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Australian Boulder Nationals wrap up

Most of you who have been regularly climbing at Pulse over the last couple months will have probably seen a young, motivated kid with a long fringe, skipping school to train. Ben Able has been devoting all of his spare time for the national bouldering competition held at Villawood indoor climbing gym down in Sydney. For this competition Ben gave up climbing outdoors to protect his skin and also made a number of other difficult sacrifices such as skipping school to train in Sydney and cutting down his daily diet of boost chocolate bars from 3 to 1.

Seeing his unwavering determination to get stronger and having him constantly nag into your ear to join him down in Sydney for the competition it’s difficult to stop thinking about it. Ben together with Mitchell Breheny (aka daytime crusher) they managed to convince me a few days before the event to give up a day of bouldering on Sydney’s outdoor boulders to join them in what was my first bouldering competition.

Due to the large number of competitors the competition was split over both days of the weekend. Open males on the Saturday (which was the category myself and Mitch were competing in), and Youth B and C on the Sunday which were the categories for Ben and another one of Pulse climbing’s home bread boulderers  Nathanael Clark.

Since this was a national competition, strong experienced  competitors from all over Australia including Hobart and Perth turned up to see if they could take out the title of Australia’s best boulderer. The structure of this competition was different to those in the past. For this competition we were all placed in isolation and were not allowed to view any of our 8 boulder problems which we were to try. For each problem we were only given 4 minutes to view, work out the beta and attempt to send. The problems had defined starting hand and foot holds and a finish hold which was to be matched in a controlled manner to be granted the send. On top of this each problem also contained a bonus hold which if held awarded an extra point. This hold was usually located around the halfway mark of each climb.

A starting order was generated by the judges and Mitch was to climb before me. Having competed in many competitions before he was well aware of the rules, and pressure from the large crowd and judges, and he climbed well! Very well.  Over the first 4 problems he managed to flash three. In contrast to Mitch’s attempts I was pulled up and penalised on a number of occasions for accidently touching holds from the ground and starting with one of my hands not on the wall. All of these things were difficult habits to overwrite from my many outdoor trips. After putting this behind me I managed to flash two of the four problems leaving me feeling frustrated knowing I would be able to climb them under different circumstances.

One round to go.

The second round containing the next four boulder problems started after about an hours break giving time for the route setters to put up the new climbs. Once again Mitch climbed extremely well, in fact he climbed the second round flawlessly flashing all four problems. This sealed him a place in the finals where only 6 competitors advance to. Once again however I had more issues with starting where I wasn’t supposed to. As it turns out climbing in these competitions was vastly different to anything I had tried before and as a result it made me climb differently, which cost me. In the second round I only flashed two problems and reached the bonus holds on the other two. This placed me in 14th position and well out of reach of the finals which Mitch was about to compete in.

As it turns out, Ben’s determination and training must have paid off as he managed to top out all 8 of the boulder problems for his category sealing him second position as Rhys Brandon also managed to climb all 8 but did so in fewer attempts. This means that for his age, Ben is the second best Boulderer in Australia and for this he should be very proud.

The finals for Mitch included big names in climbing such as James Kassey and Tom Farrel, who have both competed for Australia in the world cup. On top of this, the problems set for the finals were much, much harder than those in the previous rounds. Mitch climbed well on the first problem reaching its bonus hold, however was unable to put it together to the top. The next three climbs were just as hard and unfortunately couldn’t top these out either, however not many of the other climbers sent the climbs either. One of the climbs didn’t even see an ascent! James Kassey did the best only reaching its bonus hold.

Once the scores were counted James Kassey took out first place with Sam Bowman in second and Tom Farrel in Third.

After our 5am wake up to get down there for an 8 o’clock rego I think Mitch climbed fantastically well securing 6th position. Feeling disappointed with my efforts I realised it wasn’t so easy to transfer my climbing abilities into the competition scene and that it would probably take a few competitions to become accustomed with the atmosphere and format. However, most importantly it was a great experience and all that competed enjoyed the day. So next time you’re sitting at home you should come into pulse climbing and train to be part of our team that heads down to the next competition.

Check out the photos on Facebook here.

See you in Pulse.