Oh my, what a day!
As a birthday present I got bought a days climbing instruction. The instructor took us to Shepherd Crag in Borrowdale for what was possibly one of the best days of my life.
The instructor was good (Mountain Activity Company – Nick was excellent), the weather was bright and sunny (after some of the worse weather the week before) and the climbing was excellent.
After a bit of theory on setting up anchors and the like we just dived straight onto the rock. The climbing was very easy (Brown Slabs – Diff) but it gave us plenty of time to practise the placement of good protection and to talk to Nick on the way up (he was self belaying on a rope to the side). I lead the first route and then half way up set up a belay stance, then Caroline came up, and led the second pitch. (The pitches are only small on Brown Slabs). Suprisingly enough this took us most of the morning! Time flies when you’re having fun.
After a quick lunch we jumped back on and Caroline lead the first pitch of Brown Slabs Face, a VDiff – a little bit harder and an excellent climb. Her stance was facing a huge rock with two friends as anchors, unnerving apparently, as they really do look weird, nuts look much safer.
Finally, we did a practise ‘retreat’ abseil with prusik loops and everything. A lot easier having seen and done it than it is to read it in a book.
The day was an immense success, and we are now fully equipped (in a practical, but not equipment sense) to explore the great outdoors! Now we just need to spend a large amount of cash to buy all the equipment we need (and it is a lot!) – but luckily Caroline is going to buy half and me the other half… Oh, but wait, we’re married and have a joint bank account – damn!
Edit: Oh yeah, scariest moment was when a karibiner decided to escape from someone’s hand climbing next to us and descend the rock at great speed, missing my head by about 1m. Glad I had a helmet on and definately puts a helmet on the list of essential items.
Edit 2: Damn, nearly forgot – at the end we even managed to see Chris Bonington! Didn’t disturb the big guy but it’s great to know he can still get out to the crags and have a good climb (he was belaying at the time though).