The Telegraph Outdoor Show 2016 took place at the ExCeL exhibition centre in London over the weekend, with plenty on offer for adventure sport enthusiasts.
The Arch Superbloc Open was a highlight of the event, attracting a mix of invited GB Boulder and Lead team members as well as some strong open entries. Unlike last year's format, a qualification round was held to select the top 16 competitors, who went on to compete in the semi-final round on a brutally hard set of problems. Seasoned World Cup competitor and all-round bouldering beast Dave Barrans was heard asking: "Who did you think was coming?!" of the routesetters, implying that the difficulty was pitched rather high...
A team of international-standard routesetters including Andy Long, Jamie Cassidy and Yann Genoux created some quality problems with the goal of testing some of the world's strongest competition boulderers. The women's semi-finals involved a particularly cruel diagonal, overhanging hand-jam crack, which only Leah Crane and Jules Littlefair managed to overcome, before succumbing to a nasty final move. Competition boulderers who were not accustomed to jamming resorted to strenuous laybacking instead for the most part, which never ended successfully. Dynos, double-toe hooks and awkward mantles onto volumes also set the tone of the round, before the final 6 in each category were confirmed.
Fears mounted - if the semi-final problems were anything to go by, what would the finals involve? The routesetters responded with a gruesome groove for the men, which saw few tops, much grovelling and some classic gurning faces. Jim Pope masterfully avoided the run-and-jump on problem three by performing a cheeky mantle onto the ramp. The women were treated to a cat-like leap onto a volume, a heartbreaking finishing hold disguised as a jug and burly mantles onto volumes.
Shauna Coxsey - ranked No.2 in the World Cup last season - dominated the women's final, rarely looking out of composure save for two falls on some tricky start moves. 18 year-old Tara Hayes put in a fine effort, pipping Michaela Tracy into 3rd place with 3 tops and a strong performance all-round. Michaela's static shoulder-press on problem two stunned the crowd, since everyone else opted for the dynamic leap.
The hotly contested top-three places for the men chopped and changed throughout the round, but it was Nathan Phillips who flashed 3 of the 4 problems to take first place. Matt Cousins had a phenomenal run of form, also completing 3 out of 4 and very much enjoying the support of a local crowd. Last year's winner Dave Barrans managed third place, beating Billy Ridal into 4th place by just one attempt.
1 Nathan Phillips 3t3 3b3
2 Matt Cousins 3t9 4b6
3 Dave Barrans 2t2 3b5
4 Billy Ridal 2t3 3b4
5 Aidan Roberts 2t4 3b5
6 Jim Pope 1t2 3b4
1 Shauna Coxsey 4t6 4b6
2 Tara Hayes 3t5 3b5
3 Michaela Tracy 3t6 4b10
4 Leah Crane 3t7 4b11
5 Molly Thompson-Smith 0t0 2b2
6 Jen Wood 0t0 2b8
Event organiser Alex Haslehurst told UKC:
"On behalf of the SuperBloc team we would like to thank everyone involved at this year's Arch Superbloc, without the help of our volunteers, the support of the sponsors and the passion of the competitors this competition wouldn't have been the success it was. We would especially like to thank both the Arch and DMM for their extra involvement and hard work. Keep an eye on our social media for our 2017 plans! @super_bloc on Twitter or moboco on Facebook."
Climbing brands and organisations had a stong presence once again in front of the competition stage, including Rockfax and UKC - where bargain guidebooks were on offer - DMM, Rock On and the Association of Mountaineering Instructors and the International School of Mountaineering gave instructional demonstrations of crevasse rescue throughout the show.