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Caithness News Bulletins August 2005

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Ex Caithness Lad With Adventure In His Boots
Robert MacKenzie is a 14 year old Dingwall lad with Caithness roots. A third year pupil at Dingwall Academy, his dad started taking him out rock climbing when he was 3 years old. He has climbed all over the highlands and had some fantastic adventures.

Climbing has been a reason for him to visit some of the wildest landscapes you could imagine from Mingulay in the Outer Hebrides to Sardinia in the Mediterranean, from the forests of France to the glens of Srathconon. Outdoor climbing has a real adventure about it that he loves.


Indoor climbing walls are a fantastic way to train for climbing and are becoming very popular. Indoor climbing, at climbing walls, is safer with less risk. Itís all about how difficult the routes are and he likes to test himself.

Lots of people just use their local wall for fun which is great, but Robert likes the competitive style of climbing. It feels good when he has completed a hard route or climbed well at a competition.

Robert has been a competition climber for six years. He has competed at local and national level and has made it to the national finals every year. His best place was 5th in the UK.  Last year the BMC asked him to trial for the Junior British Squad. He climbed well and was accepted as a squad member. This meant he would receive good coaching and perhaps make it to team status in a year or two.

At the BICC British Indoor Climbing Championships 2004 he managed to finish in second place overall. This meant that he was offered a place on the Junior British Competition Climbing Team, finally getting to wear the coveted Union Jack team top and competing for GB at a sport I excel at.  As a member of the British Junior Competition Climbing Team I have been selected to attend the Indoor Climbing World Championships in Beijing China on 25th August this year, as well as the European Youth Championships in Geneva, Switzerland in October and Kranj, Slovenia in November.

These competitions will be his first Internationals and his first chance to compete for his country, competing against representatives from more than 20 countries.

As a young Scottish climber he is very proud of my country and itís climbing history and looks forward to sharing experiences and cultures with other young climbers from around the globe.

As a competitor, he looks forward to the experience he will gain by going to these elite competitions. Inverness Leisure have kindly given him free use of their climbing wall so he is training 3-4 sessions a week.

Robert, whose mother Anthea is from Thurso, has spent many holidays in Caithness. Unfortunately, due to his increased training commitments, he does not get as much chance to return North as he would like, but his grand-mother, Ethra, keeps everyone up-to-date on his climbing achievements.