Over the weekend pro climbers from around the world gathered in Park City, Utah to climb, party, and take 50 foot falls into Utah Olympic Park’s 750,000-gallon freestyle aerial training pool, at the Psicobloc Masters Series. Inspired by the first Psicobloc competition in Spain in 2011, this comp featured a 50-foot wall of 5.13c climbing for the women and 5.14b climbing for the men, with no ropes and only a pool to break their falls. Every type of climber was represented, from legend Lynn Hill, to young phenom Sacha DiGiulian, to powerhouse boulderer Alex Johnson. 16 female and 16 male climbers competed head-to-head in single elimination rounds until there was 1 woman and 1 man remaining. Here’s how it all shook out:
1st Place – Sasha DiGiulian
2nd Place – Delaney Miller
3rd Place – Meagan Martin
1st Place – Jimmy Webb
2nd Place – Daniel Woods
3rd Place – Matty Hong
Following the comp we caught up with Delaney Miller for her thoughts on the American debut of Psicobloc. Delaney is an 18-year-old route-crusher with several podium finishes at national and international competitions. Not only did she take home $3,000 for her second place finish, but she and Sasha were the only two female competitors to top out the women’s route in semi-finals. Here’s what she had to say about Psicobloc:
CXC: How would you describe your overall experience at Psicobloc?
DM: UHHmazing!!!! It was without a doubt the most incredible and exciting comp I’ve ever been to!!! It was scary and exhilarating and inspiring and humbling. I can’t wait to do another one.
CXC: Just how intimidating was climbing at Psicobloc?
DM: I didn’t feel scared while I was climbing. I just focused on the holds in front of me and my desire to get to the top. I made myself ignore the fact that I had no rope. Otherwise, I would have over-gripped and been scared to commit to every move. When I reached the top of the wall there was a moment of relief and excitement. That feeling quickly dissipated and was replaced by fear and trepidation. It’s not natural to make yourself walk over a ledge when you know you will fall for fifty feet. I just kept telling myself, “It’s just water, you’re going to be fine.” Still, that proved to be a hard thought to really believe. The fall did get less intimidating as the comp went on, but it was definitely not something I ever was truly comfortable with.
CXC: How was the fall?
DM: The fall was definitely uncomfortable. Falling off from the climb was all right because it happened fast and there was no time to get too scared.
CXC: What factors were running through your head while you were climbing?
DM: I tried to just focus on the send. I knew I needed to keep a good pace, but the most important thing was for me to climb efficiently, so if I needed to stop and shake out, I did.
CXC: How did you prepare for the comp?
DM: I went to Lake Whitney, which is not far from where I live [Dallas, TX]. The problems there were about 40 feet tall and I got some good confidence from practicing falling off them.
CXC: Would this route have been easier or harder on a rope?
DM: The route would have been harder on a rope. It was nice not having to worry about stopping and clipping every five feet.
CXC: How did you get paired up with the competitor you were climbing with in each round?
DM: The person in first place went against the 16th place climber, the person in second went against the person in 15th, and so on. The winner of each round took the higher place.
CXC: All the pros seemed to be at this comp! How did the invited competitors get selected to participate?
DM: Mostly word of mouth. Mike Beck and Chris Sharma looked at how climbers have placed at various comps and they listened to suggestions from the climbing community.
CXC: In terms of personal importance, how does this comp compare to more traditional comps, like the World Cup? Is this more of a “just for fun” type of comp?
DM: Yes and No. It was “just for fun”, but at the same time I trained really hard for it and really wanted to do well.
CXC: Given the exciting and daring nature of Psicobloc, it seems that one of the goals was to draw more mainstream attention to climbing. How do you feel about the commercialization and growth of climbing?
DM: I feel that it is extremely important. Climbing is an amazing sport, but it’s hard for people to understand. I hope people will see comps like this and become more interested in climbing.
CXC: What could be done next year to make Psicobloc even better?
DM: Heated pool!!! And maybe more media coverage. The more people watching, the better!
CXC: What are you training for next?
DM: I compete next week in the Youth World Championship, which is being held in Victoria, Canada. It’s going to be weird not falling 50 feet and being caught by a rope!
CXC: Did Psicobloc inspire you do to more deep water soloing?
DM: Definitely! I can’t wait to do it again!
Thank you so much to Delaney for taking the time to chat with us. To watch the action check out video of the comp here. We can’t wait to see next year’s Psicobloc comp!