Deep Water Solo - But not as we know it.

2nd Jul 2012

                                  Welcome to the inaugural "Marmot Frankenjura Kletter Festival"

I've just got back from the Frankenjura (Germany) where I've been for five days attending a climbing festival. It was nice to feel the sun on my back after the awful weather we've been having here in the UK for the last month! I was there with British Climbers "strong" Steve McClure (slightly injured but still cranking) and Neil "Awesome" Mawson. Our plan was to go climbing in the Frankenjura, an area none of us had visited before and to attend the previously mentioned climbing festival which had been organised by outdoor clothing manufacturer Marmot, the highlight of the event being a Deep Water Solo competition (DWS) Yep, you read that right, but as there isn't much water in the area is was DWS above a very deep swimming pool! I already knew Ste and Neil could crank, but could they swim? Check out the video of the event courtesy of DMM Here

                                                    The Great Stefan Glowacz enjoying the event

We arrived thursday evening and managed to get a couple of days ticking the classics of the area (more of the trip and climbing in a future blog) before the guys needed a rest day (my trigger finger felt quite tired but hey, I'm a Pro, I think I could have pushed through the pain barrier - no pain, no gain as they say) So it was a pretty chilled day which consisted of a late breakfast, followed by a visit to a bakery and then find a place to sit down, relax and stuff our faces with cake before heading over to the trade fair at the festival for a "meet and greet" it was nice to hook up here with fellow Marmot athlete Stefan (Glowacz) and also the team from Welsh hardware manufacturers DMM including the prolific Pete Robins (one of the UK's best trad climbers) and Emma Twyford (one of the UK's current top female climbers and the only woman in the comp) who had also agreed (blackmailed) into taking part in the comp.

                             UK climber Ste McClure hanging out under the roof during the quaiifiers

So the stage was set and after a bit of smoozing the public we all wandered over to the lovely outdoor (heated) pool to check out the comp wall. At this point let me try and explain the rules. To be honest there almost weren't any! At least thats how it appeared from where I was standing. So, the event was billed as a Pro-Am event, one professional climber paired up with a non professional who had been selected by entering a competition which had run nationally at various climbing gyms throughout Germany, get it? The Pro field looked impressive and featured the previously mentioned "Uber Wads" from the UK (Steve McClure, Neil Mawson, Pete Robins and Emma Twyford) as well as a star studded European "Dream Team" including Stefan Glowacz (does this living legend really need an introduction? if you haven't heard of him chances are you've been locked away in a tower for the last 25 years - check him out here) Jorg Verhoaven (ex world Champion) Super Alpinist Dodo Kopold  and everyones favourite nice guy Gerhard Horhager as well as a host of other guys who I didn't recognise (sorry guys my bad!)

                             "It ain't a bad life" Pete Robins, Emma Twyford and Ste McClure drying out

The idea was that both members of the team would climb simultaneously across the route (if you can imagine an "H" shape, each team member climbs up the vertical and then across the roof) if they made it through the Dyno's, crimps, pinch-balls and swinging buckets they had the joy of giving it all up and jumping in the pool! The team would then change ends (the routes were slightly different) and repeat the process, once both memebrs had climbed both routes their combined times would be calculated and the fastest 4 teams would advance through into the final - seemed simple enough.

                DMM climber Heiko Queitsch fully clothed and borrowed shoes but "game for a laugh"

Straws were drawn, climbers paired and the competition commenced. Luckily for all those taking part the sun shined throughout all the preliminaries and well into the evening, much fun ensued and after the dust had settled the four finalist teams were decided. Even though I tried to explain the criteria earlier I was still baffled, but no one really seemed to care, it was a fun event, although Steve (McClure) wasn't to happy to make the final as it would mean another dunking in the now "not so hot" pool! But before he got his chance it was time to relax, kick-back and listen to some live music and enjoy a Barbacue and a few beers (me, not the athletes. A full stomach isn't recommended when body slamming into a pool)

                                        Beer and food tokens courtesy of Marmot Germany

An hour later the final started, watched by a huge and very appreciative crowd. The pace was fast and furious with the climbers literally jumping from hold to hold across the huge horizontal roof on ever increasing slippery holds. My money was on Jorg (sorry team GB) if its a safe bet you're looking for you can't really go wrong with an ex world champion, or can you? As it happens you can and I did! When the last ripple in the pool had finally settled it wasn't the well known sponsored heroes who'd clinched the title, but a very tall and skinny guy called Peter Wurth who might just have been the world Dyno champ and an even skinnier 18 year old kid called Alexander Megos who has flashed 8c, who between them utterly devestated the field, good effort guys.

         Jorg Verhoaven latching the starting Dyno                           UK climber Neil Mawson "splashing down"

The fun wasn't quite over, the prizes were awarded (Marmot Kit) hands were shaken and then it was the turn of the climbers to get their own back on the unsuspecting "DJ" who'd been giving them a verbal ear bashing all night - never turn your back on anyone you've been making fun of when your fully clothed and stood just 2 feet from the edge of a swimming pool! Yep you guessed it, he got pushed in, with his Iphone still firmly lodged in his back pocket and his dark glasses still welded to his head, he wasn't best pleased but he was still smiling, Just!

                                                              Reflections of a memorable event

All in all the event was a huge success, enjoyed by climbers and spectators alike. A huge thanks must go out to Marmot and in particular Sarah Seeger who organised the event - thanks guys.