Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn


11 April 2017

Amidst the bustling rush hour of Connolly station, we gathered and boarded the train. The feeling was light hearted and relaxed as we chatted and bonded. Unlike other sports where the team largely remains the same throughout the seasons, our team loses large portions of its members as each year goes by. In fact, we had barely even trained altogether as a team for more than 2 sessions. But as the train rolled along to its destination, our conversations, sharing of stories and experiences brought us closer to being a team.


After checking in and dropping our luggage, we rushed out for our first meal: a cheeky Nando's. Over a double family platter of chicken, we laughed and joked some more. Then, after raiding the local Tesco, we walked back to the hostel, for our night's rest. As we readied ourselves for bed we exchanged advice and game-plans, sharpening our minds for the next day. It was a beautiful day, and the sun warmed our faces and spirits as we arrived at the bouldering wall. 

The first day was bouldering: climbing without ropes on short walls. It was a test of technique more than endurance. 25 climbing routes ranked from easiest to most difficult stared down at us. We approached them as a team, helping each other work through each of the puzzles, pushing our grip strength and mental focus to the limit. After 5 hours of climbing, and thoroughly exhausting our arms, we called it a day and celebrated with some Little Wings pizza, complimentary of the hosting college, Queens. That night we attended a talk by Paul Swail, a renowned Northern Irish climber, mountaineer, ice climber, and Alpine Ski guide. He shared, through typical Irish banter, his experiences as a climber and all around badass. We sat, becoming more and more inspired as the talk went on. Returning to the hostel that night, our thoughts once again focused in on the coming task. Following another gorgeous morning walk, we arrived at a sports complex which contained the top and lead roping part of this competition. Top roping is a form of climbing with a rope attached to the top of the wall, whereas lead roping is where you climb and attach your rope to clips positioned every 1.5-2.0m. This second form of climbing often proves to be the more dramatic of the two, as those struggling to clip a higher clip can fall quite a distance to before they are caught by their previous clip. It was here that we divided as a team, as experience and prior certification dictated which event we competed in. While Echin, Jesse, Grace, and Ahmed competed in the top roping, Nick and Ameer waited for their turn to attempt the lead rope. Each group climbed two routes, with the first of route being the less difficult of the two. For some great pics of these events, feel free to visit our Facebook page. After agonizing waits and some successful (and non-successful) climbs, we concluded our day of competition with relieved smiles. 


We said goodbye to the event organizers and left the wall in the same sunshine that we walked over in. Then we began touring Belfast! In all honesty, it was a quick loop, up and down the main roads, skirting along the city hall, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Before we knew it, we found ourselves rushing into the station to board our train back to Dublin. 

Tired and worked, we settled into our seats, and a few rounds of cards later, and we had arrived.