Innsbruck 2023 World Cup Review

#TeamMontane climber Abbie Robinson goes for gold at the Innsbruck 2023 World Cup. 

Registered legally blind at the age of 17, #TeamMontane athlete Abbie hasn’t let her disability hold her back. Instead she’s dedicated to showing the world just how much she can push her body to achieve great things. A passionate climber, she recently headed off to the Innsbruck 2023 World Cup. Her aim was to reclaim the gold crown, which she won in 2022. Keep reading to discover how she got on…

Innsbruck 2023 WC  

My 2023 World Cup season has just kicked off at one of my favorite venues – Innsbruck, Austria. Innsbruck is a gorgeous city and a popular destination for lots of adventurous sports, including climbing, so there’s always an array of different events going on when you’re there and you can always count on the crowd to be super knowledgeable and psyched. 

The Kletterzentrum sits in front of a backdrop of mountains and forests, with an impressive outdoor lead wall. I’d been training hard for the 2023 season and, despite an A4 pulley rupture, LCL tear and ongoing elbow issues, I felt strong and determined to show off all my hard work.  

A quick note on para climbing competitions

Paraclimbing competitions follow the same format as any other international lead climbing competition; however, we compete on a top rope. There are a whopping 20 categories in paraclimbing competitions, broken down into B (blind – that's me!), AU (arm amputee), AL (leg amputee) and RP (limited range, power and stability). The subgroups of these categories are then based on severity. 

Typically, some of these categories will be merged appropriately if there are fewer athletes competing in that group. For example, I (a B2 athlete) was combined with both B1 and B3 for this event. Blind athletes compete with the assistance of a sight guide, who talks through the route with them beforehand and typically speaks to them via a radio to guide them up the wall.  

Exploring Innsbruck 

While I’m away competing, I like to explore as much as possible without completely tiring myself out! As well as being a great distraction, I find taking in the whole experience and spending some quality time with the rest of the team really grounding. There’s plenty to do in Innsbruck, so I was sure to pack my Montane Protium Fleece Jacket, Anti-Freeze Lite Down Jacket and Azote Backpack for a day out exploring the Nordkette mountain range, followed by a quick dip in a nearby lake.  

Abbie Robinson in Austria


Day 1 was qualification for all athletes. Here, we complete two routes on the outdoor lead wall with a time limit of six minutes. My category was out first, so I arrived at the venue for 7:30 and talked through my first route with my guide. We typically run through the whole route a few times to get a feel for the style and general movement before zoning in on the cruxes (harder sections), identifying rest spots and noting any moves that are particularly sequence-y or difficult to see. 

Next, I headed to the warmup zone to prepare for my first route. I’m big on mental preparation for competitions, so I have a specific warm up routine that I can complete, regardless of where I am, or what’s around me, and I have an eclectic range of songs I listen to that psyche me up or calm me down depending on what I need. 

These are routines I complete at every training session, so doing them in a comp environment is really relaxing for me and helps me switch into the mindset of “this is just a regular day”. I have, however, practiced scenarios where things might be different, such as warming up in restricted spaces or without my psyche tunes. So, if anything goes wrong on the day, it shouldn’t throw me off too much.  

Abbie Robinson climbign in the Innsbruck World Cup

I came into both of my qualification routes feeling strong, confident and focused. After experiencing the usual nerves of the first few moves, I relaxed into each route and felt comfortable, topping both routes and qualifying for finals in joint first. Qualifying early on is great because it meant I could relax for the rest of the day and cheer on the rest of the team, who all put in some mega effort. By the end of quals, we had seven athletes through to finals the next day. 


Finals took place the following evening, so we had a pretty chilled morning exploring Innsbruck and then headed to our Airbnb to rest and prep.  

Unlike qualifications, we head into isolation before finals as we are only allowed to view our finals route for six minutes before climbing it. During these six minutes, my sight guide and I aim to memorize as much of the route as possible, particularly focusing on cruxy sections, which are usually at the very top. Then, back in isolation, I spent some time drawing the top section, writing notes and visualising the moves (of course, along with my psyche tunes).  

In order to hear our guides, the audience must be completely silent when we climb. It can be a little jarring and unnerving going from blasting my music in isolation to then stepping out in this huge venue that’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  You have around 40 seconds once you’re clipped in to view the route and prepare before you begin climbing. So, while my guide gives the climb a once over, I chalk up, take a deep breath, a sharp exhale and step on.  

Competition routes are progressive, so this route started on jugs with flowy moves and large footholds, moving into a steeper, sequence-y section on good crimps and volumes. I got a little overconfident at the start and powered through the first half. So, I took a second to rest and compose myself, slowing down to avoid any silly mistakes. After that, I found a good pace and made sure to rest where my guide and I had planned. The moves felt comfortable and the top section, which curved its way around some big, slopey volumes with screw ons and crimps, suited my style as a boulderer well. I topped the route comfortably to take the win, the only one to top that route on the night.  

No matter how many times I do it, stepping up on a podium while the national anthem plays will always feel weird – and I still have no idea what to do or where to look when I’m up there! That being said, it is an absolute honour to get the chance to stand on the podium alongside other incredibly strong athletes with an awesome team behind me. GB Climbing smashed this world cup, coming home with four medals in total! A super strong team who I am proud to have as my second family.  

Abbie robinson wins gold at the Innsbruck World Cup

Next stop is Villars-sur-Ollon for my next world cup of the season. Let’s hope we can keep up the momentum and smash it! 

More climbing stories

Has Abbie got you eager to take on a climbing wall? Good news! As well as being a total climbing badass, Abbie is eager to make this sport accessible for all. Take a look at her guide to indoor climbing to get started on your own climbing journey. 

We work with lots more inspiring climbers, including fellow blind climber Jesse Dufton who is also breaking down boundaries. Hear how he has been challenging disability perceptions in Mexico. You can hear from more of our climbing team in this dedicated #TeamMontane Q&A.