Well the BUCS championships 2017 trip went by this weekend in a surprisingly pleasant, entertaining few days, here's a small summary of the weekend in the hope of education the masses on the working of climbing competitions, something I'm often asked.
BUCS has always been a relatively awkward experience. With a closing date for entries well before we usually even start thinking about competitions it always makes for a slightly panicked day, climbers who forgot they were even going to be there competing with unis who seem to base their entire year around it!
Our team this year was Zygis, Spooner, Carl, Eva and I, with Rob Siitonen as a well volunteered route judge. BUCS, and most other bouldering competitions, consists of 25 routes in a range of difficulties, with points given depending on the number of attempts each problem takes you. The maximum is 10 points for a flash, 250 for points for the competition. The routes this year were generally of quite a high standard, though none of them remained unclimbed, and had a fairly good variety of slabs, overhangs and 3d climbing which keeps ploughing through 25 boulder problems more interesting than monotonous. Our top three scores peaked at 181 (me), followed closely at 170 (Zygis) and 162 (Spooner). The respective rankings of 35th, 60th and 80th out of the 260 or so male competitors gives an idea of how close the spacing in these competitions gets. Carl placed an even 100th position (bonus prize?) scoring just below Spooner and Eva just missed the same rank with 108th out of the females.
I was very pleased with how everyone performed on the day, and equally pleased by the change in attitude of our fellow competitors. Previous years have had a strong unfriendly feel to them, with extremely competitive teams refusing to chat or share route ideas, but this year we found everyone in good spirits and enjoying themselves far more, making for a much friendlier competition despite the 7am start! The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying the peaks, with honourable mentions to Spooners increasingly close attempts at the last move of Deliverance (f7B+) and Carl's jacket, which was first disfigured then destroyed by his full body jams on trad offwidths perhaps meant for someone with slightly less shoulder. My photo of deliverance is (extremely deceptively) pictured, as everyone knows what the inside of the works climbing gym looks like.
People often ask about the climbing level needed to take part in these competitions - in fact the more limiting factor is always how many people we can take instead of how many people are of a high enough level. While BUCS is one of the higher level competitions we do our normal and more regular entries into the London university series (LUBE) have routes which allow everyone to get something from the day, with a minimum entry level of maybe v1 / v2 just to make sure there are enough routes to keep you interested. As always if you're interested in trying some competition climbing it's best to drop me a message, we're always oversubscribed but I try and give people at least one opportunity at a comp.
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