The annual Winter Bouldering Series has returned to TX this year, follow this page for a report and results from every round. Thanks to Fernweh UK and Tiso for supporting the competition this year. All photographs by Robert Stokes unless otherwise stated.
Round 1 took place on November 4th and saw a huge variety of problems set in the centre; from mentally challenging highballs to technical slab problems, balancey vert problems and explosive dyno problems. In the junior section, the familiar name of Stephen Kier jumped out to an early lead over Jamal Ronald, Ben Findlay and the rest of the pack in the males while Amy Ryan secured the top spot after 1 in the females.
In the adult section the competition became an all out battle to win the round between Team GB teammates Max Milne and Angus Davidson. In the end it came down to one top of the final problem with Max taking the win by a single point. This could be a rivalry to watch as the season progresses. In the chasing pack Steven Aitken, Alister Newlands and Valerio Tronca are all within striking distance of the top spot heading into Round 2. In the female event Caroline Sham and Nguyen Lien were in a class of their own to take the top two spots respectively with Ellen Bradshaw and Lena Schelling battling for the third position on the leaderboard.
In the veterans category, last years winner Gareth Yardley headed straight to the top spot after out performing some spirited competition from Dave Hainsworth and Chris Fryer. On the female side Donna Ryan was the sole competitor so holds the top spot. The setting team for Round 1 were; Matt Berry, Jay Carr, Michaela Howett and Ash Dean.
Round 2: SNBL
Round 2 of the WBS saw the Scottish National Bouldering League (SNBL) return to the North East. Armed with guest setter Robbie Phillips, the local setting team combined to set a challenging comp worth travelling for. 70 competitors made the trip from all over the country to take part and challenge for national ranking points.
Round 2 was widely considered to be a harder competition than the first round but that didn't stop some great performances being put in from all sections. In the junior males the visiting Jack McKechnie took the win home with him to claim maximum SNBL points. With another strong showing in second place Jamal Ronald moves in to the WBS top spot. In the junior female section two visiting climbers took the top two spots with Kristen Taylor and Niamh Alldred putting in great performances. Amy Ryan maintained her grip on the top spot of the WBS by coming in 3rd and Emma Heslop made her first entry of the year tying 4th with Hazel Highton.
In the adult male section there was stiff competition right till the end with only 2 problems separating the top 4 finishers. Richard Abel finally took the win after his win at the last round of the SNBL in Inverness to keep the pressure on series leader Jay Carr who finished 6th at TX this time. With GB trials taking place this weekend Max and Angus' absence was felt as Steven Aitken rode a 3rd place finish to the WBS top spot. Stuart Adams is up to second with Joe Schamp in third. In the female event, Allison MacDougall held onto her top spot in the SNBL despite Adja Remskar taking the win in Aberdeen. Caroline Sham continued her strong showing from Round 1 to stay top of the WBS with Nguyen Lien hot on her heels. Ellen Bradshaw remains 3rd while Annaelle Harris and Catriona Birley are up to 4th.
Despite having more competition this round Gareth Yardley maintained his grip on the top spots of both the WBS and SNBL competitions. He certainly is the man to beat this year. John Sharples kept hold of his 2nd place in the SNBL while Chris Fryer jumped up to second in the WBS. On the female side the number of competitors doubled to two as Koon Morris showed why she is the SNBL leader with a strong showing to push Donna into second place.
The next round of the SNBL takes place at The Climbing Academy in Glasgow on January 21st while the WBS at TX will be back on Friday 3rd February. The setting team for Round 2 were Michaela Howett, Noah Thorpe, Marie Viatte and guest setter Robbie Phillips.
Round 3: 3/2/17
After a long break for Christmas and New Year the WBS returned with a redpoint format to test and challenge the competitors. Rather than the usual flash contest, the redpoint format allows climbers to test problems and try moves beforehand and then scoring on how far through the problem they progressed. With the top 3 scores out of 4 overall determining the final WBS standings this was the perfect time to reign in some of the leaders.
In the junior males, a strong showing from Jamal Ronald has given him an an unassailable lead heading into next month's final but the battle for the remaining prize places could not be more open which will being an exciting end to the season in the juniors. In the female side of the draw Amy Ryan narrowly edged Emma Heslop on the night to maintain her hold on first place in the series while Hazel Highton sits in second with Emma third. This category will come right down to the wire in March.
For the seniors the redpoint format and problems provided a stiff opponent for all competitors and once again no one gained maximum points. Steven Aitken won on the night and holds onto his top spot overall. Stu Adams placed 3rd behind Noah Thorpe to stick in 2nd overall. Joe Schamp is holding steady in 3rd overall but with only 19 points separating 2nd and 4th, we are in for another exciting finish. In the females Caroline Sham looks to end the season with a runaway win for the title behind her in there is an all out battle for second and third between Nguyen Lien, Ellen Bradshaw and Alison MacDougall. Who will be left on the outside looking in?
In the veterans category, Gareth Yardley continues his imperious form with another win and now cannot be caught in the overall standings after achieving 3 perfect scores in the series standings. Chris Fryer maintains his hold on second place while the return of Dave Hainsworth to the series sees him comfortably into third. In the females Donna Ryan continues her march to the number 1 spot with another victory in round 3.
Setting team for round 3: Matt Berry, Jay Carr, Michaela Howett & Scott Donaldson.
Round 4: The Final
The final round of this seasons Winter Bouldering Series took place on the evening of March 3rd. While most of the section winners had been confirmed after Round 3 but there was still all to play for and prizes up for grabs below the series leaders. The redpoint format from Round 3 returned after a positive reception from participants so watch this space next year for this format to make a return in 2017/18.
In the junior categories Jamal Ronald and Amy Ryan had already been confirmed as the winners heading into the final event, Jamal topped off his strong performance this year with another win in the Junior Males. On the female side of the competition, Emma Heslop and Hazel Highton were locked into a battle for 2nd/3rd spot which eventually saw Emma come out on top and secure the higher standing. Junior section prizes were provided by Tiso Aberseen and Petzl.
In the adult category the winners had also been all but confirmed in February as Caroline Sham and Steven Aitkin took the overall victories as well as the Round 4 title. Ben Winter pushed his way from 6th to 2nd in the overall standings while Stu Adams dropped from 2nd to 3rd but did well to hold off a challenge from Joe Schamp. In the females, Caroline held on for the win with Nguyen Lien holding off a late charge from Alison MacDougall who took 3rd. Ellen Bradshaw finished only 5 points further back in 4th place.
Finally, in the Veterans, Gareth Yardley maintained his perfect score in all competitions this year to finish top of the leader board and successfully defended his 2015/16 title. Chris Fryer and Dave Hainsworth tied for second in a closely fought category. Donna Ryan was crowned champion of the Female Veterans with a perfect season score of 300.