Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thai Smoothies, Cuban Rice, and Singapore Slings: The Many Tastes of Summer

I am currently typing this from my new college dorm room in Kennedy Hall at Northeastern University in Boston! As my summer draws to a close, I figured I might as well share my many adventures before my engineering class schedule becomes too difficult to manage. Hopefully this will tie you over until then!

My summer started out in June with a trip to the Teva Mountain Games in Vail for the annual Bouldering World Cup. Vail is definitely one of my favorite competitions of the year. Besides having some awesome boulder problems in the comp itself, Vail is one of the most scenic locations in the United States, and boasts a wide array of outdoor sports. It’s not every weekend you get to experience kayaking, BMX, slacklining, dog jump competitions, and climbing all mixed into one. In the competition, I missed out on making semifinals by one hold on the second qualifier, but I felt strong on the two slab problems, flashing both of them. Looks like I need to work on more overhanging problems for next year… I guess slab is more of my style now? Weird. The rest of the weekend I got to hang out with Tris Sampson, Alex Johnson, Addison Kim, Elise Sethna, and a bunch of other friends before heading back to California.

Team USA.
Chillin' in the North Face store

During my short week at home, I graduated high school! My time at Fremont High School was certainly a blast, and I will have friends and memories that I will keep the rest of my life. I also received the High School Senior of the Year award from the city of Sunnyvale for my volunteer work with the Fremont High School Bouldering Club trail cleanup and participating in climb-a-thons for my coach Stacey Collver, who received a double-lung transplant. However, life is all about moving on to encounter new things, so later that week I left for Atlanta to train for Nationals in the beginning of July.

My parents and I at the Fremont High School Senior Awards Night

My first climbing coach, Stacey!
Nationals training camp has always walked a fine line of out-of-control summer camp and the most intense climbing training you can fit into a single day, and this year was no exception. With around 50 other youth athletes, I trained at Stone Summit Climbing Gym for a solid 2.5 weeks leading up to the competition. After countless laps on the 60-foot wall, enough speed training to give us all bloody fingertips, and too many Lucy’s (see photo below) to count, I felt ready for Nationals.

The infamous Lucy. You can't go to Atlanta without having one.
Smiley faces in blood- the Stone Summit speed tradition.
Photo: Faith Sullivan
The Crew!
Side note: during our training, our coach, Scot Jenerik, did some mental preparation talks with us all to get us fully ready for the competition. One of the questions he asked us was if given the choice, we could magically skip all of the climbing and already be selected for the national team. After leaving the question hang in the air for a moment, it dawned on me that I would never give up all of the life experiences with friends and the thrill of competing for any kind of reward in the world. That’s how special this sport is to me.

At the competition itself, I placed a respectable 5th in difficulty (barely making the US team) and 1st in speed. I was especially excited about this year’s speed event, as it marked my 10th consecutive National Championship title. It was great to see the level that all of the competitors were pushing as well, with most finalists pushing the sub-six second mark. Impressive! On the difficulty side, my routes this year were fantastic, with the final climb consisting of mantles, rose moves, ball presses, and (my personal favorite) a wrestling match with a giant boob-feature that cumulated in an all-points-off dyno towards the finish moves. I had a foot slip and fell underneath the boob, but still had a blast on the climb.

Photo: Sydney McNair
Photo: Sam Wolff
Photo: Sydney McNair
Because of my performance at Nationals, I received two invitations to the Youth World Championships in Singapore! I have been fortunate enough to qualify for this competition for the last five years, and have always appreciated the challenge of qualifying for such a prestigious event.

After Atlanta, I went north to Boston with my family to complete my freshman orientation at Northeastern University and took a side trip to NYC as well. When I finally arrived home, I had a short few weeks to pack up all my belongings and ship them out to Boston and hang out with my friends in Sunnyvale for the last time. Some of the more fun activities I did was setting up a 20-foot highline in Ortega Park near my house with my friend David Sarver and Keith and putting in some solid mini-golf sessions with Omer, David Cordero, and Vishesh.

