2020 started so well, the diary was full, with bookings for Rock Skills – Trad and Sport Lead Courses, Site Specific Training and Assessments, Climbing Wall Instructor Training and Assessments, Climbing Wall Development Instructor Training and Assessments, Beginner Climbing Courses and climbing trips to the Costa Blanca – and then -suddenly life was on hold.
I love my job as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor – I enjoy the variety – of activities, venues and especially people. Climbing has been in my life for many years but I was a teacher before I became an Instructor and my passion for climbing is as strong as my passion for teaching, as is my desire to share my knowledge and to inspire.
The business has grown over the years, my continuing professional experience has developed, the number of clients that use my services has risen and I have a great deal of repeat business. I actually enjoy going on courses and learning new things. I am booked on a Masterclass Crack Climbing day with Pete Whittaker in July – let’s hope it’s all over by then.
Teaching has been a lifelong vocation, but I especially love watching people grasp new skills and become independent climbers and instructors. I also ensure my courses are fun – most people learn better when they are enjoying themselves.
I know it’s a bit of a cliche but everyone’s journey is different and every course I deliver is adapted to the needs of the clients. Often there is variety of experience within a group of clients. Sometimes it’s a group of friends or they are total strangers and I have to ensure everyone is working within their comfort zone and learning at their own pace, but they are all still able to meet and overcome challenges and fears.
Some clients acquire skills quickly whilst others need time to practice in situations with increasing difficulty, but climbing is one of those activities, and more so in the outdoors, where people work together towards a shared goal and learn to trust each other.
Climbing is a team game, and trusting each other is the most important part. You have to keep each other safe, whether your lead belaying, bottom rope belaying or top rope belaying, maintain your focus, be aware of your surroundings whether it’s indoors or outdoors. Climbers usually work as a pair and both must take 50% responsibility. Anything that happens is never wholly the others persons fault. If you make a mistake in climbing it could cost you or your partner their life, but near misses are events that need to be discussed, analysed and shared so that others can learn from your mistakes and the climbing community is more informed on what could go wrong.
I will still be here when this is all over, so in the meantime what can you do to stay healthy? Keep your alcohol and sugar intake to a minimum. Eat foods with a varied mix of fruit and vegetables, lean meat and/or Vegan or Vegetarian options – plant based protein has been scientifically proven to be the best source of protein. Exercise as much as you are able or are comfortable with, it’s easy to go overboard with all this free time – and ensure you stay within the Government Guidelines of limiting social interaction.