Saturday, April 19, 2008

Comp Season

Just as the bluest of Saturday skies opened up above me, and just as the temperature gauge touched sixty on someone's outdoor thermometer, I pulled into Carabiner's Rock Gym in New Bedford Mass to judge the first of only two competitions that I'll be involved in during the 2008 competition season. The hour-plus drive down from Boston was easy and flowing, as there was little traffic on the road at 7:45 in the morning. The sun had already lit up life around me, and I was thinking not about how my partners were all in the 'Gunks, not about how two of those partners who I've barely ever climbed with are going to Yosemite with me in June, not about how I need to get on the same page with them with only a smattering of weekend opportunities left before the trip, not about what my dentist was going to be thinking about my ground and gritted teeth, but about how happy I was to be going to Ikea after the comp to buy myself a wok.

I walked into the gym just before 9am and looked around. I saw all sorts of Metrorock, Team Rock, Vertical Dreams, and YMCA climbing shirts busted out by Little League moms and dads in support of their non-conformist kids. It's a good environment, and as very likely the only non-parent, coach, or employee of Carabiners volunteering at the comp, I felt a twinge of a satisfied smirk begin to come across my face. But I held it in until one of the coaches came up to me and said, "I hear it's pouring in the 'Gunks." YES!

All kidding aside (well, I did really want to go to the 'Gunks), I enjoy these competitions. I particularly enjoy judging them, and I'm not sure why. I guess for the same reasons that I enjoyed coaching baseball when I was younger, or why I volunteer to be a Board Member at a local farm. I don't really do a lot of volunteer stuff. I'm not the guy who goes out and helps clean trails for a day, or does walks for breast cancer and stuff. But I do enjoy doing some things that allow me to be in the background and unnoticed. I like to contribute where I can, but not where I really don't have an interest. Don't get me wrong, I care about a lot of things. I love clean trails and would feel happy if cancer disappeared, but I learned a long time ago that one can only give so much. And as I've said before, we all live for ourselves anyway (whether we realize that or not), so it's OK to pick and choose the things I want to get involved in.

Anyway, the comp went well. It was a small local comp, but there were some strong climbers and cute coaches there (I didn't say there weren't benefits!). I got fed (three times - urp), and got to talk a lot about the rain that I knew wasn't pouring in the 'Gunks. One of the gym belayors talked a bit about Yosemite with me and I walked out unceremoniously when my day was done. No ribbons, no free gear or climbing passes, and no climbing; just a full belly, a satisfied sense of community, and a wok (and a new grill, and teaspoon measuring cups, and a cinnamon bun...).

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