When I met Giada, in September 2010, my first impression was a lady with drive and determination. She had climbed indoors with friends, but they seemed reluctant to teach her to lead climb, suggesting she wasn’t quite ready. In the first day of instruction she was not only leading indoors but taking leader falls. And by the third day she was leading trad. Giada is Italian and has had a love of the mountains since an early age, she has skied since she was 5 and has spent many holidays in the Dolomites, scrambling or being guided. It’s no wonder then that Giada has this burning desire to climb independently and has been such a good student.
She is an intelligent and enthusiastic climber, so that she learns quickly and is able to put new skills into practice almost immediately, but she is very hard on herself and if things aren’t as good as she expects she becomes sullen and is easily disappointed with her performance.
Our course this May, began with a day at Symonds Yat, where Giada led 2 routes of VS 4b in excellent style and learnt to top rope belay, building belays at the top of the route and then bringing her 2nd, me, up safely. She followed a VS 4c, The Druid and an E1 5b, Strathdon in excellent style.
We were rained off the second day, but spent the day at Bristol Under Cover Rock where we worked on Giada’s footwork, weight transference and her dislike of overhangs. She did several and developed good technique.
We headed north to the Roaches on our third day to revisit gritstone where I first taught Giada to trad lead climb. We couldn’t believe how different gritstone was to limestone and how brilliant the friction was, or how quickly it dried. It was pouring with rain when we arrived, but cleared up to give us a perfect day.
Giada constructed a number of belays with cams and nuts, threads and spikes and added a new knot to her repertoire – the bowline whilst we waited for the rock to dry.
The highlight of the week came on Giada’s last day when we headed to Wintours leap. She led a sport route, to demonstrate her new skill of threading the belay and keeping safe, followed Freedom VS 4c, in good style despite the polish and led the 2nd pitch of
Moth HS 4a. Her piece de resistance came with her final lead, the 2nd pitch of The Split VS 4b, an off width tiered crack. The abseil rope was on hand if she felt out of her depth, but it wasn’t necessary. She ascended the first 3 tiers with a couple of wobbles, but her gear was good and I gave her lots of encouragement. The final tier offers only a chock stone for protection quite low down and then nothing to the top, which is quite polished, and if you do fall off you will hit the ledge. Giada composed herself and got into the ‘zone’, becoming one with the rock, so it would let her in. I was so proud as she topped out and so happy for Giada – an amazing achievement.