Sunday, July 22, 2007

Battered Knees and a Big Smile

I'm back from climbing. It was fantastic!

Sadly, there are no photos, so you'll just have to imagine the scene. Due to the rain the trains were a bit messed up on Friday night, but we made it up to the (highly recommended) B&B in Austwick for about 11pm on Friday night, in time for biscuits and bed. Oh and choosing breakfast for the morning.

That was a very important decision. And in the morning we duly munched our way through the fantastic spread provided while looking anxiously out at the weather. Unsurprisingly it was raining. It's always f*cking raining. Anyway, we headed down to the centre to meet the instructor.

He was possibly the most scarily fit person I've ever met. Not only was he just clambering over rocks like a goat, and was only really using the ropes to show us what to do, but he runs 50+ mile fell races, goes climbing in the himalayas, dives, does caving and does just about every activity you can think of. If you think I'm an activity junkie these days, you've never met this guy!

(Speaking of first impressions, I was quite impressed that when we walked in one of the organisers said "do you run?". Possibly due to the fact we were attired in running lycra, but after the follow up question "do you race" someone else chipped in "of course they do, look at them!" We look like a proper runners!)

There were three of us on the course - me and Jen, and another woman Julie. She'd done a bit of wall climbing before, and I was a bit worried she'd be far better than us. The back up plan for rain was to go to the wall, but after coffee and hob nobs (Robbie needs 4000 calories a day to survive apparently - and the amount of stuff he does I can believe it!) he decided it wasn't that bad, and we headed to a place called Hutton Roof.

Just the walk up to the crags would have killed me not too long ago. or at least made me have severe doubts about what I was doing. But it was fine, even if it did reinforce my idea that walking up hills is one thing, but running up them in fell races would be another...

Once we got there we got started, and it was surprisingly easy to get started. Unlike something like diving where there's a lot of theory before you can get going, it seemed to be very much learning by experience on the basis that there's always the rope to catch you if you fall, and as long as you're not in charge of putting in things to clip into, and are just following someone else up or following a route he'd prepared, there's not a great deal of knowledge involved. And after the first climb or two you wouldn't have known who had done it before and who hadn't either.

After lunch (and the B&B managed the near impossible feat of packing me a lunch that I couldn't finish!) we went to Barbondale where there was a dry gill. Or at least it was meant to be dry, there were distinct pools of water, even if it hadn't quite converted itself back to a series of waterfalls. This was more like gorge scrambling, with bits of climbing at each waterfall. I really enjoyed this bit, it was actually something that had it been drier I could have done without ropes, and on my own (if I could ever find it again).

We finished a bit early, but I think that was partly because as a small group it took less time for us to get each climb done. And it started to rain a bit more just as we finished, so we weren't complaining. Back to the B&B for cake (we didn't get our "on arrival" cakes on Friday evening so we cheekily asked if we could have them on Saturday instead), a bath, a lie down, and then out to the local pub (next door to the B&B) to eat.

We'd heard that it got busy, and by turning up at 6pm managed to get just about the last table. Following Robbie's fine example of 4000 calories per day we decided to go for the full 3 courses, although we did share a starter. We both stuck to soft drinks too, which considering we had such a short stagger home was most out of character for me. I just didn't feel like drinking to be honest.

We had a relatively early night, and another earlyish (for a Sunday) morning. Another good breakfast, and back to meet Robbie. We went back up to Hutton Roof, this time for the whole day, and did more climbing. It got a bit more technical in that we tried "lead climbing" where you climb up to clips that are already there and attach yourself to them, but don't have anything attached above you until you get there to do it yourself.

After we finished, we drove back, stopping for a cheeky cream tea on the way back. My legs are well and truly bruised, apparently I was getting too close to the rock. But the rock was kind of solid and I liked feeling like I had a good grip on it!

The thing that struck me on the drive home was that at no point during the weekend did my fat identity emerge. I didn't once think "I can't do this, I'm too fat/inflexible/heavy/unfit". I tied knots, attaching myself to the rope, and I trusted them to hold my weight. I didn't ask to be taught a special extra reinforced knot because I thought I was too heavy for the normal ones. I believed that I could do it, that it was well within my ability, and I just went for it.

I loved it. Some of the climbs were harder than others, but I managed them all without any panic or drama. The views from the top were fantastic, even in the rain (photos wouldn't do it justice anyway - it was more the unbroken sweep of green-ness that impressed, which is hard to convey on camera), and I was so proud of myself for getting out and doing it. I'm really loving being outdoors and doing stuff, and now I'm back in the house I'm sitting plotting what I can do next!

So yay for climbing!


Blogger Shauna said...

ohh man that sounds like so much fun :)

8:37 PM  
Blogger Lightning said...

You coming next time Shauna???

It WAS fun, and also, my fat girl didn't come out to play either - although, perhaps she snuck out to play in the pub for an hour or so ;-)

12:19 PM  

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