Tag Archive for Manchester Climbing Centre

Silvers nice ….. Yet Bronze is prettier

This weekend saw the 3rd round of the BMC Paraclimbing series.

Manchester Climbing Centre was the venue – A beautiful former church, which has kept many of its original features, not to mention the lack of heating!! (Which was clearly felt this weekend ‘tup-north)

The routes were set, the atmosphere was buzzing and the turn out was phenomenal.

Selfie of me with Guide Dog Fizz with the Climbing Centre behind us and showing a large round stain glass window at the top Centre of the photograph


There were six competitors in female VI (according to the entry list anyway)  and Abi a fellow vi Climber who often ‘flashed’ all her routes and boulders was here.  So barring a natural disaster I set myself up for the best I could achieve would be a silver.

….. So what is a FLASH I hear you ask …..

To ‘Flash’ all routes and boulders is to get to the top hold on the first attempt.  With the top rope climbing routes you only had one go to get the best score or to ‘flash’ the route, but with the boulder problems you are given 3 opportunities.  Scoring a bonus 2 points if you succeed on the first go.

Anyway, I set myself the personal challenge to beat my scores from the same competition last year.  Knowing that the climbs had been set harder, this was my way of judging how I had improved in the past year.

This is the same challenge I have set myself for each of the rounds.  However one that, despite topping more routes and reaching higher in the routes I didn’t top, I didn’t actually achieve this in Edinburgh.  But as we don’t climb the EXACT same routes each year this isn’t always a clear sign of improvement, they may have changed the scoring against how everyone performed last year.

This was certainly the case for the 2nd round this year; after 3 of the 4 Male VI climbers scored maximum points, the route setters upped the challange for London.  Given that the 3rd top rope in Manchester was graded as a 7a (2a grades above my comfort zone) the Competition was seen to be set for a much higher status.

Usually as the routes go, boulder 1 and top rope 1 are lower grades, I flashed boulder 1, yet took a silly slip on top rope 1, costing me 26 points.

Photo shows me on toprope 1, just before I slipped. This is about 2/3rds up the route.

I got further on top rope 2 and just under the first ledge on top rope 3 (where I hadn’t expected to get too far from the ground!)

Photograph of me on top rope 3, my right hand is up on an underhand hold, my right leg is bent and the move I need to make is to stand up on my right to reach over the red ledge with my left hand.... I didn’t reach it!

The second boulder was a challange and one I had hoped to return to after a break (but time ran away from me) while boulder 3 was set as a challange to most.  I was happy to get the minimum points of 47 on this as it was such a hard set.  47 Out of 60 meant I got both my feet off of the ground, which given there was only one foot hold and the hand holds had an interesting placement was quite an achievement and similar to many of my fellow competitors.

This photograph is of boulder 2, I managed to get one hand hold higher having moved my right foot to a higher hold.    

Had time allowed I think a 3rd attempt on this route would have seen me complete it.

But time didn’t allow.

The sheer volume of competitors and lack of volunteers who could belay meant that the competition ran over by 35 minutes as it was.  In which time I competed in the 3rd top rope, where I found myself scoring much higher than I expected.

Once the competition was over it was time to calm down, take off my climbing shoes (hello feet) and harness and await the results.

There were no podium blocks, but an innovative use of the stone steps that led upto the bouldering area and my catagory was read out.

As expected, 1st place went to Abi (which I congratulated her on) then 2nd place …….. Me!

I took my podium; accepted my medal and had my picture taken.

There had been no 3rd place on the podium which I had felt was odd, but had honestly thought the person named as 3rd had left.

It was only after all the podiums were announced that the organiser explained that the medals that hadn’t been handed out in London were ready for collection.  It was at this point I discovered that a fellow female VI had been mis-catagoried and was in fact 2nd.  So back went my shiny silver medal and out came the beautiful bronze!

Sadly it was too late to re-take the podium photographs. So the only one I have is of me with my silver.  So here is my ‘incorrect’ Podium photo showing me beside the beautiful Abi.

Photograph of me stood on the left hand side of stone steps with a silver medal and certificate with Fizz stood beside me and fellow climber and gold medal winner Abi on the right

Round 2 Rollercoaster

It has taken me some time to write this, and as I type this I am travelling to London to compete in Round 3.

exterior image of The Mancester Climbing Centre, looking just like a church.

Manchester was a fantastic climbing environment, the inner designer in me was in love, the church looked very much like a church from the outside, and even though I had seen interior images on the inter web, I didn’t expect it to have as much if not more character on the inside.

