USA’s own Sasha Digiulian surprised everyone (including herself) by placing 2nd behind the unstoppable force of Anna Stöhr. The men’s competition was particularly inspiring. The two Russians (Dmitry Sharafutdinov and Rustam Gelmanov) put on spectacular performances, exhibiting some of the most disciplined power and precision I’ve ever seen. They placed 1st and 3rd respectively, while Adam Ondra, always determined and never dull to watch, fought his way to the podium for 2nd place.
Yesterday and today are the first ever Paraclimbing Championships, followed by the Lead competition, which begins tomorrow. I am feeling really nervous going into it, not quite sure how I will feel or what the outcome will be. Trying to temper my expectations and focus only on climbing well is not always a simple task, but I’m doing my best to approach it with this attitude.
In other news, Sam and I bought a van to keep and live in when we travel to Europe. It’s a 2000 Fiat Ducato, and it’s sweet. The bed is bigger than mine at home, and I can fully stand up in it. We’re psyched.