Saturday, 3 October 2009

Toolin' It Up!

So today was a rather interesting day, my first dry tooling experience at Avertical World Dundee, 1st round of the Scottish Dry Tooling Series. Actually, thats a lie... My first experience of dry tooling was around 4 years ago for 5 minutes with my mate James at a local quarry.

To be totally honest, I wasn't expecting much. Dry tooling has never really appealed to me as something I would like to do, just the thought of metal on rock, scraping and clumsiness, it just never sounded that good, quite the opposite I was to discover...

I attended the event with Jonathan Field (Fellow British Team Member, Edinburgh Based Ratho Climber and fellow Watsonian (Our School)). We got there for registration and got warmed up and ready for the start of the comp. As this was my first proper dry tooling experience, I had none of my own gear. I had borrowed axes from my mate Greg Boswell (Ratho Instructor) and gloves from Bill Davidson (big burly chap with camo, can't miss him). I had to hire both boots and glasses from Avertical World, so at the end of the day, after paying entry as well, i'd spent a lot of money for this event!

I was climbing with my good pal and regular climbing partner Ali Swinton. We both warmed up and soon got stuck into the climbs. There was a mixture of roped climbs and boulders, all well set and with some pretty crazy moves. Swinging logs and panels are just one of the amazing aspects of dry tooling comps that you rarely see at any other climbing event. At the beginning of the day, I was a wee bit sketchy, I was unsure of my axes and how solid they where on the holds. My feet where popping off a lot because of lack of body tension (being so used to technical climbing shoes), and my axes where skipping across the holds and slipping everywhere because of lack of tension on them. Remembering what Mike Tweedley told me the night before, just keep the tension on always. So thats what I did... Soon I found that I could hold even the tiniest edge with ease and fully lock off on it. I began to work my way through all the climbs with relative ease, Ali and I it turned out where making it harder for ourselves as we hadn't read the rules properly and where excluding carpeted holds (Holds with carpet backing) for feet, something you where actually allowed to do! Hahahahaahah... we are such idiots!

As the qualifiers drew to a close, Ali and I realized we had very little time left to complete all the climbs. In the end, Ali had to leave 3 routes unclimbed and I had to leave 2, just because we ran out of time. In my own opinion, I think it would have been better to allow more time for routes to be completed. As there where a lot of queues it was very difficult to be speedy between every climb. I've never been in a bouldering comp and run out of time, i've always had plenty to spare... A comp like this shouldn't be based on how fast you can get the routes done, it should be on the difficulty of the route and this can only be fairly judged with equal quality tries by everyone, not half-hearted raced tries. This is just a thought though for improving future comps...

Moving on, It turned out that even with not completing all the routes i still made the finals... not in 1st place though... 7 points out, but in finals, its a blank slate so its whoever gets highest on the final route who will win regardless of previous position! My chance!

The final route maneuvered its way firstly through a small roof and into the overhang of the back wall, up and into the main roof section at the highest point of the route. Through the roof you had 2 big logs to get by and then match the final log to win!

From isolation we could hear the cheers of the crowd, but all was unkown to what was actually happening. After Ali Robb went, it was a while before anything could be heard, I assumed he had reached the highest point and then I heard a great cheer and an OHHHHHHHHHH! I think he fell? But it must have been high up the wall as he had been climbing for what seemed like ages.
It was my turn up... The belayer collected me from isolation, and I took the walk to the wall. A good crowd awaited and greeted me avidly. I scoped the route and tied in, the start felt pretty easy, all good holds and no powerful moves. Pulling round the lip of the first roof I heard shouting "GO ON ROBBIE, YOU CAN DO IT", only one person... Bill Davidson... hahahahaha
I moved forward up the main overhang, managed to get the first of the clips in from a good hold with a deep lock. All the holds so far where good and no hard moves. As i crept up the wall, the holds got worse and the moves more spaced. Managing to get the next clip in with relative ease, I brought my axe up to a sloping green hold, placing it carefully on it, I heard a scream from the audience "GO ON, GO ON, KEEP GOING", my axe slipped, but i held the lock, placing it back on I pulled hard and reached the next hold, more screaming "GO ON! GO ON!". I realized then that I had to be winning, why would they all be so excited? I made it on to the roof and got a brilliant rest on the log. Shuffling upside down along the log (a sensation i'm not too unfamiliar with, having climbed on the new wall at ratho for the past year). I made it to the last log, I only had to match and clip... feeling pretty good, not even pumped, i stretch out for the log, but couldn't find the placing... it wasn't where i remembered it? I knew it was there, I grabbed the log with my axe and dragged it towards me, seeing the placing I prepared to axe it, it took me around a minute to get the solid placing, but once I had it, it was solid! Matching the log and clipping felt good, I topped the route and the crowd greeted me to the ground with great applause! I was pretty sure know one else had topped, and this kept me in good stead for the remaining climbers. The final two came out, talking to ali as they climbed, I found out that I was the only one to top it, and where everyone else had fallen was exactly where I had guessed, at the sloping green hold. The two remaining climbers fought valiantly, but fell short of the roof. The first guy fell just lower than the crux and Kev Kelly (The guy I was sure had to be related to either arnold schwarznegger or Sylvester Stallone; the latter being more likely) fell on the green sloper hold moving to the next one. I think it was a real shame as his axe just popped off the hold, i reckon he would have topped if that hadn't happened, shit happens though...

Anyway, I won £50 worth of marmot vouchers... fantastic... the event only cost me around £40 so i made £10 profit.... essentially?

I'd like to thank God, my mother and father for always being there, jesus for saving our souls and the queen for being so damn imporant! Oh yeah... and maybe like, some other guy who belayed me and stuff... cheers ali... "Your number 1... Yeah!!!"