Wow what a couple of great mornings we've had here at The RockBlok in the winter sunshine. With the forecast for the weekend looking unimpressive for climbing with snow forecast for Sat along with subzero temperatures I was guessing we wouldn't be seeing too many of our junior climbing club members turning up to climb. With the working week coming to a close Friday evening found me typing UK WEATHER FORECAST - MET OFFICE into the keyboard of my laptop, no snow was forecast for our centre that nestles on the north shore of Rutland Water, but it was going to be cold with temperatures struggling to get above freezing making it feel seriously cold indeed.
Saturday morning 9.00 am and I'm setting up ropes for the days climbing, the predicted cold conditions had arrived along with a cloak of early morning fog cutting out any sunlight and making it feel even colder, thank god for my armour of winter clothing, my faithful Rab down jacket was doing me proud, over layers of merino wool I was toasty, cold on the outside warm on the inside. Optimistically I hoped that we would see at least one or two of our dedicated climb club members arrive and make use of the ropes set.
10.00 am and not just one or two but eight enthusiastic climbers arrive, what a surprise, we kitted up fitting helmets and harnesses over our many layers of clothing that hopefully would keep us warm throughout the two hour session that our climb club runs. In colder weather the climbing becomes harder, there's no time for dawdling, we need to move fluidly up the climbing wall to prevent our hands becoming too cold, staying stationary for too long will mean our hands become colder and trying to grip with numb hands just isn't the way forward or even upward for that matter, so we stick to easier more achievable routes (climbs) low in the climbing grades, today we are glad to be out, any climb is a bonus - no need to challenge ourselves with hard higher graded routes, today our challenge is against the elements.
With our climbers keen to complete as many routes as possible along with gaining and practising new skills in their efforts towards completing the assessment criteria within level one and two of the NICAS scheme that runs within our junior climb club, we push on doing our best to ignore the cold that's nipping at our finger tips but with the cold biting deep we agree that its time for a well earned break so head in doors to our warm and cosy alpine room and a welcome hot drink. We take the chance to discuss individuals sticking points that may be holding them back from progressing through the grades and answer any questions that are thrown our way, doing our best to offer solutions that will help to overcome and guide them on through the scheme.
Warmed up and revived with mugs of tea, hot chocolate, biscuits and serial bars we head back out to the climbing wall where we busy ourselves with selecting routes - tying in - pre climbing checks - communicating - planning - climbing and descending, and dare I say we could even feel the warmth on our faces from the winter sunshine that had burnt away the gloomy shroud of fog from earlier.
Tired, accomplished and exhilarated our climbers efforts to turn up were all worthwhile, we head back indoors our climbers log further climbs and tick boxes recording progress within their own individual log books, after a quick chat with all and an overview of future aims and goals for the next session, we wait for parents to arrive and pick up our climbers and head for home. For me its time for lunch with instructor Phil, we take the opportunity to review the morning session and both agree that all involved had put in a committed and determined effort with the conditions presented, what a great bunch of kids.
As I sit here in the Rockblok writing the above blog snow flakes the size of fifty pence pieces are falling in a rather consistent manner, I would say we did well this weekend guys, well done to you all.
For more information regarding our junior climbing club or the NICAS scheme please give us a call on: 01780 460060 or drop us an email at: email@example.com