A year’s climbing

A little over a year ago I began climbing properly at Symonds Yat on the Severe, Golden Fleece. I’d done a short course inside at the Summit climbing wall near Merthyr Tydfil (now sadly closed down) and climbed a handful of times inside.

UKC has provided me with a whole host of useless stats, 37 climbs in 2009, 40 (so far) in 2010. Average Grade – MS, F4+,II/III. Highest grade – VS, F5+, III. Lots of numbers, hiding a lot of good times, beautiful places, some great friendships and the odd scary moment. No full on proper epics so far, but a few dicey moments. Which when you consider I’ve largely taught myself to lead climb both trad and sport that’s possibly quite surprising. I have had a fair bit of backup and advice from friends in South Wales Mountaineering Club, but my initial leads have largely been me and a mate turning up and giving things a go. It’s got me into trouble once, but even then I wasn’t really as stuck as I thought I was at the time.

I’ve progressed fairly slowly through the grades, which when you consider I have the athletic ability and grace of a plummeting hippo isn’t that surprising. I’d already been loosing weight due to a bit of dieting and a bit of running. Climbing has spurred me on to loose more weight and I’m getting close to my goal weight of 12 stone. Many crags are in scenic areas and it’s not surprising that I’ve enjoyed some lovely views in the Lake District, the Gower and North Wales whilst out climbing, but what might be surprising is the number of crags in the South Wales Valleys which also have good views from the top, Trebanog and Penallta being two.

The Winter of 2010 has been the standout for me. I started climbing partly cause a mate had expressed interest in going bouldering and partly due to a long held interest in climbing and mountaineering. I’d only planned on doing it as a leader to the Alps. Slightly surprised to have gotten hooked on the rock climbing side of things. Still winter is where it’s at for me, so I arranged a couple of trips up to Scotland this last winter. I didn’t have high expectations for Scottish Winter Climbing, but hoped that I’d at least get some routes in. Obviously I managed to time my trips for the coldest winter we’ve experienced in years. I got some classic (and rarely formed) routes in and the winter climbing bug has truly bitten.