On 6th December GB Ice Climbing Team members Anna Wells and Harry Holmes represented Great Britain in the Dutch Drytool Event held in the town of Bergschenhoek, Holland. Anna came away from the competition with a Gold medal and Harry a Silver medal after a busy season of British and international drytooling events.
Having won every round of the British Tooling series, the Buxton Thunderdome event and now this most recent competition, 4th Year medical student Anna from Inverness is very deservedly flying the flag for British drytooling. She reports on her experience at the Dutch Drytool Event below.
There were 97 competitors in total and the event was aimed at a wide range of competitors, from novices through to World Cup competitors. There were two competitors from the UK (Harry Holmes and myself), two from Belgium and two from Germany. The rest were from Holland!
For Harry and I this was really good practice for the World Cups which we are competing in early next year. We had both recently been successful in the British Tooling Series and this was a great opportunity to compete at a larger event in an unfamiliar environment. The competition took place on "Monte Cervino" ("Matterhorn in Italian") which is a massive 35m high concrete structure shaped like the Matterhorn.
The format involved 18 qualifiers from D3 – M9+ and was fairly unusual - there were zones for each route, with a different score allocated to A, B, and C (=top). Scores varied depending on how difficult the route was, and in the end your 6 best scores counted. We had one attempt only at everything, so it was very tactical. The obvious goal was to try and top the 6 hardest routes but I got off to a terrible start! The very first qualifier I attempted started by striking into a log - I swung in, pulled up, and immediately fell off. One attempt only and on the next route, I fell off the last move. Fortunately things improved after that. Harry did very well in the qualifiers and managed to top 5/6 of the hardest routes – the sixth one he fell off very near the top, when the pick of his axe snapped off in a stein pull!
The top 6 male and top 6 females qualified for the final and I was sitting in 1st place with quite a big lead from the qualifiers. The final was in isolation with a separate male/female route which joined at the top for a chain climb and some really big moves! It was dark outside, so there were spotlights lighting up the wall and we all had to climb with headtorches. The atmosphere was brilliant with a huge crowd watching, loud music, and great commentary.
I got high on the route, reaching the final chain. I had been hoping to get to this point because I can usually hang around in fig-4s for quite a long time! However, near the top, I rested my axe in one of the links so I could shake out, and I dropped it! I watched in slight horror as it fell a very long way to the ground, and hoped it would not bounce into the crowds. Fortunately, it had still been enough to take 1st place.
Harry ended up in 3rd place in the finals. It was very close, with only one hold separating the top 3 men, and he had lost out on time, with an 8 minute time limit he was timed-out whilst at the top of the chain. The male competition was won by Dennis Van Hoek, who is a regular on the World Cup circuit with a previous gold medal for speed climbing in Saas Fee in 2013.
I had so much fun at this event and the atmosphere during the finals was incredible. Climbing on such an impressive structure under torchlight, with the music blaring and the crowds cheering was very special. I am very excited about competing in the upcoming World Cup Series with the rest of the GB team!
Follow Anna on Twitter @annawellz
More information on the Dutch Drytool Event can be found on this Facebook page.
Harry is sponsored by: DMM and outdoorkit.co.uk