British Lead Climbing Championships 2013 Report

by Jack Geldard - UKC Chief Editor Oct/2013
This news story has been read 3,237 times

+Ed Hamer nearing the highpoint on the men's final, a powerful effort., 78 kbEd Hamer nearing the highpoint on the men's final, a powerful effort.
© James McHaffie
Last weekend saw the British Lead Climbing Championships held at the new Awesome Walls in Sheffield.

A strong field entered and the winners of the senior competition were Ed Hamer in the Men's and Molly Thompson-Smith in the Women's.

Ed, the 2013 British Lead Climbing Champion, told UKC:

"It was really cool having a small team from Canada over, they had two competitors who were very strong... Elan in senior men's and Alison in women's. All in all it was a great day with some solid efforts! Especially from Molly who topped the final route! She's a beast that girl is. Watch out lads! The comp was on an amazing steep lead wall, which was also very long and the route setting was perfect."

Ed kept his title this year, as he had also won the competition last year, and Molly at just 15 has become the youngest ever senior British Lead Climbing Champion.

It wasn't all young guns though and aging trad climber James McHaffie took the weekend off from onsighting desperate trad routes in the rain to have a punt at the competition himself. At 32 years old, with more grey hairs than the writer of this piece, James is no spring chicken, however he is also pretty handy on the rock and came in at 6th place.

Here we have a write up of the day from James McHaffie that was first published on his blog:

Having become a provider for the new Mountain Training coaching awards I decided to head to the BLCCs to see what was involved in current competitions. It was held at the new Awesome Walls in Sheffield which had been heralded as the National Performance Centre by the BMC, the pictures looked ridiculous and the venue didn’t disappoint.

The first day was the juniors and the vets with a large crowd of parents and supporters. Quite a few people I’d climbed with over the years were there, Vicky Askew, Catrin Rose, Emily Allen, Stan Harris, Cameron McLoughlin, Connor Byrne. I was very impressed with everyone's performance and as I’d booked myself on to compete the following day I couldn't believe how relaxed everyone seemed as I was bricking it. The quantity of talented youths who obviously put a lot of hard work into their climbing really came through and the 3 different viewing levels made for a good show.

The following day arrived and thankfully quieter than the day before. I was tied in to try the qualifier that I wasn’t looking forward to by 10.30. Having been set by the Frenchman Yann ‘genome’ it had a nasty looking slopy blob boulder-problem pretty low down. Ed Hamer had just cruised up to the last move before me and thinking I could static the lower moves like Ed it became apparent I wouldn’t be. Slipping off the aforementioned blobs the next young man in line said “I thought you were going to walk up it”. The next qualifier was thankfully a Mark Pretty special involving small holds and not being too steep. 

+Molly Thompson Smith taking the Women's title last year, 123 kbMolly Thompson Smith taking the Women's title last year
© James McHaffie
Having felt a bit deflated after Yann's route, not thinking I’d make the final and feeling ravenous having been staying light for Bransby's 8c The Beast on the Diamond which had been wet the last 3 times I went there, I got stuck into a sausage sandwich and a big Rocky Road bar. Feeling ill afterwards I became more ill when they said I’d got through to the final. In isolation I did feel a little old but thankfully Dave Barrans was there as well (sorry Dave). Stepping out my friend Ben Bransby cheered and I cursed him under my breath on the way out to the final, Ben was the first ever British junior champion and I knew the strong devil would’ve found the first qualifier and this final ok. Another Yann route I was glad not to suffer the social embarrassment of falling off the first move using a sloper. Halfway up the wall at a ‘big brain’ hold I had thought looked tricky to negotiate from the ground was where my summit bid ended so at least I’d read it correctly. Apparently Yann thought 7c to here which would make this my worst performance for many years but I gained more respect for people like Vickers and Legrand who topped these buggers out in the 1990s.

The final was great to watch. Connor Byrne, only 17 yrs old got really high in the roof. Ed Hamer blasted across the roof to fall at the easing in angle on the last few metres. Dave Barrans was unlucky enough to slip off still full of beans at the start of the roof which was a shame as Barrans was looking brutally strong. James Garden got well across the roof before falling. The last out and the only person to top both the qualifiers was a young Canadian Elan Jonas-McRae. Appearing able to take his feet off the majority of moves this caught up with him in the middle of the roof leaving Ed Hamer the winner of the Senior men's.

The Senior women's final was on the same heinous roof. Molly Thompson-Smith put in a fantastic show topping it out and Tara Hayes wasn’t far behind. At 15 years of age it makes Molly the youngest senior women's lead climbing champion.   

I’d definitely recommend competing or watching if you’ve ever given it any thought as by doing so you are helping to support the British competition circuit and you can see some impressive displays and some scary falls! It's worth practicing on some slopy blobs before going on Yann's routes, I know I will...

You can read the full results linked from this BMC REPORT

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