Bloc Party 2022

Published: 03 November 2022
Written by: Scott Heleniak

The 12th edition of Bloc Party; our annual climbing competition was a huge success. This year was our second year in our new dedicated ‘Comp Room’, which has been a dream of Chief of Bloc aka Ben Meeks’ since he first opened City Bloc back in 2009. In this write up we’ve tried to encapsulate the whole day as a mark of history on the internet to celebrate all the hard work put in by everybody involved from the staff to the vendors and most importantly you, the climbers who inspire us to organise events like Bloc Party. It’s a tradition we love to maintain.

Now, Bloc Party attracts some serious talent which calls for some serious problems, so Ben, Dave Barrans and Jake Fretwell got busy and set 30 x Qualifier climbs, 2 x semi-final knockout race climbs – which are basically speed climbing routes but in boulder problem form and finally the 8 x Men’s & Women’s Final problems.

As tradition goes, every participant with a ticket receives their free special edition Bloc Party t-shirt on entry, lovingly printed on sustainable garments using water-based inks by our friends over at No Brand, which we hope you cherish forever. Take it on your next climbing trip, wear it to the wall or the crag, wear it to your mate’s wedding but by any means don’t paint your living room in it.

We had 160 competitors, some who had travelled across the country to attend, and we bared witness to many fancy dress costumes, some of which were totally outrageous and others just completely outside of the box. There was in fact a competition for the best outfit/s, being it was more or less halloween and those awards went to Holly Murray who came in her own hand-crafted Nemo costume and the Bloc local’s who dressed as the City Bloc staff – you know who you are. Cough; Andy Cunningham, Natalie Stephenson Quayle, Bilal Al Khanchi and Will Barker. Well done to the lot of you, you understood the assignment and left no prisoners. Maybe next year we will see even more costumes…

As the day goes we have our morning qualifier round from 10:00 – 13:00 and then the afternoon qualifiers from 13:30 – 16:30, which everybody booked their tickets for in advance. This allows for a bit more space in the centre, so there’s not so many queues for the 30 problems and ensures everybody can have a steady amount of attempts on each climb and aren’t limited by the busy-ness.

While walking around and chatting to everybody, I was witnessing three modes in people, it was either laser-focused smashing through as many problems as they could, people taking it easy, trying their best and enjoying the community vibes and hanging out with friends or a bit of both. Either way, there was a buzz in the air and tunes were bouncing off the walls thanks to our DJ’s; Dougal, Alistair and Kevin working their magic on the Red Bull rig!

One of the special parts of Bloc Party is that we invite people to come down and add some extra ingredients to the event, be that; Gekco with their climate-friendly chalk products or Climb Free who promote the benefits climbing has on cultivating good mental health and deliver a service which showcases this in action. Gekco hosted their signature hide & seek raffle, which meant a whopping 40-product giveaway happening throughout the day, once you found one of the little plastic figures hidden around the centre of course. We had Red Bull, Misfits and Outdoor Provisions who supplied enough free snacks and drinks to supplement everyone present for a day of trying hard – thank you. Then we have the kind souls who provided a very generous selection of prizes; La Sportiva, Satch, Troll and Sgurr – we are so grateful for your generosity and we can assure you that your prizes were very well received.

With a Bloc Party ticket you get a free meal, which was provided by the master chef’s at Lidgett Lane Larder – who whipped up Vegan and Meat Enchiladas, with a side of Mexican salad, beans and rice – delicioso!

It hits 16:30 and it is time for climbing to stop… for now. It’s time to tally up all the scorecards and those with the highest scores from the morning and afternoon rounds to find out who won the Junior and 40+ Veterans category and also those who climbed their way into the semi-finals in the adult categories, which you can see below:

40+ Veterans Female Winner

1st PlaceAbigal May

40+ Veterans Male Winner

1st PlaceRichard Tatham

Junior Female Finalists

1st PlaceFae Macdougall
2nd PlaceAva Hamilton
3rd PlaceCourtney Millington

Junior Male Finalists

1st PlaceJack Macdougall
2nd PlaceJamie Jenkins
3rd PlaceOscar Phillips

Male Semi Finalists

Dylan Soin267
Jamie Jenkins272
Ben Hargreaves272
Oscar Phillips277
Gus Turner280
Joseph Xiberras280
Sam Butterworth280
Ben Preston287
Max Dennis290
Aiden Dunne292
Jack Macdougall295
Hamish Mcarthur300

