SkyMasters Challenge

By Beth Monks

Hundreds of eyes stared at the looming, suspended structure. How could this be a indoor climbing wall?! The unusual obstacles ahead set the adrenaline flowing. Suspended above the exhibition floor the variety of volumes, stalactites and barrels wobbled disconcertingly, beckoning the next climber to attempt to reach the Ford Ranger car at the end of the sickeningly steep climb.

Out 4th on the Saturday I had little time to watch other climbers before I was on the shaking wall, climbing to beat the clock. We had just 10 minutes to reach the Ford Ranger car and hit the buzzer and although this sounds ages to be hanging off holds at such overhanging angles, time sped quickly on.. Slightly seasick, I soon found myself past the beginning section with only 3 and _ minutes to spare. The heat was excruciating and I was very pumped. After a quick no hands rest on a more agreeable angle I was ready to attempt what was said to be the hardest part of the climb: the stalactites. Wrapping arms and legs around the dangling spikes I slowly progressed across them. Nearing the end of that section I could hear the commentator shouting I had 30 seconds remaining. Boxed out my brain, I could no longer move and clinging my whole body around one of the stalactites I tried desperately to work out how to do the next bit. Too hot and pumped I heard the count down from 10 and then let go. My whole body felt relieved to be flying to the ground.

In joint 3rd I was buzzing yet very nervous to climb once more for the final on the Sunday. The final was an onsight attempt with 6 minutes viewing time and isolation. Although I am quite used to this system the wait in isolation was one of the worst. Hearing the crowd and waiting much longer than an average comp route built up my nerves. We had 15 minutes to complete the final route but it looked much harder than the qualifiers.

With one climber to go we had to sit in a seat facing the audience whilst we saw the crowd watching the climber on the route. This was the ultimate nerve booster but when hearing that the last girl fall and that she I had got the furthest so far I was determined to climb well. So much for determination…I started the first bit with too much trepidation and after an awkward clip I felt ready to give up. I was really pumped and have no idea how I pressed on through the steep initial section. Climbing with no style and rushing to the most welcoming hands off rest in the world I decided to sort my head. Looking at the clock I realised I was ok…if I could only get a little less pumped I could definitely keep pulling. The flatter sections of the wall were pleasant, yet they didn’t last long and I was soon ready for the stalactites again. Pulling across I climbed fast, determined once more to not make mistakes and getting as many knee bars as possible. Forearms pumping I was through the stalactites and onto the new ground of the last box. Here we had to climb underneath it and in the condition I was in (boxed and boiling) I was not ready for it. Grabbing at each hold as they came I was upside down and flying out for the first hold past the lip. To my amazement I caught it! I could hear the crowd now and I couldn’t think any longer. With only 4 holds remaining I made a blind slap for the next hold I was once again, thankfully, flying through the air and hearing I was in first place so far with only 2 climbers left to climb.

Unable to stand up I watched both of those girls climb past me by either a hold or 4. I was happy; 3rd place was £250 and a medal.

Edit: You can watch Beth climb the final route on You Tube

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