Ali and Tony met the 10 University students at Box Bay north of Cardiff for their first session of trad lead instruction. It was a perfect day, in that it had stopped raining, the sun had come out, the wind was blowing hard and the tide was coming in quicker than expected!
The group was divided into absolute beginners and those with some experience. Box Bay is a perfect venue for teaching beginners as the rock is solid with good friction, with lots of cracks and pockets for placing good protection. It’s also a good crag to visit if you want to blast up some harder routes as they are relatively short and there are good places to set up belays at the top.
The tide was against them, but everyone practised placing gear, created a belay and bottom roped a climb before the tide came rushing in and they were all plastered with salty foam – nice!
Fortunately there is a wide ledge with stepped, easy faces above where the students could lead, place good gear under supervision, lead belay, set up belays and bring their second up. All did well; the beginners gained a better understanding of the principles of trad climbing, whilst the more advanced students had the opportunity to practice their skills in a safe and controlled environment.
A week later they continued their development at Symonds Yat in the Wye Valley. The beginners learnt how to lead climb using a back up top rope and the more experienced group were guided to the Waterpipe Bay area, where when given the choice they all opted to lead the routes, placing their own gear. They all led 3 routes, brought up their seconds after building belays and learnt how to abseil safely using both single and double ropes.
At the end of the day, when time was running out – the gates close at 5pm and it was already 5.45, the students wanted a demonstration of how to get off safely from a sport route. An unusual request at a trad climbing venue, but Ali delivered a satisfactory performance and the students were impressed by the simplicity and reliability of the process. By the time they returned to the parking area and the rest of the group the Warden was waiting patiently to lock up and go home. Sorry!
‘Got a lot of great feedback from the students. Thanks for all your help’. Beth Noyce