Lillehammer, a small place and by no means the centre of the universe, has over the years been the site of some of the the best and biggest climbing comps in Norway.
The Nordic bouldering championships and the E9 invitational to name a few.
All this is mainly because of one man, Rune Osvold, that really knows how to make things happen.
This year Rune´s concept was "The Battle".
Much like the E9´s of the past it was an invitational and with big cash prices the big names where lined up like nothing ever before seen in Norway.
New of the year was that the competitors them selfs would be setting the problems, work them for a few hours, before then trying to redpoint them in the comp the next day.
The Norwegian climbing federation (NKF), contributed with both money and their brand new portable bouldering wall, and the scene was set for a great outdoor show in downtown Lillehammer.
"NKF´s president Ole Karsten Birkeland and Rune Osvold psyched for the comp just minutes away"
But I get ahead of myself.
Since us normal not so strong people also like to climb, a separate "unofficial" comp was hosted for us earlier in the day.
This boulder "jam", indoors at Tyrili, followed a scorecard system on colour coded boulders set by a combination of the celebs and the locals and drew a host of people on all levels.
With a lot of cool boulders and the celebs walking around the room, it was a fun event, although the heat got way to high at times.
To make it even more unbearable, Tyrili had some strange rule against climbing without a t-shirt, something that got me several warnings when I kept "forgetting"...
"Morten Gulliksen, also "forgetting" to wear his t-shirt"
"Rune presents the invited athletes before the jam"
"The really cool Dave problem, here solved with some funky girl beta skipping most of the holds.."
"Dave, enthusiastic as ever, talking about the moves on a boulder he´d just done"
"The Tyrili mushroom"
"Scorecard delivery time"
And then it was time for the main event, The Battle.
4 women and 5 men would battle it out for their piece of the 10.000€ pie.
For the men the stage was set for a fight between the norwegian ace Magnus Midtbø and some of the best outdoor boulders in the world today.
(All the pictures are taken by me and subject to copyright. They are not to be used outside this blog without my written permission)
"Magnus Midtbø" "Nalle Hukkataival"
"Carlo Traversi" "Dave Graham"
"and yeah, Dave Graham"
While the invited men showed up as planned, there was unfortunately a few last minute changes for the women.
Shauna Coxey broke her leg bouldering in Switzerland, Therese Johansen injured a finger and Melanie Sandoz, with the world championships just a week away, also claimed some injury and failed to show.
(Melanie then went on to win the world championships so probably a wise decision on her part).
In the end, the only girl from the original crew to actually show was american powerhouse Alex Puccio.
Mina Leslie Wujastyk of Britain and Hannah Midtbø and Maria Davis Sandbu from Norway did a good job as replacements, but in a redpoint format could not keep up with Alex.
The originally intended "stronger" match up would probably have been a bit more even and I would have loved to se our own bouldering ace Therese give the other top girls a proper run for their money.
"The girls getting ready to battle, from the left: Hannah, Alex, Mina, Maria"
Then it was time to begin and after a quick introduction of the girls the battle was on.
Hannah, first out on her own problem, got unlucky with a wet foothold in the first try (it had rained and not all the holds got covered...) and looking more and more tired, did not make it in time.
Mina and Maria put in some decent attempts, but in the end also got shut down.
Alex then came in, made it look easy, and crushed it on her first go.
"Alex cutting lose on the not so juggy top holds"
"Alex taking the lead with the only top of boulder nr.1"
Next up was the problem set by Maria. Technical, but perhaps not as powerful as the rest, this was probably the easiest and saw tops from all four girls.
"Hannah setting up for the final move on Marias boulder"
"Mina on the same move from a different angle"
Boulder nr. 3, set by Alex, was a pure power problem with long moves between big pinches.
While working the problem the day before none of the other girls had been able to get past the second move.
This did unfortunately not change in the comp, so while Alex seemed to hike up it, the others came in only to fall off at the start over and over again.
