Blog and photos by Will Hatt – Head Coach
A rather damp, grey morning awaited all those who had travelled from far and wide to The Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA) in Ratho on 25th April 2015.
Many a bleary eyed youngster queued of for breakfast at the hotel, unaccustomed to such an early start but eager to fuel up ready for a big day of competing ahead. This grey Saturday saw the culmination of 8 months + of training and preparation from Competitors, Coaches and Parents alike as everyone did final kit bags checks then hopped into cars or taxis to the venue for the National Final of The Youth Climbing Series 2015. Academy Squad Members Joe and James were up there representing RCC, having finished in the top 3 of their Youth Age Categories in the 3 regional rounds of the highly competitive London and South East Region (L&SE), with a number of other Academy Squad narrowly missing out. EICA Ratho is an vast venue, built in a roofed over, disused quarry, with walls up to 30m high and a huge imposing articulated comp wall.
First order of the day for the 307 competitors was to find where your 3 routes and 3 blocs were (much harder this year, based on the level displayed in the regional rounds) then start reading them and get warmed up and mentally prepared before the 10am start time! As the day progressed there were tears of elation and frustration as routes and blocs were topped or dropped; dedicated coaches and parents on hand to cheer-on and gee-up as required. Joe and James cruised their first 2 Blocs and 1st routes in style as they prepped for the harder ones to come. James made an unfortunate slip on the crux of his 2nd route at just over half height leaving a lot to do on his final climb. Despite looking strong his finger snagged in the 6th clip ending his attempt early. James ended up in =9th overall (out of 32 in his category),a great result considering the strength of the field. Despite his disappointment he’s now focusing on training hard for the Imst Youth Colour Climbing Festival in Imst, Austria at the beginning of next month.
Joe performed like a pro in this, his first YCS series (let alone final), having only joined the Academy last summer. Joe made blocs the category above were struggling on look easy and very nearly topped his hardest 2 routes graded approx f7b+/f7c! All this effort (and a constant smile) led Joe to a well deserved podium spot, finishing 3rd.
Every year there is an extra trophy awarded to the region with the highest team score, and for the 5th year running all the squads that make up L&SE ran away with it finishing nearly 500 points clear, good work guys! It just goes to show how strong the competition in the L&SE region is and tough it is to get through to finals. There was a great atmosphere to the whole day, and despite the pressure, new friendships were forged and old ones strengthened.
Now the main comp season is over, the Academy are focusing on goal setting for the year ahead, working on weaknesses, looking to get outside, and of course continuing to make us mere mortals look silly by crushing routes and blocs every time they are in!
Thanks to The BMC and MCofS for putting on the series, to EICA Ratho for Hosting, to all the hard working Coaches and their Centres for supporting their squads, to all the tireless Parents and of course all the Competitors… and finally, bring on 2016!
A video round up can be viewed here, see if you can spot ‘Smiler’ Joe:
Full results from the regionals and Final can be accessed from here: h