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On Saturday, the Beacon Climbing Centre in Caernarfon, still fresh after relocating premises in July 2012, hosted the latest Welsh Climbing Championships.
This competition has evolved over the last few years under the direction of Simon Rawlinson in South Wales, but this is the first time it has been held in North Wales, with Mark Dicken undertaking its coordination, and the supersize Beacon in Caernarfon made a brilliant venue. With 135 competitors aged 7 to 58, from as far away as Dorset and Leeds, they were put into 14 individual categories dependent on age group and gender. With a high proportion of the entrants being under 18 years old, the centre was buzzing with families of the competitors who had come to watch, and provide the transport.
Beacon staff were assisted by 28 volunteers, who supplied expert but neck-aching belaying and judging, and of course the all-important collation of the results.
Photos courtesy of Nick Pope
The balconies provided perfect viewing for the crowd, and there was plenty of action to see, with top-quality performances on hard climbs. Female youth category C (12-13 year olds) provided a spectacular super final on a 7b+ route, which Catrin Rose from Wokingham won by reaching the top, pipping Pippa Watkin from Sheffield into second place. All the hardest routes for youth girls and veteran women were 7a+ to 7b+, so even the tiniest kids were showing they were made of stern stuff. Local girl veteran Lou Neill relaxed her way to the top of her final route, and local male veteran, Graham 'Streaky' Desroy left his crutches on the ground whilst climbing to first place on a 7a+ in the male vets, and at 58 was the oldest in the competition.
Amongst the junior boys, finals on routes between grades of 7a+ and 8a+ were climbed, with some boys opting to share rankings after failing to fall off any of their routes! Top UK climber James 'Caff' McHaffie made a valiant attempt on the men's 8b final route, and made it to first place. A climber of note is Alex Waterhouse (17) from South Wales who had a quick go on the men's final route after the competition, and got a bit higher than Caff had climbed.
This competition demonstrated what a wealth of talent there is amongst the youth in Wales and the UK, and should hopefully supply some of the best climbers in the next few years on the world circuit of sport climbing competitions.
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