The Seven Wonders – Em, Jess, Helen, Ali, Paul, Dorothy and Jonathan were all beginners who wanted an outdoor climbing experience. Ali and Paul had no experience at all, hadn’t even climbed indoors, the others had various experience but mostly indoors with a little outdoors.
The venue was Hedbury Quarry on the beautiful and dramatic coastline of the Isle of Purbeck near Swanage. The first task was to ensure that harnesses and helmets were fitted correctly, followed by a discussion about the fit of climbing shoes. Ali then put up the first route and gave a demonstration of correct belaying technique including taking in and lowering. Two more routes were quickly in place and it was good to see the more experience climbers helping the beginners with knots and belaying. The atmosphere of the group was wonderful, everyone warmed to each other, were encouraging and regularly swapped climbing partners.
Routes ranged from French grade 1 – 5+ and by the end of the day everyone had experienced and understood the grading system, were moving well on outdoor rock – most preferred it to indoors, and were extremely competent belayers.
The weather stayed fine, sunny and windy and a little on the cool side and the rough sea was pounding the rocks below – very atmospheric. Several had sunburn marks, in particular Em’s nose and Ali had helmet strap marks!
Day 2 was not so pleasant and after a group meeting and a choice of options they spent the day at The Edge in Wimbourne, just 30 minutes away. It was a great opportunity to coach their movement skills and emphasize the basic elements of good climbing technique with some bouldering problems; precise and silent footwork, efficient movement – hanging on straight arms, and how to climb on steep rock – straight arms, twisting hips in and sideways on.
It was then down to the main arena and trying to put it all into practice. They all did amazingly well and actually found that they were often pushing up with their legs rather than pulling themselves up with their arms, a much more efficient way of climbing, and far less tiring.
‘Thanks ever so much for your words of encouragement and the photos – I know I need to work on my elephant feet amongst other things. It was a good weekend and even though the rain did affect play, we learnt a lot from the bouldering and climbing wall session.’ Helen Ware
‘Thanks so much for a great weekend Ali. I was so excited to try climbing outdoors for the first time – the sun, sea and wind made it a truly memorable, at times scary, but totally exhilarating experience. It was a shame that rain took us indoors – but actually it was a great opportunity to tap into your expertise and put all your tips on technique into practice. I am now itching to get climbing outdoors again.’ Jess Smith