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Not climbing at Heptonstall

“It was supposed to be dry!” – the usual protest when friends meet up for climbing on a wet evening. It had rained in the afternoon and it was raining now. Heptonstall gritstone isn’t Skye gabbro and rain doesn’t agree with it much.

However, bearded Chris had asked me last week for some tuition to help him start lead climbing. Despite being a hard-man boulderer he’d never done any leading so I thought we’d do some top-roping and I’d get Chris to set up the belays as though he’d just led the route.

We started on The Mitre (severe). The belay for this is easy, two handy trees some way back. I showed Chris the basic principles of finding the line of pull, finding pieces in opposition, how to sling the trees, the difference between D-shape and HMS-shape karabiners, and then the standard pattern of tieing on. I got him to tie on to the end of the rope (as though he’d just led) then clip into each krab and back to a clove-hitch on his harness to end up with two independent loops. Then how to work out the best way to sit at the stance.

As we were doing this, original Chris arrived so we used him as a guinea pig and bearded Chris brought him up the route. Then they swapped. I was enjoying the teacher-role and not enjoying the rain so I didn’t bother.

Then we moved to Badge Climb (VDiff), chosen because it’s got a trickier belay setup. I showed Chris how to judge the line of pull on this route, which is less straightforward, then how to find nuts in the cracks some way back. We used three pieces with two of them equalised into a single point.

Next Pocket Wall (MVS), which is harder again (both to climb and to anchor). This time we used four pieces but they didn’t all get stressed equally. We designed it to allow for a pull in two different directions, because of the way the climber moves around near the top.

Original Chris wanted to practice Mille Feuille (MVS) to finish, so that’s what we did, repeating the belay setup we’d used for the Mitre earlier.

It did dry off a little as the evening wore on and there was a good fiery sunset. We’ll see if Chris fancies an actual lead next time. Got to go and dry out my gear now.


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