On Saturday the 28th of April, the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena Ratho played host to the finals of the BMC’s Youth Climbing Series. Competitors had qualified through 2 regional rounds to earn their place amongst 260 of the nations strongest young climbers.
Harrogate Climbing Centre was represented by three kids, and I headed north to see what the fuss was all about!
Cayla would be competing in Girls B, Ellen in Girls A, and Matt in Boys A. Strong categories, and a high pressure environment, lead to a mixed day of success, disappointment, emotion and awesome displays of climbing, sportsmanship and support.
Finding space in a packed centre, we joined Reading CC coach Mark and the southern counterparts, ready for a warm up before climbing quickly commenced.
Each age category was split into two groups, and they spread out around the centre to start on their boulders or routes.
I think its safe to say I surpassed any recommended dose of steps, as I lapped the arena, trying to see and support the kids, running from one side to the other to catch the action!
Cayla’s first route ended prematurely, with a slip off a technical part of the route. Disappointed, we tried to keep spirits high, as she moved to the boulders. The first dispatched with ease, a fairly simple crispy number. The second boulder proved to be a problem for the taller climbers, an awkward scramble out off a roof left little room for legs to be placed!
Back to another route, which looked tough. Even the GB team member who demo’d it fell off! Cayla started strong, but choosing an alternative hold didn’t work out.
A tired and down in the dumps Cayla went for her third boulder, issuing a polite request that me and her dad didn’t watch and put her off!! So off we went for a coffee 🙂 Reports of success came back, and happily to the third route which went well. Overall, lessons can be learnt, but in a tough group, Cayla finished a respectable 18 out of 26.
Ellen’s day started on the boulders, the first of which started out well, but with a difficult last move she fell just shy of full points. Onto the first route. I managed to watch through a gap between boulders as I also watched Cayla and Matt. Fairly steady route for the group, but with a committing last move to the top and awkward feet for the taller climber, Ellen didn’t make the chains and lowered feeling disappointed. Time for some chicken nuggets to cheer up! A tough 3rd boulder was well climbed, and a second route meant a seat in the middle of the field. My advice to take it easy on the third and final route at the end of a log day was well heeded and Ellen made a strong start on an awkward overhung lip. Onto the slab section. She looked chilled and ready to make up some points, but a heartbreaking foot slip brought the day to a close before expected. Again, with lessons to be learned, I’m proud of Ellen’s tenacity and drive to keep going even when feeling down. Ellen came 19th out of 26 overall.
Matt has recently joined the academy having finished his NICAS level 5. Following plans I’ve issued him to the letter I have seen a huge improvement in Matt’s climbing. Not expecting to qualify I had to persuade him to actually come to Ratho! His first and last chance to compete due to his age, he and I were very glad he made it! Matt’s efforts were continually fantastic in an incredibly tough group. Boys A has the strongest youths around, most climbing harder than many coaches in that centre! Every route Matt climbed he looked strong and even on falling he smiled. A great attitude and strong effort. Matt finished 23 of 24.
Overall a very long day spent at the hugely impressive EICA Ratho. I think a huge part of the comp is not who is strongest, but who can maintain the effort and attitude throughout. The YCS is a big commitment, so a big thank you to the kids and parents. Not only those we know, but to all those throughout the qualifiers and final. Thank you to the BMC competitions team for your time and efforts and thank you to the Climbing Centre Group for getting me there to bear witness to the big day in the youth climbing calendar.
With the remainder of the year to take stock and prepare for round 1 in January 2019, There’s time to train and get excited for next time!