Till Death Do We Tjom

Female Final Climbers at the TIA Boulder Comp

It has been a big and busy 8 months for Friends and Allies. Crazy to think back on the year with all the ups and downs, learning to adapt with regulations and Covid-19 restrictions. But amongst all this we have managed to pull an event together that is unique in its own way and encourages climbing in our community.

I think it is natural when you open a gym that you want to host your own boulder competition. It has been a hot topic since before we even built the gym. There is no doubt that over time the gym has opened a space just begging for a comp. As we were navigating through the 3rd wave we picked a time that we thought would be just right, and we don’t think our timing could have been better.

Climbing in a team
Getting Out There Shoulder To Shoulder With Your Tjom.

Coming Up With Tjoms In Arms

It’s funny how ideas change. We started by talking about a ‘hard-edge’ kind of comp. Inviting the best climbers in the country and letting them battle it out with the boulders… Not a lot of hard thought went into this but it was a perfect place to start. We looked at our role in the climbing community and the message that we are trying to convey. We are a friendly climbing gym doing our best to add diversity to the climbing scene. We have built, and will continue to build a community that encourages all.

The idea came up to have a partnered climbing comp but it wasn’t taken that seriously. After some time exploring other avenues we kept coming back to this idea. The idea was complicated and we were concerned that it wasn’t going to work. We started looking at how we could run this, we played with the format and all of a sudden things were looking like it could actually work.

Tjoms in Arms ( T.I.A ) This is Africa. It’s was all coming together and we were Psyched!

The Real Tjoms In Arms
Ever Watchful Of The Stoke The Tjoms Look On.

How It All Ended Up Working

Competition climbing isn’t for everyone and we get that. We believed changing up the format and the comp scene would make it more appealing to people. The idea was to enter as a team. You and your partner have to do one of the three qualifying rounds in the morning where you both submit your top ten scores. Your scores get tallied up and the two of you get an overall rank. The top four ranked teams in each category at the end of qualifying compete in the finals the same evening.

Ok so maybe not that different. We’re just adding two scores together. We had various categories, namely all male, all female, and combined. We were interested to see what people would do. There are no age categories and no gender boundries. Have at it, the rest was up to you.

Climbers Dressed Up For Tjoms In Arms
Climbing Dressed For Gees Always Adds To Any Boulder Comp.

We also like to play with the idea of competition climbing being a hard training day. For most competitors the finals are a far fetched thought. But in terms of training it can be extremely beneficial to take part. Trying to climb as many boulders as you can in 2 hours with your maat supporting you and the energy of a comp in the air pushes you close to the edge. That famous last burn became multiple famous last burns. Most people were broken by the end but have come out stronger. And we believe these little things will raise the level of climbing in South Africa.

Climbing on the 40 Degree Spray Wall
Crushing Comes With The Territory At FA's T.I.A.

Innovating The South African Climbing Scene

Our space is small so we had to really think about how we were going to do it all. Made in Workshop and Spark Cafe helped facilitate the space with braais on the go, some DJs and Shy beer to keep things festive. How We don’t know how, but we found time to sit down and have an interview with James Barnes, SA’s Olympic climbing coach, which was facilitated through Mienke from The Send Space. We also ran the whole comp through our app which was a first for us and for many of you. The event was also live-streamed, meaning that we had so many new and interesting things to learn about along the way.

The Send Space, James Barnes and FA Talk Climbing
The Send Space, James Barnes and Wes Talk Climbing.

T.I.A Was Nothing Without Our Tjoms

So many parts and people came together. The hustle that everyone contributed to this event was crazy. Many people and so much help. It was all local. Local brands from the country helping out with prizes on the day.

Vertigo Gear, Rock n rope, Mayhem Mountain Adventures, Spark Cafe, MIW, Shy beer, Mamma Mushroom and Adventure Life along with some friendly photographers sorting us out with content and the live stream. We worked with Good Vibes Cartel to bring the sound and the DJs. We are so grateful for everyone that made this event come together and blown away at how many amazing people are involved in this little space.

Prize Giving at Tjoms In Arms

The Tjoms That Took The Glory

We had over 70 athletes competing for all the glory but there can only be one category winner! 

All females

  1. The Rhino and the Hatchling  (Jemma Falkov & Alyssa Rambo)
  2. Koeked Sisters (Chloe Leal & Lian Malynn)

All males

  1. Tall Fux (Josh Greaves & Alistair Stubbs)
  2. Hard Rock Senders (Nicholas Cibulka & Mark Serfontein )
  3. Iron Monkeys (Simon Hutcheon & Steven Zacharie)


  1. Sigmians (Abigail Strange & Edward Harvey )
  2. Chalky Leaves ( Beatrix Mills & Fayzaan Adroos)
  3. Megos’ Carrots ( Tegwen Oates & Loren Ehlers )
Climbing Setters Working
So Many Good Problems Created For Such A Short Amount Of Time.

When All Is Said And Done

This event was a big deal for everyone at FA. A first for us and a first of its kind. For everyone who was involved you were part of FA’s first boulder Comp, and that is quite special. One day we’ll look back and remember the start of this wild ride.

So much love for everyone that helped out and blessed us with their presence. It is one thing to put this all together but it is the people that occupy the space that made it an unforgettable experience. We came to the realization that we set 30 tasty problems that were only up and climbable during the 6 hours of qualifying. What a silly thought. All that work only to be taken down hours later. I guess if you want to feel that quality of routes again, you will have to come next year. 

See you there my Tjom,


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