Moscow has been a huge success, two podiums for Great Britain and a cultural experience of a life time. The competition was small with a large proportion of Russians climbing very confidently and 5/6 other countries who made it through the visa application and huge distance. Cruising along in our 3 berth cabin, having travelled overnight in the triple bunks. I am reflecting on what a great trip has been.
On the Friday youth B had their qualifiers, Molly cruised both looking fully confident and smooth. Flo was thrown at half height by powerful moves which she was very frustrated about but still paced her in 14th. She was climbing really well for her second ever international, hopefully she is learning what her weaknesses are and is strong enough to pick herself up and will throw herself at the Imst European in August.
My qualifiers were on the Saturday, we were put on the same routes as youth A/B with a few holds removed so I was confident with the sequences. The first route was on the steep wall and went without much fight. I have not topped many qualifiers (only one other in fact) so this was very satisfying. The second route was almost vertical and very technical/sketchy. Although most people from the Friday and all the people in front of me were really struggling on this route I was confident in the sequence and comfortable with the style from the recent Malham trips. That said though it did turn out to be desperate and my feet popping several times had my heart on edge. I was the only competitor from my group to top this and qualified me in first place, a first! The Russians were obviously strong on this route but struggled with the vertical style. It was obvious that the real show down was going to be in the final.
Our very helpful Russian assistant organised tour guide around Moscow that afternoon and the Norwegians, Romanians and us walked and drove around the capital learning lots about the modern and ancient history. The layers of history in the buildings is amazing It was a great 2 hour tour that turned into a 6 hour expedition, through parks, up to the university and along bustling streets full of artists and buskers. Moscow really is an intriguing place. We returned weary and satisfyingly cultured in Russian history and collapsed into bed.
I got up early with Molly on the day of the final to accompany her into isolation. She seemed well warmed and relatively relaxed when I left he tying on ready to give it everything. The route she had like a desperate power endurance rig and she climbed it really well, a little shaky in the primary moves but gaining confidence with height fell on the headwall, placing her in 3rd place.
It was then my turn to join the rest of my group in isolation for the finals. My first place in qualifiers now meant nothing as I faced the same competitors for an onsight final on the steep side. I was well warmed up and relaxed, well until our 6 minuets viewing and I saw just how powerful the route looked and the different possibilities for a sequence round a volume at ¾ height. It was good having made good friends with Jacob from the Norwegian team we worked together in the warm up making boulders and keeping anxiety at bay.
When the rest of group had been called out to give the monster there best fight it was just me left tying on and doing my boots up. I got into the single move mindset only focused on the climbing at hand a quick reminder of the sequence in my 40 seconds before climbing and I set off. The moves were boulder from the start and some of the starting moves were desperate. I fought on through what felt like crux after crux getting pretty pumped a small power scream through a move dropping down onto an undercut placed me up the rankings as I caught the next hold and gave a last blast for the hold before the complex volume. I didn’t get to work through my sequence that had worried my before but I had put enough in to get 3rd place. Two Russians had pressed on for 2-4 more moves an impressive effort!
It was such an intense final route that It was not as enjoyable as Ratho the week before but super happy to have made it onto a podium in my last year in junior (even if it is the smallest competition I have ever competed in). It was such a good trip, very relaxed and involved a really interesting dose of culture, we got to know the small number of competitors rely well and made new Russian friends. I was really impressed by how friendly some of the Russians were and the effort they put in to make our stay enjoyable.
The competition was somewhat spread out and inefficient resulting in a frantic run straight off the podium 1km to the tube station with all our rucksacks and wheely bags from where we dashed through the beautiful underground system only to find our orientation had been wrong right from the start of the trip and the station we thought we had arrived at was not in fact the station on the map. More running, much more frantic we headed underground again with 10minuets before our train in a futile effort to get onboard the sleeper. In hopeless frustration we arrived 5b minuets late to find no train to Warsaw. Fortunately the next train ran at midnight and would just get us in with an hour before our next train to Cologne departed. The tickets for a 24hour train across boarders in a 3 person sleeper carriage worked out at 2000 rubels the equivalent of around £40!
So after a bit of drama everything was back on track. We had a lovely extended dinner in a local’s eatery to take up the time, this was the best food of the whole trip bar perhaps the chicken from the ladies handbag! We celebrated with the true Russian delicacy.