The Climbing Works International Festival, CWIF has a big reputation for a UK competition, world class route setters at one of the biggest bouldering walls in the UK attracts strong climbers from all over. On day one 330 competitors fought it out on the 30 qualifier boulder problems, problems that make you pull, push and fight hard. Only 20 women and 20 men were lucky enough to make it through to day 2 where the real fun began! Last year after the qualifiers I spent the evening icing my back so I guess this year went a little better as I didn’t feel like someone had beat me up! And I qualified in second place to Melanie Sandoz.

After seeing the comp wall all covered up in qualifiers knowing that the semi final problems were set and ready makes it quite exciting, leaving you going home wondering what  crazy, technical, powerful and insane problems have they set this year.

In semi finals you don’t have chance to view the problems before you climb you just get 5 minutes per boulder problem to figure out what you are going to do and get to the top. There were four boulders and I managed to flash 2 and I did the other 2 just in time. One of which was far from my style, a big move off a big slopey hold. I tried and tried and tried this one move getting totally shut down. I then decided to try REALLY hard, to go fast, jump and hold on really tight. With less than a minute left I pulled on and was surprised to stick the move I’d thought impossible for me. I could not fall off now, only one move left and no time to try again. I went big and was delighted to find the last hold to be big and friendly! The other problem was a Climbing Works special… requiring the perfect combination of balance, technique and poise to manoeuvre around the irritatingly placed holds and volumes. A problem that you hate with a passion until you do it and then its the best problem ever! I was the only competitor to complete all four of the semi final problems which meant that I was heading into the finals in first place.

I always aim to maintain or improve my qualification position, however this does not usually come with so much pressure. I was competing against members of the British Team, American Team and French Team and all of the finalist were amazing climbers.

In the finals you get to view the problems as a group before climbing, the four boulders looked like they included every move type possible and they were definitely going to require everything and anything we had left! The first boulder was a slab, qualifying in first meant I was last to climb. This means I know how everyone else has done, the crowd give a lot away as does the commentator so when it was my turn to climb I knew that only Leah had topped the first climb and I knew she got it on her first attempt.  I stood looking at the boulder wondering how on earth she got up there, I couldn’t figure it out so I jumped on too see what would happen. First go I found myself leaning a little bit too far back and stood looking at the slab confused once again. My second attempt was amusing, I got myself all tangled up but somehow managed to fight my way to the last move where I paused for a while before going all out and jumping for the last hold. I usually get a little scared on slabs maybe this is why there was no way I was falling off that last move of this one.

Alex was the only person to top the second one and this made me wonder if I had read the problem right, had Alex figured something out that no one else had? I pulled on and found the moves to flow really nicely until I had my heel near my head and one big move to a volume to go. I would have found myself heading quickly towards the ground had the volume not have been so sticky. I love textured paint! The third problem I got second try, I made a silly mistake on first attempt but I got back on knowing what not to do, I caught the awkward dyno and moved past the slippery volume to the last hold.

 Video of Alex and I on problem 2 : 

It was time for us all to try our final boulder problem of the competition, at this point I knew if I could get to the bonus on my first attempt I had won, the format in the finals makes it impossible not to get nervous especially when you are last to climb! I sat as every finalist had their attempt and the crowd, the score board and the commentator all made it clear that no one had topped the final boulder. I turned to the wall looking forward to giving the boulder everything I had left. Everything seemed to fall into place and I felt in control all the way up until I was holding the last hold and looking at the crowd. Did that really just happen?

I could only reflect on my performance in this competition last year, I realised how much I have learnt about competition climbing, how to cope under pressure and deal with the nerves but mostly how to try really hard and give everything you have got! This did not get me on the top of the podium but sat me on the biggest space hopper. Dave Barrans was the male CWIF 2012 Champion, it sounded like the mens finals was intense and it all came down to the last boulder! Unfortunately I didn’t get to see any of it, hopefully there will be videos.


I am looking forward to spending some time training but not until after the Tierra Boulder Battlein Sweden on March 24. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Climbing Works Official Report: Here!

 UKC Article about CWIF: Here!

Oh I also had an interview with Hazel Findley for The BMC check it out here!

Credits to Alex Messenger, Mark Stringfellow and Jen Randall  for the images and UKC for the video





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