Mumbai, India

I’d always liked the idea of visiting India. I’d looked into travelling there a couple of times but no plans ever came to fruition. I was quite excited and also a little surprised to hear that there was going to be a World Cup in Mumbai. However, once again the packed calendar would not allow for much leisure time. In fact we had less time in India than we’d originally planned. It’s inevitable, when you travel as much as we do, that at some point something is going to go wrong and this time it did. Leah and I arrived at Manchester airport full of excitement and anticipation about visiting a country neither of us had ever travelled to before only to be told that we did not have the required documents. We weren’t going to India. Not that day anyway! In these situations it is far too easy to fall into the downwards stress/panic spiral. Luckily both Leah and myself are generally positive people. I was (as I generally always am) optimistic and Leah took the realistic role which balanced out the situation perfectly. I can’t speak for Leah but at no point did I feel stressed or panicked. There was no doubt that we’d made every possible effort to get to Mumbai, what else could we do but sit and wait to see if our visas came through when the lady on the phone in Delhi said they would.

We made it. We got to Mumbai the day before the World Cup. It almost didn’t seem real. The whole experience was very different to what had become the norm this season. Firstly it was just Leah and myself travelling. After having multiple team members and my coach, Mark, at the first events this felt very odd. Also it was getting close to 40°C outside. Temperatures us pale Brits simply can’t handle. It was also incredibly shocking and humbling to see first hand the poverty and distress that is so prevalent in India. Walking to the venue was a sobering experience. I had been told to prepare myself for the sights but there’s nothing that can prepare you.

It was clear that the organisers of the competition had worked long and hard to make the event a success. It was also incredibly clear how significant and important this event was to the climbing community. The sheer passion and exhilaration from the crowd was powerful; I will never forget the atmosphere at this competition. This was the first event of its kind in India and in my opinion, it was a success. There were areas for improvement but that’s inevitable. The warm up wall was outside, there were some fans pointing at the wall but it was still unbearably hot. Luckily I had my portable Beastmaker with me. The Isolation room that we were kept it was air conditioned and kept cool and the competition venue was also air conditioned but not so cool. The contrast from cool to hot and then to warm was really strange and a little overwhelming.

I struggled with the heat at this event. I’m generally one of those annoying people who always has good skin but this past weekend I got to experience sweaty tips and it was not fun! It’s hard to enjoy climbing when you don’t feel like you can give your best performance. Of course I wanted to be in the final. I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t make it. I didn’t deserve to be in the final. I didn’t climb well, I felt like I couldn’t climb well. I was annoyed for a couple of hours but not disappointed. I don’t remember much about the boulders I climbed on other than battling to stay on the wall. Unsuccessfully fighting the greasy holds with sweaty skin.

Watching the finals at this comp was an incredible experience, despite it being frustrating at times. The show was brilliant! The lights, the music, the crowd. It’s rare that I sit on the other side of the fence. This time it wasn’t because injury had put me there, I wasn’t sick, I’d slept well. I just couldn’t handle the heat. And it sure did look hot up there during the final. It was actually fun to watch. Leah and I got to sit and chat about all of the boulders and scream encouragement.

India not only took my skin but my voice too. A huge congratulations to Miho Nonaka for taking her first World Cup gold medal. It really was a pleasure to get to watch. Although, I definitely want to be up there this weekend! At every event I learn so much and this was no different. In fact I probably took more away from this round than most. I feel so fortunate that I get to travel and compete. It’s impossible not to feel frustrated at times but when I stop and reflect it becomes impossible not to feel truly thankful.



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