British Tooling Series and Scottish Mixed Masters 2016: Report

The 2016 British Tooling Series came to a conclusion at the weekend with Round 3 taking place at Ice Factor in Kinlochleven alongside the Scottish Mixed Masters competition. 

Emma Powell taking the women's title, 211 kb
Emma Powell taking the women's title
© Conor McCarthy/Type Two Media

For 2016, the BTS series consisted of 3 rounds during November and December and formed part of the selection criteria for the 2017 GB Ice Climbing Team.  Points from the 15 qualification routes from each round were accumulated towards the overall series title, and a climb-off final was held at each wall for the podium places.

Round 1 was held at Rope Race Climbing Centre in Stockport on 12th November 2016 with many new and experienced climbers testing their dry tooling skills on the variety of routes that included the infamous ‘ball’ volume – a route that always tests the flexibility and stamina of the climbers.

Round 2 was held at Kong Adventure in Keswick on 26th November 2016. Kong Adventure run a round of the BTS alongside their own dry tooling league and used their route-setting skills to set some challenging and varied routes in the main climbing area and bouldering room.

Adam Willison on his way to a win, 269 kb
Adam Willison on his way to a win
© Conor McCarthy/Type Two Media

Round 3 of the BTS was held at Ice Factor, the National Ice Climbing Centre in Kinlochleven, on 17th December 2016 and the competition was combined with the Scottish Mixed Masters. This was the first major rock and ice climbing event to be hosted by Ice Factor since it reopened in March following a fire in July 2015.

Each year, competitors at the Scottish Mixed Masters support a charity that is closely linked to the climbing community. The charity being supported for 2016 was Urban Uprising, a Scottish charity that through climbing and educational programmes helps to inspire greater confidence in at-risk eight to 18 year olds from deprived areas.

A very experienced team of route setters, including Kev Shields and Dave MacLeod, set the 15 qualifier routes throughout the centre, including 3 on the indoor ice wall. Competitors had nearly 6 hours to attempt the routes with the top 5 male and female climbers making it through to the final.

The final competition routes were set by Dave MacLeod and were a true test of climbing ability and strength as they lead the 10 finalists to the top of the overhanging walls. Both routes were long and technical with each climber having a time-limit in which to try and reach the top hold. 

Emma Powell makes the stretch on a tricky line at Ice Factor
© Conor McCarthy/Type Two Media

The female category was won by Emma Powell who was the only climber to top the route and powered to the final hold within the time limit.

The male category was won by Joe Saunders who secured one climbing hold higher than Adam Willison before parting company with the wall. None of the male finalists managed to top the final route, which had clearly been set to push the climbers to their limits.

As this was also the final competition of the British Tooling Series, the overall BTS series winners were confirmed and both the male and female categories were won by youth members of the GB Ice Climbing Team.

Emma Powell (aged 16) completely dominated the female category for all 3 rounds. Emma qualified in first position at each of the rounds and finished first in all 3 final climb-offs. An amazing achievement from a very talented young climber.

Joe Saunders competing at Ice Factor
© Conor McCarthy/Type Two Media

Adam Willison (aged 16) flashed 44 of the 45 qualification routes throughout the BTS series and made the podium for the final climb-offs at all 3 rounds. 2016 is Adam’s second year of competing in the BTS and confirms that he is another young climber who is able to compete successfully against vastly more experienced climbers.

Thank you to Rope Race, Kong Adventure and Ice Factor for hosting the 2016 British Tooling Series and for setting challenging routes that made the competitions enjoyable for the competitors and spectators.

Also, thank you to the sponsors of the events, without whom the series would not have taken place – DMM, Peak Holds, Lowa, Rab, Salewa, Lyon Equipment and Montane.


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