For most people the words “climbing” and “competition” do not go hand in hand. Surely getting up the wall in one piece is enough to celebrate, let alone doing it without ropes. Yet at this year’s BUCS Climbing Championships, held in Sheffield, university’s from up and down the country showed off just how hard it can be.
The set-up is simple: 25 different routes comprising 9 ‘easier’ climbs, 8 climbs which even experienced climbers would struggle on, and a further 8 climbs which only the best will manage. For each route, or ‘problem’, you can receive a maximum of 10 points and a minimum of 0. If you are able to complete the problem on your first go you receive 10 points, if you complete it on your second go that’s 7 and on your third, that’s 4. If you can’t complete the problem after your third go, you can score 1 point for reaching the bonus hold, which is usually halfway up the climb.
This means that the maximum score any one competitor can receive is 250 points, and this year Sheffield Hallam’s Jim Pope did just that: he completed every route on his first try. This was an incredible achievement, and one that secured first place for him in the Men's Individual competition. Edinburgh’s Ajda Rema¡kar took home the Women’s Individual title with a score of 208, making it clear that Team Newcastle were up against some very tough competition. To make things harder, only Team Captain Jake Oughton had competed at BUCS Nationals before, with the rest of the team competing for the first time at this level.
Despite this, the team achieved some excellent results, with our Men’s Team earning BUCS points by finishing in 8th place. Captain Jake showed that sometimes technique is more important than strength by achieving a high score of 215 points, securing him joint 8th place out of 260 in the Men’s Individuals. The star of the women’s team was Catherine Bonn who, with a score of 104, came 37th out of 171, rounding off a very successful day at BUCS Nationals for Team Newcastle.