Ali had the pleasure of teaching a group of climbing enthusiasts to Sport Lead Climb at Tintern Quarry and Woodcroft Quarry. They had mixed experience, Kathryn was the most experienced and loved the outdoors, Jonathan had never climbed outdoors before and Lydia had limited experience – but they had one thing in common – they were all keen to learn.
The group bonded immediately and it was a weekend of learning and great fun. The first day was spent at Tintern Quarry in beautiful suuny weather, where the group looked at clipping, body position, good balance and weight transfer, lead climbing and threading the belay. Everyone did well. Jonathan seemed the most calm, but probably had the least confidence and experience, Lydia had good technical ability and was light and strong. Kathryn was a great student and took everything in and was conscientious in everything she did – she was keen to learn.
By the end of day one they had all led routes confidently and threaded the belay with the minimum of prompting. It was during day one that the catchphrase for the weekend came into being – ‘Take me tight Jonathan Crisp’ before being lowered.
The forecast for Sunday was dull and cool but it was actually quite warm and the sun shone occasionally. It was time to put their skills to the test. A revision of lead belaying took priority first thing followed by threading the belay at the top of a much longer climb. Ali was alongside to ensure the procedure was followed safely and although they all executed it to the letter they were glad Ali was there to give them confidence and reassurance.
The group moved further into the quarry and set their sights on a few harder, steeper climbs that gave them the opportunity to belay each other whilst falling and to take leader falls themselves. It is a scary thing to do the first time, but as long as the leader is high enough from the ground and there are no ledges in the way it is best to have a little slack in the system so the fall is soft on the body and it’s a gentle drop. So many belayers take in too tight resulting in a hard slam into the rock for the leader which is both unpleasant and unnecessary.
It was sad to say goodbye at the end of the course, everyone had had such a great time and had move a long way in terms of confidence in their personal climbing and rope techniques. Ali felt priveleged to have met and taught them all.