SkyMasters 2009!

By Beth Monks

Friday at the outdoor show with Alpkit consisted of breaking the till, adding money up wrong, staring at the big moving/spinning volumes in anxiety and anticipation, spicy curry and beer…

Up early on Saturday morning we were ‘raring’ to go! After seeing the demo from Steve Mac, it was certainly clear that the Sky Masters competition was like no other any of us had experienced before. The qualifying route was meant to be about F6c however… it was a speed-climbing race, but looking at it made me wonder how the hell I was meant to climb something so steep (and so wobbly) so quickly! However hearing the cheers in the crowd when people finished the route gave me confidence – at least I might get to the end! Time moved FAST and then I was out… I hadn’t quite realised how much the whole structure moved - it was wobbling a lot! Climbing as fast as I could I found myself on massive jugs! Phew! Getting to the spinning volume was fine; on it, I think it was the best idea to climb round it while there were still holds on it to do so! (…as I later found out). So I got to the end and my stomach (slightly after the rest of me) took the whipper (they didn’t give us a last clip) – 1st round I took 3:51 seconds and I was pretty out of breath! On the ground I found out how quickly everyone else had climbed it…that’s when I realised I needed to pick up the speed! So I was out again, on the other side this time…climbing (what felt like) as fast as I could. Got to the end again and let go and got that familiar sicky sensation you get when you fall through the air very quickly- 3:14 seconds this time!
…end of the qualifiers I was through in 7th place (out of 8 eek!)

So… spend the rest of the day on the till again (you’d have thought I’d have learnt by now not to touch it) and watching the men’s qualifiers. The party in the evening was a bit of let down and my feet were flipping killing me already from standing up for two days… but we played an interesting game using our ‘core’ and beer bottles! I was useless! Pete won – no idea how…! (*cough…* beating Dan and Kenny *cough*)… Obviously it was all about technique! Haha. Got back at 9ish to the hotel and ordered PIZZA (!) which took an age to come… but was worth the wait :)

Up early again on Sunday…felt like even earlier cause we lost a whole hour!!! :( I wasn’t particularly ready to go but felt quite psyched to get back up there. It was now a ‘knock out’ and whoever got the best time out of you and the person you were climbing against went through to the next round. I was against Hazel Findlay (who came 2nd in qualifiers). Out last, I got up the first pillar quite fine trying to compose myself to keep climbing as fast as I could. However, getting onto first of the hanging volumes it was obvious the difference in difficulty (it was about F7a/+ ish?) … but climbing quickly made it seem harder. So I continued to pull through bigger moves as fast as possible and made it to the spinning volume… this time I knew we had to spin and I could see Hazel was at the same point. So after and awkward clip I pulled the volume in and (I remember thinking it was quite scary) pushed off my leg to get the volume to spin round and hung on! It seemed slow but I got round!! First time! I could hear Hazel was having problems with the spin and saw she was round the back of the volume – ‘on the dark side’. So I got to the end… took the fall and thought phew! I’m 28 seconds ahead…maybe I’ll get through!
After watching people race on the other side I took to the opposite side as well and I was on again. With a 28 second lead I think I was relaxing too much. I still climbed fast but there was a change in my head. I got to the spinning volume and saw Hazel again at the same point. This time however I got on and got stuck!! I couldn’t get enough spinning power to get all the way round… it just stopped in the middle! Pulling myself back in to try again I could hear that Hazel had done it first time and after pulling back and trying over and over to get it spinning I was pumped! I thought it was over… and it was. I could no longer hold on anymore and found myself once again in the air.

Finishing in 5th place wasn’t so bad… it was a really fun comp and I would love to get back on it! The rest of the show was spent checking out the stalls, chilling out, getting squirted by a measly little water pistol things… (the thing we used to demo how waterproof the AMAZING waterproof jeans really are… it should have been used more for that!), slack-lining, brush boarding (!), ‘cool’ boarding (like a wobble board) and unfortunately packing up when everyone had gone home… although we managed to do it in like an hour! Which was pretty good timing! I was shattered!
All in all, a very good weekend :)

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