The weather was glorious, the scenery amazing as Wes and Ali made their way up to Newstones near The Roaches. Wes was an absolute beginner, so was anxious and excited to be learning bouldering techniques on gritstone.
They began with some basic techniques on the large boulder to the right of Hazel Barn. How to keep the body upright on slabs with the weight over the feet and straight arms, with open palms, on sloping holds. Both crimping and climbing with bent arms are hard on the tendons as they try and take a short cut across the joint. Open crimps, using just the top finger joint and climbing with straight arms are a better way to climb to avoid injury.
Wes found climbing shoes quite uncomfortable (and they weren’t very tight), but appreciated how sticky the rubber was and how precise it enabled him to be with his feet. He also found gritstone quite painful on the fingers and that his arms quickly became tired. Keeping his weight over his feet was the answer – Ali got him to walk up a slab with just one foot on the rock at a time and the hands flat on the rock. He was amazed that his feet didn’t slip and that he could stand on just one foot.
Baldstones gave Ali the opportunity to teach Wes how to bridge and lay back, whilst staying quite close to the ground. Both techniques involve opposing forces, and an optimum distance between the hands and feet.
Wes had ample opportunity to practice and develop all his new skills. With a bouldering mat handy and a spotter standing by, Wes’s confidence grew and he was able to succeed on many problems. It was an intense session for Wes and all too soon he had to concede enough was enough.
I had the opportunity to meet his lovely wife Louise, who is expecting their first child in November and wish them both the best of luck.