The 2014 BMC Paraclimbing Series kicked off at London’s Castle Climbing Centre and continued at Newcastle Climbing Centre on the 15 April and finished at Manchester Climbing Centre on the 24 May. GB Paraclimbing Team Manager Graeme Hill reports on another very successful event and the series results.
Full results of the 2014 BMC Paraclimbing Series – round 1-3 and overall series results
Manchester Climbing Centre Report
Saturday 24 May saw the last in the 2014 BMC domestic paraclimbing series being hosted at Manchester Climbing Centre. Following the same format 3 routes and 3 boulder problems but this time the event was displaying a much tenser atmosphere due probably to performance on the day impacting both on overall series rankings and potential GB team selection.
Each event has offered routes and boulder problems very different in character. As per usual route 1 offered a relatively easy slab climb on good sized holds. Route 2 was up a leftward facing corner with tricky moves at the top and Route 3 was up the main wall providing what has been the longest and pumpiest route of the series so far. The 3 boulder problems again offered a variety of corners, arêtes and tricky sequences. Feedback on the routes was good. Phil Mitchell (Leg Amputee) “loved” boulder problem 2 whilst Dave Tweed (Leg Amputee) was annoyed with himself for not reading Route 2 more carefully David said “I wished I had read the route more carefully and would have used the right wall more effectively”
One quite significant change was the opportunity to use top ropes on the boulders. Climbers had the choice, which the majority took up with feedback generally being very positive. Top roping supported unbroken concentration rather than handling a fall which can be extremely unnerving if for example you’re blind or have cerebral palsy.
Even though the series is only over a 2 month period there was some really significant developments in climbing standards. Current world champion Fran Brown is looking incredibly fit, strong and composed flashing all 3 routes and problems. There were very significant developments with Nick Middleton (Arm Amputee) who demonstrated an incredible amount of determination and skill when topping out on boulder problem 3. John Churcher (Blind) put in an excellent performance on the boulder problems. His hard training over the last few months has definitely pushed his technical ability up. Adam Hoolahan (Blind) has also shown some fantastic developments. Adam has an incredible amount of strength to hold himself and with further training and confidence building he will be able to transfer that into moving quicker.
Over all there were some spectacular displays of climbing and with each competition there has been an increase in focus, strength and confidence with a great deal of skill sharing.
The prize ceremony was very enjoyable with so many supporters and with the greatly appreciated presence of Richie Patterson Wild Country Marketing Manager who handed out additional prizes. Wild Country have agreed a 3 year gear deal with the team and also presented a cheque for £3000 raised by world class climbers Tom Randall and Pete Whitaker who generously gave all their takings from the Wideboyz Crack Climbing School - more details to follow.
Over the next few days the BMC will be selecting athletes to join the GB para climbing team to compete in the International Federation of Sports Climbing (IFSC) series which is all looking very exciting with comps scheduled in France, Spain, Italy and UK. Now that the team management is much more experienced with a few seasoned competitors to draw skills from we will this year work much more closely with managers and coaches from the other GB teams to develop models of coaching, nutrition and physiotherapy. Combined with the standard of climbing witnessed this series we are super ready to embrace the challenge of competing against other countries.
Thanks for the event go out to Manchester Climbing Centre for being great hosts. All the people who volunteered on the day and to Nate McMullan from Climbing Wall Services who volunteered time and equipment to install boulder top ropes and ensure that everything was sound and safe. A quick mention also goes to OnThisROC and IDiD adventure for giving such strong group support to the series.
Newcastle Climbing Centre Report
The format was the same as The Castle, London with 3 routes and 3 boulder problems ranging in grade 4 – 7a+ and V1 - V5. Despite similarity in grades the style of the climbing changed quite significantly with routes being longer and boulder problems offering more technical rather than strength challenges.
The 3 boulder problems were placed close together making for a highly intense corner. Characteristically with all the comps problem one provided an easy graded straight climb up on a very slight slab at V1. Problem 2 at V3 provided a technical start to gain a set of holds that traversed out right on an arch. The big question was do you go above or below the holds. This culminated in some spectacular displays of strength going below the holds or technically superb climbing going above. It was very clear that going above the holds was a very committing move with a long reach to the finishing hold. Problem 3 provided a technical sequence requiring a lot of smearing, chimneys, laybacks, complicated foot/hand sequences and head scratching. Again it was clear that this problem required a lot of committing moves.
The routes started with a straight line up on a slight slab with route 2 going up a right facing corner alternating between good holds on the left and right with the emphasis on bridging. Route 3 was up a steep face on small holds and technical moves with the arête on the right taken out of the equation at 1/3 height
Chatting with the competitors it was clear that the boulder problems really got people thinking primarily because there were committing moves high up, but it is also really clear that route setter Ian Dunn wants to provide a very wide range of problems throughout the series. We have discussed the possibility of placing top ropes on boulder problems at the Manchester Climbing Centre to enable people to focus more on the boulder problem rather than the falls which can cause more concern if you are blind or have a leg amputation. We have also discussed the possibility of increasing the number competition routes due to the increased number of people with varying abilities now coming through.
We had a superb turn out with 31 climbers on the day competing with a lot of people coming through following the London comp keen to build their points. We also enjoyed an absolutely superb atmosphere with some very intense levels of competition and clearly visible high levels of concentration and preparation and fantastic crowd support.
Big thanks to Newcastle Climbing Centre for providing a great venue. Good to meet Mark Goodings after many months of chatting with him. Cheers to Ian and Tom for route setting. Thank you to the belayers and judges and a big thanks to parents and support for supporting the competitors on the day.
Castle Climbing Centre, London Report
Now in its fourth year the domestic three-round series has become a very established part of the BMC competition calendar. It supports a very wide range of disabilities with the aim to give everyone from new starters to elite climbers an opportunity to compete. As a result the routes and climbing environment have to be thought through to take into consideration a range of disabilities including Autism, Deafness and Physical Disability.
The London event really stood out, with some quite startling talent on show and tremendous developments amongst people who have competed over the past four years. Competitors are expected to climb three routes and three boulder problems with route grades starting around F4 and finishing on F7a/7a+; boulder problems range from V1 through to V4. Route 2 caused a stir with a climb up a corner with undercuts and pockets topped off with a difficult traverse left. The final route proved a very testing piece with a difficult mantle on to a volume at two-thirds height with only one competitor topping out.
With over 30 entrants, it was great to have enough female and male competitors to be able to run separate competitions in each disability category. All of the current GB Paraclimbing Team demonstrated some superb climbing but it was very clear that there is a big increase in new entries providing some very serious competition. Current World Champion Fran Brown climbed very strongly and looked very relaxed. Deaf climber Suzanne Rees from the iDID Adventure Club in Northampton said: “It was great to be around such amazing climbers” and thanked other climbers who eased her into her first competition. You can read an article about iDID Adventure and how young people with disabilities can benefit from adventure sports.
Medals were presented on the day and points gained will contribute to the overall standings in the series, which will also impact on the possibility of being chosen for the team GB Paraclimbing Team at the end of May. Full results are available on the BMC website and these will be updated as the series progresses.
Overall it was a superb day with a fantastic atmosphere and very professionally hosted by Castle Climbing Centre. Bring on the next one.
Watch a film of round one at the Castle on BMC TV: