Today was the third round of the British Tooling Series, held at the Glasgow Climbing Centre. I haven’t competed in any of the other rounds so far due to lack of free time to travel to the venues down south. Fortunately, Glasgow being my local venue and work place, I’d had plenty of notice of the date of the event and had subsequently been training hard on our new home wall specifically for the event. I felt like I was at my strongest I’d been this year since my time off through the summer and so my confidence levels were high. Something I’ve always found to be a big factor in the way you actually perform in an event, be it relaxed or a competitive one.
The competition was made up of 15 routes for the qualifiers. You had four hours to go off and try them in whichever order you wanted and then a final route for the top 4 climbers in each category to battle it out on for the win. As usual the route setters didn’t disappoint with the quality and imagination within the routes, using obstacles from 30ft logs and chains to gnarly slopers set at the imperfect angle!
I decided to start on the large 30ft vertical log climb as I knew it wouldn’t be too technically difficult, only requiring sharp axes and good striking technique and would also provide a good warm up for the other routes. The whole log was suspended several feet from the floor to make in unstable which gave some interesting leg wrapping technique to shuffle your way up. As expected I topped the route without too much difficult (or too many splinters!) and sounded the comically high pitch horn that hung from the top that signalled topping the route. I blasted through some of the easier routes to chill out for a bit and avoid being left with them to do at the end so that I could focus purely on topping the harder routes with as little attempts as I could. I had an attempt at one of the harder, more delicate climbs that was made up of large moves between insecure and marginal placements that ended abruptly as I moved into the top third of the route when a hold broke in half on me. I was a little disappointed that on my first attempt when i was doing so well ended because of something beyond my control but at least I knew I could do the route and went for a break to come back to it later.
Me tackling the vertical chain climb
Having topped all but two routes so far first-time (including some of the hardest routes that I’d seen kicking off some of the other strong climbers, such as the vertically hanging chain requiring good fig-four practice or a lot of lock off strength), I went back to try the route that I’d previously failed on due to the broken hold for another try at my first attempt (falling due to a broken or spinning hold is not counted as a failed attempt). I tied in and placed my axes onto the starting hold and moved off it attempting to start climbing to my previous high point on the route. With the route having seen some traffic since earlier the first few holds had been chiseled down a bit and weren’t as secure as early. My axe instantly ripped from the hold and I was lowered to the ground having only managed 3 moves. What a disappointment, I knew I had already climbed the first two-thirds of the route before and to lose out on the available points for my first attempt meant I’d possibly just lost my upper hand of having topped everything else first go. I Finally managed to top the route on my last available attempt to gain at least some points for the route.
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to make it into the final, missing out on qualifying by only 5 points (That damn broken hold!!) and finished up 6th. All in, the day was a great success. Everyone enjoyed the event and the finalists truly deserved their places with the brilliant efforts on the gnarly looking final routes. It was great fun and I felt like I’d climbed better than I have in previous years and that the training I’ve been doing is paying off. More than anything I’m now super psyched for the winter to hurry up and arrive and feeling confident that I can crush some hard routes.
Getting to the chain on a tricky route