I love Twitter for many reasons; my most recent reason to love it was that I spotted a tweet about the Arc’teryx Big Mountain Weekend. The Big Mountain Weekend is part of the #lakelandrevival; a campaign run by Arc’teryx to encourage more people into trad climbing in the Lake District.
The weekend offered opportunities to every level of climber, sessions lead by The International School of Mountaineering and British Mountain Guides covered everything from how to tie into a harness to how to climb multipitch trad routes independently.
For me it was a great chance to get back onto some rock routes having climbed indoors for a long time. I sometimes feel I have built a bit of mental block in my head about what it takes to climb outdoors. I tell myself I must be able to lead 6a indoors, I can’t possibly learn how to lower off from a sport route without booking an instructor session, there aren’t any easy crags nearby – the list of excuses sometimes feels endless but the session I attended has really given me the boost of confidence and push to try and break down those self-imposed barriers and get out onto the rock.
I booked onto the improvers session and the excellent Rocio from Ibex Mountain Guides showed a great deal of skill and patience in teaching the four people in our group how to set up a ‘bombproof’ anchor to top rope a trad route. For me this was a real eyeopener; I had previously thought that the only way to climb trad was to lead it, this seemed like a pretty big jump from tentative indoor leads to a trad lead outdoors. Breaking the process down into getting good at placing gear and managing your rope by building anchors and then top roping trad routes seemed a great middle ground to build some confidence before moving on to placing gear on the route and leading up to build your own anchor for your second after having led the route.
Climbing on a crag 10 minutes walk from the carpark in the Langdale Valley was a spectacular way to spend an afternoon and I would have happily spent all day up there. From the crag the whole valley looked like a model village with slowly moving cars and a plethora of black and white dots representing the resident sheep and their new lambs.
The weekend was cheap as chips as the sessions were heavily subsidised but it has been heavy on my pocket since as I am now awaiting a delivery of quickdraws, screwgates and slings to start my outdoor climbing adventure. First comes sport routes but I don’t think it’ll be long (maybe a couple more paydays) before the lure of trad is strong and I can put those belay building skills into practice.
A big thank you to all who put on the weekend, my only feedback for next year would be to try and put on even more sessions!
I’d love to hear from climbers out there who have any hints and tips for making the indoor to outdoor transition, I’ll be reporting back on my progress. If you’re in a similar position I really enjoyed this post recently from @dirtbaglawyer about her top tips for moving out.
As Alan Arnette’s excellent Everest blog would say “Climb on”
I didn’t spend all my time in the Lakes climbing – if you’d like to read about the rest of my Lakeland adventures click here