The reason Ella and I went to Boulder was a climbing competition – divisionals, specifically. The best climbers from Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California were there. And there were a lot of really good climbers in Ella’s group. There’s a team based in Boulder that seems to breed these tiny little girls who can climb like spider monkeys. I dubbed them the Sprites and resisted the temptation to kick them in the shins, mostly because they were so damn cute and friendly.
There were 21 girls in Ella’s division, and they all climbed two routes on Saturday. Their scores were based on how high they got on each route. In theory, the top ten girls were supposed to go on to finals on Sunday. But . . . 13 girls finished both of Saturday’s routes, which meant they all got the same score and all tied for first.
Sunday morning the 13 girls climbed again. The route was pretty tough. It’s the orange one in the picture. Ella said it seemed like the route setters made things too easy on Saturday so they went the other direction on Sunday and made the route too hard.
Not one of the 13 girls finished it, but two girls clearly placed first and second. Then two girls tied for third, and four girls, including Ella, tied for 5th. Only the top six can get invites to nationals in July, which meant that all the girls who were tied for position had to compete in Super Finals.
The six girls got whisked off to a holding room while the route setters tweaked a route that was already on the wall.
The two girls who were tied for third clearly separated themselves, which left the four girls tied for fifth. Ella and another girl, Chloe, climbed the highest out of their group and tied again. We were all hoping the officials would just leave them tied for fifth and not make them climb again.
But no, Ella and Chloe got whisked away again to wait for another route to be set up. When the girls came out to climb, they had become fast friends and were laughing and giggling about how they kept tying with each other.
Chloe went first and finished the climb. Ella went second and came so, so close to tying again. She was briefly disappointed, but she recovered quickly and bounced off with Chloe to play and celebrate that they were both going to Nationals.
One of the things I love about climbing competitions is that everyone cheers for good climbs, no matter what team the climber is on. They all recognize and applaud tough climbs, and you can hear the groans in the background when Ella finally falls off the wall.
In the end, Ella placed 6th in sport climbing and 3rd in speed climbing, which means she received an invite to Nationals in both events. We’re heading to Atlanta in a few weeks for the competition. Ella’s mostly excited that she’ll get to see her new buddy Chloe while she’s there.