Children are back at school, the nights are drawing in, climbing conditions at the wall are getting better (colder temperatures means better friction on the holds!), and all of that means one thing for us at Shack; it’s time to start getting ready for the highlight of our year, hosting the British Mountaineering Council’s Youth Climbing Series 2023.

What is YCS, and why do we host it?

‘YCS’ stands for ‘Youth Climbing Series’. It is a National competition series aimed at climbers aged 8 – 17yrs. The United Kingdom is separated into 10 regional areas with each hosting four qualifying rounds, two boulder, two rope. We are in the London South & the South-East region, and our rounds see us travel to Brixton, Brighton, Shack & Calshot.

Once the four regional qualification rounds have happened, each competitor’s best 3 results get added together and the top three in each category progress through to a National Finals in late November.

The idea of the YCS is that those who compete internationally aren’t eligible to compete, which means it is a bit more of a grassroots series, giving those who wouldn’t usually want to compete, due to the level of the climbs and chance to see what it’s like.

2023 will be the fifth time Shack has hosted a regional round of the series and Ollie W who leads the organisation loves it. This is in part down to a conversation he had with Tim (Shack’s owner) prior to our first host where Tim said: “Carte blanche, do what you want”. Those of you who know Ollie’s passion for setting will know he doesn’t need that invitation twice…

This level of commitment from Shack gives us the opportunity to strip (almost) the entire centre bare; if there is a climb on a panel/ section of wall, it stands alone. No crossing other routes, no other holds to stand on by accident. The centre truly resembles something you’d expect to see at an International level competition. Imagine being a kid climbing another wall’s squad, walking into the centre on competition morning and seeing Shack standing proud with independent lines…

*A visual idea of how the centre looked in 2019 the first time we hosted the competition.

Anything new for this year?

*Mary, David & Ollie modelling some new shapes.




Since the first time we hosted in 2019 our hold game has taken a significant step-up, and this year we have a load of new product from Rob Napier (Enigma Climbing Products), this will be the first time we are using the product. Prepare yourself for some big shapes, it’s going to look insane!

In the words of Rob himself;

“Ollie, you’re gonna fall of ya chair when you see it all…”.

So, what is happening and when?

The lead-up:

A Simulation Set:

On October 3rd & 4th Ollie W and Andy Perrin will be setting a YCS Simulation, these blocs will be heavily influenced by the style you might expect to find on comp day; and they will be putting a card at the base of each climb stating their intended category and difficulty for their round. It should be a really interesting set, and if you’re competing in our round, and perfect way to get your eye into our style.

The Competition set:

As always, we will be doing the set over 2 days. However, for our in-house team, work starts on Wednesday 18th stripping the Comp Wall, Slab & The Amendment, along with a selection of the grips from around the main arena that our setting team may want to use for the Comp.

On Thursday, Ollie Wragg will be joined by good friend of the centre Drew Mulchy and Dave Barrans. The three of them will set the three areas named above, test them and then relax. *No one will be allowed to climb on any of the blocs set that day, but they’ll be netted off so you won’t be able to get to them anyway… Once you’re all tucked up in bed on Thursday night, our in-house team will come in and strip the remainder of the competition climbing surface.

Friday Ollie, Drew and Dave will set these areas, and again they will be off-limits for climbing that evening. Tanya and Shreddie our Area Youth Coordinators will arrive and along with the setters get the centre logistically set-up and ready for the athletes to arrive the next morning.

*On Friday due a significant amount of climbing surface being out of action we will be doing a heavily reduced entry at £5 for everyone. Check out the graphic below for a more visual idea of what is available and when.

*How is climbing affected during the preparations?


Competition Day!!

Saturday October 21st:

Comp day is all hands on deck for our staff. We have 159 athletes registered to compete throughout the day in three, two hour slots. They have 8blocs to climb and only five attempts on each one. It is scored following the traditional IFSC format.

Once the competition has finished, Ollie’s going to have a well earned cup of tea, then get straight back on the ladder to prepare the centre for Mega Series Round 5 – The Redpoint Comp!

*It is super important to know that Shack will remain closed to all public climbers throughout the whole day on Saturday October 21st.

Can I get involved?

Although we are closed to public climbing on Saturday; we will need some support from our community. We will be asking if anyone would like to volunteer their time, whole day or part day to help judge the athletes. You don’t need any experience of judging at a climbing competition, Ollie W will give you the information you need, and is available to speak to before anytime he’s around the centre if you’d like more information.

If you would like to volunteer your time please email with the subject title ‘OOO, pick me!, pick me!’.

SUNDAY October 22nd: Mega Series R5!

MEGA SERIES ROUND 5 – THE REDPOINT COMP! Unlike the rest of the year, you only have 8hours for this round… This is due to us maybe needing to change a couple of the competition boulders if they aren’t safe to set commercial blocs around during the fill-set.

Scorecards are open 10:00 – 18:00. Each climb is worth a maximum of 100points. Each handhold will have a piece of tape with a number coming out of it, if you control that hold with one hand you get that many points. You can have as many attempts on each bloc. Most points at 18:00 wins.

The Aftermath:

*True love (photo taken during the fill set in 2022).

If you’ve read this far, you’ll have worked out that it is a pretty full-on week for Ollie and The Team. But the hard work doesn’t end there. Starting on Monday 23rd, our in-house team (Ollie, Alex, Sam, Jo, Beth & Mirea) will be joined to Charles Romijn to fill the centre back-up to a full quota. This will happen during the day Monday – Thursday. So expect around 170 new blocs to be set over the whole process.

*The In-House Team

It’s a big time investment for us at Shack to offer such a big event; but we’re psyched and hope you are too!

See you there… xx