How I was wrong…….

interior image of a large circular stained glass window at the far centre, with a row of ceiling lights, arched rectangular windows to the side and climbing walls wrapped around and in amongst the building.All of the ‘churchie bits’ that were on the outside, like the large stain glass window at the alter, the solid stone arch of the doorway, the monolithically door frames and doors, along with most of the stone.  It was all there.  They weren’t hidden behind fake walls with holds on, they were worked around; they were in some cases ‘peeping’ out from behind an area, allowing the light to filter through and stream mixes of colours on the walls and the climbers; just as I could imagine it had done on the congregation when it was used for its original purpose.

interior image of Manchester Climbing Centre, looking up to a large stain glassed window, above a brick archway, exposed brick and pillars are seen along with a light coloured climbing wall to the left, with different coloured holds and decorative features.

The building oozed character, charm and beauty.  While at the same time taking ownership of its role as a climbing centre.  The walls weren’t out of place, the chalk dusted floor that comes with every climbing arena was perfectly at home.  The bouldering walls, sat snugly in the rear of the church, that you were lead to by solid stone steps and solid banisters.  The design was deliberate, it worked with the buildings original design, instead of against it.

This climbing competition was going to be different, not because of the building, not because I had a clearer idea of what was needed of me, but because my climbing partner was also entering the competition (all be it a different category to me).

He was going to have his own climbs to concentrate on, his own issues to overcome and his own exhaustion to deal with.  To say it put me in state of anxiety, fear, panic, that I was ‘on my own’ would be an understatement.  I felt trapped between a rock and a hard place.  I want for him to compete and have his chance, but at the same time I wanted him to be focussed on helping me. (for which I felt and still feel guilty and selfish for)

Different competitiors in Edinburgh had been given different routes and problems to solve, which was fair.  After all, some of the competitions had physical disabilities, that would make a difference to the way in which they climbed a route.  So, it was with this in my mind that my fear and worry had grown.

Manchester was however, a very different centre.  There were different climbs for different competitors, but as luck would have it, my route problems were the same as my partners.  So we were both able to work with each other and with the use of his iphone 6s, I was able to watch him climb and offer support.

The climbs were misleading though; from the ground, the descriptions of the holds were large and simple, yet when up there, on the end of a rope with only one shot of making the moves needed, it turned out the holds weren’t simple.  Yes they were large, but held no grip for hands or fingers.  it was like trying to climb with only your feet, not something I was too successful with.

So, the building was beautiful, the experience was amazing, but the result…… Well, that is the bit I am not too happy with, the sort version is I came 3rd.  A result that I have not been happy with, a result that I have played over and over and over in my mind.
A photograph of the winners in the female VI category, I am stood on the 3rd block, which is not clear as Fizz my guide dog is stood directly in front of me.

I am not going to make excuses, I wasn’t happy with my performance and it showed.  My only saving grace in my ranking for my climb was that there were 5 competitors, and the 1st and 2nd place in my category went to women who had previously climbed for Team GB.

I didn’t ‘see’ this at the time, I also didn’t ‘see’ that several of the VI climbers were actually aided by laser pointers.  A gadget I had never considered before.  But this got me thinking……

One of the male VI’s also has a hearing impairment, so he uses hearing aids and it is through these that he hears his guide talking to him with a small mike.  So the 2 climbers that made use of their remaining vision by following a laser light, were just receiving a ‘reasonable adjustment’ for the climb.  Not a cheat, not an unfair advantage, but a supporting role from a floor bound guide.

The one part of climbing competitions that I have found the most difficult is that you only get one shot on a top rope climb.  No second chance if you start off on the wrong foot.  So for me, someone who climbs through feeling and smearing the wall, picking the wrong hold half way up can be the difference between getting higher and coming off.  Most of the climbers, even those with limb amputations can plan the route and get an idea of what and how to climb from the ground.  As a VI climber, maybe it is time to start thinking and climbing differently.

On to round 3….. just 10 days later, although that is actually today.  Off to climb in a castle in London !!!


Ding Ding … Round Two

Sitting in the car, driving along in the dark with nothing but the blur of lights on the motorway.

And where am I off to?

Manchester!  Not for a coffee, not for an exhibition, but for round two of the BMC Paraclimbing 2017 qualifiers.

Having found myself in a quarry in Edinburgh just over a month ago, tomorrow I shall be finding myself inside a renovated church.  Otherwise known as The Manchester Climbing Centre.

Last month was a different kind of nerves, last month I never knew what to expect from the competition.  Now I know the expectations, I know just how hard I need to work on each of the problems.

And the small matter that in Edinburgh I walked away with a glass trophy and 1st Place in my category.

This has almost made me feel more apprehensive, I MUST do better, like I MUST beat my previous placing.  Although, I’m not sure how I beat 1st Place !!!

So, wish me luck and I shall update tomorrow …… If my hands allow me that is.

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