24 January, 2013

The Reading Journey - by Mike

On Wednesday the 16th, after a day of route setting and wall building at The Castle, a hectic evening awaits us. As always a lot got left to the last minute and we had to pack an alarming amount of stuff into my van plus Alex’s and Gaz’s cars.  In true Al style we manage to squeeze in all two boxes in the back of the “beamer” but luckily Gaz’s car seems to be a TARDIS. It surprised me just how much stuff you need to put on an event like Blocfest and, as Reading was over an hour away for us, forgetting something major was simply not an option.  After the packing, kicking and slamming the doors on the motors we moved out of the cold and went inside to deal with the paper work.  The scorecards, number cards, challenge posters, registration database and tones of other stuff needed to be ordered and packed up.  By 11:30pm it was done - I was destroyed and couldn’t believe the festival was still three days away!

On Thursday morning we headed toward Reading with fresh psyche from a few bouldering World Cup replays on YouTube over breakfast. Gaz’s car bottoming out over every one of seemingly thousands of speed bumps in North London. Inevitably we made it to Reading and as soon as I walked in and met the Reading team I knew that for me this was going to be an excellent event and a pleasure to organise. To quote Nick Pope “visiting Reading CC is always a pleasure” and I have to agree - so much energy and psyche for stuff like this comes from the team there.

The plan was laid out – Gaz and I set the finals whilst Al and Kornelija, both of whom are suffering from injuries organised absolutely everything else. This gave us time to focus on getting the finals right and making them a showcase. All was going well until: A) we realised we were weak and rubbish and B) it started snowing!  The snow started causing a real concern, there was no way we could re-schedule or cancel but in the true spirit of climbers we decided if it all went down the pan we had a blank climbing wall, a DJ rig with massive speakers, and a cheap booze section in Morrison’s down the road!

Jim Pope on the Beal Traverse
As you know on Friday it snowed a lot and the Morrison’s option was looking more likely but reports from the arctic explorers (Reading staff) told us that even though the snow came earlier then predicted the roads around Reading were ok. So we pushed on setting the 30 blocs and preparing for the big turnout.  By the time we finished it was 10pm and time to go back to the car park, dig the snow off the van and get some sleep inside.

Saturday was really good fun and the turnout was amazing. Big thanks goes to all those who braved the conditions and travel disturbances.  The first at the door at 9am was a father and daughter from Bournemouth – how psyched is that! From this point the day built up with so many great moments, so many laughs. Also a massive thanks to all the volunteers who helped out on the day – we couldn’t have done it without you!
Jenn Wilby on Women final bloc 1
After a great effort from all the Under 16’s and their podium where they were presented with prizes by Steve McClure, the day pushed on toward the end of the seniors’ time and the showcase finals. How would those finals blocs from Thursday turn out? Would it be a show for spectators or would everyone simply cruise to the top within the first seconds of their allowed time? These are the pressures of comp setting and I was particularly bricking it as a few top male “wads” had turned up and crushed the 25 bloc tour. I was worried the men’s finals looked to be too easy so I made some very last-minute adjustments and hoped some experience would get me through this one.

As it turned out the finals were immense! The crowd got behind the climbers and DJs, technically speaking, RINSED IT!

Another great event - thanks goes to so many people and sponsors and we really hope you can make it to the TCA Blocfest on 17th February.

If you read this far..... good effort!

The Finals scores

Top/ Attempts
Tiffany Soithongsuk
Caz Coleman
Jen Wilby
Audrey Seguy
Molly Thompson-Smith

Top/ Attempts
Cailean Harker
Thomas Van Boeckel
Peter Wycislik
Matt Cousins
Jon Partridge

U16 podiums
Jim Pope
Sam Roberts
James Goodey

Lucy Bradbrury
Becky Whaley
Libby Gamble

Photos courtesy of Christina Baldwin.

The finalists

Cailean Karker on the Blocfest blobs 

Jon Partridge levitating
  in the finals


  1. Epic event folks! Big thanks for the effort to make the winter weekend great!

    p.s. Spelling correction: Peter Wucislik should read Peter Wycislik