Selling out over 400 places a week before the event, this year’s ROCfest at ROCover Climbing in Manchester was something spectacular, and spectacularly different from previous years.
We started with our usual ROCfest – 60 problems set throughout the centre, some designed specifically for the youth categories, great home-cooked food and a lively atmosphere. Then we added more – some of the best UK Slackliners gave us an incredible display of what can be achieved on a slackline (think wide, bouncy tight-rope), a dyno competition/raffle and a professional finale from a west-end producer & light and sound engineers.
At 11am the first group started climbing. As we run a single-day event, we have to split competitors qualifying times to make sure no one ends up queuing for too long. Adults and Vets started first, having an hour to get the easier climbs out of the way, clearing some areas for the juniors and beginners at 12pm.
3 hours, 25 problems. That was our format. After speaking to several people from the last ROCfest, we decided to reduce the amount of problems but keep the time the same. This did mean that there were a few queues, but if you know you’re not going to run out of time it feels a little easier!
Scoresheets started to come in as early as 1pm, showing us how strong some of these climbers are. A huge range of climbers attended, with some pretty famous names (we’ll mention them later), climbing right next to our regular customers. The great thing about these events is how friendly climbers are to each other.
The Metolius Dyno Comp gave everyone something to do in between rests, or after they’d finished the qualifiers. Three dynos, of varying difficulty, each earning you a raffle ticket to win some amazing prizes courtesy of Metolius, Evolv and Prana.
At 3pm we closed the last of the qualifying groups and started to count scores. This is probably the hardest job of the day, hundreds of scoresheets counted in minutes (with all sorts of methods of marking off climbs!) The staff team worked hard and announced the finalists. In the juniors we had to put 5 of them through to the finals due to 3 of the boys getting the same score. Qualifying for the junior male category were Luke Murphy, Carson Carnduff, Keiran Forrest, Gus Turner and Aidan Roberts. In the junior female category Yasmin Roberts, Lenaya Page, Libby Gamble, Izzie Hough and Sophie Richards.
While this was going on, the slackline was set-up and spectators and climbers alike were given some entertainment. Backflips, front drops, spins and balance tricks all went down in short time blocks for a full 40 minutes!
As the slacklining competition started we dropped the drapes on the competition wall. 14 world class problems looked back at us. Jamie Cassidy and Ian Vickers had done an incredible job setting 4 finals problems each for the Open Male and Female finalists, and 3 each for the Junior 13-15 Male and Female finals.
This is where we really start to push the envelope for UK competitions, and host a World-cup style final for the 13-15 categories. This gives the older juniors a chance to feel what it’s like to compete in the world stage.
The strong field of junior climbers all battled it out in front of spotlights and an expectant crowd on some great holds from Core. The crowd were not disappointed! Aidan Roberts and Izzie Hough came out on top and showed everyone how strong the youth can be. Crushing, they made their way to the top of the last problem to cheers and applause from the massive audience watching.
Then we came to the grand finale – the Adult Open finals. This is what we’d been preparing for over the last 12 months. Six Male, six Female competitors. Centre stage.
With a professional light and sound set-up we knew this was going to be big. The lights went down and spotlights lit up. The competitors curtain started to glow with the ROCfest 5.0 logo, and our audience was captivated instantly.
Compered by Tom Stewart, the climbers ran out to their problems and began to climb, lit from behind with bright spotlights. As they climbed Tom helped to gradually build the crowd from quiet expectation to a bubbling cauldron of excitement over each 4 minute slot. If you’ve seen previous ROCfest’s you’ll know this is no mean feat – it’s easy to build up a crowd, but to calm them to build again takes skill!
Every climber put in a great effort, but ultimately only one climber comes out on top. Showing his skill and sheer psyche to win, Dave Barrans came out and calmly cruised the first 3 problems to secure his victory from the rest. Shauna Coxsey was just as, if not more, impressive. Topping every problem with ease, she showed us why she’s the best in Britain.
Huge thanks go to our main event sponsors DMM and Alpkit, all our spectators and competitors, and our amazing staff for making the day happen.
More photos are on our website, as well as the full scores.
Next years event will no doubt fill up even faster than this year, so make sure you register as soon as we go live!