This was the first time the British Lead Climbing Championships (BLCC) had been held outdoors - and everyone held their breath. What if it rained?
The massive climbing towers at Blackpool are not covered. So, to be on the safe side, they were draped in blue canvass - just in case! As it turned out, we needn't have worried.
Sunday 29th July dawned a beautiful sunny day with a light refreshing breeze.
To start the day off everyone had to attempt two qualifying routes. The competitors see them demonstrated by the route-setters and then they can watch each other on them. The best then go through to the final where the climbs are attempted on-sight - that means they don't see the climbs demonstrated nor watch each other before their attempt.
The first junior female climb was up a vertical wall and involved just about every technique the route-setters could think of. This type of climb is often referred to as old-skool and can be especially difficult for those who haven't been climbing long because they usually haven't yet acquired the wide repetoire of moves necessary to successfully negotiate this sort of climb. But to everyone's amazement ten people topped out on this one proving that we've got some very experienced young climbers!
The first route in the junior male qualifiers was a powerful climb but, even so, eleven people topped out on that! However, the second qualifier was more of an undertaking and only one person, Jonathan Stocking, topped that one.
After a short break it was into isolation for those that had qualified for the final. They then had six minutes to look at the climbs then it was into the finals proper.
The junior female final had a really tricky move low down that Catherine Whiteman was the first to solve but it was Natalie Berry that pushed on further to any great extent until she too was stopped by a hopeful slap that she couldn't latch. Last up was Shauna Coxsey. She smoothly drop-knee'd the hard move, dyno'd a long reach, and moved past Natalie's high point to become the new BLCC champion.
The junior male final was up the awesomely steep central leg of the tower. The first person out, Josh Farrell, got to the top of the route and that put the cat amongst the pidgeons as he'd qualified in equal 6th place. However, the next three competitors showed how difficult the route really was and how well Josh had done. Fifth out was Luke Tilley and he topped out too. Deb Banerji was next and he fell one move short of the lower-off. Finally, Jonathan Stocking came out and he also succeeded in completing the route. As Jonathan was the only person to top out on all three routes all day he was therefore the winner on count-back. Interestingly, that, more or less, was the reverse of the placings in the recent youth climbing series final where Deb won, Luke was second and Jonathan was third.
Speaking of her success, Shauna said: "After coming 5th in Poland last week I was really psyched for this competition and although my fingers were numb I knew I was climbing well. I feel really chuffed now! I thought the final route was a brilliant climb too." To top the day Shauna won a raffle prize too!
Jonathan said: "It's been a brilliant comp and I really like the venue. I'm very pleased and happy to have won."
The trophies and prizes were presented by the Mayor and Mayoress of Blackpool Robert and Gaynor Wynne.
The finalists are ranked below:
1. Shauna Coxsey
2. Natalie Berry
3. Catherine Whiteman
4. Hannah Beresford
5. Kitty Wallace
6. Suzie Zitter
1. Jonathan Stocking
2. Luke Tilley
3. Joshua Farrell
4. Deb Banerji
5. Andrew Towers
6. Edward Hamer
7. Ben Clough
Full results are here.
Senior results from the day before are here.