32 young climbers attend Squad Youth Academy in Orkney!

This year we trialled running some mock competitions as part of our dedicated Squad Youth Academies. We decided to merge this with a competition already planned at Pickquoy Leisure centre in Orkney. This would give some proper onsight practice on new walls to the 'southerners' and the shortest travel time to a comp that the dedicated Orcadians have ever had...

The Mock Comp

On Friday the ClimbScotland team with help from Ian Rendall, Ella Spence, Christie Macleod and Rebekah Drummond endured the Orcadian heat to craft 2 qualifying routes, a final and some comp style boulder problems for each category. Pickaquoy Leisure Centre had just received their large order of holds from Euroholds fresh for the competition. This probably puts Pickquoy in the running for the largest and most diverse range of holds to be found in a leisure centre climbing wall in Scotland!

After a thundery night cleared the air over Friday, we woke up to another stunning day in Orkney and a freshly set Pickaquoy Climbing Wall. Everyone arrived psyched and ready on Saturday morning, to make the most of the Scottish summer, of course the warm-up had to be outside.

After a good variety of warmup games, including my personal favourite, crab walk football we headed indoors to begin the mock competition. The atmoshphere was brilliant whilst everyone got stuck into their first routes of the competition, although there were certainly no giveaway routes as even the route ones packed a punch and challenged all the competitors.

By the time everyone had moved onto their second qualifier, it had become clear that the new set of holds was pushing everyone to the limits, even the Orcadians on their home wall had a testing time. Some of these shapes wouldn't have looked out of place at a boulder world cup!

Staying true to the mock competition format, once the competitors had climbed there two qualifying routes, they were put into isolation before the final. Observation was next, with all the competitors out at the same time to try and read the sequence and prepare for their final, the purple Youth A and B final and the white Youth C final had pride of place up the large 'golf ball' feature and both looked relentlessly steep.

The After Party

A weekend in Orkney wouldn't be complete without a big post comp social event. Luckily the Orkney Climbing Club was more than happy to make the most of the great weather and host a brilliant BBQ for competitors, parents and coaches. Needless to say the fun and games carried on throughout the entire BBQ, obviously the kids had a lot left in the tank after the comp.

A big thank you and special present was also awarded to Ian Rendall from the Orkney Climbing Club, for all his work in organising and preparing the competition - thanks Ian!

Yesnaby or maybe not...

The original plan for Sunday had been to visit Yesnaby quarry and give everyone a taste of some RealRock on Orkney. However, the weather did not play ball. Sunday morning started off with some heavy showers which unfortunately gave the crag quite a soaking. This may have been a blessing in disguise however, as it did mean that all the coaches and kid's got a chance to break in Pickaquoys brand new boulder wall with it's awesome slab extension. However, a warm-up was needed first and we had spotted the bouncy castles being blown up when we arrived in the morning - which could only mean one thing....

"Best warmup ever"

We couldn't think of a better way to first use the wall, than by let the kid's design their own boulder problems before bringing them to life on the wall. Judging by the quality of the blocs that now adhorn the wall, I think the future definitely looks bright for Scottish route setting.

We spent the rest of the day having a rematch with the previous days competition routes. It was great to see everyone making a bit of progress and unlocking the sequences that had alluded them the day before. Everyone finished the day with no skin left and some big smiles on their faces!

A massive thank you to Ian Rendall and the rest of the Orcadians for making us feel so welcome and keeping us well fed, and to the coaches, parents and the kids for being there!

A full selection of pictures can be found here, courtesy of Iain Bain.

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