PLANETFEAR 2008 British Lead Climbing Championships Day 1 Saturday 24th MayFull Report and Photography by Dave Pickford Following the success of the 2007 BLCC held at the Blackpool Towers, last weekend the planetFear British lead Climbing Championships returned to Britain?s most unusual climbing wall. Despite being subject to continual gale force winds howling down off Morecambe Bay, we saw two days of extremely impressive performances from Britain?s top competition climbers and rock athletes.The event began on Saturday morning with the Junior (under 16) climbers, followed by the Veterans (over 45). For each category – including the Seniors on Sunday – two qualifying routes are climbed, the results of which determine the climbers who will go forward into the final. Charlotte Ellison Qualifying on SaturdayImpressively, every one the sixteen Junior Male climbers topped out on the first qualifier, as did ten out of a total thirteen Junior Female climbers. The second qualifier was a far steeper and sterner test for both Junior categories, climbing the overhanging inner walls of the asymmetric tripod. Jonathan Stocking and Luke Tilley pulled out all the stops on their second climb. Both boys topped out easily, seemingly unphased by consistently sustained and often technical climbing. There were two extremely strong performances from Paul Williamson and Jonathan Field, who both fell at the same point high on the route. Edd Mowbray and Ross Kirkland also climbed exceptionally well, and the choice of competitors for the final was set. Suzie Zitter Qualifying on SaturdayOn the equally steep second route the girls had to tackle, Shauna Coxsey and Kitty Wallace both topped out with beguiling ease, and Rebecca Hall fell just a few moves short of the finish. Catherine Whiteman put in a very strong effort, climbing almost to Rebecca?s high point. A short distance below, Suzie Zitter, Jessica McCaskey, Ellen Tracey, and Jaime Davidson were all stopped at the same move. This meant that the latter eight of the thirteen Junior Female climbers went through to the final. Kitty Wallace on the Junior Female Final RouteThe Junior Male final route was an extremely technical, plum-vertical affair. Jonathan Stocking, Luke Tilley, and Ross Kirkland all climbed it flawlessly to the belay. This meant that both Jonathan and Luke were equal on points, both boys having topped out on all three routes! A super final was thus set shortly afterwards, a severely overhanging line on the same wall as the Senior Male final route. Luke put in an exceptional performance, climbing strongly and very high before he fell. Jonathan then astonished the crowd by, once again, clipping the belay after a consummate ascent. The 2007 Junior Male British Lead Climbing Champion had won the title again for a consecutive year. Shauna Coxsey Winning the Junior Female TitleThe Junior Female final route also took place on the steepest inner wall of the tripod, and was clearly an exacting challenge for all the competitors. Kitty Wallace put in a spectacular performance, climbing very high in her characteristically elegant and dynamic style. However, it was the defending 2007 Junior Female Champion, Shauna Coxsey, who stole the show. Shauna climbed with apparently unfailing strength until she just missed a powerful throw at the finish, retaining her title for 2008 with a hugely impressive display of good technique, endurance, and talent. Luke Tilley on the Junior Male Super-FinalIn the Veterans category, only four competitors took to the wall: Nick Colton, Ian Dunn, Mike Watson and Mike Mowbray. All the men easily topped out in the first qualifier, and climbed extremely well in the second, with Nick and Ian falling high on the route. On the strength-sapping tufas of the final, however, it was the BMC?s Nick Colton who held sway, climbing very strongly up the sustained line all the way to the top, before just missing the dynamic throw for the final hold. In winning the Veteran?s Championship, Nick proved that high performance sport climbing is possible well into middle age, which should be an inspiration to climbers both young and old. Nick Colton Qualifying for the Veterans The Junior Category WinnersPlanetFear would like to congratulate all of the event?s competitors on their superb performance. We would also like to thank the BMC (www.thebmc.co.uk) and the Climbing Team of Great Britain for organising it.