Youth Team Member Tim Miller’s Season

Youth World Ice Climbing Championships

So I first started dry tooling last year when I took part in the Scottish Tooling Series, I had done quite a bit of ice climbing before that, but this was a whole new, different style to me. After winning the Junior STS I had the idea of going along to the world Championships. I had seen, pictures and video clips from previous years and it looked amazing.I found that hanging upside down on good holds for long periods of time seemed to suite my style nicely, which helped. I attended a weekend dry tooling meet down at The Works whereI met the other team members and sent First Blood. As the competition got closer the reality sunk in that I couldn’t just turn up at an event like this. This was my first international competition; I would have to train hard for it. So a few months before, I really started to dig deep. On top of my usual climbing schedule I worked on my weak spots and so I started doing core sessions about 3 to 4 times a week, did hundreds of pull ups and lock offs, hung for hours from the beams in my garage and spent several long days in Newtyle quarry and even slept there over night. It was on one of these trips where I managed to tick Fast & Furious a couple of weeks before the comp, which was a good sign that I was getting stronger.

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On Fast and Furious at Newtyle

After waking up at 3 in the morning my family and I arrived in Champany en Vanoise. That evening I registered, attended a very long briefing and eventually found myself trying to sleep in a room full of noisy Russians busy sharpening their picks. The next morning we walked down to the ice tower. This was the first time I had seen it and it looked very daunting however the atmosphere was comfortable with good music and every one was so friendly. I also had no expectations so there was less pressure, which allowed me to enjoy the whole event a lot more I feel.

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My first qualifying route was quite straight forward, but intimidating none the less, half of it was vertical ice which I made short work of to save time and the other half was radically overhanging tooling. It was here where I got utterly pumped near the top and fell. My second route was more technical but less overhanging, I survived the majority of it before I came to a big move and my axe ripped. During the comp I used a pair of homemade fruit boots, which consisted of my old climbing shoes with crampons bolted to the bottom. I was pleased with the result and while these had the big advantage of being super light they were also freezing cold and I would come off each route with numb toes. They attracted the attention of other athletes who would ask for photos and provided a group of Russians with a lot of amusement. I managed to qualify in 6th position in the end, which meant that I had made it into the finals, which would be held that evening.

1779869_635235083178327_2001367853_nAndy Turner and I sussing out one of the routes.

We waited in isolation for 3 hours while the finals routes were set, only allowed out to look at the route briefly and for loo breaks. During this time I lay around, ate and chilled out while everyone else warmed up. Eventually my name was called and I gathered up my stuff and headed outside. I heard my name shouted over the blasting music as I emerged from the tent. I sensed heads turned towards me, but I kept focused on my route. By now it was dark and snow fell, lit up by big spot lights which all turned to point at me as I started the route.

1604884_635234866511682_1147480596_nYou can see the homemade fruit boots in this pic.

The first half composed of relatively simple ice.However this shortly turned wildly overhanging. One of my axes ripped through the brittle ice and me feet cut loose. I swung from one arm, but by the skin of my teeth I held it and regained control. As I powered my way up the looming ice barriers, swinging and smashing, yielding my axes and ploughing onwards with snow and shattered ice being whipped into my face. I heard a call that seemed so far away that told me I had one minute left to gain as much height as I could. By now I had to battle for each move. Eventually, when I could hang on no longer I fell, as I flew through the air I felt weightless and content knowing I had given everything I had and got close to the top. Once back on the firm ground I wrapped up in warmer layers and recovered as I watched the last few competitors make their attempts. Some were remarkably strong, appearing to race up with little effort. It turned out I had moved up in the placings and I finished in 4th place, which I was completely surprised at, not expecting to even make the finals. The next day I left with my family to go skiing for the next week, having found a whole new side to climbing, met some incredibly focused people and had a great time and on top of that come away with a pretty decent result. Now I will get back to training and I look forward to being able compete in the whole world cup series next year.

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Approaching a steep section.


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