RC News #28: Where Are Zach and Maddie?

What are we doing next now that Nationals are over and we're back in Canada?

A man looking at the camera in an airport

These last few weeks have been, in a word, feverish.

We frantically packed up our lives in Germany and moved home to Canada. A week later, we packed up and flew to British Columbia to compete at this year's Canadian Open Bouldering National Championships, which took place in Vancouver. Zach took home the championship; I earned a bronze medal.

Following the event, we took a ferry to Vancouver Island, where I met with my coach, Libor Hroza, for a week of private coaching.

I'm writing from the couch in an Airbnb just outside Victoria, in Langford. Boulderhouse Langford, one of three main training facilities on the island, is just a 20-minute walk from here.

I was supposed to take one rest day after nationals and then begin training with Libor on Sunday. My skin had other plans...

My skin was good after qualifiers, good after semis, good after boulders one and two in finals, fair after boulder three, and an absolute disaster after boulder four.

This took two training days off our schedule and for the first time in my career, my skin still hurt to the touch after two full days of rest. While it was undoubtedly the worst case of thin skin I've had after a competition, it really wasn't so bad.

After three days of much-needed healing, I was back in training mode here in Victoria.

Zach was going back and forth over whether he would climb this week or take the post-national rest. Coming off of a win at Nationals, he earned himself a liberty we athletes don't usually get - the freedom to do as you please. Of course, Zach chose to climb.

That's good news for both of us, though, as he and I will have a joint rest week at the beginning of December as soon as we get home. Our schedules have been offset so long that our rest days and rest weeks haven't coincided for the past few months. This rest week should realign our programs so rest days can finally be rest days for us both!

Speaking of home, it certainly feels good to be home. Germany was a fantastic experience, but every day spent away from Canada made us appreciate it all the more. Our Booster Juice, our Climbers Rock, our cats, our family... we really missed them. Maybe it wasn't readily apparent while we were in Germany, but as soon as we landed in Canada, we realized their absence in our lives.

So what's next for us?

Zach and I moved to Germany to put ourselves in a better training environment. The gyms, the people, and the setters were the draw, and we found what we were looking for. Now that we're back where we started in Toronto, back in the training environment we left behind, we've asked ourselves that very question: what's next?

For us, there's a clear answer - Montreal.

Zach competing at the Jackalope Festival in Montreal, 2023

Off the top of my head, I can list 11 climbing gyms in Montreal that suit our needs. Any one of them is in the running for best in Canada, and there are a staggering 11...

Bloc Shop Chabanel
Bloc Shop Hochelaga
Bloc Shop Mile Ex
Allez Up
Allez up Mile End
Allez Up Verdun
Cafe Bloc
Beta Bloc
Rose Bloc
Le Crux Laval
Le Crux Boisbriand

And that's just off the top of my head.

While Montreal has more facilities than Frankfurt, Montreal was always our second choice. Europe cares more about climbing. Their national climbing federations are easily a decade ahead of ours. Being in the country exposed us to more ideas and cutting-edge movements. It allowed us to take part in local competitions around Europe. We frequently bumped into European National Teams and World Cup competitors. With that, we were always on our toes.

In Canada, you'd have to get on a plane to have a session with a climber from another national team, and the only feasible option would be the Americans.

Germany was perfect, but it had some flaws. The training was excellent, but life was more difficult. Our German visas may have expired, but we said goodbye to Germany for many reasons.

Zach and I are excited to start our next chapter in Montreal. While it's still a lengthy car ride away from our home base in Toronto, it's much more familiar to us. Before we moved to Germany, Zach and I would drive up to Montreal once every six weeks or so and rent an Airbnb for the week or weekend. One of the best things about living in Toronto as a comp climber is its proximity to Montreal.

So that's where we're at. We have a couple more training days here in Victoria before our rest week; then, we fly home to Toronto for a few months before packing up again and moving to Quebec.

We're planning to move in February, so until then, it's Joe Rockhead's, Up The Bloc, Grand River Rocks, and, of course, Climbers Rock.