Back on Plastic

I’ve taken my first steps back into climbing following surgery on my injured knee.  They’re just small steps at my local climbing wall, because I worry that anything else will see me injure myself again or at least slow down my recovery.  My physio was clear about how to not hurt myself – avoid jumping down or falling off from boulder problems until my legs have regained the strength needed to cushion the impact.  The only way to follow that advice was to carefully climb easy problems and down climb everything. Back to plastic

This was limiting and could have been a bit irritating, but I decided the best thing to do was to accept climbing this way and ended by enjoying my session.  It’s sometimes fun to just focus on moving well during a climb and to forget about pushing yourself to climb harder.  I think that I’ve been guilty in the past of getting so caught up in things like the next gear placement, the fall below me, reducing rope drag or how to complete the next move that I just forget to enjoy moving on the rock (or on plastic).  My injury has been frustrating, but it is getting me to think differently and to think more about how I move, how I balance and how I can just relax into climbing.  If I can change my focus in this way then may I can  enjoy the climbing I can do more and build up the fundamentals of good climbing technique so that I can be a better climber in future.  Maybe I can also not get frustrated about how rusty my technique is right now and how much strength I’ve lost. 

My climbing wall session was the start of all this.  I’ve got quite a way to go yet to return to my previous climbing standard, but I’m happy to be back climbing.

Baby Hits The Wall

Leo and Valerie at the climbing wall.
Leo and Valerie at the climbing wall.

Like all new parents, my wife and I are trying to work out how to manage our lives now that we have a baby.  Even seemingly simple tasks, like going to the shops or visiting relatives, now feel like a major logistical undertaking.  Resuming our regular trips to our local climbing wall felt like a particular challenge.  Such a trip would involve ensuring baby Leo is happy and safe in an environment not designed for babies while, at the same time, ensuring both Valerie and I enough of a chance to climb.  In the end, we managed the trip and Leo really enjoyed himself, but the little guy eventually hit a wall and crashed out on a bouldering mat. Read more

Climbing for Two: climb when ready

Guest blogger: Valerie Van den Hende

This is the promised update to my post ‘Climbing for Two: to climb or not to climb’ from May 2013 in which I discussed my decision to continue with rock climbing at the same time as growing Baby Van den Hende, currently known to his friends as ‘Bump’.

Ready to climb with Bump.
Ready to climb with Bump.

Bump is due any day now, and Robin has been reminding me that it would be a good time for me to tell you about my experiences before life is filled with nappies and puke, and my brain can no longer string together a meaningful sentence.  Personally, I think my brain reached that stage a while ago, so there may have been some hefty editing to this post on my behalf by well-meaning relatives… Read more

Climbing for Two: to climb or not to climb?

Guest blogger: Valerie Van den Hende

This climber has a baby on boardOne of our first considerations when thinking about trying for a family was would I have to stop climbing?  There seems to be a lot of conflicting advice (and some rather strong opposing views) on the internet on the subject of rock climbing during pregnancy.  General medical opinion appears to be that any activity where falling is likely should be avoided, as well as contact sports, anything that could result in even mild abdominal trauma and loaded twisting movements.  The reasons for this are obvious – clearly I wouldn’t want to cause any physical damage to either myself or our baby, but on the other hand, there are definite benefits from climbing, both physical and psychological.  And if pregnancy yoga is safe, then surely some aspects of rock climbing (or ‘yoga going upwards’ as I like to call it) could be ok? Read more

Review of the new Beacon Climbing Centre

Earlier this week, with waves of rain sweeping over North Wales ruling outdoors rock climbing out, my fiancée and I decided to try the new Beacon Climbing Centre near Caernarfon.  We were impressed.

Tommy the bouldering elephant in the dedicated kids area at the new Beacon Climbing Centre.

The old Beacon Climbing Centre had been in the Marconi Building in Ceunant for some 18 years.  This was a reasonable climbing wall, but it was very out of the way, a bit rundown and in need of an update.  This old centre has now shut and the operation moved to a former TV studio on the Cibyn Industrial Estate near Caernarfon.  As the new location is just off the main A4086 road from Llanberis, the Beacon Climbing Centre is now brilliantly placed for climbers rained off the mountains and crags of Snowdonia National Park. Read more