'For Adventures of a lifetime'

Friday, 15 April 2011

Berryhill: From a Novice Perspective

After a smooth car ride from Northumbria University Sport Central, Berryhill welcomed us with blue skies and dry, warm rocks. There were seven of us heading out on this lovely day: three complete novices to outdoor climbing, including myself, three much more experienced chaps and, of course, Cliff himself!

Whilst the experienced group took on the rock without hesitation, our little novice group took some well-deserved time to get used to the brand new setting, including the helmets on our heads and the (lack of!) bathroom facilities of the forest. The excitement was sky-high from the start and despite that fair share of fear of dying, we were all impatient to put our (very clean) climbing shoes on the real rock for the first time. Luckily, Cliff picked out an easy first route, which broke the ice nicely, and very soon we were starting to feel more confident!

In between climbs, Cliff introduced us to the jungle of equipment – nuts/wires, quickdraws, extensions, slings, multiple ropes of different lengths and a bunch of other things that help keep you alive on the rocks! This particular part of the outdoor climbing experience turned out to be especially tricky for me! (Me: Where is the end of the rope? Cliff: You’re attached to it!; Cliff: Where is the cam? Me: OH, I wasn’t supposed to take that down..?). Clipping, unclipping and removing protection from the rock will definitely take some getting used to! A climbing pub quiz springs to mind as an excellent way of learning the details…!

As our beginners’ group managed to get from top to bottom of a handful of easier routes, the feel of the hard rock started to feel less and less daunting. We were pleasantly surprised that our indoor climbing skills worked pretty well on a trickier route with less obvious holds (thanks for the guidance, Matt!). Slowly but surely we were starting to feel ready for a greater adrenalin rush!

Marcher Lord was the final route of the day. For us novices, it turned out to be difficult, physically demanding, scary and… absolutely amazing!! I can only speak for myself but I cannot recall a better feeling than that of reaching the top – muscles and adrenalin pumping, gasping for air – to soak up the sun and take in the beautiful view! Unbeatable.

At the end of the day it was clear that Berryhill had officially kick started our outdoor climbing story with great success. After a lovely cold drink at a local pub, it was evident that the number of climbers hooked on outdoor climbing in our group had quickly jumped from four to seven! I literally cannot wait until next time.

Jonna Nilsson

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