Traveling back from Tampa

After a couple of busy days in Tampa, just arrived in Heathrow on my way back from Tampa – reflecting upon the past days.

This year even more than other years, Thursday and Friday were the intense days, Thu to sort out set-up – spent a fair amount of time working with the Aerial Rescue and Speed Climb crews, also had a potter round Work Climb. Really happy with the way it all worked out, in the evening there was the Gear Inspection Technican Meeting (going to have to think of something that rolls of the tongue a bit better than that, I do not think GIT meeting is very evocative)… and Friday spent finalising set-up and running gear check.

Phil, Rick and the rest to the Aerial Rescue team did great work on their event.

I felt that the storyline was logical and consistent, allowing competitors to get in there and actually do what needed to be done, rather than to have to try to wrap their heads around lots of hypothetical suppositions. What made the event all the more meaningful to me was that the scenario was loosely based around the incident we had at work last year – albeit with the difference that in the ITCC scenario the climber had lanyarded in to the limb and consequently a sizable log was suspended in his lanyard. What struck me is how many people commented on how this exact situation had occurred to them or to someone they know… Clearly something worth looking at more closely.

Speed Climb was a Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) with a fair lean on it. The climb was installed with hand- and footholds made from bits of wood attached onto the stem by means of ratchet straps. Apart from the belay there was no bits of rope in the tree, so the competitors really had to demonstrate their ability to see the line through the tree, climbing structure only. Eduardo, Mark and their team again did a great job here, the belay point was attached on a floating anchor midway above the horizontal part of the tree, involving some creative rigging, with anchor points being put into compression by means of triangulated redirects. Despite the fact that the tree was not very tall, the fastest time was around fourteen seconds, which I thought was spot on.

Overall I felt that the level of difficulty of the climbs at the various events was appropriate for an international championship.

Saturday, the day of the preliminary events ended up uneventful in the extreme for the Operations team. Everything ran really smoothly with no hiccups… which was pleasant as it gave me time to just cruise a bit and catch up with people.

Sunday was Masters’ Challenge. We saw seven climbs – four men and three women – in two Live Oaks, one for the men and the other for the women. What was a bit unusual and rather nice was that the trees both had considerable spread but are not very tall, which gave the whole thing a more intimate feeling: I experienced a stronger sense of connection and immediacy with the climb than if the climber is fiddling around thirty meters up some humungous tree (ok, slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean). All seven climbs were very competent and strong…

Congratulations to all Masters’ Challenge competitors. For results see here

In fact, congratulations to all who were at ITCC, competitors and volunteers alike, as I feel that everybody wins something at such an event and get to take something home with them – which in many ways is worth so much more that some material prize: a sense of community and a shared experience with other members of the tribe… before dispersing in all directions again – to meet up again next time round.

The good news is that no one got eaten by an alligator in the river right next to the competition site – I was just thinking we probably ought to have included those in our risk assessments. But all good, not even a nibble.