It seemed a very long time to be away from rock, but keeping fit throughout Lockdown with Cycling, Aerial fitness, Yoga and online classes meant I would be ready as soon as we were given the go ahead.
I started with 1:1’s and 1:2’s if they were from the same household and have so far stuck to that, but am now opening up 1:2’s and 1:3’s from different households – maximum of 2 households to limit the spread of Coronovirus. Hand sanitiser is to be used before and after each climb or going to the loo. Being outdoors does curb infection due to being in the open air and the effect of ultraviolet light.
I have been pleasantly surprised and pleased by the number of women who have ventured outdoors to develop their climbing skills and confidence – often driven by a passion to be independent climbers.
Many climbers have been drawn to Trad climbing post Lockdown, a difficult sport to undertake without expert tuition. I have read of several incidents, since the restrictions have been lifted, where people have been severely injured due to lack of experience or over estimating their ability or strength. A couple of days Professional coaching could mean the difference between life and death. Here is Ryan, a 17 year old Outdoor Education student learning to Trad Lead climb with his mother Sara.
Building anchors at the top of a Trad Pitch is a complicated process, everything must be in line, anchor, belayer, climber and the belayer must be tight on the belay. The anchor must also be bombproof so that if the second falls off the anchor will hold the weight of both climbers. Stance and rope management are also an art in themselves.
Sport lead climbing is a more accessible sport and easier to achieve and become confident, especially if you have led indoors, but there are subtle differences. You have to provide your own quickdraws – yes people actually think they are in place on Sport crag venues. The bolts and belays are not inspected regularly, you have to make judgements as to whether they are safe.
The first bolt is often quite a long way from the ground as the first ascentionist drills and places all the equipment. A Clip Stick avoids hitting the ground should you slip before clipping the first quickdraw. If there is a group of you working a route you cannot use the lower off as it will wear very quickly and may lead to a fatality.
You have to thread the rings, karabiners or maillons in the anchor to retrieve your rope, but must not use the rope through the anchor to bottom rope belay – again this causes wear on the rings or karabiners in place. You must use your own slings and Screwgates to create your own lower off using the bolts in place. Always check for wear before lowering off; you should carry a leaver Screwgate or Maillon if you think any rings, maillons or karabiners are unsafe.
Be safe out there!!!