Scottish Tooling Series & Ice Festival Report 2013by Brianna Wignall & Conor McCarti Feb/2014
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2013 saw many changes for the Scottish Tooling Series, with new organisers, increased participants and the return of venues. STS promotes the improvement of technique in seasoned climbers, whilst introducing new participants to the world of winter climbing and drytooling. Though STS is a competitive event, this year’s friendly atmosphere, beta and banter were one to be rivalled.
Robert Gordon University kicked off this year's events with a cozy atmosphere. Being a university wall, it is slightly smaller than commercial walls, which means we had to break the competition into a morning and after session. Though it was small, Pete Hill set routes to challenge even the best of climbers! The Schmoolz sponsored route fooled the eyes, with several holds to boast, but each was oddly placed and left the route to be one that challenged even out series winners. The competition ended with each session having a finals routes, of a nature we had never tried. A long, timed bouldering challenge, involving spinning holds, a horizontal log, a chain and Madonna's 4 Minutes song. Finishing with Peter Holder gaining the first ever set of Dream Climbing Walls Ltd training holds, but only by a single hold!
Glasgow Climbing Centre has always been one of the best venues for STS, and this year was no exception. With our STS Facebook page, telegraph poles, chains and the emergence of our first Dream Climbing Walls Ltd route, featuring their new holds, we were able to achieve more participants than we have in years. Competitors were pushed to test their abilities and newbie's were able to test the waters, with a Schmoolz coaching session taking place the night before to give them a warm-up. With the attendance of several Team GB members, including Emma Powell, Tim Miller and Andy Turner, and sponsored athletes, including Dean Dalton and Harry Holmes, the event had had audience members biting their nails, as the men and women vied for the chance to compete in their respective finals routes. In the end, Harry Holmes and Andy Turner were the only two to top out, gaining the title in their categories. Competing as an adult, but merely on the brink of being a teenager, Emma was able to secure an awe inspiring second place, just getting beaten out by Anna Wells.
Glenmore Lodge, as always, was and inspiring event, with the cairngorms as a backdrop. Once again, record numbers were in attendance. The emergence of a university category spurred the younger climbers to compete in the dreich conditions. Challenging and unique routes were set by Karen McIntyre and the STS cohort, including squeezing through vertical tyres and crossing the 'rift' between two towers. However, the major challenges were the harsh finals routes, set by Steve Johnstone. Featuring the Dream Climbing holds, these routes were reachy, sketchy and boasted as the hardest finals yet; and did we mention competitors were wearing crampons for the first time ever in a final? Fiona Murray was able to use her plethora of skill to gain the top ladies position, finishing on the first floating panel. The men heated up the competition, with a battle between Uisdean Hawthorn and Peter Holder, showing shear determination and strength by reaching the second floating panel, and gaining first and second places respectively, in the male category.
Transition Extreme joined STS as a venue again, and showed that they are a more than worthy venue of travelling to the northern reaches of Scotland for. In a turn of events, they provided the majority of routes in their new outdoor section, allowing competitors to experience most of the competition in crampons and real Scottish weather. Routes featured chains, logs and bicycles, leading to a challenging day for all! The finals routes took place on the Dream Tower for the first time in STS history. Its overhang, height and the cracking route set by Transition staff left a testy piece for competitors to contest not only for the day's title, but the series prize. In the end, it was a competition of time for Harry Holmes and Scott Grosandoff, but Scott came up victorious.
With growing numbers throughout the competition, a successful addition of a university category, a Schmoolz coaching session and amassing interest, STS have their eyes set to expand the series. They hope that this will include new venues and more competitors, especially with the emergence of Team GB and a growing interest in drytooling. Keep your eyes on the Facebook page and website for more details.
Back in November last year the Ice Factor held their first ever 'Festival of Ice' including a competition, a masterclass from Dave Macleod and lectures from Dave Macleod and Simon Yearsley. The Festival was a resounding success with 60 competitors arriving on the Saturday and over £2000 raised for Climbers Against Cancer.
© GnBri Photography
© GnBri Photography
The weekend kicked off early on Saturday when 60 competitors, ranging from professional climbers to lesser known winter warriors, descended on the centre to go head to head in competition. As usual Kevin Shields and his setting team were on hand to provide a multitude of challenging and enjoyable routes. The heats featured 15 problems spread throughout the entire facility. With a variety of ice routes, technical top ropes and forearm bursting boulder problems there was something for everybody. Much to the setters' delight no competitor flashed every route!
As the afternoon rolled round the score cards were in and the crowd began to gather in the main climbing area for what was set to be the highlight of the day, the finals. First up were the juniors who, although relatively inexperienced, put on an amazing show of skill and strength with only one move separating first, second and third.
Next, on to the women’s final and with the buzz in the crowd growing the ladies got to work. A close final indeed with time being the deciding factor. Emma Powell, who placed third, was certainly the crowd’s favourite. Although the youngest competitor by a long shot and almost a foot shorter than most of the other competitors Emma drove the crowd as she powered through reaching the same high point as second places Amy Goodell and winner, Fiona Murray.
With the crowd pushed back and the wall cranked out to its limit the Men’s Veterans were next to take the stage. Despite being “old” the guys were by no means weak with second place’s Andy Laing breaking quite a beefy hold off the wall on his first attempt. A quick swap and things were back on. A valiant effort indeed by the first two competitors saw them reaching the half way mark on what was a very tough route. The highlight of the Men’s Veterans was watching Andy Turner step up for his lead. Andy, who has been training for the Ice Climbing World Cup for two years, didn’t even seem to struggle and topped out to an enormous roar from the crowd.
Last but not least was the men’s finals which saw a very strong line-up. Despite their best efforts Harry Holmes and Andy Inglis (who managed to stick an amazing dino!) failed to finish the route taking fourth and fifth place respectively. Ewan Rodgers, a local from Glencoe and competing for his first time, placed third with STS regular Steve Johnstone coming in in second. Greg Boswell who, although not making it look as easy as Andy, clinched first place to round off the day.
On Saturday with bellies full and pints in hand around 100 people gathered to watch a lecture by Simon Yearsley. The lecture entitled “New routing in Scotland, in out of the way places” went down a treat, no doubt Simon’s enthusiasm and humour playing a big part in this. It featured many of Simon’s adventures into the less trodden parts of the Scottish Highlands to discover hidden gems. If you ever have the privilege of climbing with Simon make sure and take a head torch as almost every story featured the phrase “and then it got dark...”.
When Sunday morning rolled around or Sunday afternoon in many cases, Dave MacLeod, who needs no introduction was on hand to deliver a series of master classes in both bouldering and dry tooling. These classes were of course well received with everyone who partook leaving that little bit wiser. In the afternoon Dave was also kind enough to give a lecture all about Scottish winter, his routes and adventures.
The Scottish Tooling Series is sponsored by: Dream Climbing Walls Ltd, Hot Aches, MCofS, Schmoolz, and Petzl