Onwards and upwards
At last, I've finally managed to pull my finger out and get that all important card that lets me climb, on my own, at Calshot activity centre.
Now this is something that, if I'm honest, I've been "wanting" to do since climbing there during my time at Scouts during the 90's but having no friends outside of Scouts that had any interest in climbing this got pushed to one side and almost totally forgotten about.
Until I started cycling with Matt and discovered that he was an accomplished climber and could take to me Calshot which re-kindled the fire to "do more climbing".
From here I decided that I'd complete a course and the attain the necessary accreditation (basically a rubber stamp from Calshot) that allows me to turn up and climb solo (clearly I'll need someone to belay me!).
This turned out to be slightly ill fated though as my first attempt at booking a climbing course ended in cancellation due to lack of participants and the re-planned trip to Sussex for a climbing trip on sandstone was slightly disappointing and to be honest not worth the money for what I wanted to get out of it (its worth pointing out that the weather was terrible on the day we climbed).
So, finally the course at Calshot was re-booked (for Saturday 15th October) and we turned up on the Saturday morning with high hopes for a day of climbing and the promise of more climbing on our own in the evenings - a great way to keep fit if nothing else!
I wont give a blow by blow account of the day suffice to say that the group was good and the instructor was chilled and informative (thanks Mike) and although we didn't make any lasting friendships we did get on well with the rest of the group and I enhanced my "teaching" skills by helping a lad (Adam) with his climbing.
The day ended with us tired but happy and keen for a trip to Cotswold Outdoor (not that we really ever need much of an excuse for this!) to "stock up" on harnesses, shoes, chalk and various climbing metalwork that we'd need for our solo excursion to the climbing walls but maybe slightly apprehensive as to the exact format that the assessment would talk on Tuesday as this was the day that we'd both decided to head back to the centre for our next climb.
Sunday the 16th dawned and as ever I was like an excited child with the promise of a trip to Cotswold Outdoor and another outdoor pursuit to shop for! I have to admit that I'd been slightly apprehensive about the range of stock they'd have in the Southampton branch of Cotswold and the advice (or maybe lack of) that we'd get but I was very pleasantly surprised. We both got the right harnesses and shoes as well as chalk bag, chalk, HMS karabina and belay device so have everything we need to "hit the walls".
(I'll post an update on the shoes and harness in the near future as they both warrant some attention)
Tuesday 18th October - 7:30pm
So here we are, standing in the very cold ex aircraft hanger at Calshot Activity Centre in the New Forest, both wondering what form the assessment would take and if we'd both pass without forgetting knots or making total idiots of ourselves!
We approached the climbing booth, paid and then headed over the mats to put on harnesses and shoes and then warm up before the assessment.
The "wall supervisor" (I didn't get his name to be perfectly honest) headed over to us and told us to tie in to one of the easy walls which we did whilst chatting to him about the potential for the temperature inside the hanger to drop to -5c in the middle of winter (roll on the PHD down jacket!). I headed up the wall for Donna to belay me and then we swapped round and Donna climbed while I tried not to drop her!
That was it, he said "ok, off you go" and we were away - we both looked at each other slightly stunned and sloped off before he decided he'd made a mistake and came back to tell us that we'd failed! Surely it couldn't have been that easy, could it? Apparently it could!
So there we were, climbing, on our own! It felt odd, but good, and maybe slightly daunting as 99% of the other people climbing (and it was fairly busy that evening) were much, much better that we were - which isn't hard!). Hopefully this is the start of both a great way to keep fit and another hobby that we can both enjoy together and progress at - watch this space!!