The 2015 Psicobloc Masters Series finals faced more than adrenaline-filled anticipation in the competitors and the audience. The deep water solo climbing finals on Friday, August 7, also faced a lightning filled rainstorm that added more to the challenge of conquering the 50+ foot wall causing lightning holds and everyone to seek shelter, including the climbers, to avoid any dangerous situations. Despite the rain and cold temperatures, the competitors didn’t let that deter them from climbing their hardest and giving the audience a spectacular show for as long as the weather permitted. After slick holds, cold water, and lightning warnings, Charlotte Durif reigned as champion for the women, and Jimmy Webb took the championship for the men.
Psicobloc started out in perfect weather with the clouds lingering nearby. The women’s finals started with last year’s winner, Claire Buhrfeind against Katie Lambert. Buhrfeind made it to the third round, but Charlotte Durif advanced to the final round with Meagan Martin. After a lightning hold that cut into the tail end of the women’s finals, causing everyone to flee from the rain and seek shelter under a balcony or inside buildings, Charlotte Durif crushed the Psicobloc wall against Meagan Martin and came up on top.
The rain started to trickle and became less torrential for a few mere moments after the women’s finals, and climbing holds were changed out to prepare for the men’s finals. Sean McColl, last year’s men’s champion, started out the competition against Brenden Mitchell. It was a close race, but McColl took the first round. The men’s finals had a lot of close races, almost ties, and many dynos that had the audience in nail-biting mode. The rain picked back up again, and the last pair in the first round, Jimmy Webb and Isaac Caldiero started their climbing race. As Jimmy and Isaac neared the top of the wall, a long strike of lightning hit rather close, which made the climbers more eager to get to the top. Jimmy Webb pushed up to the top first, and unfortunately Caldiero took a serious fall into the water, getting the wind knocked out of him, but he was up and moving around after he was out of the water. Last year Caldiero also had an unfortunate fall into the water and burst his ear drum in the seeding finals, but it didn’t stop him from climbing.
The men’s finals got cut short as the rain started to pour again, and the lightning was getting pretty serious. The Psicobloc Masters Series was called after it was deemed unsafe to continue with the remainder of the competition. Jimmy Webb took the crown for the men as he had the fastest time overall in the finals with a victory of one minute and one second.
“When lighting was all around us, we had to make a decision about how to, or whether to continue,” stated Chris Sharma. “We gathered the 8 men that moved out of the round of 16, and the consensus was that since not everyone could be there on Saturday due to previous plans, it was decided that we would go off of the results from the round of 16 and end the event there. We had lightning strikes within a mile of us, and the wall is basically a lightning rod; far too dangerous with water and a ton of spectators.
“Climbing is an adventure, live events are an adventure, and Mother Nature is always going to have the final say in outdoor activities. We are incredibly proud and inspired by the athletes for not only climbing so well but by the spirit in which they approached this event. Though less than ideal, it felt like it brought out the true spirit of climbing, adventure, and camaraderie. It was really impressive to see all of the climbers, as well as everyone who came to watch, and the hardworking crew of staff and volunteers, put in such a rad effort to make this year of Psicobloc Masters Series one we will never forget. A huge thanks to everyone who participated whether as a competitor or a spectator.”
Congratulations to Charlotte Durif and Jimmy Webb on taking the Psicobloc Masters Series for 2015! Thank you to all the crew involved, the climbers, spectators, and to the Utah Olympic Park for making it such a fantastic competition in the midst of Mother Nature’s deluge.