British Lead Climbing Championships

This weekend I found myself taking the very long but familiar journey up to Edinburgh’s International Climbing Arena or Ratho as it’s known. For those of you who have never been to Ratho, it is one of the most impressive (and coldest) climbing centres I have ever seen. Back before I began competing internationally I travelled up to Ratho with my Dad to watch a World Cup there. I remember walking in to the spectacular arena and my passion and drive for competition exploding within me. It’s a very memorable moment in my life; silly but its probably one of the small things that has lead me to where I am today. Anyway… I am still yet to walk into the venue without being totally intimidated.

 

I had been hoping to be able to do the British Lead Climbing Championships for a while. I had been back climbing for less than two weeks and I had to wait until my physio and coach both agreed I was ready. I ended up signing up less than a week before the event. I was so excited about being able to climb again. I had begun feeling so comfortable on the wall again.  After being a mere spectator at the last few competitions my drive to compete was back and strong. It was quite nice as I didn’t have much time to build the competition up in my head, so not much time to get nervous or worried. 

It was an early start on Saturday morning to make it up in time for Junior finals. Myself, 2 sisters, 1 brother in law and a nephew arrived wrapped up and prepared for the bitter cold always present within the quarried walls of the EICA. I can not thank my family enough for the support they give me, sitting in a freezing cold climbing centre for 2 days is not my idea of a fun weekend but if you have ever been to a competition when they have been in attendance you are sure to have heard them cheering away! They are truly amazing! We all watched as the junior finals commenced. It was so good to see the raw talent that we have coming through. Congratulations to all of the junior British Champions!

 Next morning it was an early start again. I was up 5th on my first route. The route was on the steep wall which I was quite happy about, it might not be my strongest angle but its where I am happiest. The climb looked really fun up to the roof where there was a toe hook for the right foot. My right leg is much stronger than it was a few weeks ago but toe hooking is still a long way off for my tiny leg. Alex Puccio had climbed first and had the high point but hadn’t made it to the top. I made a conscious effort to climb quite quickly as my endurance is not the best. I felt really good until the toe hook came; quickly realising that wasn’t going to happen, I tried to use my other foot more but fell. This effort put me in joint second with Michaela Tracy and we had one more qualifier to go.

 

 Photo Credit: BMC – Alex Messenger

I was quite worried about the second climb because it was a techy, balancy, awkward looking route up an angular vertical and slabby wall. Not to mention the right leg rock over at the top. I climbed almost last on this route and was surprised that only Michaela had managed to top it. I didn’t really know what to expect but before I knew it I was rocking over, grabbing the last hold and making the last clip. Everything seemed to fall into place on this route and I felt amazing whilst climbing it; it was one of those moments where everything just works.

 

Photo Credit: Robert Donnelly

Photo Credit: Robert Donnelly

After a quick nap it was finals time… Isolation was in a nice warm bouldering room but this contrast only made the arena feel so much colder. There was just one route left to go and it looked really fun but also very long and through the steepest section of wall. I did a little bit of warming up (not that I could do much as I was so scared to fall off)  and sat listening to music finding some psyche. I sat waiting to climb; it felt quite surreal to be tied into a rope and not going out to boulder. I was quite nervous but I got distracted by getting my headphone wire stuck in my knot… blonde eh! 

Normally when I come to a route climb I have an idea of where I think I will get to, where I want to get to and where I could get to. This time I didn’t really have a clue. I just decided to go for it, try hard and see what happened. Once again I was speeding my way up the less steep section of the wall, climbing quickly but cautiously to prevent mistakes. After all one slip, you fall, its over! I think thats one thing that always terrified me about route climbing competitions, mistakes are usually detrimental. The climb was fairly steady up to the roof, where suddenly it fully kicked in, a hard clip and some burly moves to a huge pinch which had me stumped. I knew what the route setter had intended but it wasn’t possible for me to move, I had felt quite fresh but after 30 moves a burly match on a big fat pinch was not possible for me. Attempting this was the end of my competition. 

 Photo Credit: BMC – Eddie Cooper

Photo Credit: BMC – Alex Messenger

After an intense half an hour where I was unsure of my overall position due to an appeal I found out that I had placed first… I was so happy to retain my title! Ed Hamer won the mens after an impressive effort up the incredibly hard looking mens final route! It was also really good to have some of the juniors who had competed the day before make the senior finals! 

 

Next weekend I will be attending Alpkit’s BIG SHAKE OUT event. And after that hopefully some rock climbing 😀 

Link to the BMC report of the event HERE!

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