Scarpa North America Blog

Gord McArthur – Training, Climbing and Competing

Jan. 19th 2012

SCARPA Athlete, Gord McArthur is back at it, training and climbing and competing in the first World Cup of Mixed Climbing in South Korea. Below, he shares about his experience training this fall in Canada.

The crew at the airport

Since the end of the summer I’ve been doing my best to train as hard as possible–long nights in the backyard, climbing all over North America, working on weaknesses, doing everything I can to come to a place of confidence, believing in my ability to climb and compete. Well, it’s here now; months of preparation and commitment have finally come to this point…the first world cup of mixed climbing…in South Korea.

The weather has been utter crap where I live (Cranbrook, BC). It’s been a total shame to watch all the beautiful ice turn to sunbaked slush down in the bull river. More so, the river you stand on, watching it split apart, the ice shelf floating away…such a sad state. What were the best conditions I had ever seen down there, well, hopefully winter hits and all recovers. Alas, all was not lost. Northeast of me, in one of the raddest caves ever certain routes were still waiting for me to conquer.

In the past couple of years I have spent a lot of time in the Cineplex, a big cave just shy of the Columbia Ice Fields, Alberta, Canada. This epicenter of hard mixed climbing lays host to some of the ultimate test pieces in North America. One in particular, ”The Game”, M13 (maybe +), stick with me. Pre-occupied by other routes in the cave I had never really given this route much attention until this year. The line is long, hosting huck after huck. From start to finish, it feels like you’re on the rig forever. So wicked.

The competition headquarters in South Korea

Naturally, with any route that pushes your limits, you work the moves out, practice them, hone them, refine them, and then crush them. My first couple of goes on the route I attempted such a list of things “to do”. On my 5th or 6th try I found myself nearing the end of the route. What was thought to be lost early on, some how I kept going. Move after move I realized that I was still able to hold on…to the point of knowing that there was only a couple of moves left. Screaming from the crazy pump in my arms, I fought…and fought hard. I couldn’t believe it…the last draw or “chains” was staring at me, face to face with what would have been a red point of “The Game”. I had nothing left. I could feel my body reaching its ultimate limit. The draw was seized shut. I couldn’t open the gate. Figure four, figure nine…back and forth, pleading for the strength to force that retarded piece of metal open. And with one last effort, putting all my chips in, I pulled the rope for the last time with an attempt to clip that found me flying through the air. I couldn’t make the clip. I hung on the end of the rope in shock.

The shock that I felt on the end of the rope, swinging like a pendulum, back and forth, was not from disappointment, or disgust…but more so from excitement. I couldn’t feel anything, my arms, legs, neck…everything was numb from being forced over the edge. I had never felt what it was like to push my body to its end. What an amazing feeling. All that I had worked on, the training, the mental toughness, how to not let go until your body physically lets go, now knowing that such limits are so much further than what your mind typically dares to allow. That’s why I was shocked–because 8 moves into the route I was tired and was beginning to doubt progress.

And then I fell at the chains. In my mind, the route is not complete. Was it my fault? Could you accept that as a send? The gate was seized. I should have changed the draw out when I was working the moves. My mistake. Various people have said, “Oh that’s a send”. And others have said, “Gotta clip the chains.” So, what am I going to do? I’m going to go back to that cave and hike that test piece again, and finish with clipping the “chains.” And let me tell ya, that gets me so fired up.

How that recent performance went on “the game”, despite (in my eyes) not officially finishing it, was a huge confidence boost. I’ve been training so hard over the last few months and being able to climb a route at that level, fairly quickly, it was a great way to leave the country and head to the World Cup Circuit of mixed climbing. I feel ready this year. My confidence level is up. I believe in my ability and training. I won a comp in November, have had success on hard routes as of recently–things seem to be coming together this year.

How will this shape up for world cups? Well, I’m really trying not to set any expectations. I’m climbing stronger, faster, smarter…but…in competitions…expectations kill you. I’m going to climb one move at a time and that’s that. I have goals, yes…however my focus right now, as i lay in my bed at the Seoul, South Korean Hostel, is to do my best…and the rest is noise. Your best is your best. And that’s all that matters. Climbing is so fun and if you give your best and total effort whilst doing so…having fun…then what else could possibly matter?

Stay tuned on what’s next…the first World Cup in Cheongsong, South Korea. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

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