Getting Back Out Climbing

Posted by Matthew Woodfield on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 Under: Top Tips
We can go climbing again!
As the restrictions of lockdown are eased off across the uk, climbers everywhere are getting excited and getting back out there. I got out for my first post-lockdown climb yesterday and would like to share some of my thoughts and top tips on returning to rock. 

Drop your grade and leave your Ego at home:
You haven't climbed for months, even if you've had access to your own training wall you wont have the same strength, stamina. fluidity of movement or confidence high above your last clip. Recognise this when you choose your crag, go somewhere with routes you would normally find easy, we were both surprised at how hard routes felt that we would normally have walked up. 
I was happy leading F6b at the start of the year and ended up sitting on the rope on a F5+ last night! This is ok, we'll all get back to where we were in a few sessions, just take it easy and enjoy being back out. 
Top roping is ok, resting is ok, climbing 3 grades lower should be expected. 

Pick your crag:
Geographical restrictions and land closures might narrow down your choices for where to head, but there are some other things worth thinking about before picking a crag. 
  • Head somewhere quiet, its hard enough to keep socially distant from your partner without having to worry about lots of other climbers doing the same thing in the same place. 
  • I chose a sport venue as it is less committing that trad and easier to socially distance than bouldering.  
  • Avoid loose rock and hard to access spots. Think what you would do if you injured yourself - is self evacuation possible or are you going to put at risk an overstretched rescue team?
  • No one has been climbing for months, so take care with the rock - expect more loose rock than normal, dirty/dusty holds and vegetation. A soft brush and garden pruners could prove useful
Take it Slow:
  • You haven't done this for a while so you might be a bit rusty - your gear might be too!
  • Inspect your harness, hardwear and rope before you go. 
  • Put on your harness at the crag and check you've done it right. Tie in, get put in belay then pause and buddy check! Check your partners knot or belay, little mistakes cost lives.
  • Keep doing these checks, even if you're 'just' top-roping, it may have prevented the recent death of a climbing legend. 

Pack for safety - pack for success:
  • Take and use hand sanitiser. You're going to be touching the same rope and quickdraws as your partner, so let keep them as clean as we can. 
  • Wear a helmet. They save lives. Now is not the time to be visiting a hospital with avoidable injuries. 
  • Use a clipstick. This prevents ground falls, means you dont have to spot the climber (social distancing!) and allows you to cheat you way to the top when you run out of juice. 
Above all remember - its meant to be fun! Enjoy yourself, stay safe and slowly we will all get back to our 'climbing normal'...

As always, if you have any questions or would benefit from a course to cover any of the skills covered then please just get in touch.

Happy climbing...

In : Top Tips 

Tags: climbing covid-19 

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Matthew Woodfield An infrequent collection of tips, tricks and ramblings about climbing, walking and the great outdoors...