IMC Introduction to Rock Climbing for New Members 2014
by Louise Curtis
Having climbed weekly at Awesome Walls for several months last winter, the outdoors beckoned. While changing my shoes to go home, an IMC member who happened to sit beside me told me about the introduction programme that the IMC run for beginners. That evening I went home and emailed immediately to secure my place, I must have appeared quite eager considering it was the beginning of January and the programme was to begin in April. And so, with the introductory presentation in the Teacher’s Club, began the most interesting and challenging sport I have ever taken up.
I was initially surprised by the amount of people who had a new found desire to scale up rock faces and put their nerves to the test. Having eased us in with an evening at Awesome Walls it was now time to move on to bigger and less colour coded walls in Dalkey Quarry. Having never been to the quarry before, I was left astounded by the existence of this hidden gem of which I had no knowledge, and I a Dubliner. I was very excited to get started and the enthusiasm of all the members was very encouraging. We got started practising setting up anchors and tying various different knots and it was only when belaying a rope bag from the top of ‘Paradise Lost’, arms falling out of their sockets, that I thought to myself, ‘I must be mad!’
However, I graduated from belaying bags and got my first taste of climbing on granite. With slightly shaking hands and feet, I followed my patient partner up Yorkshire Pudding. I couldn’t believe how my hands and feet gripped to the rock, a slight Spiderman feeling but with more chance of falling.
It was exhilarating. Over the next few weeks in Dalkey my confidence, and the confidence of my fellow beginners, seemed to grow. Every Thursday I looked forward to my evenings in Dalkey and the new climbs and challenges I would face. Having seconded climbs from Paradise Lost to Binglestein, I was feeling very pleased with my decision to go on this introduction programme. One cold and blustery evening in May we met at Bullock harbour for a session on placing gear and practicing making anchors.
What really continued to surprise me was the generosity of the IMC members with both their time and patience, not to mention their sharing of gear. Our few weeks in Dalkey was to end with a weekend of climbing in the Mournes and so myself and climbing partner Tim Kay set off in search of new rock to climb. The weekend to the Bearnagh slabs did not go quite everyone has envisioned it due to our unreliable Irish climate. After a wet few hours it was decided that the climbing would have to be called off and a hike would substitute.
Through the mist and drizzling rain we set off on our seven hour hike through the Mourne Mountains. Despite not being able to climb this trip was an enjoyable one, perhaps more so for those with proper hiking boots and waterproofs, but if nothing else we all got to know one another better and see the sights from the eminent ‘Game of Thrones’. With tired legs, and in one case and unknown fracture, we headed home the next morning after a hearty Northern Irish breakfast from the Meelmore Lodge.
As the programme was now finished it was up to ourselves what we did with our new climbing knowledge and insight into the world of challenging gravity. It was by now that I felt ready to start trying some leads myself, and with the encouragement of Cillian Russell as a partner one evening, I led my first climb on ‘Grave’, to my surprise and delight. It was from here that I went on
to lead several others like Paradise Lost, Levitation, Eliminate A and Calypso, some of which required slightly more encouragement than others!
Our day at Barnbawn definitely helped to build on my confidence with leading. What a wonderful spot in Wicklow founded by Gerry Moss with many Diff and V Diff routes for the aspiring lead climber. This was without doubt one of my favourite climbing days of the past few months as I had the opportunity to lead climb all day and really work on gear placement.
Overall, the past few months of trad climbing have been fantastic. From belaying ropes bags up Paradise Lost to my recent ‘baptism of fire’ attempting to lead Jameson 10, I’ve experienced fear, excitement, success and failure but most of all a new found delight in the challenges that climbing up rocks poses.