Battle of Britain 2018 Report

© Archibald Douglas Photography

BoB2018 has been and gone - another explosive event in the Depot Climbing Calendar. This Saturday we held the 8th iteration of our hugely popular competition in The Depot Climbing Centre, Manchester. In previous years we have seen the best British climbers (and some of Europe's) grace our walls with the goal of becoming the next BoB champion.

Dave Barrans in the BoB2018 Final.  © Archibald Douglas Photography
Dave Barrans in the BoB2018 Final.
© Archibald Douglas Photography

Split into two qualifying sessions, we had competitors arriving bright and early to take part, many of whom had travelled from far and wide to attend. Among the notable names were Nathan Phillips (recent World Cup semi-finalist), Dave Barrans (well known strongman), and Hannah Slaney (Junior Bouldering World Champion) – not to mention a horde of incredible strong and talented climbers looking to take the title, and the £2000 first place prize.

After a short introduction, some coffee, and athlete orientation we were underway with the first climbs of the day. With most of the serious contenders taking part in the morning session to maximise recovery time before the evening final, we had some incredible skills on show right from the start.

With 25 problems, and only 3 attempts to climb each one, there was a great deal of pressure on each effort. On the men's side of the competition we had some fantastic efforts from Hamish McArthur (current Youth A British Bouldering Champion), Jim Pope, and Max Milne (Current Junior British Bouldering Champion) with 23 ascents apiece. Hamish was just outside of finals qualifications with one fewer bonus hold attained, but we're sure he'll be back and even stronger next year! After them came Nathan Phillips and Aidan Roberts who each achieved 24 tops in 27 attempts, with some tricky slabs and funky sequences causing a few false starts. Matt cousins went one better with 25 tops in 28 attempts… but it was Dave Barrans who qualified in first with a commanding performance of 25 flashes, for a full sheet and 250 points.

The Female Open was also fairly star-studded affair with a Junior Bouldering World Champion, British lead champions, and a host of outdoor crushers taking part. Hannah Slaney took top spot with 20 tops, and a 19-point gap to second. Holly Toothill and Eugenie Lee looked almost inseparable throughout and battled it out until Holly eventually came out one point clear and took second. GB team member, Jo Neame took 4th while Ajda Remskar did Edinburgh University proud in 5th. Rounding out the final spot was 2017's runner up – Emily Phillips, who scraped in by virtue of her 22 bonus holds attained.

The afternoon session was a much more relaxed affair, with the majority of competitors taking part in the 13:00-16:00 slot. Huge fun was had by all, and although the finalist list was dominated by the morning session we did see a couple of late runs on the top 6 from a number of male qualifiers... perhaps a morning session could have tipped them over the edge?

Once the qualifiers were done, and the qualifying athletes had been moved to isolation, we moved onto the junior prize giving and general raffle with prizes from the events two main sponsors Black Diamond and Scarpa.

Junior categories

Although we set 25 specific blocs for the 7-11 and 12-15 age categories, we found that many of the older climbers in the category chose to compete in the open category instead. This led to the top qualifying problems being a tough call for some of the younger members of the divisions and meant that we ended up with number of drawn results across the board.

7-11 categories


1. Devin Fogler

1. Sam Hammond

3. Kishan Fillingham


1. Lily Kinnersley

1. Izzy Bridgens

3. Livvy Gent

12-15 categories


1. Sam Lavender

1. Zak Brown

1. Declan Parker

1. Alfie Duckworth


1. Tilly Vasic

2. Katie Fisher

3. Nusy Hussain

3. Rosa Arnold

Senior Final

The senior final was - as ever - a colourful affair. With a massive lighting rig shipped in specially and a DJ pumping tunes, we saw the best of the best duke it out for the grand prize and Depot Immortality.

With problems set by Alex Fry and James Garden we were always expecting some dynamic, innovative, and attractive challenges for the climbers - and they didn't disappoint. Problem 1 for both categories involved tricky coordination dynos followed by challenging top-outs, which proved a step too far for some of the competitors. However, we did see flashes and quick ascents from the top challengers, showing that the route setters had got it just right.

Hannah Slaney winning the women's event.
© Craig Bailey

Problem 2 for the women involved some very odd moves in the roof on the right-hand side of the competition wall. Starting on stacked boxes and twisting to brace their bodies until almost facing outwards seemed to be a reasonable method of ascent for some of them, although the tricky top section caught some of them unawares or out of energy after the powerful start.

Bloc 2 for the men involved another tricky dynamic move to start, although some backwards footwork almost showed some unconventional, and perhaps unexpected, beta to the gathered crowd and setters. Another burly top section sorted the wheat from the chaff though, and we moved into the 3rd set of problems on the facing slab section of the wall.

Men's P3 involved some tenuous balancing moves, trusting in friction to teeter across the starting moves and into a challenging undercut move to proceed. This proved too much for Nathan Phillips on his first attempt, who nailed the start, but failed to work out the next section after desperately crimping the screw holes on the large volume. He seemed to learn from his mistakes however, and a second attempt saw him safely through.

Nathan Phillips competing in the men's Boulder final.  © Craig Bailey
Nathan Phillips competing in the men's Boulder final.
© Craig Bailey

Matt Cousins also took a number of attempts to make it past the start of the boulder, with a couple of slips causing him to accrue failures without reaching the meat of the problem. When he did however, he kept it together for a simple finish.

Dave Barrans at this point had already flashed the first 2 blocs and proceeded to show calm control in yet another attempt to put himself in a commanding position going into the final problem.

W3 involved almost everything climbing! A balancey, yet dynamic start, into a taxing flexibility move, followed by a tenuous cut loose onto slopers, before topping out with a deep lock off to the finish. In the end, the only competitor strong enough to make it through the sloper section was Hannah Slaney, who showed her world class strength and control to make a quick top and take the competition by its throat.

Emily Phillips, 3rd place.  © Steve Thorley Photography
Emily Phillips, 3rd place.
© Steve Thorley Photography

The final problem for both categories decided the competition, with a challenging groove for the women and a 360 feet-first rotation for the men. With Dave on 3 flashes, it was his final to lose. After a slightly nervy start that saw him opting for some incredibly burly beta, he eventually worked out the more unusual high foot approach and cruised his way to the top for his 4th BoB title after a couple of fallow years.

Hannah Slaney went into the final bloc with the confidence of being the only woman to climb the all the previous problems. She continued her form with another quick ascent and took home a convincing and well-earned win over the other finalists.

Senior Results


1. Dave Barrans

2. Nathan Phillips

3. Matt Cousins

Jim Pope

Max Milne

Aidan Roberts

BoB men's podium.
© Steve Thorley Photography


1. Hannah Slaney

2. Emily Phillips

3. Holly Toothill

Ajda Remskar

Eugenie Lee

Jo Neame

BoB women's podium.
© Archibald Douglas Photography

Competition over, we finished the day out with some raffle draws from our event sponsors – Scarpa and Black Diamond, before the winner's presentation and a good tidy up!

Full results from the competition can be found here.

BoB winners Dave Barrans and Hannah Slaney.  © Steve Thorley Photography
BoB winners Dave Barrans and Hannah Slaney.
© Steve Thorley Photography

We'd just like to take a moment to thank everyone that came down on the day, congratulate everyone that took part, and remind everyone that our next big comp of the season is due to take place in around 2 weeks in The Depot Climbing Centre, Nottingham.

Tickets for Blocbuster are now available through our website's online booking system, and we're expecting a similar turnout to last year. If you missed out on watching the best of Britain duke it out in Manchester, then come on down to Nottingham and watch it all unfold again down there!

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