Flt Lt Stuart Harth (RAF) on his way to the British Inter-Services Senior Men's title in the final
UKC News, Nov 2010
© Pete Skinsley The cream of the military sport climbers from across Europe and the British Services gathered in Edinburgh last week for the annual European Military Climbing Championships. The 2 day event, hosted by the Army Mountaineering Association, was run at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena Ratho. Teams from Belgium, France, Netherlands, Romania, Spain and Switzerland and the forces teams from the Royal Navy, the Army and the RAF came together to battle it out for both European and Inter-Service titles. With lead, bouldering and speed climbing disciplines all included, the event was action packed and the talent on show impressive. Both national and service pride were at stake and the 75 competitors ensured that competition was fierce but friendly.
Day 1 saw the lead qualifying and bouldering. In the lead event competitors faced with 6 flash routes from 5c to 7b spread across both the competition walls. To score they had to top at least one route but were limited to being able to attempt a maximum of 3. Failure on a route meant no further upwards progression in difficulty and a panic to top the previous route to remain in the competition. A few fell foul of the process and failed to top out on any of their chosen 3 routes as the pump set in. 13 men completed the 7b qualifier and gained automatic qualification for the semi-finals and were joined by 12 others who made the cut at the end of the day. In the women's category a strong French team were joined by the best of the Brits with 8 progressing to the semi.
In the bouldering the challenges were severe. With IFSC Bouldering World Cup entrants on the competitor list the challenge was on for the route setters to produce 15 problems to test and split all, and so they did. Sdt Benjamin Blaser (SUI) took the men's bouldering crown and Sch Virginie Vidonne (FRA) triumphed in the women's category.
Day 2 dawned with some tired arms and the prospect of semi-finals and finals in the lead and the individual speed and team speed relay events. In the international semi-finals, the men and women were faced with a severe test of ability which spat off almost all comers and split both fields. At the same time the British Inter-Services finals decided the individual and team places. Flt Lt Stuart Harth (RAF) became the Senior Men's Inter-Services Champion, SAC Rob Patchett (RAF) took the Junior Men's title and LCpl Ruth Matuska (Army) the women's. The Army retained the Senior Men's and Women's team titles and the RAF the Junior Men's team. The speed competitions took up the rest of the morning with the Swiss dominating the male event. Sdt Phillipe Allenspach (SUI) eventually ran out the winner in the men's and Gav Alice Coldefy (FRA) was the fastest of the women. The team speed relay was also hotly contested. Teams of 3 climbers on 3 consecutive routes against a running clock generated much good natured banter and encouragement. Favourites Belgium were eventually piped by home teams from the RAF and Royal Navy.
The culmination of the event were the international lead finals. With the new competition wall's angle adjusted to something a little more severe, the finals were contested by the best 8 men and 5 women. The women's route worked perfectly with Gav Alice Coldefy (FRA) looking calm all the way to toping out and beating OCdt Hannah Beresford (GBR) and Cdt Valentine Malavoy (FRA) to the European title. The men's route was another test of power and endurance. The older generation showed the young pretenders how it was done with Sgt Dimitri Munoz (FRA) (aged 37!) coming so close to on-sighting the 7c+ final and beating Sdt Christoph Zaugg (SUI) and Sdt Daniel Winkler (SUI) to the crown. The Swiss did not go home empty handed as they took the team title.
With a slap up curry and a night in Edinburgh to wrap up the week, a very successful event was enjoyed by all. The event would not have been accomplished without the support of the Services Mountaineering Associations, the Army Sport Control Board, BFBS, Cotswold Outdoor, Entre-Prises, DMM, Beyond Hope, Tiso, The Orange House, The Climbing Works, UKClimbing.com and CU Belay Glasses. It was a pleasure for the Army Mountaineering Association to host our fellow European military climbers and we look forward to attending next year's event on the continent.
BFBS covered the event and a report can be seen on their website here.
International Men Lead
1 Sgt Dimitri Munoz (FRA)
International Women Lead
1 Gav Alice Coldefy (FRA)
International Team Lead
British Inter Services Senior Men Lead
1 Flt Lt Stuart Harth (RAF)
British Inter Services Junior Men Lead
1 SAC Rob Patchett (RAF)
British Inter Services Women Lead
1 LCpl Ruth Matuska (Army)
International Bouldering Men
1 Sdt Benjamin Blaser (SUI)
International Bouldering Women
1 Sch Virginie Vidonne (FRA)
International Individual Speed Men
1 Sdt Phillipe Allenspach (SUI)
International Individual Speed Women
1 Gav Alice Coldefy (FRA)
International Speed Team Relay