Monday, 9 July 2012

Cliffhanger washed away in the summer deluge

I can't even write that Cliffhanger was a total washout this year. In actual fact, it was completely washed away by the summer deluge that has befallen the UK. It was cancelled last minute, with tweets, Facebook posts and website messages all serving up the unfortunate news. And it was a real shame. Cliffhanger is a highlight of the outdoor enthusiast's calendar and this year was going to be bigger and better than ever - with a new venue lined up in Graves Park, the BASECAMP after party, onsite parking and camping, and a cornucopia of other goodies. 

On a personal note, I even managed to win two full weekend passes, thanks to event partner Rat Race. These were, of course, made redundant when the event was cancelled. I don't often win things like this - probably because I rarely enter things like this - and it was a pleasant surprise to get a Twitter message declaring me victorious. With all the enthusiasm of a dog with a new bone, I took to Facebook to announce my good fortune, only for the eventual bitter disappointment. Truth be told, it was the easiest competition I've ever entered. All it required was a ReTweet and, when I found the Tweet earlier today, it seems like I was the only one that ReTweeted anway, so I don't think there were too many entries. But still...

It wasn't a total loss, however, as the British Bouldering Championships (BBCs) were still to take place in the park. The tent had already been erected, so I guess there was nothing to lose on the part of the organisers. Having rearranged my weekend and gone for an impromptu climb on the morning of the Saturday, I made my way over to the park later that afternoon to watch the BBC finals. It has been many years since I've been in Graves Park but my childhood memories served me well and I soon found my bearings and glimpsed the big top tent through the tree-line. It wasn't too busy, but I didn't really expect it to be. The ground was damp and muddy. It had been raining on and off all day and, despite the sunshine when I arrived, the rumblings of thunder could be heard from afar and soon enough the rain was once again upon us.

After a delayed start, the finals finally got underway. I won't go into detail about the climbs. You are better off reading the blogs of a few of the competitors. The winner of the women's competition, Shauna Coxsey, wrote this. And fourth place, Mina Leslie-Wujastyk put this together. The men's winner was Dave Barrans, who has now written this blog. also has a blog but I don't believe he has written anything on the BBCs yet - or if indeed he intends to.

Suffice it to say, it was all very inspiring. The full results, including those of the junior championships on the Sunday, can be found on the BMC website. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it along  for the Sunday competition, but I'm sure the youngsters all performed admirably.

It was a real shame the crowds that would have been drawn by the full Cliffhanger event weren't there to support the best of the British bouldering competitors, but there's nothing you can do when the weather doesn't want to be kind. The whole event was webcast, so hopefully that boosted the exposure of both Cliffhanger and the British Bouldering Team. And next year we WILL have good weather. Like 2011, when it was absolutely roasting hot on both days. Just unlucky this year. Never mind... onwards and upwards.