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Adam's first international competition

Adam's first international competition

HoldBreaker Team |

The winter of 2016 has opened up some amazing opportunities for me. I started climbing indoors three years ago and regularly compete in local bouldering competitions and the BMC National competitions.

12 months ago I was on holiday in Keswick and discovered that the King Kong Climbing Centre ran a dry tooling league. I entered, didn’t really expect to do well but amazingly came 3rd in the adult category (despite being only 15 and having never climbed with axes before).


I was completely hooked on dry tooling! I trained hard over the summer and just climbed as much as I could. The British Tooling Series started at the end of October 2015 and my performance against the adults in the GB Team meant that I was selected for the GB Ice Climbing Team. An amazing opportunity and I was very honoured to be invited to join the Team.



The 2016 UIAA Ice Climbing World Youth Championships were held in Rabenstein (Italy) early in February 2016. This was my first international competition and GB was represented by me and Emma Powell. When we arrived in tiny village of Rabenstein in the Dolomites I checked into our hotel and then drove down the valley to the climbing structure with my team mate for the technical meeting, the competitors’ meal and registration. In between the registration period and the competitors’ meal, my team mate and I went outside to look at the structure and talk about the routes.

We thought that we would both be in the U16 category, which is top-roped, but when the starting list was handed out it turned out that we were both in the U19 category, which is a leading category.

This was quite a nice surprise as I’ve only led on tools outside and had never led on that sort of structure in my life. We didn't back out and were psyched for the competition – just feeling a lot more nervous than before. The qualifications started early on the Saturday morning and the U19 category was really tough!



As I started to pull onto route 1, the ice that my right axe was in blew out, but luckily my left foot hadn’t left the floor. That wasn't the best start to my first route at my first international competition. I climbed the first section of the route with relative ease but as I got onto the ice barrel my forearms died with fatigue which wasn't helped by the cold. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get my left axe out of the ice barrel, so I was stuck.

On route 2 I climbed the first section fairly easily without too much of an issue, but as I got past the sixth clip my arms died from fatigue again. I tried to go back a move to shake out but the rope dragged the axe out of my mouth and it fell to the floor – so that was the end of route 2.



The officials published the results and I had finished in 15th place. I was happy with 15th in the world, as it was my first international competition and I was against Yannick Glatthard and other experienced international climbers who also compete in the adult World Cup. On the Sunday I went down to the structure to watch the finals and support the competitors. My team mate, Emma, was 5th going into the final and she got the third highest point on her route so received a bronze medal.

I’m definitely planning on competing in the World Champs next year and I’m training hard. I have two more years in the U19 category so I’m aiming for top 10 next year.




Name: Adam Willison
Location: Derby
Blog: adamwillison.net
Twitter: @AdamW_Climbing
Instagram: @adamwillison

All images courtesy of Andrew Rutherford.




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