It was a privilege to be part of the 7th annual Women’s Climbing Symposium which took place over the weekend at Bloc, Bristol and Symonds Yat in the Forest of Dean. The aim – to celebrate climbing, connect with other climbers, develop skills and be inspired.
It was a bit of a chilly day with the 6 evolving climbers – Cynthia Siew, Marta Garcia-aliaga, Rosie Stubbs, Laura Burton, Victoria Oakes and Laura Fontan Bouzas who were wrapped up and ready to learn to trad lead climb.
The day began looking at gear, placing gear, recognising good placements, hanging off gear and creating belays with gear, before moving up to the hidden Upper Tier of Water Pipe Bay – perfect for beginners with short routes with lots of opportunities for good gear placements.
I set up 2 top rope lines to allow the the climbers to lead climb safely working in 3’s – one climbing on a top rope but leading and placing gear, with 2 belayers – a top rope and a lead belayer. Each climber critiqued their own gear with honesty and skill.
It is surprising that even on a top rope the climbers felt some of the anxiety and fear of being on the sharp end although they were perfectly safe.
Everyone successfully mock led a route, and developed their lead belaying skills also.
They all really enjoyed the day and couldn’t believe how complex trad lead climbing was or how quickly the time disappeared. I was very impressed that their skill continued to develop throughout the day and they gained so much confidence. I hope to see them again in the near future and get them on the sharp end for real.