Whatever type of climbing you do, from alpine gnarl fests to Lancashire lowball grovel-problems, we're all just big kids farting about. With that in mind, go watch kids at play; swinging about on the monkey bars, signalling their glee with that mixture of laughter and high pitch shrieking unique to the under nines. You see how much fun they're having? You see them using their feet? Exactly.
Those nice chaps at beastmaker understand this. Which is why they organised the BIFF; the beastmaker international footless festival. The strongest climbers from all around were invited to take part in an evening devoted to the subtle art of campusing. With the climbing works playing hosts and the money raised being donated to CAC it was always going to be the comp event of the year.
As one of the elder statesmen of footless showboating I was both flattered and pleased to receive my invite, and immediately undertook a gruelling training schedule of 50m vertical Spanish stamina plods as preparation. All of which prepared me perfectly for last night's mayhem.
The format was thus; there were 15 footless problems to sink your teeth into, and you scored 30 points for a clean ascent, regardless of how many goes you took. For the true thugs, who were overwhelmed by the technical nature of actual climbing, there were also a series of foot-free challenges, including a pull up contest, a dead hanging sufferfest and a baggy hand crack. Quite rightly, success on these pure feats of strength could win you quite a few points. I fared poorly on the powerful problems (see below), but my honour was saved by the crack, which allowed me to put my fleshy spade-hands to good use. I was less impressive on the minuscule slopey dead hang edge; collapsing after 30s in awe of the steel fingered mutants (Davies and Barrans) who stayed on for around a minute!
What a night! Everyone was there: we had the original pocket power midgets Roddy Mackenzie and Ru Davies, and their modern equivalent Dave Barrans. Sam Whitaker had chosen a tasteful yellow vest to properly display the biggest guns in showbiz. Dave Mason was not to be outdone with his shiny gold pants - a look that Jerry would have been proud of. Pleasingly, there were plenty of women present too; notably including world champion Jule Wurm and Michaela "strong as fuck" Tracy. The evening also introduced me to Louis Parkinson - eventual winner and genuine mutant. I have seen the future, and it has no feet.
Throughout the night there was plenty of liquid refreshment to be had, and the commentary/barracking from Percy Bishton and Martin "king of the wave" Smith kept anyone from taking things too seriously. The anarchic atmosphere was helped by the fact that bonus points (in the form of colorful stickers) were being handed out by the judges for any reason that took their fancy. This was a brilliant idea, though I was not really helped by the two stickers that ended up covering both lenses of my glasses.
The end of the night saw the grand finale, with the best deadhangers invited to take part in a highball deadhang duel to the death. This was a contest which saw some astonishing displays of savagery from people I'd previously considered to be fine, upstanding citizens. The event was "won" by Dave and Michaela, but also notable was Tom Newman's brutal roundhouse kick to the chest of a barely prepared Ru Davies. Expect a court summons in the post soon, Tom.