This week I got try something new, indoor climbing. The idea of roping up and climbing, taking the risk of having a fall; the physical challenge and the mental challenge was not something I had thought of trying.
A good friend wanted to give it a try and ideally you need a climbing partner for safety, so I volunteered to go with him for the two 90 minute training sessions.
Andrew booked us both on two sessions, Tuesday and Wednesday night this week at ‘The Show Room‘ on Tritton Road in Lincoln, the climbing centre there has the largest climbing wall in Lincolnshire.
Tuesday night was very safety focussed, learning the basic knots we would need, the figure of eight used to tie us in, and the stopper knot, but I am getting a head of myself.
Firstly we filled in the evaluation forms stating we had no health issues that would cause any problems, then it was time to get into our harnesses. The loan harness was not as sophisticated as most modern harnesses but while basic it would do the job. Next the safety helmet, and finally it was time to learn how to tie the first knot we would use.
If your interested there are some great videos on youtube but remember that watching a video is no subsitute for proper training.
The first knot we learnt was the figure eight, it was a quick and easy knot to learn but judging the length of the tail was the tricky part. With the figure eight tied, you then threaded the tail through the harness and then threaded the end again back thought the figure eight. The loose end is tied off with a stopper knot.
We both practiced this several times and then learnt to check each others knots.
The next part was the Belay. This is a simple device designed to add friction to the rope, thus if someone fell, then the person holding the end of the robe had a chance to stop your descent before you hit the ground. The belay device was attached to the climber staying on the ground via a screw locking carabiner.
Once we had practiced all of this it was time for the first proper climb. I went up first and I have to admit I found it fairly easy. Though the truth was I was using any handhold I could reach instead of following a particular colour coded route.
Coming back down again was more interesting, its certainly an exercise in trust. Checking that Andrew at the bottom was ready with both hands on the dead side of the rope it was time grab hold of the rope and lean back and as Andrew let out the rope I could simply walk down the wall.
It was then Andrews turn to climb. I found keeping the rope tight harder then the climbing, but I managed.
We practiced several times and the 90 minutes soon past.
Last night we had the second session, this time everything was done by us, while the instructor just watched. We put on our harnesses and safety hats, then tied in and I climbed first while Andrew handled the belaying. Then we swopped.
Our instructor happy with the way we were climbing then went on to explain about routes and we had a go at a class 4 then a class 5. It was then that climbing switched from being a physical challenge to a mental challenge, trying to figure out how to get up.
After 90 minutes we were both exhausted but satisfied, possibly a little high on adrenalin but feeling good about ourselves. The instructor announced himself happy and signed us off to climb together on our own, so it was two very tied beginner climbers who headed home.