At last we’ve managed to get out on one of our “Climb on Real Rock Days,” having cancelled several climbing trips due to torrential downpours and generally horrendous weather (Noah would have been rubbing his hands together in anticipation of launching the Ark!).
Seven enthusiastic young climbers, including several from our Climbing Club joined our instructors for their first taste of climbing on real rock.
The stunningly picturesque Burbage Valley in one of the UK’s longest-established National Parks: the glorious Peak District in Derbyshire
Directions in hand, climbers made their way to the Grindleford Station Café, a historic meeting place and renowned feeding station for some of the world’s top climbers and mountaineers, including Andy Cave.
With a wide selection of culinary delights on offer, our avid climbers filled up on a hearty breakfast and mug of tea, ready for a hard day’s climbing. Sustained, stocked up and rucksacks packed with essential chocolate bars etc., we take a short drive to the crag. On the approach as we head in to the valley, the crag is slightly obscured by the early morning mist, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of a Jurassic landscape and adding fuel to the approaching climber’s nervous anticipation and excitement.
With vehicles parked, a short walk brings us to the stepping stones and stream below Burbage Bridge. With a hop, skip and a jump we cross cautiously and continue on along the sandy grit stone path.
A few hundred yards further on, as we lift our heads from the path our eyes are greeted first by lush green ferns, as we look higher our eyes connect with the lower boulders of the crag. Beyond this and directly above us, the towering Triangle Buttress: solid walls of grit stone rock. Our challenge for the day, with routes to challenge all abilities.
Away from the crag, we dismount our heavy sacks laden with ropes, climbing hardware, helmets and harnesses. These will provide our safety net for what lies ahead of us. With our equipment organised, we check and double-check that our harnesses and helmets are securely fitted. Safety brief delivered and ropes rigged, we drape the ropes over the edge and down to the eager but slightly apprehensive and nervous climbers below.
Scaling the rock face
Ropes in place, climbers pair up with their climbing partners: climber and belayer. The climber ties into the rope; the other fits the belay. Several essential words are exchanged between partners before the climber sets off, tentatively moving up the rock, fingers and toes becoming feelers searching for the edges and ledges that will keep the climber in contact with the rock face.
As the route steepens, the climber battles with the mind games within. Finally, fingertips locate a solid positive hold, allowing the climber’s feet to step up onto a substantial ledge. The battle within is won, any doubts of succeeding melting away – replaced now with confident self-belief and the euphoria that comes with success: “I’m at the top!”
Once again, a few essential words are exchanged between climbing partners before the climber is safely lowered to the ground. With a high five to congratulate, roles are reversed: belayer becomes climber, climber becomes belay and the adventure continues.
I’d like to thank and congratulate climbers Ed, Matty, Felicity, Lydia, Francis, David and Rose, for their outstanding enthusiasm, commitment and have-a-go spirit throughout the day.
Join us on our next climb!
If you are looking to have your first taste of climbing on real rock, come and join us on the following dates:
Saturday 8th September 2012
Sunday 9th September 2012
Saturday October 6th 2012