Working on my Weaknesses

Rock climbers are advised to work on their weaknesses in order to get better.  The trouble is, since my injury, I’ve had quite a few weaknesses.

Me climbing the problem Wall End Slab Direct Start (V0 4c) at Stanage Plantation.

A piece of advice that I’ve read in lots of different places is that you should work at getting better at the things you are weak at if you want to become a better rock climber. The thinking behind this is that people tend to avoid the things they’re not very good at.  A lack of practice means that you don’t get better at the thing they’re shunning and so continue to avoid it.  In rock climbing, you could be avoiding something because you find it’s too physically hard and/or you cannot master the technique.  For the first few years after I started climbing my particular weakness was smearing.  It felt insecure, unnatural and unsafe.  So, I tried to climb routes using as little smearing as possible. This was a bit of a challenge as I was doing a lot of gritstone climbing at the time.  However, somewhere along the way I did enough smearing to get the hang of it.  It went from being unnerving, to being another useful way of getting up a climb, to being fun.  I now really enjoy smearing up a featureless gritstone slab. Read more

I’m Finally Back

It’s been a year since I climbed on real rock and six months since the accident.  After lots of physio exercises, surgery and weekly sessions at climbing walls to remind my body how to climb, last weekend I finally got back to climbing outside.  It brought a smile to my face and reminded me of why I love to climb.

My first outdoor climb in a year – Bore-hole Wall (V0 4b) at Curbar Field.

The accident was stupid. One of those seemingly minor things that have surprisingly big consequences. Read more

My Climbing 2017 in Pictures

Why is the best weather the weekend before?

Why does the best weather always seem to happen the weekend before I go on a climbing trip?  Sunshine, clear skies and low winds bless the destinations of my long-planned climbing trips on the weekends before I try to go climbing.  The weather forecasters often refer to “unseasonably good weather” when talking about those weekends, before going on to say “but the weather will change mid-week.”  This means that by the time I try to go climbing the weather is rainy, unsettled, changeable or in some other way not really ideal for rock climbing.  That preceding weekend feels like a teaser of what might have been.  It makes not being able to climb because it’s raining that little bit more annoying.

Me climbing Route 3 (VB 4a) on The Chant section of Burbage North.

This is what happened last weekend.  A weekend of good weather in the Peak District was followed by an intermittently rainy weekend.  After a couple of abortive attempts, Read more

A Little Bit Green Around the Edges

Climbing in the Peak District at this time of year usually means three things for me. Hoping that it won’t be raining so that I can actually climb. Trying to avoid climbing on rock covered in damp, green lichen that it’s easy for my hand or foot to slip off.   Plus, climbing at a level that I can manage and enjoy when I either have a cold or am recovering from one.

Climbing One Inch Arete (VB 4a) in the Little Quarry at Curbar Edge.

The rain that had poured down on the Peak District last Friday disappeared by Saturday to leave clear skies and brilliant sunshine.   It was great weather for bouldering and I was really pleased that I could try out bouldering at Curbar Edge for the first time. Read more

My Climbing 2016 in Pictures

 

(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).

Peak Weekend

What a great weekend of climbing in the Peak District.  I did a selection of varied and interesting climbs, the sun shone (mostly), it wasn’t raining (mostly) and there was enough of a breeze to keep the midges at bay.

Spring Climbing

My climbing trips this Spring have had cold winds, some bright sun and (thankfully) no rain.  This has given me the chance to really get back into climbing on rock and to do some great climbs.  It feels like I’ve warmed up for the rest of my climbing year.

My Climbing 2015 in Pictures

In his Stride

Valerie climbing JT (V0- 4b) at Robin Hood's Stride.
Valerie climbing JT (V0- 4b) at Robin Hood’s Stride.

I didn’t know how Leo was going to feel about his first camping trip last weekend. He’s not yet two years old and being taken away from his home and routine to spend a long weekend camped in a field at night and bouldering in the day might have been a bit too much for him. My main concern was that he would be nervous of the tent. I wondered how Valerie and I could coax Leo into what might seem to him to be a giant orange monster. Read more

Hopeful Climbing

Hoping the rain will stop while belaying at Stanage.
Hoping the rain will stop while belaying at Stanage.

You need a lot of hope if you want to rock climb in the UK. Hope that it won’t rain on your weekend climbing trip. Hope that the rain will stop by the afternoon so that you can go climbing. Hope that the rock will dry out quickly from the last lot of rain because you’ve been sitting in the café far too long. Hope that the rain will hold off until you have finished your climb. Hope that the water slowly trickling down your sleeves as you climb is just a quick shower. Even hope that the patch of lighter cloud you can see in the distance is the “possibly clearing later” that the weather forecast mentioned. You need that hope, particularly if you are a London-based climber like me and every trip to a climbing venue is an investment of time and effort. It’s that hope that gets you in your car to drive to the Peak District or North Wales and it’s what gets you out of your tent when rain is pattering on it first thing in the morning. Read more

My Climbing 2014 in Pictures

Pootling Around The Roaches

One of the things I like about bouldering is that it’s great when all you want to do is pootle. That’s all I wanted to do last weekend at The Roaches. I had a creeping cold that was developing a cough. The gritstone was green, wet and strong, blustery winds made sitting belaying at the top of a crag look a bit unappealing. So I spent my time wandering around the boulders, doing low-grade routes that looked interesting and weren’t so slimy and wet that my feet would skate off them. Moving at a gentle pace and just focusing on how to move on the rock really cleared my head and relaxed me.

To make the weekend even better, I got to see the inside of the Don Whillans Memorial Hut. I’ve been past that iconic oddity tucked into the rocks at the bottom of The Roaches so many times and wondered what it looks like inside. With some friends staying there, I got to see and it is an amazing building (particularly the kitchen).

In the end, the tiredness caused by my cold and the limited number of boulders sheltered enough that the crash pads wouldn’t blow away brought an end to my climbing on Sunday. I didn’t mind. I finished my lovely pootle by ambling off to the nearby tearooms.