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Our Newbies Learn the Ropes

We are fortunate enough to have a keen enthusiastic group of prospective new members (newbies) interested in joining the club. However, winter can be a frustrating time to join any outdoor activity group making the joining process seem even longer. We want to lessen their frustration somewhat to keep them keen.

With winter once more upon us bringing those short cold chilly wintry days, the thought of climbing outdoors again seems somewhat distant to say the least. So the slightly less chilly indoor climbing wall option becomes our substitute until we can get outdoors once again on the proper stuff!

That said, they’re also a great place to safely practice some of the basic skills and techniques necessary for any progression into the realm of outdoor trad climbing, preferably in the warm sunshine.

As you can imagine being a mountaineering club established some seventy years ago, the club has learnt a thing or two over the years shall we say lol. So for our newbies including some of our newer members the club arranged an afternoon’s instruction on leading indoors, or you could say newbies learning the ropes….

Andy Clark who’s a bit of a club & climbing legend, with some 30 years climbing experience gave up a Saturday afternoon providing some indoor qualified instruction for our newbies.

Andy -"I really enjoyed it. Great to see so many people interested in developing their leading"

Photos Credit: Lee Cartwright

Wolf Mountain Activity Centre. Wolverhampton.

Andy began by demonstrating the two key clipping techniques (facing out and facing in) to everyone, and got people to practice with draws in the practice points on the wall.

Andy then went through lead belaying, with both an ATC-type device and a gri-gri. Andy covered stuff like how to pay out quickly for a clip and how to do a soft catch.

Newbies then got to practice lead belaying and clipping on the sharp end. To do this they got into groups of three, since whoever was practicing the actual leading would need to be on a loose back-up top rope as well as the rope going back to whoever was practicing the lead belaying. This is standard instructing practice, for obvious safety reasons when dealing with beginners.(newbies)

Janet our newest member practicing lead clipping, whilst prospective members Charlotte & Elliot practice belaying a lead climber using a Gri-gri.

Prospective member Will, no longer nervous confidently jumping on his third indoor lead. On a slight overhang! Joel our youngest prospective member showing how to spot his lead climber Will.

(Below pic) Old school climber, long time member Dave Mantel just as happy hanging around on the overhang, has hanging onto a third safety rope so our newbies could practice their new skills.
(Right pic) Neil prospective member going strong on the lead wall, Neil has also lead his first trad routes outdoor this summer with the club, he may have caught that climbing bug.

Chris Martin another new member going strong on the main lead wall, with a few lead trad routes under his belt during summer. Prospective member Joe was a very competent indoor climber before joining. Also got a few trad routes notched up this summer.

Having spent three curious hours acquiring knowledge whilst practicing their new skills, I think it must have been their confused slightly perplexed gaze which gave it away?

The newbies would need feeding!

Curry was initially booked for 17 of us but, I’m still unsure whether it was one or two extra members who sneaked in at the far end.

Abseiling instruction took place the following Tuesday evening. Again at Wolf Mountain playing on their abseiling wall with qualified instruction provided by our new Chairman Rich Wilkes, with some 28 years’ climbing experience.

Rich "I first started to climb in a kids club 28 years ago, I started climbing trad when I joined the club in 2005"
Rich qualified as rock climbing instructor RCI this year, working towards qualifying as mountaineering & climbing instructor MCI 2023.

Joel going strong on the lead wall whilst having a little nosy at the abseiling action.

With Joe and Jan safely anchored to the abseiling station Rich went about setting up the abseil using two ropes.

But why 2 ropes?

Rich explained when climbing outdoors on trad routes we climb using two ropes for a number of reasons. One of which is being able to abseil almost the full length of a 50m rope, by simply tying an overhand knot with a sufficient tail. However, today we'll be adding a third safety rope as a back up.

Joe quite happy hanging about enjoying his first abseil. Joe ever enthusiastic went again ,but this time instruction was on the dark art of retrieving stuck gear using a prussic.

Jan – “Thanks Rich abseiling another great new experience for me, feeling totally safe under your instruction. We are both very grateful for how inclusive the club is, offering so much for all abilities. Thank you”

Apart from our abseiling virgins above it appears the rest of our newbies had done a spot of abseiling before but were still keen to have an abseil or two under qualified instruction from our new Chairman Rich Wilkes. Feedback from our newbies has been very positive indeed. Everyone mentioned what a good time they’ve had getting to meet with different members, practice new skills learnt whilst refreshing some of those skills forgot.

Next our united band of newbies will be learning to lead outdoors,

roll on spring 2023?

As for keeping em interested & keen?

Success I reckon!

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