The Route Masters

The Scotsman, September 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

The Route Masters


The world's best climbers are set to show off their skills in Edinburgh, with 200 able-bodied and 50 paraclimbers competing in two different events.

Whilst Ratho is the biggest indoor climbing arena in Europe, with more routes than any other wall in the UK and a range of grades from F3 to F8c, this is the first time the IFSC World Cup [International Federation of Sport Climbing] has been held here since 2003.

Edinburgh boasts the only international standard competition wall suitable for hosting Lead and Speed in the UK, which are the main disciplines in the IFSC competition, whilst in the para element, only lead climbing takes place.

Lead climbing involves endurance and strategy. Secured by a rope, athletes climb on an overhanging route (one at a time), with a sixminute time limit. The one who gets the highest wins.

The routes are set by professional route-setters, of whom I am one. Route-setting is one of the most important aspects of any climbing wall, blending creative, technical and physical abilities to set quality routes, which is only possible after many years of climbing experience. Many of us are called upon to 'route set' competitions worldwide.

Faster and more agile than Spiderman In speed climbing, athletes race 15 metres high on standard parallel routes. The holds and order are always the same, and the difficulty rating is around F6b/c, a level most recreational climbers could complete. The fastest wins.

As of April 2017, Iranian climber, Reza Alipourshenazandifar holds the men's 15 metre speed world record with 5.48 seconds, whilst Iuliia Kaplina from Russia holds the women's record with 7.46 seconds.

This year marks the first time the ParaCup will be held in conjunction with an IFSC World Cup, and the first time one has been held in Scotland. There is a qualification round, with typically two climbs, followed by a final round of one climb.

With 10 climbing categories for both men and women - men's and women's AU-1 (arm amputee); men's and women's AU-2 (forearm amputee); men's and women's visually impaired B1, B2 and B3; men's and women's AL-1 (seated) and AL-2; men's and women's RP1, RP2 and RP3, most categories will not have experienced the climbing wall. …

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