British Lead and Speed Climbing Championships 2015: Report

The annual British Lead and Speed Championships and the final round of the BMC/MCofS Junior Lead Cup and the IFSC Paraclimbing Cup took place at Awesome Walls Sheffield this weekend. With more entries than the previous year, the competition saw 120 juniors, 35 seniors and veterans, speed climbers and paraclimbers competing together to crown the national champions and Paraclimbing Cup winners.

BLCC Awesome Walls Oct 15 - Qualifiers, 146 kb
BLCC Awesome Walls Oct 15 - Qualifiers
© Alan James

The event kicked off on Saturday with the Junior lead event and Paraclimbing Cup qualifiers. A bustling atmosphere with a supportive crowd encouraged some impressive performances on a mixture of technical and steeper routes, set by the experienced routesetting team consisting of Andy Long, Yann Genoux, Alex Fry and Steve Mcclure.

Some rising stars to watch out for in the future stood out over the weekend in the youngest category, including Emily Phillips who managed to take both the Lead and Speed title in the Girls C category with a particularly tenacious climb in the lead finals, and Hamish McArthur who fought hard on his final route in the Boys C category to take the win - with an impressive display of footless climbing and some hardy grit and determination.

William Bosi competing in the Junior Male event, 63 kb
William Bosi competing in the Junior Male event
© Jody Cliffe/Ladoza Photography

The Veteran's category was once again limited in competitors but the standard remained high - Ireland's Eddie Cooper once again won the Male Veteran Category, and Joanna Goorney the Women's.

GB climbing team members Molly-Thompson-Smith and Jim Pope set the precedent for the rest of their weekend as they won the Junior and Youth A title respectively, showing that they would be a force to contend with in the Senior competition the following day.

Jim Pope on form at the BLCC's, 60 kb
Jim Pope on form at the BLCC's
© Jody Cliffe/Ladoza Photography

With a greater number of entries than the previous year, the Senior event became more of a spectacle, primarily attracting older youth climbers aged 16 and above. 7 women and 6 men qualified for the finals, with younger talent including 16 year-old Rebecca Kinghorn qualifying strongly in her first senior year.

Rebecca Kinghorn on Youth A Female Q2
© Alan James

Taking the steepest line through the centre of the competition wall, both final routes involved some footless showboating, knacky kneebars and hard bouldery moves over the lip of the roof. A highpoint was set and matched by Jen Wood, Natalie Berry and Ajda Remskar of Slovenia, until Lucy Mitchell smoothly surpassed the stopper move and managed a few moves further up the headwall. Molly-Thompson Smith cruised through the boulder problem to match Lucy's position, winning the title on countback to the qualifying round. Jen Wood took 3rd position after countback resorted to time taken to reach the move.

Commenting on her third consecutive Senior title win, Molly told UKC:

"I'm thrilled to have won again this year after a very close final! The standard is getting higher and higher each year which is really motivating. Well done to everyone who competed!"

Natalie Berry on Women's Q1, 112 kb
Natalie Berry on Women's Q1
© Alan James

In the men's event, 16 year-old William Bosi reached just a hold or so below the chains to set a highpoint which seemed hard to beat, having made it through some heinous slopers and a few marginal moves on the headwall. GB boulderer Dave Barrans put in a strong effort, reaching just over the lip of the overhang, but it was Jim Pope who just managed to pip William to the win, taking his first Senior title.

Jim told UKC:

"I'm really pleased to have won my first senior title, it's great to see the hard work has payed off and I'm looking forward to the upcoming international senior competition in Kranj, Slovenia!"

Next came the Speed event, which in the Senior category was won by Flo Tilley and Alex Waterhouse in a close-fought race against Natalie Berry and Billy Ridal respectively. Sarah Pashley and Alexander Bosi completed the podium in third place. 

Molly Thompson Smith and Jim Pope taking the Senior title, 53 kb
Molly Thompson Smith and Jim Pope taking the Senior title
© BMC Instagram

IFSC Paraclimbing Cup

The wall also played host to the final round of the IFSC Paraclimbing Cup, attracting competitors from 7 nations. Team GB achieved three podiums: Dave Bowes (2nd), Phil Mitchell (2nd) and Esme Harte (1st).

The crowd watch the visually impaired climbers in silence, 160 kb
The crowd watch the visually impaired climbers in silence
© Natalie Berry

Great consideration and respect was displayed for the athletes by the crowd, in particular by remaining silent for the partially-sighted and blind climbers who relied on sight guides to communicate the movements from the ground.

Female Paraclimbing Cup Winners, 165 kb
Female Paraclimbing Cup Winners
© BMC Instagram

Male Paraclimbing Cup Winners, 167 kb
Male Paraclimbing Cup Winners
© BMC Instagram

The British competitors finished as follows:

Esme Harte - Amputtee Arm - 1st
Dave Bowes - NPD A - 2nd
Phil Mitchell - Amputee Leg - 2nd
Sianagh Gallagher - Amputee Arm - 4th
John Churcher - Visual Impaired B2 - 4th

Graeme Hill, GB Paraclimbing Team manager told UKC:

"The last IFSC event for 2015 was absolutely fantastic to watch. It was brilliant to see so many countries enter. This just illustrates how the sport of paraclimbing is going from strength to strength and what a brilliant performance from team GB. Three podiums and an absolutely exhilarating performance from Phil Mitchell up against world renowned climber Urko Carmona Barandiaran. Phil gave Urko a real run for his money. Well done Team GB in 2015 can't wait for 2016."

IFSC Paraclimbing Cup Full Results here.

BLCC/BSCC Results:

Senior Male Lead:

  1. Jim Pope
  2. William Bosi
  3. Dave Barrans
  4. Peter Dawson
  5. Nathan Phillips
  6. Alex Waterhouse

Senior Female Lead:

  1. Molly Thompson-Smith
  2. Lucy Mitchell
  3. Jennifer Wood
  4. Natalie Berry
  5. Ajda Remskar
  6. Rebecca Kinghorn
  7. Sarah Pashley

Lead climbing podiums, 145 kb
Lead climbing podiums
© BMC Instagram

Senior Male Speed:

  1. Alex Waterhouse
  2. Billy Ridal
  3. Alexander Bosi

Senior Female Speed:

  1. Flo Tilley
  2. Natalie Berry
  3. Sarah Pashley

Speed climbing podiums, 138 kb
Speed climbing podiums
© BMC Instagram

Full BLCC/BSCC Results here.

BMC/MCofS Junior Lead Cup Results

The Junior event this weekend was also the 3rd and final round of the BMC/MCofS Lead Cup Series. Results from the series are as follows:

Junior categories

Female Junior

  1. Molly Thompson-Smith
  2. Flo Tilley
  3. Phoebe Nelson

Male Junior

  1. Connor Byrne  
  2. Alex Waterhouse  
  3. Billy Ridal

Female A

  1. Rebecca Kinghorn  
  2. Hannah Slaney
  3. Jo Neame

Male A

  1. Jim Pope  
  2. Peter Dawson  
  3. William Bosi

Female B

  1. Isabelle Adams  
  2. Kitty Morrison  
  3. Catrin Rose

Male B

  1. Aiden Dunne 
  2. Sammy Oakes  
  3. Alex Norton

Female C

  1. Emily Phillips 
  2. Robin Casey 
  3. Katherine McDougall

Male C

  1. Hamish McArthur  
  2. James Bateman  
  3. Jake Collins

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