British Bouldering Championships 2013 report
The glorious weather last weekend saw thousands of people flock to Graves Park in Sheffield for the annual Cliffhanger festival. The festival is one for all those who love outdoor sports and features all kinds of demos and ‘have a go’ sessions including slacklining, stunt mountain biking, scuba diving, caving, orienteering, fell running and CrossFit to name a few.
The main attraction, however, was the British Bouldering Championships, which is held on a specifically built wall inside a huge tent that dominated the festival. The competition was held over two days with the qualifiers held on the Saturday and the semi-finals and finals on the Sunday.
2012 champions Dave Barrans and Shauna Coxsey were there to defend their titles. 60 male competitors, including seven times British champion and Boulders’ guest route-setter Gaz Parry and 25 female competitors, including the world ranked no. 3 American, Alex Puccio, were there to give them a run for their money.
The problems varied massively, from super-slopey and balancey slabs to powerful roofs and overhangs, which tested the climber’s full range of skills and strength. The techniques, strength and flexibility displayed by the female competitors was particularly impressive, with Leah Crane even doing the splits mid-problem!
The event also worked to raise awareness and money for the charity Climbers Against Cancer and the audience were quick to snap-up signed t-shirts from the female finalists!
The atmosphere for the final was fantastic, with a male and a female competitor climbing simultaneously and the crowd getting behind every single climber during their attempts. The men’s competition was very close, with lots of strong performances, particularly from young Irish climber Dominic Burns, who is 16-years-old and only started climbing in 2010.
After qualifying for the finals in 6th place, Dave Barrans stepped up his performance and fought to retain his title, just beating James Garden, who was awarded 2nd place. Shauna Coxsey however was by far the star of the show, flashing every problem from qualifiers through to the final. Shauna even managed to find a hands free rest on the final problem, before finishing it with ease and smiling and waving to the crowd.
The event was thoroughly entertaining and greatly inspiring to watch and the whole Cliffhanger festival is highly recommended to anyone who is interested in climbing and outdoor sport in general – I shall definitely be going again next year.