This weekend I was joined by a keen bunch; Liam, Pralad, Sam and Karl on an Outdoor Rock Climbing Course. They all had about 6 months indoor experience with some lead climbing.
Day one we headed out in glorious weather to Tremadog upper tier… the walk in nearly killed them, but we were safe once rock climbing. We hit up a few of the harder VS and HVS routes on the left hand end of the crag.
Firstly I took the guys up top to show them how I was rigging the ropes to hold them. Placing a few wires and hexes then backing everything up with the iron stakes that are insitu at the crag. It really is an SPA climbing paradise.
After a stiff warm up (K.M.A. HS 4a), we got into discussing all the kit that I had along with me for the day. Dyneema Slings of differing lengths, Wallnuts, Rocks, Hexcentrics, Dragon Cams, 4CUs, quickdraws and extenders.
Next up, they each climbed the cracks of the VS (Madog VS 4c), with a steep learning curve in the art of toe / foot jamming and embracing the pain. Except Karl, who lay-backed the whole crack sequence, again!
For lunch, I was entertained watching the guys try and eat yoghurts without spoons, a great crag food! At least they bought a picnic blanket with them… I’m not sure who lugged that up the walk in, but good effort that man.
Next up was Myomancy (HVS 5b), which is a really good and interesting route. Whilst a pair of the lads were climbing on this, I was talking through belaying up leaders to stances. Two point belays with a sling, and with just rope. Three point belays with ropes all coming back to clove hitches on an HMS carabiner. It was about this point of complexity that we decided to go sport climbing the next day, and rein it in a little! Though I could see the minds of the three engineers ticking away watching the shiny kit like magpies. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much interest in demonstrating a 3to1 mechanical advantage hoist of a climber.
For a warm down to the day and as the light turned fantastic for photos, we headed up Quatre Fois (VS 4c). Unfortunately the wind dropped, conditions were absolutely still and delightful, BUT for the midges too… they promptly came out and attacked us all. Most of us fine, with a few little itches, but Liam’s legs suddenly showed signs of chicken-pox and were swelling up. Time to call it a day. 9.30 meet tomorrow at the service station on the A55 for some Sport Climbing.
Day Two; Castle Inn Quarry. Another North Wales climbing gem. This place is an intro to sport heaven. Routes from french 3 through to 7a, with a significant number around 4-5.
I kicked off by leading and putting up a rope on Mogadishu and More Than This. Whilst climbing and simultaneously talking through the safest way to clip the bolts, manage the rope and organise the lower off.
Then it was for the guys to lead and set up One Fine Day. This is another fantastic way to Learn to Lead as the route itself is french grade 3, so all concentration can be put into the lead climbing without any worry of falling off.
After a few plays with the Beta-stick (engineers remember), we headed for Nain, Ffrind, Taid and Hidden Gem. The team pretty much clean onsight/flashed all of these routes which was a really great effort, especially on such a hot sweaty day.
The top of Hidden Gem is another great site for learning, that I often use. The bolt belay includes two hangers close together with a ring through each. As well as this, as the instructor, I can scramble around the side and watch/supervise the cleaning out of the route. This involves the climber clipping into the belay, pulling through a couple of meters of slack rope, threading it through the bolts, retying their knot, then cleaning out all the quickdraws placed on lead as they come down. It’s a fairly complicated process, which on the first few times, is great to practice at ground level, then with the eyes of a qualified Mountaineering Instructor (or experienced and knowledgeable climber) watching on.
All these routes in the stonking heat had taken their toll. So I quickly lead and put the draws in Route 2, acting as a bit of a test piece for Liam. He moved quickly and precisely up the route with never a glimmer of falling. Good effort, star player.
Nice one guys, pleasure to climb with you.