BUCS Sheffield trip

by Stuart McDowell

The team of eager leaders left Swansea at 6:40 (Tuesday 22nd) stocked up on snacks and ready to give a good crack at the routes up at Awesome Walls Sheffield for the 2016/17 BUCS lead competition. This year’s team comprised of; Stuart McDowell, Calum McClune, Jack Goodfellow, Michael Palfrey, Kamil Klosowski, Laura Guest, Hannah Frame, Sarah Salo and Emma Broad. With Stuart driving the annoyingly slow minibus (Maxed out at 62mph!!) the team made it up to the Don Valley Hotel (would highly recommend, amazing value for what you get!) at 11:30pm, being met with free Jäger Bombs which Michael and Calum quickly snatched up, while the others crashed out, convinced now that Calum’s climbing power comes from how hungover he is.
An easier start on the chilly morning of the 23rd got the team to Awesome Walls by 10:00am right at the end of the briefing, with routes opening up at 11 having route demos of each competition route before being allowed onto them. For the first hour of the 4 ½ hour window for qualifiers only 2 routes were attempted by the entirety of the universities participating, one being a failed attempt on route 8 and another a climber breezing their way up route 10 and sailing into the finals.
With a little bit of encouragement the rest of the universities made their way onto the routes once they’d thoroughly defrosted. Stuart started on problem 2, getting a feeling for the routes, sounding like a broken down train as he coughed his way up the wall. Laura and Sarah made super attempts at routes 3 and 4, Sarah being unlucky and missing some vital holds which ultimately cost her the climb, while Laura topped out route 3 and moved onto the tricky route 4 which only saw a few tops over the entire day. Jack, Hannah and Emma then gave route 4 a go after a shaky start, getting three-quarters and halfway up the wall respectively. Calum meanwhile had been eyeing up the crimpy, reachy route 8, nursing his hangover while Stuart gave route 10 a go, (just because, why not really?!) unfortunately slipping off about halfway and not being able to recover while climbing with a finger injury, before jumping on route 9 and encountering similar problems, realizing that climbing on a possible tendon injury is perhaps not the smartest idea.
Kamil managed a great send of route 6, managing to knock his glasses off on the penultimate clip, sending them plummeting down to the mats below, snapping off one of the legs and having to repair them with a safety pin. Calum managed to warm himself up enough to give route 8 an attempt and got most of the way up, but not being able to make a big move to slopey holds, which Kamil would later encounter and come across similar difficulties. Michael made it up routes 6 and almost to the top of route 5 falling off only a couple of clips from the top. Stuart managed to scramble his way up route 7, with Calum being unlucky and falling off right near the top on pinches and crimps. In the last hour or so of qualifying time, Laura, Sarah, Hannah and Jack all had attempts at routes 2 and 1 with Calum running the time down to the wire, completing route 5 with 15 minutes to spare and getting 2/3 of the way up route 6.
With the team starving (still not having lunch by the end of the comp at around 4pm) and pretty much ready to head home, a quick trip to Tesco to stock up again on food and then the long drive back to Swansea trying to miss the rush hour traffic. All in all a great trip, I was mega proud of everyone who came along and gave it a go and I’d like to say that everyone enjoyed themselves and got something out of the day and I’m looking forward to taking stronger, more confident team next year.