Complete beginner Dean Wilkes wanted to experience climbing but was too nervous for conventional methods. After several conversations I decided on a scrambling experience. We arrived at Wintours Leap in beautiful sunny conditions and made our way down the scree slope to the base of Go Wall and along the foot of the crag until we reached the base of the ‘Easy Way Down’ approach.
I wanted to put Dean at ease immediately so we donned harnesses and helmets and I tied Dean in to the end of a short rope. I began leading very short sections, always in sight of Dean, showing him where to put his hands and feet and encouraging him to always looking ahead to where he was going rather than looking down.
Initially, he was intimitaded by the exposure and at the ‘step across’ I ensured I was belayed next to the step so I could keep him tight on the rope. He found it terrifying nevertheless, and clung to the rock. The next section went through the trees and I invited Dean to take the lead. He did with great pleasure and I could feel his confidence growing.
The next sections involved real climbing, but I was always above him, the sections were short and I began to give him autonomy little by little – clipping himself in, attaching himself with a lark’s foot, and choosing the best route ahead.
As Dean emerged at the top of the cliff he was amazed by the view and how much he had enjoyed the experience. He wanted to experience it again to see whether he would be as nervous – just not today!