News 2013

Title: ODON Irish Lead Climbing Championship
Date: 25/11/2013
System Date: 25/11/2013

The 2013 ODON Irish Lead Climbing Championship took place at Awesome Walls Dublin on Saturday 23rd of November. The competition attracted some of Ireland’s very best climbers from all over the country as well as a number of very strong climbers from Scotland and England.

Preparation for the competition began on Wednesday with the stripping of holds from the competition walls at Awesome Walls, Dublin. The next stage was positioning a number of large volumes on the wall. The volumes allow the route setters to set more interesting routes by increasing the number of positioning options for the climbing holds. On Thursday morning the route setting for the competition began in earnest. The route setters for this year’s competition were Gaz Parry and Ricky Bell. Gaz and Ricky worked hard through Thursday and Friday to ensure they gave competitors a set of routes that were as enjoyable to climb on as they were challenging.

On the morning of the competition competitors’ registration opened at 9:00am. A steady flow of climbers arrived and by 10:00am every one was accounted for. At 10:00 competitors were briefed on the rules and running orders for the competition. At 10:15 Gaz and Ricky demonstrated Qualifier the routes for the competitors.

The format of the competition is that each competitor has one attempt on two qualifier routes. Climbers are awarded points based on how far they progress on the routes. Competitors ore ranked based on their points with a number of top ranked competitors in each group progressing to the final round.

Senior Male and Senior Female categories were the first to begin climbing, followed shortly by Masters Male and Veterans Male. About half of the competitors in the Senior Male and Senior Female reached the top of their first route. In the Masters Male and Veterans Male categories the success rate was higher due to the smaller group sizes.

For the second qualifier route the level of difficulty was increased significantly. The Senior Male competitors found themselves very quickly on steep and challenging climbing. Following a powerful clip at the fourth quickdraw, a very dynamic move (jump) was needed to get to a large hold. Moving right from the big hold competitors had to complete a series of moves which forced them into near horizontal positions. The upper section involved technical climbing on small holds. The final series of moves involved wrestling a large hemisphere before a final sequence of very balancey moves to the final hold. Only two climbers, Dom Burns and Alex Waterhouse reached the top of the second qualifiers.

Across all the other categories the competition proved to be close. In the Veterans Male category it could go any way between Sean Barrett, Calvin Torrans and Kevin Byrne. In Masters Male Conor O Connor looked to have the edge on the others, but between the others in the category it was too close to call. In Senior Female, Lucy Mitchell was the only competitor to reach the top of the second qualifier, but she was under pressure from Rachel Carr who just missed the top. Between the next five or six competitors in the category third place was there for the taking.

For the final round of the competitors have to go into isolation, this means that they do not get to see any one climbing the final route. Competitors are given six minutes to observe their final route, during which time they must try to figure out the best sequence to climb the route.

The Veteran Males were the first category to climb their final route. I had been assured by the competitors that none of them were climbing very strongly. Naively I believed them, and instructed the route setter to take it easy on them. Watching each one of them cruise to the top of their final route I knew I had been duped! The crowd wasn’t happy either; they wanted blood, so an impromptu Super-Final was agreed on.

The Masters Male category climbed next. Their final route was a steep and powerful route up the left side of the competition wall. Wild moves under and around the huge volume got the arms working hard, before a series of smaller holds separated the competitors. Conor O Connor was the only one in the category to reach the top and in doing so secured the first title of the competition.

The Veterans Male re-match was on. The Silver Crimpers battled it out on the same final route as the ‘younger’ Masters category. Kevin Byrne was first up and put in a ‘man of the match’ effort on the route. Under pressure from about half way up the route Kevin fought deep and kept climbing to within a five moves of the top (and in doing so reaching a higher point than all but one of the climbers in the Masters category). Sean Barrett put in a great effort also but a sequencing mistake around the middle of the route put him out of rhythm causing him to fall lower than expected. Calvin Torrans showed his mettle on the Super-Final route; climbing quickly, precisely and positively Calvin made few mistakes and reached the top with energy to spare.

In the Senior Female final Vicki Cleary put in a superb performance taking her from seventh after the qualifying rounds to fourth after the finals.  Sequencing errors from Eleanor Lawrence, Bronagh Cairns and Maggie Chojan saw the three climbers falling lower than they would have liked. Michelle O Loughlin quickly powered her way through the initial steep section of the route and latched a vital hold to take third place. Next out was Rachel Carr from Scotland. Rachel looked untroubled by the route and confidently reached the top. From the cheers of the crowd Lucy Mitchell would have guessed that Rachel had reached the top and that first place was hers to loose unless she reached the top. Unperturbed, Lucy climbed flawlessly to also reach the top and in doing so clinched the title from Rachel.

The last group to climb were the big hitters in the Senior Male category. The first two finalists in this category were Darragh O Connor and Eddie Cooper. Both climbers reached a very similar point on the route. The next two competitors Jamie Rankin and Eoin Acton employed a different sequence and managed to climb past the first crux of the climb. They both got well established on the small holds on the arête of the competition wall before falling. Eddie Barbour looked strong on the final route, but a combination of minor errors saw him waste vital energy causing him to fall before the final crux. Last year’s defending champion Alex Waterhouse climbed the route with a very different sequence from all the competitors before him. With a quick and easy style Alex dispatched the route, only to fall from the very final hold. Alex confidently set himself up to dyno to the final hold from an amazing position. He reached the hold but failed to maintain his grip. The final competitor out of isolation was Belfast’s Dom Burns. The title was there for Dom’s taking all he had to do was hold the top grip. In a powerful and technically perfect style Dom set himself up for the final move, and just like Alex he managed to reach the final hold but not to maintain his grip. Alex and Dom had identical points from the Final round and from the previous two rounds. When this is the case the winner is decided by the length of time it takes the competitor on the route. Alex had managed to climb to his high pint just four seconds faster than Dom, and in doing so regain his title.

Here's a link to a video of Alex on the final route:Alex Waterhouse video

At the end of the competition competitors mounted the podiums and were presented with a custom ILCC trophy that was hand made by John Harrison. The trophies were made to be usable as a climbing hold as well as a mantel piece decoration. Hopefully these trophies will adorn local and home climbing wall across the country and beyond, and serve to encourage climbers to train hard! Competitors also received a prize voucher for Great Outdoors.

The competition was very generously sponsored by O Driscoll & O Neill Insurance (ODON). It is through ODON that Mountaineering Ireland’s members are insured. The prizes were sponsored by Great Outdoors have been fantastic supporters of the Irish climbing scene over the years. Awesome Walls provided the venue and were of huge help in the organisation, facilitation and running of the competition.

The competition was made possible by the help of a large group of volunteers. Without their help it would be impossible to run the competition. Photographers for the competition were Sean Walsh, Ambrose Flynn and Michael Nestor. Eamon O Riain, Peter Linney and Howard Hebblethwaite belayed diligently all day. Stepen Mc Gowan, Claire Comiskey and Ciaran Rogers took on the onerous task of judging. The judges video cameras were operated by Paul Nessans, Luke Hackett and John Harrisson. Niamh Burke took care of the registrations in the morning and James Hale computed the results throughout the day. Any of you at the competition will no doubt have witnessed the huge effort that Conor Orr and Dave Nessans put in throughout the day, calling competitors to get ready, pulling ropes and helping the finalists from isolation. I think it’s fair to say that without Dave and Conor’s hard work that the day would not have run so smoothly.

A final word of thanks to all the competitors who made the day the success it was, you gave it your all and regardless of the outcome you finished the day smiling. Hopefully see at next year’s installment.

For full results please click on the following link: ILCC 2013 Results