I had been reading some more of the excellent “Performance Rock Climbing” in the build up to this week’s session. The section on technique had me engrossed, how all of these individual skills could improve one’s ability…as long as you can put them into practice! In the car I was excitedly babbling away about how I wanted to work on “flagging” and “twist-locks” etc. Unfortunately the place was heaving when we got there, especially on the bouldering wall which I feel is the best place to work on technique. I find that trying to repeat a move when top roping is a bit cumbersome, also not very interesting for my buddy. If I do it on the bouldering wall, I can just get on and off
easily and once I’m familiar with what I’m trying to achieve, my mate can leave me to it and do his own thing.
Ok so straight onto the top ropes and a tasty little section with an overhanging start. A couple of routes down and Si decided he was going to get his rope out and lead a few. As he was sorting his rope, he turned to me with a grin and said “do you fancy trying a lead?” I giggled and shrugged off the comment, then shocked both of us when I replied with a “why not, I’ve gotta try it sometime…?” A quick bit of explanation from Si and I was ready to start, adrenaline flowing. First attempt was a bit of a fail, clipped the first runner ok but managed to get the second one wrong! I had somehow pulled the rope from below the first runner, god knows how but I had to carefully down climb and start again. My forearms then tapped me gently on the shoulder and whispered something about attempting my first lead on an overhanging start being a bit inconsiderate towards them. Good point I think and with the benefit of hindsight…
I had the bit between my teeth now though and was determined to lead a full route. We moved on to find a fairly straightforward Grade 3, after all this wasn’t about pushing grades, my sights were set on a totally new target. I clipped all of the runners easily and was at the top before I realised what was happening. Si had clipped a sling to my harness to allow me to clip in at the top. He said that it would make life easier as I opened the top screwgate and would save me tiring and panicking if it didn’t go smoothly. I reached for it at first but I was feeling comfortable with my right arm locked off, no need for it, gate opened, rope clipped and closed again. Fantastic feeling and I couldn’t hold in the little “whoop!” of delight at what I’d just done.
Considering that I have a fear of exposure and falling, I never once felt threatened by the possibility and consequence of plummeting, should I come off. Maybe that was just due to the fairly easy climbing involved but I really felt confident up there and concentrated on climbing rather than falling…that’s a good thing, right?
So not quite the technique improving evening that I had promised but after completing my first lead and also a challenging 6a which I had failed on the week before, I went home feeling very, very good indeed.
Still buzzing now!