The other weekend I fell off more than usual. I’ll have a go at harder problems every time I go bouldering as a way of trying to improve my climbing. About a third of the time I complete the problem, another third of the time I fall off every time, and the remaining third I’m just baffled about how to actually do the climb. However, this time, I fell just off again and again. Read more
The other weekend I got reminded that a great walk doesn’t have to be up the highest peak, or to a famous summit that everyone wants to tick off their list. I had a brilliant time walking up a hill that’s just lovely for being in a great location, a bit different, and with an interesting character.
Crook Hill is in the High Peak area of the Peak District. It sits at the bottom of the two arms of the Y-shaped Ladybower Reservoir, where the Woodlands Valley splits off from the Derwent Valley. It’s a commanding location that makes it easy to imagine that Crook Hill was the once the site of a hill fort (although I’m not aware that it ever was). Read more
I climbed around the rain this weekend. Rain often either forces me to not go climbing at all, or forces me to finish climbing before I’m ready. This weekend looked like it was going to go that way again when it started raining after I had only done two problems at Stanage Far Right. It was particularly annoying as rain (and snow) had stopped me climbing in North Yorkshire a couple of months ago, and for some time I’d been wanting to go back to Stanage Far Right to see if I could finish the green circuit.
The far right hand end of Stanage is a brilliant place for easier bouldering. The problems are varied, interesting and (usually) above good landings. The views are brilliant. It’s also only a ten minute walk from the car parking (which is a definite plus when there’s a chance you might get rained off). Read more
Windy, wet and grey – last weekend had a lot in common with other weekends I’ve spent in the Peak District at this time of year. It was still fun though, particularly as I set out to go to bits of the Peak District I’d not been to before. This meant heading around the edge of the moors to the East of Kinder Scout on Saturday.
By Sunday the wind had become so strong that walking around the tops looked impractical (and certainly like a lot of hard work). Read more
Sometimes the day works out better than you expect. The forecast last weekend was for low clouds and showers. That’s certainly how the day started out, but by the time I’d walked up to the edges and tors above the Derwent Valley a low autumn sun had broken through to create one of the best days I’ve had in the Peak District. Read more
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.
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
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.
The accident was stupid. One of those seemingly minor things that have surprisingly big consequences. Read more
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.
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
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.
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 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).