"Alex sticking the second move"
Last up was Minas problem, the deciding boulder in the battle for the second place. Alex had already won at this point with 3 out of 3 tops while the rest had one top each and no shot at the title.
Hannah and Maria got close but ended up falling of on a big cross move.
Alex, still looking strong, fell of the top once but sent in her next try for a perfect score of 4 out of 4.
Mina, climbing last, fell of her start dyno a couple of times but sticking that she made the rest look easy and finished the boulder off to a great cheer from the crowd.
"Mina sticking the dyno"
"Maria crushing the crimpy traverse"
"Alex making the crux cross move that stomped Hannah and Maria"
"Mina sticking the final jug"
"The winner, Alex Puccio, with her well deserved pice of the pie"
Next up was the men, with artificial lights and darkness all around, the mood was set for a great show.
The boulders all looked really hard and the guys all seemed somewhat tired from working them the day before.
The conditions had also changed from windy and dry during the testing to no wind and a bit humid for the comp, making everything a bit harder.
The first and perhaps the hardest was Dave´s problem.
Magnus, looking very strong, flowed across the boulder to the final move on his first try. Unfortunately he got a bit unlucky, missing on the reach to finishing hold, then slipping off on his next try.
Carlo, Dave and Nalle all fell further down before Daniel pulled off the only send, taking the lead.
"Dave, about to fall after missing the pinch"
"Magnus closing in on the final moves on his "almost" send"
"Daniel making the desperate reach and sticking the top hold during the only accent of the problem"
Next up was Nalle´s problem, a big dyno at the start before a slightly easier upper part.
Here the guys got their grove back and even Dave, who seemed to think he wouldn´t be able to do the dyno, managed to pull it together for the send.
"Daniel entering the upper part"
"Nalle sending his own problem"
Third in line came Daniels boulder, a pure power problem similar in style to Alex´s.
Again all the guys managed to stick it, Dave once again surprising himself.
"Magnus looking over the moves one more time before sending"
"Dave and Nalle sticking the first hard move"
"Nalle sticking the final dyno"
The fourth and contender for the second hardest problem was set by Carlo and marked the end of the sending spree.
Dave, having looked a bit tired all day, now seemed to be running on fumes and got shut down on a hard move on the lower part.
Nalle, apparently also running out of juice, managed to get to within the last two moves before hitting the wall.
Luckily for us, Carlo, Magnus and Daniel all managed to pull through, keeping the battle alive as we entered into the fifth and final boulder.
"Carlo busting one of the many hard moves on his own boulder"
"Magnus making the final match"
Boulder nr. 5, set by Magnus, would be the deciding problem for the second place when Daniel once again started off by crushing it.
Since he was the only one to finish off problem one, he had now ended the day on the perfect and unbeatable score of 5 out of 5.
Nalle and Dave, although putting in a valiant last ditch effort, now both looked to be to tired and in the end perhaps more focused on the beer to come then getting up.
Carlo at first also looked to be running out of energy, slipping off several times on a powerful move in the middle, but then finally stuck it and somehow managed to finish it off.
Magnus, on his own boulder and in good position for second place, only needed to send the boulder in few tries to cash in.
That however did not happen... With a splitter in one finger and blood seeping out he slipped off the "easy" start moves at least ten times and thus lost the second place to Carlo on attempts.
But then, as all hope seemed lost and the time was about to run out, he also somehow managed to pull himself together and send, to the great pleasure of the crowd.
"Daniel on the start moves Magnus kept slipping off"
"Daniel setting up for the move Carlo kept falling off"
"Magnus sending his own problem"
"1-5 place from left to right, the president giving out the remaining pieces of the pie"
How ever, since most of you probably don´t read about or care for the details of the comp anyway, I won´t spend any more time dwelling on it.
All the pictures are taken by me and subject to copyright. They are not to be used outside this blog without my written permission.