Female Semi Finalists

Lilli Pearse202
Holly Murray210
Flo Brailsford237
Katherine Macdougall237
Jo Neame238
Ava Hamilton238
Fae Macdougall240
Zoe Peetermans245
Holly Toothill251
Hannah Slaney257
Eugenie Lee260
Emily Phillips264

The semi finals are a bit wild, they’re fast, the bar opens for the spectators, the big light gets turned off, the spotlights come on and absolutely anything could happen. The format is 2 identical problems on the same section of wall, side by side, with the exact same holds and then pairs of semi-finalists go head-to-head to see who can whammy the buzzer at the top first. The winner goes through, so it’s a proper test of composure, speed, ability and sheer determination. There’s a fine line to getting this right but Ben was kind and allowed all competitors to get a good look at the climbs before they raced.

Female Semi Final Results

Emily Phillips
Lilli Pearse
Emily Phillips
Eugenie Lee
Holly Murray
Holly Murray
Hannah Slainey
Flo Brailsford
Flo Brailsford
Holly Toothill
Katherine Macdougall
Holly Toothill
Zoë Peetermans
Joe Neame
Zoë Peetermans
Fae Macdougall
Ava Hamilton
Fae Macdougall

Male Semi Final Results

Hamish Mcarthur
Dylan Soin
Hamish Mcarthur
Jack Macdougall
Ben Hargreaves
Jack Macdougall
Jamie Jenkins
Aiden Dunne
Jamie Jenkins
Oscar Phillips
Max Milne
Max Milne
Gus Turner
Ben Preston
Ben Preston
Sam Butterworth
Joe Xiberras
Joe Xiberras

So the 12 battles went down and we were left with our 6 male and 6 female finalists who successfully made it through. It was a close one with Max Milne and Oscar Phillips and the crowd demanded a rematch as there was just no telling who’d won. The reload resulted in Oscar unfortunately being left in the shadow of Max, and through to the final Max went, sporting his Dennis Rodman vest; one of the most skilled rebounders, best defenders, and most outrageous characters in the history of basketball.

It’s isolation time and one by one the male & female finalists have their crack at the final problems, which this time around were a mix of technical, burly and modern comp style. The word ‘not-flashable’ springs to mind, but that was to be proven wrong, as those who were victorious managed to scrape a few flashes out to give them their space on the podiums. The energy in the space was high thanks to Sam Matthews in his debut Bloc Party MC appearance, keeping the crowd alive as we get to see some of the UK’s strongest climbers grace the Yorkshire climbing scene with what they do best – climb hard.

The final was a clash of titans and the problems were as I said earlier, what seemed to be ‘not-flashable’, but a few broke that assumption. But, what would Bloc Party be, if we weren’t witnessing world class-climbers blow our minds? The semi-finalists alone, never mind those who made it through to the final are the top of the ranks climbers in this country and almost every climb looked like a fight. It was truly inspirational to see such determination, adaptation and systematic climbing from everyone involved, you can tell these guys know a thing or two about throwing their bodies around in space & time. So, there were 4 final climbs and ultimately somebody has to come out on top and that panned out as follows:

Female Podium

1st PlaceEmily Phillips
2nd PlaceHolly Toothill
3rd PlaceZoë Peetermans

Male Podium

1st PlaceMax Milne
2nd PlaceJack Macdougall
3rd PlaceHamish Mcarthur

So, that’s how it went down. Another spectacular Bloc Party, we all came together once again to celebrate this sport that we have all come to know and love. It’s days like this where I find myself feeling so grateful to have found climbing and for City Bloc to be such an integral part of this love. I wouldn’t be crazy to assume that this feeling is mutual with all of you too, going by the amount of smiles I witness in that place,.

This year the stage presented Emily Phillips claiming the Bloc Party title for the second year running and Max Milne for the third. Once again, thank you to all of you, you’re all what make City Bloc what it is and we cherish the community we all share.

We are currently working on the highlights video, which we will share very soon, but our photographers; Lee Redfern and Sam Brooks have been amazing and turned around hundreds of photos from the day, which you can find below:

CB x