Harrogate Grammar students climbs her way to success

Holly Rayfield from Harrogate Grammar School. (S)
Holly Rayfield from Harrogate Grammar School. (S)

Each year the British Mountaineering Council holds regional rounds for their Youth Climbing Series, where the top three from each category qualify for the national final.

Competitors are grouped by age and 2015 is my last year in this competition as I am now in Girls A, for climbers age 15 to 17. The first two rounds took place at my home wall, Harrogate Climbing Centre. I train here about four times a week and help coach younger climbers in the academy there.

The third round was at Leeds Wall which is very different but I’ve had the opportunity to train there with my coach Ellie Howard. I was delighted to win each round, finishing first in Yorkshire and qualifying for the finals.

At the final I competed against the top climbers from each region in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The final is held at Edinburgh International Climbing Arena - the biggest climbing wall in Europe. I train and climb on walls throughout the UK but Edinburgh is very impressive and has a great atmosphere for the finals. It is also very cold so I had to wear two hoodies and two coats as there are long waits between climbs.

The rounds and the final all follow a similar format - we attempt three lead climbs, clipping yourself in using a rope and harness, and three boulder problems, climbing without ropes above mats.

For the lead climbs we are judged on how far we get, there is a time limit of six minutes, though it is rare that anyone takes this long. There were 27 other climbers in my category and we were split into two groups. I managed to top both my first and second leads, the only girl in my group to do so.

Although I didn’t reach the top of my third route I was pleased with my attempt. For each boulder problem, we are allowed three attempts. Again it is judged on how far we get with a slightly greater score for completing in fewer attempt.

The top climber in the other group had managed to complete all the climbs, giving her a greater score than me.

Overall I finished second in lead and fifth in the boulders and I was delighted to come third overall, meaning I am the third Best British climber in my age group. Yorkshire also finished third as a region with great performances from some of the younger climbers.