(by Lynn Ryan, from IMC Newsletter Summer 2004)
"I had learnt … that climbing is not merely a sport but an addiction. I had been hooked from day one, so I wasn’t going to let something like a fear of heights stop me!"
I have always been petrified of heights. The first thought that entered my mind as I walked into Dalkey Quarry was to run. I had been climbing indoors for six months without any vertigo problems but when I arrived at the quarry I knew that it was going to be a toss up between ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ and legging it.
This was the second night of the Beginners climbing course. The first night had been at the wall in UCD where 22 bumblies (well some of them not quite … if the truth be known) complete with new shoes and shiny carabiners were introduced to the basics of climbing. For many this was the first time they had climbed – for me personally the biggest challenge was yet to come … the first session in the quarry – but in spite of my fear I was determined to do it. I had learnt six months previously when I started climbing indoors that climbing is not merely a sport but an addiction. I had been hooked from day one … so I wasn’t going to let something like a fear of heights stop me!
In the quarry each instructor was designated two beginners. Hugh Sharkey would be the person that would lead the first route that I ever climbed – ‘D Route’. I stood at the bottom and managed to convince myself that it really wasn’t that high. Pushing my fear aside I climbed until I had one last move to do … then reality struck … it was a case of Hugh-ston we have a problem and I do recall saying ‘Hugh I think I am going to be sick’! Hugh very calmly replied ‘Lynn I don’t think you will be ‘. I took him at his word and finished the route. Having survived I relaxed totally and from that moment on I really started to enjoy the climbing.
The course consisted of five sessions – the first at the wall and the rest in Dalkey. It covered everything from fitting a harness and tying on, to belaying, rope handling, climbing calls and climbing techniques. It was also a great opportunity for new members to meet lots of the established members, for people to make contacts and to find climbing partners. The beginners meet organised by Kevin Byrne the weekend after the course finished was a further chance to consolidate these contacts, to put into practice everything learnt on the course and to gain an insight into what the IMC is really about. There was lots of climbing, lots of music and lots of fun topped off by some fantastic weather.
On behalf of all the beginners I would really like to thank everyone that was involved in the organisation, running and instructing on the course – who gave up so much of their personal time and who passed on their valuable experience.
I learnt so much on the beginners course – I now know my Italian from my Clove hitch … but leaving climbing aside I have met so many nice people. Hopefully it will be the start of some great friendships and many years of climbing.