Toby

DoB: 15/03/2005 | Youngest Brit to climb 8a (Raindogs @ Malham Cove, aged 10 years 7 months) | Wall: Craggy Island

I started climbing aged 7 (January 2013) and climbing quickly turned into an obsession!

Toby Roberts - working Raindogs (8a) at Malham Cove

Toby Roberts – working Raindogs (8a) at Malham Cove

In the near 3 years that followed I climbed 7a lead at 8 years old (at Westway) and then 7b lead at 9 years old (at Surrey Sports Park) and at 10 years 7 months I became the youngest British person ever to climb an 8a when ticking Raindogs at Malham Cove.

I won all 3 regional rounds of the Youth Climbing Series in 2015 and was happy to make the podium in 3rd in the finals whilst being in the younger age category.

I went to Imst for the European Youth Colours festival and came second overall when in the lower age group only missing out on joint 1st by 3 seconds after topping all my routes which included onsighting a 7b – again from the lower half of my age category at the time (Youth D).

Starting Out

I started climbing at my school (Edgeborough) as part of an after school club at the end of the sports hall which has been turned into a mini-climbing wall.

I entered the BMC Youth Climbing Series in 2013 and in the first regional round (London & South East) I came second last and not much better in the second round. By March 2013 I knew that I would need to come 1st or 2nd in the 3rd qualifying round to qualify for the National final at Ratho.

I started training hard and managed to come 2nd in the 3rd qualifying round and qualify for my first National finals.

2013 Nationals – Youth E (Lower half of age group)

It is safe to say this was a bit of a learning experience at the initially daunting but very impressive Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA) in Ratho. I came 12th overall in Youth E bumping into some impressive climbers along the way. I knew if I qualified the following year that I would still be in Youth E.

2014 Nationals – Youth E (Upper half of age group)

In 2014 I had been training really hard and felt I was climbing well. Qualifying was a lot more difficult as after 2 regional rounds there would be a regional final where the top 3 climbers would qualify. Qualifying went really well though and I also won my first regional qualifying round at Craggy Island in Guildford. The regional finals were at the Castle and I came 2nd to qualify for the National finals again.

This time I came 4th overall which was a little frustrating to miss out on the podium but it made me more determined than ever to come back stronger.

2015 Nationals – Youth D (Lower half of age group)

I qualified for the 2015 Nationals by winning all 3 of my regional rounds at Craggy Island, Surrey Sports Park and the regional finals at White Spider climbing. The 3rd qualifying route at White Spider was a very hard 7a on small crimps on an over-hanging wall (near the cafe!). I was the only boy in my category to top the route!

In the National finals I was climbing well and got the joint highest point on the 3rd route however on the second route several holds were out of my reach and I had to dyno for them which took me a while to get set. I didn’t think about the time limit and was timed out a few holds from the top. I was gutted!

I still came 3rd and made the podium which I was happy with although I knew things might have been different if I wasn’t timed out on the 3rd route. The 1st and 2nd placed boys both climbed really well.

European Youth Colours 2015 (Imst)

Craggy Island Youth Team take double silver at Youth Colours in Imst, Austria

Craggy Island Youth Team take double silver at Youth Colours in Imst, Austria

In June 2015 we went to Imst which is a spectacular climbing wall in the Austrian mountains. I was told how tough the competition was and I knew I was in the lower half of the age category and up against climbers a year older than me. I went with the aim of having fun and enjoying the competition.

I managed to top all of my climbs which I later found out included a 7b – which was my first 7b onsight – although I later found out that 1 of the harder climbs was completed in 3 minutes 3 seconds which was 3 seconds over the time limit.

That meant that I came 2nd overall and was only 3 seconds of coming joint 1st! I was really happy to have made the podium and apparently was only the 3rd British person to ever do so – with the other person being fellow Craggy Island Youth Team member Matilda Collins who also came 2nd!

I think Craggy Island is the only Youth Team to have such high finishes in a European competition!

Raindogs 8a

On Sunday the 25th October 2015 I was very happy to complete the youngest ascent of Raindogs (8a) in Malham Cove aged 10 years 7 months. Full blog write up, photos and video here:

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