Monday, 20 April 2009
Climbing at Cleeve
Emma e-mailed to ask if anyone fancied joining them for an outdoor climb down near Cheltenham. Emma and Jan are part of Bewdley Mountaineering Club and they are experienced climbers, unlike me. Still, I'm up for anything, and climbing real rock sounds like fun, so I signed up and cadged a lift with them.
Cheltenham, or more specifically, Bishop's Cleeve is about an hour away, so we arrived before the haze had burnt off the surrounding landscape. The limestone escarpment is situated someway up the hills and has a fantastic view over the Wye Valley. You can see for miles up there.
The handy thing about this climbing spot, is that iron stakes have been driven into the ground at the top of the cliff, to enable climbers to be belayed from above (top-roped), with the belayer safely tied onto them. It wouldn't do to get pulled off the cliff.
The guide said the climbs started at 'V diff' and went up to some sort of 'Extreme'. Having worked out what that translated to in the French system, I knew I was way out of my league. Let's face it, I had not a hope in hell of getting up the cliff.
They set up in front of the 'v diff' called Right Crack. Some other friends arrived and swarmed up in succession, confidently wedging limbs into tiny cracks and balancing on air. When it came to my turn, it was another story. Not a chance! After the second time I fell off in less than a minute, Jan suggested I try an easier route 'just to get the hang of it'!
Emma and Jan were very patient with me, and allowed me to struggle embarrassingly up a bit of the rock too easy to even appear in the guide. I did it, but I imagine a three-legged, blind wombat could have done it better.
Ho hum, I made myself useful by belaying for everybody else for a while, and enjoying the views. It was very peaceful sat on top of the rock, looking out over the tree-tops.
We got home in time for tea. I did enjoy it but I think I need a bit more practice before I go again!