Sheffield Cliffhanger 2011 – UNDO Features

I officially survived the Cliffhanger festival 2011 despite extensive driving periods and being eaten alive by small insects. This specialist event for the outdoor enthusiast has been held in Sheffield for a number for years now with continuing success.

Cliffhanger was an excellent chance to scope out some tasty deals on climbing gear as Decathlon, Alpkit, Cotswalds and Ratrace had stalls with some awesome bargains, even cheaper than their website prices in some cases. Not only did we manage to pick up some bargains like 50% of a large North Face holdall and £50 Alpkit water resistant jeans for £20, 5.10 were offering a chance to test out their new range of climbing shoes on The Climbing Works training walls.

Speaking of The Climbing works I took the opportunity to enrol on some coaching courtesy of Steve McClure from The Climbing Works. The coaching on offer offered 1 hour sessions for total beginners and intermediate level climbers.

After being talked through some useful warm up routines to prevent injury and improve flexibility during your session, in small groups Steve led us through easy routes up to some fairly tricky problems and commented or offered suggestions on how we should tackle these with less effort. Being in the same small group as a ranked 15th junior climber who absolutely trounced us on the wall and in flexibility really didn’t do much to boost morale, however all the while we gained some excellent tips on crimping and some invaluable advice on strength flexibility (handy for those heel hooks).

As if climbing workshops wasn’t enough DMM & AMI were giving instruction on proper placement of protection and rope techniques, with DMM also demoing some of their carabiner load tests. The British Caving Association and the Sheffield Speleological Society were also offering instruction on how to climb up a free hanging rope, always handy to know.

The workshops were reason enough to attend the Cliffhanger festival but what we went for was the IFSC Bouldering World Cup and the Dyno World Record attempts.

The Dyno wall was situated outside the bouldering competition tent so we could watch all the action while basking in the glorious Sheffield sunshine. The wall was open for all interested contenders to have a try at a steadily increasing distance. Many of the Bouldering Championship entrants and even the Parkour lads had a go at dyno-ing the walls mid-distance with few being successful.

If anything this demonstrated that completing long distance dynos are a skill in its own right. You don’t have to have competition skill and stamina or have exceptionally powerful muscles to do it. I noticed that being a bit gangly and light seemed to be an advantage as some of the taller, thinner people tended to hit home 1st time or in some cases over shot the mark.

Finally on the Sunday the Dyno wall had been set to the 3m mark, Skyler Weeks and Peter Wurth both stepped up to see who could smash the world record. A clash of the Titans and no mistake as both guys are pretty tall adding to their ability to reach that distant jug. Both competitors made some awesome attempts with some massive over shooting and single handed grabs but nothing qualifying for the world record. At the end of the attempt the world record was not broken, however Skyler had a final try and made the 3m mark. A truly massive leap but it didn’t count as the competition ended. So the official distance is still set at 2.825m with Skyler still holding his name to the title, but unofficially the distance has been met and broken leaving even greater distances to be jumped next year.

The IFSC Bouldering competition was on throughout the weekend with the finals being on Sunday and what a battle The routes for the finals had a definite spacey Star Wars theme giving and involved some pretty out of this world dynos onto massive spherical volumes.

The event closed with the awards ceremony and we took that as our queue to set off on the long road back to Glasgow. Luckily the local pub down the road had a BBQ for us to stock up on a last minute feast. Next on to Chamonix and the World Climbing Championships, then possibly back to Sheffield for the Alpkit outdoor festival, in the late summer/early autumn period, it’s probably going to be freezing isn’t it?

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