October 2014 trip to Cornwall

October 2014 trip to Cornwall

We had had three weekly training sessions at the huge new climbing walls of Withdean Sport Centre in October before we left on Saturday the 25th, traveling all day to Gunnislake, Cornwall, very near Devon where in fact we did most of the climbing.

In Withdean Centre, Becci and Alice taught us under Tony’s supervision and we were teaching and checking each others in the Craggers’ way to enhance your learning by teaching others.

The first thing was to learn how to belay a climber, in other terms assure the safety of a climbing climber. The key steps are:
1-Both climber and belayer put their harness on (a quick way to remember where we put our legs is to make sure that the name of the harness’ make on the waist’s and legs’ loops is on the backside).
2-The climber attaches the rope to the harness (Making a figure-of-eight+ passing the end of the rope in the waist belt and the leg loops+rethreading it along the figure-of-eight knot+ finishing it off with a stop-a-knot).
3-The belayer threads the loop of rope through a belay device making sure to understand its shape when passing the rope over the grooves+ pass the loop into a carabiner carefully closed.
4-The belayer asks the climber “Ready?” and the climber answers “Climbing!”. 5-The belayer has both hands on the rope while accompanying the move of the rope upwards with the external hand directed towards the ground in order to avoid a sudden move caused by a fall. The belayer pays constant attention to the moves of the climber, making sure the rope is tensed as a slight smile to support an eventual short fall rather than too tight and preventing the climber to move easily.

On the side of the climber, a key point I understood in the training is that we climb with our legs pushing and our arms stretching under the weight of our body -and quickly pulling- rather than always pulling with tensed muscles. Climbing felt much less tiring after that. I really identified with monkeys!
A part from that we learnt how to tie a clove hitch to anchors attached to the wall by a previous climber. You are supposed to undo them as you are climbing and after attaching to the next anchor.
Abseiling is going down after a climb. The belayer asks again “Ready” and the climber says “ready”. When abseiling we need to stay face to the wall and push it gently with our legs in a regular bouncing way.
At Becci’s one evening, we learned how to make out of a piece of ordinary cord a little accessory that can be useful on different occasions: it is called a Prussik loop and is made with a double fisherman’s knot.

We also discovered there was a self-belaying rope (only one) in the Withdean Sport Centre with which you can climb alone as it is constantly pulling under the ground mechanically with a kind of elasticity. It is fun!

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