The Mad Rock Kwa Zulu Natal Bouldering League 2010
KZNBL has been running for over 10 years and was the first bouldering league of its kind in South Africa. It runs over a 4 month period with 6 fortnightly events at 3 different venues in Natal(UKZN - Durban; Kloof High School; UKZN - PMB). Although the competition see’s an average of only 50 official entrants a year the spectator and non competitor following has grown over 30 per event. Natal has a long history of climbing dating back as far as 1941 and the start of competitive climbing in the early 1990’s. The first KZNBL was held at Kloof High School in 1998 started by Ewen Olds. The league has been run by motivated climbers with little or no official support. This led to frequent changes of leadership, and on occasion missing a year or two, but with the torch being passed on to Dave Drummond in 2004, involvement of other provinces and the growth in bouldering, the league has not missed a year since.
This years league saw the involvement of some major sponsorship from Vertigo industries (Mad Rock) and Mountain Pursuits, hence the name change to the “Mad Rock KZN Boulder League”. With Sponsorship support the prizes for the competition encouraged all competitors to take things a little serious this year. Winners received climbing shoes, harnesses, hangdog training boards and trophies.
The first competition was held at UKZN in Durban on the 28th of January, the problems were set by the technical cave climbing master Scott Sinclair and the skill less dynamic climber Nic Geere. The combination of opposite climbing forms made a very interesting first event. The event made competitors stand up and take notice of a 15 year old boy whose physical climbing strength was only matched by his father’s technical training and guidance. Jason Salt got the highest points but was constrained to the junior men category, thankfully John “tin-tin” Wessels and Jamie deleuiw headed up the start of the men’s category.
The second competition was held at Kloof High School on the 9th of February. Nic Geere convinced Tin-tin during a belated phone call to lend his keen eye for problem setting, the two worked hard into the late evening setting problems that left them with humble pride and a twisted smile. The Umgeni valley was put on hold as the strong climbers from the north (Pietermaritzburg) decided to join in. The battle of the sexes began or at least one sex, the women. Friendly smiles, girlish giggles and helpful beta as the women climbed their best only to be silenced buy a girl; Jasmine Pillay finished with the highest points but was traditionally constrained to the junior women category. The Men were modestly impressed when Ewen Olds (founder of the kznbl) proved he can still climb hard on the wall he built but was set aside buy the youthful Jarred Miller who has been training secretively and privately on the same wall.
The third competition was held at UKZN – Pietermaritzburg campus on the 23rd of February. The combination of sexes always works best when route setting and William Osterhausin and Rachelle de Chamony proved this, technical, dynamic, edgy and imaginative routes set the scene. Cold beer, jovial climbers and an energetic vibe set the mood. Sometimes climbers make a point to prove they are the best and sometimes you are Mathiew Schneuwly and don’t have to. Mathiew took the event on points and even taking the fun event - climb without spilling your beer. Candice Bagley ended up with the most points for women encouraging Illona ‘ninja” Palser to release her well tempered frustrations with flying kicks at a hanging punching bag.
The forth competition was held at UKZN – Durban campus on the 9th of March. Damien Chatteris and Nic Geere agreed that it was time to set routes that will test, thump some reality and make them disliked, they had enough friends. Competitors climbed hard and long using many attempts on most of the 12 problems. The top-end climbers were impressed by the determined exploits of the youngest climber such as Michael van de Ham, Justin Styne and Dillon Williams whose scores were not far off from their own. Mike Lowery and Ewan Olds battled a private war, proving it’s not about winning but just beating that one person. Mathiew Schneuwly and Candice Bagley took the high points again.
The fifth competition was held at Kloof High School on the 25th of March. This time the flexible technical climber, Dannie Boyens received the call from Nic Geere. Full body and balanced movement were dominating traits in the problems that set the scene for the penultimate event in the league. Many tragedies have happened in time, the black plague, WW2, Julius Melema becoming ANCYL president and now, Jason Salt being defeated by Wassim Kann and Stephan Lutge. Mathiew Schneuwly also had a humbling strike to reality when James Barnes took the comp on points but Candice Bagley with lack of extra competition from Faye and Rachelle, remained on her throne of highest points.
The Finial Kzn League Competition was held at UKZN – Durban Campus on the 8th of April. Competition organizer Dave Drumond combined his experienced route setting skills with friend Scott Sincere and set routes fitting the end of the challenging local event. Jamie de leeuw got the highest points in the men’s ahead of Matheiw S and James Barnes but the consistency of James throughout all the comps pushed him ahead of the other competitors (highest average score) and claim the right to call himself Mad Rock KZNBL champion. Jamie had to share 3rd place behind Matheiw with a dog and his leg. Cadice Bagley proved herself against the best female climbers in South Africa and winning the Mad Rock KZNBL in the women category. Jasmine Pillay would have finished a close 2nd if she competed against the women but remained contained in her age group in 1st and last position. Jason Salt had to fight to remain ahead of Wasim Kann and Stephan lugte and finished 1st in junior men.
The Event was a great success thankfully to Tristan’s generous sponsorship though Mad Rock and Nic Geere’s involvement through Mountain Pursuits. This event was and will always be about the people who participate, not only the ones who achieve results but more so the mediocre climbers who struggle their way up problems entering every event, their positive attitude and dedication to the sport, makes organizing event like these a pleasure.
The top ranked climbers in all categories went to JHB for the National Finials against the rest of the country, but that is a different story.
Article by Nic Geere
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