So it has been a good few months since I last posted on here. I was going to publish a post about overcoming mental health issues and climbing, as I had yet to overcome such issues and the fear of the associated stigma and the repercussions of not being the ‘perfect person’ I decided to abstain.
What I had intended to write about was how I associated climbing with mindfulness. That when you’re climbing your total focus goes on where you are at, at the present moment and how to accomplish your next move for upwards progression. I approach a climb with the same mental attitude as I do life. You see some people mapping out their journey, looking out for the pitfalls, figuring out the crux and how best to achieve their top off…
Not me, I look at my starting point hop on and look for my next move. I relish the challenge of not knowing where I am going or what challenges I may face. Do I make life more difficult for myself… more than likely! Do I also muddle up of course and I even sometimes slip and fall in both my life and in climbing usually I found when climbing my belayer had left out enough slack for me to ease the impact of the fall, life, on the other hand, is not so kind, I feel like I’ve taken a good few smacks but when I get that whole sequence and the journey just flows for me and it’s natural I feel at peace. The objective for me is not to get to the top from the bottom but in overcoming the tricky moves that take you off guard and throw you off-balance because in my opinion in both climbing and life that is the real technique.
Climbing isn’t just all about the rocks… in my opinion. Climbing is about getting away from it all. Leaving the built up towns, the congestion, the chaos that comes with modern life and losing yourself in nature. It is like a mini adventure in my mind.
As you see above our five star accommodation on Cruit island in Co. Donegal. It was just perfect for a get away, with the Craig a mere five steps away.
Also a great place to learn how to trad climb (place gear into the rock in order to climb up) with short climbs and a soft landing to boot
We set up camp and had our own private beach to enjoy with a full sky of stars, good company and a few beers.
A toasty fire to keep us warm
A hungry Vixen to add o the company!
We called it an early night to get up bright and early to give us time for a good breakfast. We fueled ourselves for the five step hike to the criag the next morning.
There was a lot of variety of climbs.
H For Hard
HS For Hard Severe
S For Severe
VS for Very Severe
HVS Hard Very Severe
Then I think you are onto E territory, E standing for Extreme.
I climb my very first VS and was very pleased with myself… okay I lied. I second it but If you have been reading my blogs you would know that it had taken me nearly six months to learn how to tie a figure of eight. So no way was I going to be allowed near any gear. This was back in the end of May. Still early days as I started climbing in December.
Create a guide book and they will come…
Other climbers arrived down on the beach and set up camp. Adding to the vibe and making the place feel like our own climbing community. That in itself is what I love about climbing. I find it a very inclusive sport with the most friendly of people. All willing to give a belay or offer some coffee.
Cruit Island although a long travel journey. It takes in the van roughly between 5-6 hours from Dublin, it is well worth the trip! We were lucky in that the weather was fantastic. So warm in fact that I jumped into the sea to cool off from climbing in the sunshine.
The surrounding area were picturesque too.
To summarize a most enjoyable trip. A spot I would love to return to and get back on to place some gear of my own.
This year I was lucky enough to take my first overseas climbing holiday, El chorro.
El Chorro is in the south of Spain approximately two hours give or take from Malaga Airport . The holiday was in mid April. I had only been climbing for roughly six months.Though I was in very safe hands with the man himself. He who got me into climbing… Lucky for me. As in saying that it had taken me the six months to learn how to do a figure of eight knot. I was told that I had to untie and then retie myself back in at the top of the climb. Which meant I had to secure my self at the top with a quick draw * I think? Any way some sort of dohicky, in order to prevent my falling to my death. So no pressure!
We started off on some 4s and worked our way up to a 6a. All was going pretty well until me and the main man had.. lets call it a.. communication malfunction! As it happened we had some very nosey neighbour’s climbing next to us. One very opinionated neighbour thought I hadn’t secured myself at the top before uniting to retie in… silly man..
I was petrified! I was thinking this is it! This is how it ends, I am going to fall to my death. A little bit O.T.T looking back on it now. As it turned out I was secured but both myself and himself the climbing partner in crime got an awful fright.
So my top climbing tip for beginners is to have total trust and communication with your climbing partner and to ignore nosy neighbours. After I recovered my composure we climbed on for the rest of the afternoon.
So my take on El Chorro… Between showers climbing was good the rock was slightly polished but there was a great variety of climbs to make up for it. Amenities at the campsite were top-notch and there was a great climbing community vibe even for a few nosey neighbours.
A big thumbs up for a first time overseas sports climbing trip to El Chorro and if you do get rained off there is the Camino Del Ray to hike or a few beers to down! @MN329SocMedia
The Biggest joy I find with climbing is taking outdoor climbing trips. I have always loved to travel but until I took up climbing I had never gotten around to traveling in my home country.
With climbing I don’t just get a view of what everyone else sees. No, I get a view of what its like to see the scenery from a great height, to take it all in, in one glance and marvel at its beauty. To me that is part of what it means to climb.
Below are some photos of places I have travelled to in order to climb. There is also the tricked out van. Let me just say … I am no gold-digger but I love a good tricked out van! Next is the view from the top of Dalkey quarry and the Dublin sea scape. Then there is some photos of the ring of Kerry, Donegal,. my attempt at top roping and me topping off a bouldering problem. You say topping off for bouldering too? I’m still learning the lingo! @MN329SocMedia
Climbing is growing as sport. There are many climbing centres around the country to accommodate the increasing numbers that are getting involved.
The next step in your journey to become a climber is to ensure that you can manage yourself safely. Meaning that you’re not going to kill yourself and others around you due to negligence. Indoor climbing centres are great for this. I recommend getting some lessons on how to top rope, belay and eventually lead climb…. This can be an expensive venture so I recommend befriending a climbing instructor and getting them to teach you for free… Win, Win!
After all that.. to really emerge yourself in the climbing community, it’s time to get yourself some climbers clothing and gear! To pose in and remember the brighter the better!
Behold the wonder that is the humble climbing shoe.
These bad boys give even mortals the ability to stick to rock. Let me just say the first time I wore a pair of these bad boys, I myself thought that I must have got hit by some radioactive waste. As I was all about channelling my inner Spiderman.
My first outing was boulder in the Wicklow mountains. A place called Glendalough. I had just met this guy I liked and he thought bringing me climbing would be a good way to show off.
Well hey it worked. I was hooked! I was taken to some slab and told to climb. A Slab is a bit of rock that is slanted in. I looked at the guy as if he had two head and watch as he demonstrated. He kept all his weight in his feet and worked them up in a process called smearing. Next I was up… I applied the same technique. All be it not as gracefully and was shocked and amazed to find my rubber soles on the climbing shoes I was wearing stuck to the rock and gave me some sort of magic Spiderman skills.
Lets go climb!
It's not about the destination, it's about the jorney!