Scottish Tooling Series Round 5 - The Final Showdown

By Pete Rhodes

The final round of the Scottish Tooling Series arrived at the grand arena of Ratho. Here Pete gives his run down of final proceedings.

Ratho was the perfect setting for the final of a mixed climbing event. Partly for its massive plastic walls, partly for the real rock routes, but mostly for that fact that it didn’t get above freezing all day! How do we know? Well, snow on the roofs of the camper-vans that had been driven into the arena didn’t melt all day. Now thats cold for an ‘indoor’ event. Needless to say spirits were high and everyone was keen to get to work on what looked like a great set of problems. The slight tension surrounding the overall series rankings were further heightened as some very strong climbers from the international ice circuit were visiting, meaning that we were all scrapping for the lower rankings.

The great feature of this round were the higher number of more accessible routes, a feature that some of the other events had been lacking. This meant that lots of people were flashing lots of routes and getting great scores. After warming up on a few of the slabbier routes and a silly slip from a pretty steady arete problem due to early jitters we cranked on to some of the steeper lines to keep the blood moving. For some reason I was low on fight and got spat off the two hanging log problems with hardly a look in - very disappointing.

With the knowledge that I’d got three good results in the bag from the previous round I managed to relax a little and flashed the rest of the problems save for one and ended up with a respectable if not earth shattering score. As it turned out I was only one point (out of 150) behind all my closest competitors for the series. However thanks to the impressive performances of the Europeans this would be the first chance I would have to sit back and watch the finals - what a treat, or so I thought. As soon as the finals kicked off I was taken aside with Stevie Johnson by one of the organisers to say that we were tied for the series lead and would be climbing head-to-head in a super-final.

Now if I’m honest this prospect didn’t fill me with joy. The final route was a wickedly steep line across the competition wall with the crux being the transition between two hanging logs - the things that I’d been struggling with all day! All I wanted to do was put on a good show . In two of the three finals I’ve fallen off the second move and I was not looking to repeat this performance. After trying to stay warm and a very brief isolation I walked out to route feeling confident enough that I would reach the logs but very unsure after that. The first four clips went well and I spent the extra time to search for the dill hole on the first log to get a good start. I made the clip at the top of this and spanned out to the base of the second. Finding the hook just in time my feet popped and I was suspended between the two. With my forearm clock running down the only option was figure fours. All that garage training had paid off at last! I started throwing my picks at the wood and committing to them with all the abandon I could muster. The screams became much more required as I reached the top of the log but that was all I could give and with the cargo net and easier climbing tantalisingly close I took a healthy fully inverted fall much to the disappointment of my nether regions!

After all that I was very pleased with the outcome. From having never tried anything like this two months ago I had managed to climb better than ever and reach further within my reserves than I ever have. I got second on the series podium while Stevie won with a very impressive fight to the top of the route.

I am very excited now to take this newly gained strength and commitment out into the real world and apply it to some impressive routes just as soon as all this snow clears a little! I’d like to thank the guys who were running the STS for such a great set of events and all the friends that I got to climb with over the weekends, and finally to the guys at Alpkit for all their help with great kit and of course the wicked training aids that are the FigFours!

See you on the hill (or in the garage if it keeps snowing)!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published