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UK covered

11 May 2010

Over the last two weeks I have well and truly travelled across the UK – I only missed out Northern Ireland for the full tick. Things started off in the Peak with a learn to lead course with the Not So Trad climbing club, which now seems a lifetime away. That Sunday night Lucy Creamer and I travelled down to Oxford and the BMC tour began...

Not so Trad

Marianne belaying Sara at Burbage on the first day of the learn to lead course

The week actually went by in a flash. At Oxford, Tavistock, Cardiff and Birmingham I was running workshops on setting up belays and any kind of problem solving things that can crop up. There were the usual engineers and technical types (I am not one of these), who were probably tying knots in the womb. For most it was a journey through a tangle of ropes and caribiners and I think everyone came away with at least one more useful tip.  Fun was most certainly had throughout. For me this side of climbing has always been the least interesting, but having a laugh while doing it ups interest levels.

BMC tour Boulders

Getting tangled up in Cardiff making fixed line abseils

This was followed by Charlie and Gilly’s wedding in Arisaig over the bank holiday. This most beautiful spot is about an hour’s drive north of Fort William across the northern border. Bravely Gilly went for a full white dress, immune to the cold winds as she and Charlie romantically tied the knot on an incredible sandy beach with views across to the Skye ridge. This was followed by a most wholesome ceilidh (note proper spelling).  A great weekend.

Charlie & Gilly wedding

Gilly approaching the wedding party!

Nic and I wove our way down to Northumberland for a Sunday roast with our friends Gavin and Helen. On Monday the options were limited because of the howling winds so Back Bowden it was. It was fun to watch Isaac and Joel do their first roped up climbs.

For me this was a bit of a turnaround day. The bump is getting bigger, my harness is rather ‘loose’ with a full rack dangling off it and I’ve noticed that while my tummy muscles can still perform, it’s maybe not the best thing to ask of them. After a VS warm up, and dejected after backing off a steep start to an HVS, my ego took hold. Gavin recommended another ‘HVS’, the Duke of York. It blatently looked harder than the first, but at least the start looked easy. I pulled off the steep jamming crack traverse and knew I had pushed my tummy too far. Then Gavin realised the route had actually gone up to E1, which did explain a lot. Anyway I led the Witch E2 afterwards, which seemed like a walk in the park in comparison, but maybe a touch bold for an expectant mother...

That led swiftly into this week with Newcastle, Leeds, Nottingham and finally Liverpool. This week didn’t go quite as fast as the first, but we met some fun people again. I must admit though, I was looking forward to my lie in on Saturday.  Thanks must also go to the walls who made us feel at home.  Those cups of tea were appreciated!!

First day in a body harness

First day in the body harness about to set off Spiral Route VS!

That almost brings me up to date and I can hardly believe I’ve survived ok. On Sunday we went to Rivelin and it was the first day of wearing a body harness. I had been dreading this moment but actually it wasn’t that bad. It’s way more comfortable than the other one and I can still lead although the limited gear loops mean you can’t take much gear up. I’ve led much of the good stuff there before so it was fun to lead a couple of things up to HVS and second Mia for the rest of the day. She seemed surprised at my ability to climb seemingly ok but I’m wondering about a new phenomenon. This extra one and a quarter stone may be giving me a small advantage: more weight through my feet, they just don't feel like they're going to slip – maybe a good thing for the grit! The E2s just don't feel any harder than previously.  That’s a UKclimbing forum in the making...