On 18 Mar 17, Lt Cdr Lee Packer and LNN Lizzie Crofts competed against some of the best climbers in the world at the Climbing Works International Festival; it was the ultimate tale of the underdogs, but without the triumphant ending. “As the only 2 climbers from the Royal Navy selected for the Armed Forces Team, it was an honour just to compete and represent Defence, but to witness the strength, technique and power of some future Olympic athlete was truly breath-taking.” said a cheerful LNN Crofts.
When asked to describe the difficulty of the climbing, Lt Cdr Lee Packer offered “imagine trying to coordinate standing on a penny with your left toe, while pulling in with your right toe and tensing your core to prevent yourself from spinning off, all the while pinching a hold with your left hand and trying to generate enough force to move your body upwards to latch a hold no bigger than the lid of a milk bottle. Or, perhaps more simply, problem 14, which required the climber to pull up on 2 holds each with the thickness of a coaster with enough force to move your entire body 2 foot up and grab something that I can only describe as a smooth watermelon that has been cut in half and bolted to the wall.”
The team’s performance against these rock climbing celebrities was as expected, but no less impressive considering that the field contained many of the GB Squad. Lt Cdr Lee Packer placed 159th out of 252, but 5th male in the Armed Forces Team, and LNN Lizzie Crofts placed 91st of 113, joint 1st female in the Armed Forces Team.
Climbing has certainly grown in popularity over the past decade, and with new climbing walls opening at a rapid pace across the country the trend is set to continue.