04 October 2018

Guerilla climbing

I had not climbed in a while! This week I had bailed out because I had an ad hoc meeting with the electrician on the Monday night. The week before I was about to go change in to my climbing stuff in my office when I realised I had left it at home. I was not motivated enough to drive home, change there, and drive from there. And the week before that I was just inundated with work. And there had been visits and fieldwork and whatnot getting in the way. The last time I had been out was still outdoors! But then on a Friday afternoon I got a text from Glyn (with whom I had climbed that last time) asking if I was up for climbing that night. And it had been a hectic day; I had been teaching at 9AM, and had had stuff from 11 to 4 without appreciable break (I had managed to sneak away from my obligations to wolf down some bread in five minutes) and I could do with something non-work-related. I had been looking forward to biking back as it was a beautiful day, but well, climbing works too. I remembered how I had felt after the same guy dragged me out of my house after a heavy house-related day! But I was still in the office, and if I would bike home first and then go from there it would get late. But Glyn has a big van and he offered to come get me. I accepted! So he picked me up from the car park next to the school, drove me home, admired my garden while I changed into my climbing kit, grabbed my shoes and had a quick snack as dinner just wouldn't happen that night, and then drove me to Beacon. It was quiet!

I was reminded of how long ago my last climbing night had been when I got my climbing shoes out, and they were dangling from a karabiner. I had changed into my walking shoes at the top of the crag and walked down with the climbing shoes hanging from my harness! But we got going now. I lead a 4c or something as a warm-up. And blimey had I been out of it! I was all strange and wobbly. On a 4-something route! Tsk. But Glyn had been climbing his bum off and he was up for more serious stuff. He started modest as well, with a 5-something, but soon was in the 6c kind of routes. I basically did 5-somethings on top rope. But it was a high wall we were on, and a bit overhanging so you can't really rest. My arms got tired as they were out of shape! I also did a 6-something, and bluntly refused to lead a long route on a strong overhang, even though it didn't look technically challenging. We went to the other wall for the last climbs; there some of the routes we vertical, and they are shorter, so there I was comfortable leading. And it went well!

Glyn also had a gadget I wasn't familiar with; I forgot what it's called, but it's a device to make it easier for people to belay climbers considerably heavier than themselves. He bought it with his girlfriend in mind but it came in handy here too! You clip it into the first anchor and run the rope through it. If you fall, this device takes the shock. And it also gives more friction when you let the climber come down from the top of the route. I often end up dangling in mid-air when I lower Glyn! But not now. And he also had belaying glasses so the whole belaying thing was very comfortable this time. I am sometimes a bit apprehensive of Glyn falling out as I have to look at what he's doing, so I have my neck tilted back all the way, and if you then experience a big jerk on the rope it's easy to pull a muscle in your neck. And that can even happen if you're attached to a sandbag (for extra weight). But with the belaying glasses you keep your head straight! And there wouldn't even be a shock, thanks to the new device!

When we were pulling the rope down, suddenly the lights went out. We were stopping anyway! I thought it was bedtime. But the climbing hall clearly agreed. It had been a full-on day but a good one!

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