A challenge for Red Nose should be fun, but is climbing 2,000 ft of vertical ascent in early March fun?
Lets look at what's involved: climbing, friends and fundraising for a good cause. The answer as I see it, has definitely got to be a yes this will be fun. So with this in mind Molly, age 11, along with five like-minded friends set out to do their 'Big Red Climb'. Inspired by Ella Kirkpatrick, age 13, and her mammoth 4 day ascent of the iconic El Capitan in Yosemite National Park (USA) up a route called 'Tangerine Trip' (1,900 ft), the group decided to try and collectively climb the equivalent. All in one morning.
With the day fast approaching once again the weather forecast was spine chilling - heavy rain , turning to sleet and possibly snow and strong winds too. So as we prepared to get a soaking, we spent the day before busy shopping for the biggest tarpaulin we could find in the hope that this would shelter our climbers from the fowl weather heading for the Rockblok.
Friday evening and the eleventh hour before the event, Molly, Molly's mum Lisa (one of the Rockblok instructors) and I sat in front of the TV watching more damming accounts of the weather to come. As the Rockblok centre manager, alarm bells were ringing - a duty of care rang out in my mind - a decision had to be made. Do we cancel the climb or hope for the best and carry on? A meeting convened in our living room between the three of us, my thoughts were We may have to cancel , Molly's thoughts No we cant, this is our big day! We're all prepared and ready, most of all everyone is excited and cant wait until tomorrow and Lisa s thoughts Lets go with it. So with the decision made - its on! Thank god, no last minute calls to disappoint.
We made ready for six climbers to arrive for the challenge but with one or two climbers failing to return their confirmation slips, it could be only five or even four climbers, meaning each climber would need to complete more climbs each.
We were quite confident that those who were taking part would be able to climb well but were unsure of how much climbing they would complete, all had been selected to join the group of climbers by Molly - choosing to right people would be the key to success. With the five climbers chosen and Molly, six in total would complete the Big Red Climb Team.
The morning of the climb arrived and greeted us with grey and murky sky's to add to this the brisk wind brought with it horrible wet drizzle but some how the climbing wall was dry, for now at least. So as not to tempt fate we hastily set up a canopy, if the heavens did open we could pull this up several rigging ropes to protect our climbers and the wall, protecting the wall's surface from turning into a full on waterfall - not good for climbing.
We arrived at the Rockblok with rucksacks full to bursting with extra warm clothing; hats, gloves, warm fleeces and several waterproof layers . With a table stacked with goodies; chocolate brownies, short bread, sweets and a hot water boiler ready to fill mugs with hot chocolate, tea and hot Ribena. What could stop us from succeeding now?
9.45 am and the climbers started to arrive - one - two - three - four - five and Molly all had made the effort and turned up, fantastic! Harnesses and helmets were fitted and secured and finally a pep talked delivered by myself The most important thing to remember - climb on your feet - pulling up on your arms and missing footholds will only tire you out, threatening your chances of success.
Pep talk over, the first steps of over 2,000 feet of climbing was underway, each climber would need to complete twelve climbs 28 ft of vertical ascent each time. The rain fell slowly but this did not hold our climbers back who climbed with determination from the off. With the first climb in the bag the plan was for each climber to complete two climbs while tied into the rope. How was it I asked, the reply came back and was quite obvious My hands are freezing! came the reply. With each climber untied from the rope, their hands were re-warmed with hand warmers and gloves. This seemed to work, but most importantly what kept the climbers motivated was the fun of climbing with friends , lots of joking around, friendly mickey taking and red nose missiles added to the fun keeping the moral high.
Not for one second did any of the climbers winge or moan about the cold or the challenge. These kids were fantastic and worked together keeping a tally of climbs and encouraging each other up the wall. Once half the climbs were completed a well earned break was taken, a chance to get out of the rain for a few moments, but time was passing and we were all back on the wall and climbing. Copious amounts of chocolate brownies were consumed keeping our climbers topped up with fuel to get them to the top and down - over and over again. By 11.30 am our climbers were feeling the strain of climbing a steep face, but the fun of the event continued with red noses becoming soft squidgy missiles being aimed at each other for fun effect keeping the smiles on our faces.
With most climbers having climbed up the wall at least 12 times, the task was complete. Mission accomplished However our climbers, didn't stop there, they continued up the wall several more times each to make the total feet climbed overall to 2,000 + raising nearly £300.00 with donations still coming in.
Congratulation to you all, what a super effort to be proud of.