The picturesque town of Arco, Italy, was invaded by hordes of muscle-bound rock stars last weekend as the annual Rockmaster competition hit full flow.
The town plays permanent host to a huge competition stadium, which sits underneath towering limestone walls and next to the beautiful blue river. All the big names in competition climbing show up to try their luck in one of the most prestigious events in the world.
There are several aspects to the Rockmaster; the Lead competition, the Boulder competition, the Speed competition and my personal favourite - The Duel. The Duel comp is like a 'Speed Lead', similar to the Skymasters event in the UK. The routes are not easy (out and out speed competitions are more like running up ladders of jugs, on top rope) but in these 'Speed Lead' comps the routes are quite tough, the climbers are leading and a mistake can mean falling off, and therefore coming in last place. It makes for exciting watching.
As well as the climbing competitions, there are climbing awards - the Arco Rock Legends Awards. UKClimbing.com were asked to sit on the jury for this award ceremony and we were proud to play a part in this celebration of climbing achievement. The 2010 awards went to Adam Ondra (Salewa climbing award) and Akiyo Noguchi (La Sportiva competition award). This year also saw a new award, the Sector award for a lifetimes achievement in climbing and this went to local legend Maurizio 'Manolo' Zanolla.
To get a feel for the 'Speed Lead' Duel competition you can see Duel Winner Adam Ondra battle it out for first place with Canadian Sean McColl in this video:
Climbing for the UK were Stew Watson, Gaz Parry and Katherine Mills. All three were in the bouldering competition. Stew Watson put in a good performance despite the cripplingly high temperatures, making it in to the semi finals and coming in a very respectable 12th place. Gaz Parry, a former Arco winner, finished in 27th place and Katherine Mills came in joint 25th.