Freeing El Cap is something most climbers want to do when they get to a certain level.
Everything about the wall, it’s beauty, history, height and the hard nature of the climbing make freeing el cap the ultimate goal for a good climber. And yet that goal can do nothing to prepare you for the spectacular and unique experiences of just being on the wall.
I first started climbing over ten years ago when our children, Naomi and Tom, were young and had joined a local climbing group organised by Fiona! My husband, Mark, had learnt how to belay so they all encouraged me to have a go. I was absolutely terrified as I hate heights, but once I started to achieve certain grades and learnt how to belay, I was hooked!
Today, climbing is very beneficial, as it helps keep me fit and reduce my stress levels as I have a very demanding job as a midwife. I find whilst climbing, I can’t worry about work as I’m concentrating on the climb! Once you have completed a route, you feel a sense of achievement both physically and psychologically! I have also found fellow climbers to be a sociable bunch and have made some good friends over the years.
As a family we have arranged climbing holidays to various places in the UK and abroad as climbing is a shared interest which we can all discuss and support each other. One year we visited Tenerife and climbed in an area called Canada del Capricho on Mount Teide. The climbing area is inside the caldera and is surrounded by the remains of ancient volcanic activity. One day Mark and Tom persuaded me to do a 20m climb called Via del Diedro in the sector knowns as El Diedro (The Dihedral). At 4a, the climbing itself was easy enough but I remember feeling very exposed. Set on a high plateau with flat ground all round, broken only by the massive outcrops of pyroclastic rock, this a very different feel to the edges and sea-cliffs we are familiar with in the UK. Everywhere I looked were volcanic towers and in the distance the walls of the old volcano. Although I enjoyed the climb I was quite relieved to reach the top; my heart was racing! Tom then called out asking me to turn round for a picture. At this point I was quite agitated with him as I didn’t want to increase my already heightened sense of exposure and, despite the fact that he had been nothing but supportive through out, I very loudly told him to f**k off!
Ever since then this is route has been called my “F**k off !“ climb.
The imposing schist prow of Dalriada on the North Peak of the Cobbler in the Arrochar Alps, Scotland, is an iconic climb that sees relatively few ascents given the many stories it has to tell and the breathtaking images captured there over the years. Dalriada is, for me, the epitome of hard, adventurous climbing in Scotland.
Executing move after move, almost without thinking, I approach the final headwall and utter soft words of reassurance, trying not to contemplate the possibility of success. I’m not afraid of falling off; deep down I’m more terrified of failure in this moment than I’ve ever been in my life. I blank it out. Ignore it. Still shaking, I arrive just below the top, physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. ‘You’re kidding me!’ I whisper as I pull gingerly onto the safety of a ledge. Success.
Kalymnos, an up and coming climbers paradise and home to the North Face climbing festival.
An offering of grey and orange limestone parched by the sun.
I was lucky to climb there a couple of years ago.
There are around 2000 sport routes to suit climbers
of any ability.
I can’t remember the name of this climb, because the combination of the view across to the Telendos island (which also offers some great routes), the emerging sunset, and the freedom of doing that climb just took my breath away.
I never strayed above a 6a on any route but for me it’s all about exposure and adventure. A wonderful memory and one I hope to repeat again one day.
I love rocks. Everything about rocks, the feel of them, the age, size, colour & texture. Climbing higher & higher is thrilling.
Commando Ridge in Cornwall was no exception, with spectacular views & waves crashing below me.
It was a beautiful sunny day. We started on a low tide scrambling down to the edge of the water then climbing the ridge which took all day. It was thrilling & scary at times.
I was particularly proud of Harry my son who was 12 years old at the time who climbed extremely well.
An experience never to be forgotten.
We had a fantastic week of climbing, walking, surfing & swimming.
Dream of White Horses
My friend Susanne and I climbed ‘A Dream of White Horses’ at Gogarth in Anglesey in summer 2016. It was a mild August day, quite early in the morning, and no-one was around. It was the perfect conditions: dry rock, no queue to get on, no-one breathing down our necks behind us. This was a climb that we had both wanted to do for years but had somehow never got round to it. The climb was iconic and the name alone was highly seductive. At last we were now here.
The abseil down to the base was a little unnerving as we had no idea where we were ending up; you cannot see the bottom from above. But as expected, it became clear as we descended. Yet the climb has to be taken seriously, given the setting and the route finding. Despite it looking featureless from afar, in fact we found the climbing easy, with holds everywhere, but we knew that should you go off route, you could get into trouble. This is why we carried a photo-copy of the climb with us to make sure we went the right way.
What makes this such a wonderful and memorable climb is the location and the atmosphere. White horses do gallop along beneath you, sea spray shoots upwards and razor bills, like little bullets, zoom by, dive bombing into the sea. It is a quite a long climb, four pitches, and took us about two hours or so. We felt so exhilarated to have done it: it is memorable in a way that few climbs are, especially now that I am almost entirely a sports climber (shame!). This is a climb that will stay in my memory as one of the greats.