Is climbing the friendliest sport out there? I’m always impressed that, during the viewing period of major competitions, competitors help each other out by sharing beta, despite the fact that this could potentially harm their own chances of success. It goes further than that though: after the last world cup in Vail, Jan Hojer and Adam Ondra tried to persuade Nathaniel Coleman to take part in the China events as he had a good chance of getting on the podium in the overall competition. The fact that they were also vying for the top spot didn’t seem to have entered into the equation.
I love this about climbing. At the crag or down the local wall you regularly see groups of total strangers sharing knowledge and discussing the best way to do things. Many of the country’s top climbers live in Sheffield, and you’ll often see them chatting to, and climbing with, us mere mortals down at the wall. It seems there’s very little hierarchy in the climbing world.
Training for the British Bouldering Championships this year, it really hit home to me just how great the climbing community is. Keen to work on my technique, I spent a lot of time down at the wall learning to balance my way up slabs and jump for holds which looked impossibly far away. During this time, a lot of people helped me out with advice on my technique and useful tips on how to improve. Not just my friends, but everyone from strangers I tried problems with to the UK’s top competition climbers and the route setters themselves gave me tips on things to try, and information about what to expect on the competition day itself.
Isolation was also a really friendly place to be. I had always thought it would be stressful, but I spent most of the time chatting to, and warming up with, a great group of people who were psyched for their own success, but also supportive of others too.
I used to have this image of sport being “every man for himself”, but I don’t think this is so true in climbing. I feel lucky to be part of something where people genuinely want to help each other out and see others succeed.
As for the comp, how did it go? Well I came 19th in the end, and I achieved my aim of making semis so I was really happy. The comp wall at the Cliffhanger festival was a brilliant place to compete. The brightly coloured walls and problems looked really appealing, and the open air nature meant it felt cool and breezy. The route setters had also done a fantastic job of setting interesting problems which divided the field well (not an easy task at all, I am sure). All in all, it was a brilliant weekend - roll on 2016!
This great pic was taken by Colin Perkins of Peakography - thanks Colin!