Making the Most of Every Inch

My name is Sarah Pearce, and I am an 18-year-old climber from SoCal. This year has been an amazing year of climbing for me. One thing that has made this year so special is that I was picked to compete in my first IFSC Bouldering World Cup. When I first received the news from USA Climbing that I would be going to India in May, I was beyond psyched! My lifelong dream to compete at a World Cup, currently the highest level of competition in climbing, had come true. I remember jumping up and down, hugging my mom in the living room of my house, too overcome with euphoria and emotion at the news to do anything else. For the next week or so, I wasn’t able to wipe off the stupid grin on my face that first appeared when I got the news.

My first competition that I competed in was ten years ago and since that fateful night I haven’t stopped competing. I have enjoyed competing at various comps around the nation, being a past member on the USA Climbing Youth National Team, and meeting new people at each event. This year was my first year that I competed at the ABS Open Nationals in Madison Wisconsin. The event was truly amazing, and I was super psyched to compete alongside some of the strongest and most talented climbers in the nation. Competing at this event was one of several ways USA Climbing selected athletes for the 2016 World Cups this year. Although the top 6 male and female climbers are part of the official US National Climbing Team, every participating athlete was given a chance to apply for potential open spots at each World Cup event and I did. I was absolutely thrilled to be selected to represent the USA in my sport.

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In order to raise funds for my trip and to celebrate, Mad Rock teamed up with my local gym (LA Boulders in Downtown LA) to host a fundraiser event. We organized a bake sale, raffle, and clinic that I would run. I was so happy to get to celebrate with my local climbing community – it was a night filled with loads of fun, friends, love, and support.

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I’ve helped with many clinics at fundraisers before, but haven’t had any experience teaching a clinic all by myself. Choosing a topic (that I was confident in teaching) for the clinic was easy for me, though. I decided to go with dynos and dynamic movement. These types of moves are so prevalent in World Cup style setting nowadays, so I thought it would fit the theme of the night perfectly. Because I stand only 5ft 2inches tall with a negative 1 ape index, dynamic movement has played a huge role in my climbing. I couldn’t wait to share my knowledge with other climbers who might benefit from the confidence of knowing how to execute these moves. With my experience in climbing, I’ve observed that dynos aren’t something every climber enjoys and being explosive can be uncomfortable for some. I wanted to coach climbers to make the most of every inch through dynamic movement no matter how tall they are.

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The clinic started off with a short introduction explaining what I was going to cover, and at the beginning I asked my participants about their past experiences with dynos. Most of the answers were negative (just as I suspected), stating that they were bad at dynos. This motivated me to help each of them overcome their bad experiences with dynos. My goal for the evening was to make sure everyone left feeling more comfortable and confident with this type of movement. When it came time to ask for my first volunteer to try a vertical dyno, nobody raised their hand. I chose my first (somewhat reluctant) climber, and the clinic began. Slowly, I could see the participants break out of their shells. I was happy to see everyone curious and engaged, truly wanting to learn more about dynos. They asked some great questions, one being “What are the keys to better dynoing?” They quickly caught on to my answers and I could see the shift in their attitudes. One of the most powerful pieces of advice I gave during the night to the participants was for them to intentionally focus on generating momentum by throwing their hips. I emphasized the hips because they connect the lower body to the upper body, and when dynoing we utilize out entire body. It begins with the feet, then moves through the hips, and finally connects all the way up to the finger tips – one fluid motion. I could tell that as the night progressed, each climber got steadily more and more confident on the wall. They began to get more dynamic and explosive, and started to really enjoy the movement. I saw a positive shift as each dyno went down and each climber stepped off the wall, beaming. The night went so well that the clinic actually ran slightly longer than the projected hour due to so much fun and a newly discovered love for dynoing. At the end, I jokingly said to all the participants, “And you said you guys were bad at dynos!” The clinic was a great experience for me and I really enjoyed teaching it. I love being able to coach others in something I am so passionate about. It makes me so happy to help others improve in their climbing and to see people learning new things while enjoying the experience. I learned as much from them as they did from me, and I can’t wait to bring this psyche to India with me!

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Although I think my clinic was definitely a favorite of the night, the raffle and bake sale were a huge hit! Some of my friends from Team Touchstone were able to bake up some pretty tasty treats and helped me throughout the night with sales. Mad Rock donated quite a few prizes including posters, chalk bags, and a certificate for a free pair of Mad Rock Shoes. There was great energy and enthusiasm as each prize was raffled off. The gym was filled with psyched climbers who left the gym full of baked goods, Mad Rock swag, and exhausted arms and legs from so many dynos. Overall, I think everyone had a blast and it was so great to see both familiar and new faces who came out for the event.

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One of the things I love most about climbing is the amazing community I’m lucky to be a part of. So many people came out to support me and I don’t think I could have done it without this community. I want to thank LA Boulders for hosting the event, all my friends and those who helped me at the bake sale table, and especially to Mad Rock for donating the prizes, sponsoring the clinic, and helping promote this event. You guys are the best and I couldn’t have done it without all of you! Let’s go to India!

-Sarah Pearce

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