GB Youth Development Squad Training Weekend at Plas y Brenin
Storm Hannah couldn’t dampen the spirits of the GB Youth Development squad, as a group of our young athletes embarked on their final training meeting of the year before the excitement of the summer 2019 IFSC international competition season!
The GB Climbing Development Squad have been following a progressive, athlete-centered development programme with a cohesive group of dedicated experts to provide the athletes with a set of physical, technical, tactical and psychological skills since their selection in November 2018. The aim of the GB National Development Squad is to develop climbers on the talent pathway into well-rounded athletes and young people equipped to take on international competition and the wider world of rock climbing with all the elements it entails whilst ensuring a long term enjoyment and participation within the sport.
With some athletes competing at Soure, Portugal, in the IFSC European Youth Cup - Bouldering, the rest of the squad assembled at Plas y Brenin over the weekend of 27-28 April 2019 whilst storm Hannah raged outside, for their last training event of the year before the international competition season commences.
With a weekend emphasis on sustainability, respect for the environment and developing the future of the climbing community, the young athletes were treated to a wide range of climbing and mountaineering activities after being issued their smart new GB kit, from Duco.The GB kit sponsor has a clear and deep-rooted commitment to sustainability, community and competitive spirit, and the GB Climbing Team kit alone has enabled the planting of over 1,000 trees throughout reforestation projects in Madagascar and Nepal!
The new GB Kit from Duco. Photo: Laura Cutress
Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Duco, Kieran Miles, explained in an inspiring talk to the athletes “we’re obsessed with 3 things; creating garments with a competitive edge, empowering confidence within those who want to push themselves further and supporting a community which shares the same sustainability and environmental values as Duco. The GB Climbing Team fits all three of our obsessions and we’re excited to begin this journey together”
With support from the endlessly enthusiastic staff at Plas y Brenin, the development squad had a substantial challenge to take on for the weekend - an introduction to outdoor climbing (for some their first time on rock) and translating their indoor skills to a new environment and exploring alternative ways to develop. With a sense of slight trepidation, uncertainty and aversion to the cold, the athletes gathered into two groups to tackle two different climbs. On Saturday, the climbers were surprised at both the intensity and difficulty of the classic route, Lockwood’s Chimney which provided a ‘traditional’ wet weather adventure, and the 50m free-hanging abseil to finish was the highlight of the day for many.
The first time on real rock for some of the squad. Photo: Laura Cutress
For those climbing outdoors on Sunday, the weather eased sufficiently to allow a multi-pitch day at Craig Bwlch Y Moch, Tremadog and views out towards Cardigan Bay. With full exposure to the Welsh wind and rain over the course of the weekend, the athletes’ usual comfort zone of indoor climbing may have seemed a long way away, yet most were thrilled to have completed their first multi pitch climb and experienced the joy of a climbing adventure. Of course, the hot chocolate and cake at PyB afterwards sealed the deal, as did the indefatigable positivity and energy from the instructors!
It wouldn’t be a training weekend without some indoor climbing, and the athletes were treated to the wide range of facilities at the nearby Beacon Climbing Centre, with bouldering, lead and speed on the agenda, and some team-building and inclusivity activities further enabling them to develop their involvement with the climbing community. Activities such as blindfolded route reading, speed races and landing skills were paired with exercises encouraging more communication and open opportunities, and the youth squad were excited to learn more about inspiring sporting team achievements and sportsmanship. For many, these weekends are the time when they can get to know one another as climbers and team mates, instead of competitors, and so it is invaluable in assisting them to develop their support network, both of fellow athletes, but also coaches and staff who can aid their progression.
The squad training at Beacon Climbing Centre. Photo: Laura Cutress
With team-wide smiles all round, we are thrilled to have closed another successful training season, and one athlete shared his passion for training on the weekend; “I love all of it, especially climbing. Even the bits I’m not good at I still love!”
The athletes were encouraged to take some time to appreciate the wider field of the climbing community, and the impact they can have on the environment and enjoyment of our hills, and committed to supporting the BMC Hills 2 Oceans (H2O) campaign by doing a litter-pick on their walk in and at the crag. After the success of the award-winning, headline-grabbing initiative Mend Our Mountains which raised more than £100,000 to repair Britain’s hills and mountains in 2016, conservation and eco-friendly initiatives are nothing new to our next-generation athletes, and despite the weather, were eager to do their share in protecting our hills.
About to begin their H2O litter pick. Photo: Laura Cutress
Despite the BMC's passionate stance on conservation, most climbers in attendance and their parents were shocked to hear that according to estimates, around 80% of all the debris in our oceans and seas originally comes from inland, so if you would like to get involved too, the BMC is asking all its members and the wider public to help reduce this amount by joining an existing litter pick or by organising their own.
With thanks to BMC partners Plas y Brenin, the Beacon climbing centre, Duco and the GB Development Squad coaches for an inspiring weekend, we wish all athletes the best of luck in their summer competitions!
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Written by Laura Cutress
Laura is a brand coach, social media consultant, content creator and photographer based in Sheffield. www.laurarosecreative.com