(Re)learning Self-Rescue

My self-rescue skills became rusty because I never got into the sort of trouble where they would be needed. That’s definitely a good thing.  My self-rescue skills also became rusty because I never practiced them and didn’t get refresher training as often as I should have.  That’s definitely a bad thing.  The self-rescue course I did at the weekend highlighted for me just how risky it had been leaving it so long to get a refresher.  There were so many aspects of the rope work that I had forgotten and other aspects that I wasn’t particularly confident on.   The instructors were great at talking me through the steps of a variety of techniques and putting them to use in different scenarios on the rock.  I feel more confident about self-rescue now and determined to practice it more often (although, only in pretend situations).

The Winter Mountaineer

In 2007 I went on a course that gave me the confidence and knowledge I needed to start exploring mountains in winter conditions. Years later, I decided I wanted to advance my skills and learn how to move over more difficult winter terrain. That’s why, last week, I went back to Glenmore Lodge, the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre, to do a winter mountaineering course.

This course gave me an improved understanding of how to read the mountain environment and so make better judgments on the safest route. I’ve looked at avalanche and weather forecasts in the past before going out in winter, but the instructors gave these more depth and meaning by teaching how they related to the landscape I was going through. They emphasised being attentive and pointed out how to spot clues in the snow conditions under foot and in how the snow changed with the terrain. Read more

Learning to Climb Smarter

Alice coaching me on how to climb in a more fluid way.
Alice coaching me on how to climb in a more fluid way.

My main priority in my return to rock climbing is to build up my strength and develop my climbing technique in a way that reduces the chance of injuring myself again.  To do this I need to reassess how I climb.   My hope is that if I do this now, I can stop slipping back into any bad habits as well as stop new bad habits developing.  I decided that the best way to do this was to get an expert to assess my climbing and coach me on what to do to improve it.  So, I booked a climbing injury prevention session with Alice Turner, a qualified mountain instructor (MIA) and physiotherapist.  What I learned has really got me thinking about how I can climb in a smarter way by changing some of the fundamentals of how I move. Read more

Learning to lead

Libby teaching me about placing gear.

Guest Blogger – a post by my fiancee

Well, after two years following Robin up crags and cliffs, we decided that 2012 would be the year I would learn to lead.  Aside from the fact that it’s frankly rather cool, I had several reasons I wanted to progress to leading.  Firstly, I wanted to start pulling my own weight in our climbing partnership, we both want to have a stab at longer multi-pitch routes where leading through is necessary, and lastly, you haven’t really experienced trad climbing until you’ve been reduced to a quivering wreck…

Women usually climb very differently to men, so I decided I wanted a female guide to help me through my first foray into leading.  As we climb mostly in North Wales, Robin contacted Libby Peter, and we hired her for two days at the end of July 2012. Read more