Brooklyn Boulders with my Ecuadorian friend Christian!
Photo: David Sarver

Before I left for Asia, my friend Charlie Andrews and I went out to Reno to train on the only official IFSC speed wall in the country. We put in some solid work sessions with a huge amount of help of the CommRow staff, especially from manager Brian Sweeney, who donated hours of his time to help us belay and time each other. Below are some videos of some of our speed attempts and some outdoor climbing shots at Donner Summit. Also, if you have the chance to go train on the Reno wall, definitely hit up Golden Flower, one of the best Vietnamese restaurants I have ever eaten at. They serve a bunch of different types of noodle and meat dishes for reasonable prices, and are open until 3am every day!

Running a lap on Short Subject (12a)
Photo: Charlie Andrews
Donner Summit!
Before I knew it, I had packed up all of my belongings, sent them off to college, and I was off to Asia! The multi-day trip to Thailand involved flying through the Singapore airport, which is by far the coolest airport I have ever visited. It contains free massages, movie theaters, x-box, a rooftop pool and jacuzzi, and even the world’s tallest airport slide (4 stories). Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do any of these fantastic activities as I arrived at 12:30am when they were all still closed. Oh well.

The next two weeks in Thailand passed way too quickly. I stayed in Tonsai Bay with Charlie and his sister Emily, and each day we started our routine of eating a casual breakfast on the beach, then walking around 50 feet to climb the amazing stalactite/tufa routes that scattered the ocean vista. During our time there, I climbed two 13d’s and a slew of other 5.13’s, did my first multipitch, chilled with the Canadian National Team, and went DEEP WATER SOLOING. Yes, it was awesome. Be jealous. We also enjoyed Thai smoothies, pad thai at the famous Mama’s Chicken Shack, fried rice in pineapples, and siestas on the white-sand beaches. I will be posting an entire blog post detailing the trip there and beta for you to go visit, so stay tuned!

Kayaking expedition!
Asia Shadow Play (8a+), Tonsai Beach
Photo: Emily Andrews
Photo: Emily Andrews
Cara Cangreso (8b/+) Tonsai Beach
Photo: Emily Andrews
Deep Water Soloing on the Spiderman Wall
Photo: Charlie Andrews
Fried rice. In a pineapple. Yeah.

Enjoying some delicious Thai smoothies on Tonsai!
(mine was banana-mango-pineapple)
Photo: Emily Andrews
The final stop on my trip was the 2012 Youth World Championships in Singapore. I felt at the peak of my strength coming into the event, and put together one of my personal best competition performances by coming within the last two holds of the second qualification route. However, I overestimated the bottom half of my semifinal route and overgripped most of the moves, causing me to pump out quickly and fall about halfway up. In speed, I hit a personal best time on the 15m wall (8.66 seconds!) and placed 11th overall. However, the most memorable time at the competition was during one of the many times the event got rained out. (Monsoon season in southeast asia... figures) Instead of going back to our hotels, all of the competitors decided to hang out around the wall and participate in a spontaneous game-palooza which included a long-jump contest, swimming races, sand-castle building competitions, and (my personal favorite) cricket with the South African National Team. Ahh, good memories.


Canadian sand beaver

Qualifier 1
Photo: Garick Bay
Qualifier 2
Photo: Garick Bay
Qualifier 2
Photo: Garick Bay

Speed Finals
Photo: Garick Bay
So now that I’m back into the flow of school, reflecting on my summer seems like a lifestyle long forgotten. I can only await my next adventure, the Lead World Cup in Atlanta at the end of the month! So long until then, and thanks for being such dedicated readers.

Final note: from now on, I will be switching my approach to my blog from a mostly reflective view to include more climbing area beta. Besides, who cares that I went to all these places when you could go too?? Peace out, climb hard, enjoy life.


  1. Josh, Stacey shared your blog with me. I am so inspired and so impressed with your summer and your new life in Boston. I wish you the best. It is an honor to know you and I'm so proud of you (sorry that sounds so cliche) since you are so impressive. Enjoy college, keep up the good work, and thanks for sharing your incredible achievements and summer travel with us all. Best wishes, Ana stenzel (friend of Stacey's who also had a lung transplant)

  2. Obviously, the collection of a writer must be a bundle of creativity. New ideas of writing become the reason of success. It makes your work worthwhile. Everyone wants to praise your writing because they bound by creativity.ged