July has been a busy month for Monsterclimbs with new Site Specific Training Courses running
at Reading Blue Coat School and Alderley Edge School for Girls. Eleven members of teaching staff were trained to use their brand new Climbing Solutions Walls, from belaying to lowering techniques, group management and safety to climbing technique and coaching.
Some staff were completely out of their comfort zones, but everyone worked hard to learn and develop new skills in preparation for their assessments later in the year.
Moving outdoors Ali coached David and Christine in multipitch climbing techniques at Wintours Leap, leading 2 routes of 3 and 4 pitches. Their rope management skills improved as the day developed and they moved more and more confidently on the rock with excellent gear placements and solid belays.
A memorable day and such a buzz for David and Christine.
Freyja, Megan and Zoe joined the BMC Moving Outdoor session led by Ali Taylor where the women got the opportunity to place gear, improve their belaying skills, build belays, learn rope management and top rope routes removing and placing gear as they climbed. They were all fascinated by the mechanics of gear placement and all commented how their current climbing partners had lots of confidence but not really much idea about gear placement or rope management. Scary!!
The next step is to do a 2 day trad lead course which is exactly what Jordan and Josie did. A lovely young couple who have a great relationship with the outdoors and each other. They are taking a year off from their careers to travel and, hopefully with their new skills, to climb all over the world in their newly converted van. The weekend began with a very nervous Josie who wanted to be safe and knowledgeable who would be leaving all the leading to Jordan but finished with a confident and skillful climber who couldn’t wait to get on the sharp end again.
Glen Brook booked his 3rd course with Ali and spent the weekend lead climbing on gritstone in the Peak District. Glen wanted to develop his climbing experience and gain confidence placing gear on lead and building belays. Gritstone is an acquired taste and takes time to master. It is different from any other type of rock in that the friction is exceptional and you stay attached to the rock often when there doesn’t
appear to be a hold or any GEAR. Glen was on his own when leading as Ali was belaying at the base of the crag, but she offered him lots of encouragement and advice.
There were a couple of hairy moments for him but it was great for expanding his experience, building confidence and taking his comfort zone to new levels. Once safe at the top of the crag Ali would run round to check his belay and help as necessary.
Belaying at the top of a route is an advanced technique – your belay has to be bombproof as it could be taking the weight of two people should the second fall off and you have to be in line with the anchor and climber and be tight on the belay otherwise you could be pulled to one side or over the top of the cliff. I had to intervene and help a young man who wasn’t attached to his belay who was leaning over the edge of the crag just about to belay his 2nd who had given him a 5 minute lesson as to what to do when he topped out. Terrifying!! John Leigh took the opportunity to do an evening refresher with Ali on exactly this technique so he could be more efficient, competent and safe when he topped out.
Ali managed to squeeze in a trip to Portland with Mick Green during the worst storms of the Summer but still got 13 routes in between downpours including several 6b+’s. Drove home in the pouring rain!!!
And finally a DofE Qualifying Expedition in the Quantocks with Cotham School looking after 2 groups of young ladies. Both groups did well, one group worked better as a team, making sound navigational decisions whilst the other group took a little longer to gel as a team which led to getting lost and low spirits but they got there in the end.
It was great to see so many new and returning clients this month. It is always a pleasure to meet new people and give them the skills and confidence to realise their dreams, and to see clients returning for further training to develop the confidence and experience to take their skills to greater adventures.