Young climbers learn route setting


Youth from nine countries have taken part in a climbing coaching and route setting meet in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Top French climber and Petzl team member Tony Lamiche was there to share his skills.

The event, called “Discovering New Cliffs”, took place in the first week of July and was organised by the the Macedonian Mountain Sport Federation (MMSF) as part of the UIAA Global Youth Summit.

“It was the best climbing camp ever in the Balkans” says organiser Vladimir Trpovski. “‘Tony Lamiche was star of this camp and we made five new routes of 6b, 6c+, 8a+, 8b and 8c [UIAA grades VII-, VII+, I+, X- and X+]. Everybody knows how to open routes, but to open a difficult and good route is art. ” A professional video crew has documented the meet and will produce a film on how to open difficult routes.

The camp was part of a UIAA Youth Commission programme for developing countries – “Balkan climbing for youth.” Young climbers from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hong Kong, UK and Bulgaria took part.

The route setting was done in Demir Kapija, an area with extensive limestone cliffs which the local Federation MMSF is looking to develop for sport climbing. At the meet, it was discussed how to manage such a development appropriately.

Trpovski will be going out to Albania to assist climbers there with route setting and developing climbing for youth in the country later in the year.

“It is healthy for young climbers to climb outdoors as well as in the wall and to reach out to other countries who don’t yet have such a strong climbing culture,” said Anne Arran, UIAA Youth Commission President. “So, I believe this support for Balkan countries will inspire others to hold similar festival events as part of the Global Youth Summit calendar. We would like to compile video clips of all these coaching and route setting skills as a resource for climbers and Federations unable to attend the meet.”

The concept for this kind of meet was first developed by Alex Klenov from the Climbing Federation of Russia with his project “Rocks are for Everybody” in the Ural mountains. Since 2005 Klenov has been working with the UIAA Youth Commission in the area of youth leader training to support the development of new climbing areas and youth programmes, giving youth leaders route setting skills in a “rock festival” atmosphere. International participants can set their own routes as well as climb and explore the area, exchanging views on ethics and techniques. “Route setting on natural rock for sport climbing” meets took place in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with Klenov in both 2006 and 2007.