It's two days after the F-BO14 competition at Sheffield's most famous climbing wall, The Foundry, and my legs feel like they've been fast marched up Ben Nevis carrying a 60kg bergen. I know what has destroyed my hamstrings and hips - or should I say, I know which boulder problem. The infamous bloc 25 - the most non-bouldering boulder problem I've ever climbed. I'll come onto that.
I can't place all the blame on the bloc and its setter, however, as I must also admit culpability. I'm not in good shape at the moment, as I haven't been bouldering much of late. You could count the number of times I've been for a bouldering session in the last 6 weeks on one hand. I've not had many opportunities to climb anyway, but when they do present themselves I've tended to tie in and climb routes. Therefore the ridiculous moves some of the F-BO14 boulders required seem to have destroyed me.
Nonetheless, it was a fantastic event and competition, and extremely well attended. Almost too well for my tastes. I got there early partly due to time constraints but also because I was almost certain it would be relatively quiet. And I was right! At the 9:30am kick off, I was the 2nd on the wall and managed to bosh through 10 or so problems before it started getting to the point of queuing for goes. At this stage, I waited and pounced on boulders when the opportunity arose. It was all very British, as the thronging mass of muscle-bound, testosterone fueled climbing fraternity waited in the wings for their go, but as soon as two climbers broke from the pack and approached the same section of wall they would politely offer up the way.
"Sorry mate, you go ahead," apologises climber A.
"No, that's alright, it's all yours," responds climber B.
"You sure?" asks climber A.
"Yeah, please," pleads climber B.
"Very kind of you," says climber A.
There were wads of all ages - from the new young guns such as Nathan Phillips through to the strong old guard such as Ben Moon - alongside relative beginners and people like me (climbing over a decade and still not very good at it) but everyone waited their turn and took to the wall with the support of the crowd behind them.
The problems themselves were a brilliant mix of movements and holds. The Foundry is well known for its Wave wall, built around 2 decades ago and still one of the best training walls in Sheffield (I would say country but my knowledge does not extend that far), and this heritage was very much used to its full effect. The problems that rose through its steep face varied from dynamic pocket pulling through to crimpy lock downs. There were volumes to the left, dynos to the right, traverses in the corridor and two problems chucked elsewhere. One of these, as previously mentioned, is the now infamous 25.
I say infamous but maybe that's a little dramatic. I overheard one of the setters saying it was the best bloc in the competition because strength counted for nothing and it was all about your technique. Some strong wads fell off it, while tiny 10 year olds managed to send. No amount of training (except maybe a little stretching) would get you through this one. I was just grateful I didn't get on it first, and was able to watch the technique before giving it a whirl. I only just managed to climb it first try, petering on the edge of balance and collapse. I'm pretty sure this is what did my legs in, though, as there was some deep, deep squatting involved.
After two hours, the crowd had grown to several people thick all around the wall and I was losing the Will to penetrate and conquer. Ahem. So I counted up my pitiful score and made for the exit with my exceptional goodie bag, courtesy of Mammut. I don't want to boast, but a decent comp vest, a hat, wallet, first-aid kit, poster, mug and small cuddly mammoth surely cost more than the entry fee alone. And despite deservedly not climbing well, I had a blast. An excellent competition it was. Very well organised by The Foundry. I just wish I could've attended the final to watch the wads crush, but it was my Dad's birthday and the casino was calling (that's another story). I can't wait for next year, Foundry. No pressure.
Thankfully, CWIF is only around the corner.