Unique Challenge Features Vertical Fashion Launch AND Mixed-Gender Bouldering Climb Competition
Eight Pro Climbers Take Part in First-Ever Event, Held in Cheshire
GB Team Coach Rachel Carr from Edinburgh and North Wales Multi-Disciplined Climber James Taylor Beat Three Other Teams
Top UK climbers have taken part in a unique challenge combining a vertical fashion launch with a bouldering competition - hosted by sustainable activewear brand 3RD ROCK.
The SPRING LAUNCH GAMES was part fashion show and part competitive contest - as eight pro climbers faced a set of four boulder problems while modelling the brand's new collection at the unique event held at Boulder Hut in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.
An action-packed night full of jumps and leaps between hand and foot holds, eye-watering leg splits and the occasional fall made for intense watching. There was frustration, determination and grit when it came to tackling each problem, but it was the perfect mix of brains and brawn that triumphed on the night, with a coach and non-competitive outdoor climber taking podium top spot and grand prize.
Breaking with tradition, the participants were placed in mixed-gender teams – less commonly seen in professional climbing contests. Triumphant GB Team coach Rachel Carr, 24, from Edinburgh, and multi-disciplined outdoor climber James Taylor, 29, from North Wales, were paired together and proved that calm teamwork was the best method to solve the complex climbing challenges throughout the contest.
James said: "Rachel has a lot more comp experience than me so this made deciding who did what boulders actually quite simple for us. We were super nervous on the first problem and rushed into it too quickly, both falling on our first attempts - but Rachel being a coach made us both take a breath and a little rest to chill out before trying again and that really set the tone for the next three problems.
"We took our time, figured them out together and enjoyed ourselves. I was very happy to see the cracks in the final boulder problem - I knew they would suit me well and I would be back on home turf."
Rachel added: "The Spring Launch Games was a completely new experience for me. I'm used to a more classic format but it was more challenging than I thought it would be, and the unknown made it more exciting.
"James and I made a great team. It was a culmination of our tactical skills, his strength and my competition bloc experience that gave us different approaches and the execution we needed to win. The pairings really shook things up but meant James and I, as a mix, got the best average by working together."
The perfect pair won a £500 cash prize courtesy of sponsor Jason's Sourdough – bread that fuels the spirit of adventure.
Kitted out in a different outfit for each climb, the 3RD ROCK collection performed as well as the competitors - acting like a second skin.
As the participants climbed the boulders, it was easy to see how each piece is cut to accentuate and enhance strength and ability. The climbers at 3RD ROCK have used their trademark vibrancy and understanding of the human form and taken it to new levels with this Spring / Summer '21 Collection. The smarter, more innovative-cut collection allows garments to look better, feel better and most importantly, perform better whilst leaving a minimal footprint on the planet.
Speaking on the catwalk element of the event, Rachel said: "The most intense part of the whole night was waiting to climb.
"Being kitted out in clothes by 3RD ROCK meant we had confidence in how they would perform, but modelling them and posing on the catwalk meant the adrenaline and nerves had time to build up. All I could see was the timer ready to start and then we turned and had just seconds to read the bloc.
"Also being the first team out had a huge impact on our nerves but we quickly calmed down and settled into it and it was great fun."
Also taking part in the event were members of the GB Climbing Team Billy Ridal, Jen Wood who were partnered with pro-climber Holly Rees and Team GB Paraclimber Matthew Phillips. While fellow Team GB Paraclimber Mikey Cleverdon joined pro-climber Ayeesha Khan to make up team four.
And if you'd like to watch footage of the whole event you can find that here.
The programme features commentary on the clothes by 3RD ROCK co-founder, designer and pattern cutter Jessica Mor, and minute-by-minute analysis of each climb from Mike Langley, experienced climber, British Mountaineering Council national route setter and official at multiple world cups.
To view the full 3RD ROCK Spring / Summer '21 Collection visit the 3RD ROCK website.
About the participants:
James Taylor: Multi-disciplined climber and accomplished in bouldering, lead climbing and trad. James has made first ascents from big walls in Brazil to boulders in Wales.
Rachel Carr: Ex-Team GB climber turned Team GB Climbing Coach, Rachel is a dedicated boulderer and has multiple 8A ascents in multiple countries.
Billy Ridal: Member of Team GB climbing team, IFSC World Cup Athlete in Bouldering and has featured in World Cup Semi Finals. Ran for Olympic selection and has a top class outdoor pedigree bouldered 8b+ and led routes up to 8c+. Alongside a rigorous training schedule Billy is also a route setter.
Holly Rees: Former competitor in both the Welsh and British climbing Championships, Holly is now a dedicated sport climber but did come out of competition retirement to compete at the British Bouldering Championships in Sheffield in 2019. With impressive ascents of outdoor routes up to 8b+ and boulders up to 8A.
Mikey Cleverdon: Member of the Team GB Paraclimbing Team with multiple podium finishes on the competition circuit. Mikey is a coach and route setter and serial outdoor first ascensionist. He has climbed 8b+ boulders around the world.
Ayeesha Khan: Ayeesha is a route setter with a history of competition and has climbed up to 7C+. Mainly a boulderer she dabbles in a bit of lead climbing too.
Matthew Phillips: Member of the Team GB Paraclimbing Team, Multiple time World Para Climbing Champion in his category.
Jen Wood: Part of the Team GB climbing team and former European Universities Combined Champion.