rydra_wong: "i like to climb alot". The xkcd stick figure climbs up the side of Hyperbole and a Half's yak-like "alot." (climbing -- alot)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Yesterday was a southern sandstone day. So while I nurse my grazes and nettle stings and work on removing the amazing quantities of sand that made it back on the train with me, I thought I'd post some of the things I've learned about outdoor climbing so far, for anyone else who's working on the great indoor-to-outdoor transition.

Should you wish, you can amuse yourself by guessing how many of these I learned the hard way (hint: most of them).

If you've got tips of your own (re: bouldering or route-climbing), please share in the comments.

Check the downclimb.

Indoor bouldering does not prepare you to think about downclimbing once you've sent a problem. Some boulders outdoors have nice gentle slopes on the other side that you can walk off; some are short enough that you can jump comfortably onto the ground, even without a mat below you.

Some don't and aren't.

Cut for length )
rydra_wong: Lisa Rands' chalky hands on the sloper on the route Gaia (climbing -- hands)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
I hope to write up a proper report on my bouldering trip to the Peak District when I've recovered fully, but in the meantime, I've posted some of the photos to [community profile] common_nature. Not all climbing-related, but there's a fair dose of gritstone porn.

I don't normally take photos, but I had a tinny little mobile with me in case I broke my ankle, and ended up taking a lot of pictures on it because I thought no-one would believe how incredibly beautiful it was otherwise.
emperor: Photograph of me climbing. (climbing)
[personal profile] emperor
Cams are great. They fit in parallel or even slightly flared cracks in the rock into which you'd never get a nut safely, and if you fall on them it makes them grip the rock harder. Also, they're very aesthetically pleasing devices[1]. Ignoring for a moment micro-cams which you'll probably only need if climbing in the E-grades, there are several different options, with either single or double-stem, made by Wild Country, DMM, Metolius, or Black Diamond.

On my first trad climbing trip, I got to try a range of different cams from our instructor's rack, and since then I've bought some Dragon Cams, and have used them on limestone, rhyolite, and quartzite. I think they're really good - they have a pretty good range of widths for each cam, and I find the thumb-trigger design much nicer to use than the loops you get on the C4 Camelots. They're a bit stiffer to operate than some other cams, but that means they feel a bit more secure in the rock. The extendable sling is a real plus on meandering mountain routes, too - quite often I don't need to use a quickdraw on my Dragons.

In the end, the best way to decide what cams you like is to play with different ones and see what they feel like, but I'd definitely recommend giving the Dragons a go. I'm very pleased with mine and they are sooo shiny!

[1] I may have been known to happily sit playing with the mechanism on my cams...
emperor: (Default)
[personal profile] emperor
I should start by saying I'm pretty inexperienced at trad climbing, but [personal profile] rydra_wong suggested that a newbie's thoughts on the subject might be interesting anyway, so here we go.

I've been climbing indoors on and off for a number of years now, and after a hiatus of several years started going on an approximately-weekly basis again back in May. I'm not a particularly accomplished climber, but I'm reasonably competent, and S and I decided that some outdoor climbing might be fun. After a weekend with an instructor, and an eye-popping amount spent on toys[1], we went to Wales. We spent Saturday playing around on Tryfan Fach, which is a common spot for people learning to climb outside, and even the hardest route we tried, Mossy Slab felt very comfortable. Thus emboldened, we tried the rather more committing 4-pitch Sub-Cneifion Rib on Sunday. VDiff ought to be several grades easier than what I climb inside[2], but there were still a few "moments", particularly on the exposed fourth pitch. I was very pleased to make it to the top having lead all four pitches cleanly, perhaps even more so when I gathered that the pair following us up had given up on the fourth pitch entirely!

So, what's trad like if you've climbed indoors? Well, the first thing you notice is quite how much ironmongery you have to carry around the place. Particularly if you like mountain routes, there will often be a fair walk to get to the crag, and you have to carry a rope or two, helmets, harnesses, climbing shoes, your rack, waterproofs, map, guidebooks, etc. There are plenty of roadside crags, though! Secondly, you have to find your route. These days, guidebooks have pretty good "topos", which are big photographs of the rockface with the various routes marked on them, but it still requires a bit of thought to work out where any particular route starts (and, indeed, where it heads from that start). If you're used to nicely colour-coded routes with quick-draws ready to clip into, it's a bit of a culture shock! The flip-side of this, though, is that anything goes - as you climb the rock, you can use whatever features of the face suit your climbing style, and there's something deeply satisfying about that; it makes you notice geology, too, the different facets of a face, different rock types, and so on. Thirdly, you have to place your own protection. This involves, as leader, finding fissures in the rock into which you can place nuts or cams, and then not falling off while placing the gear and clipping the rope into it. On multi-pitch routes you also have to construct belays (on quite good ledges at easy grades, less so with the harder routes).

While self-placed protection can and should be almost as safe as the quickdraws in a climbing wall, convincing your subconscious of this can be tricky! Also, there's an ethic with trad climbing that the best sort of an ascent is a "clean" one - ie one where you don't have rely on your rope and protection. This means that for most people, you're climbing routes that would feel pretty easy if you did the equivalent inside. It doesn't always feel that way, though, particularly on the more exposed bit of a climb, when it can seem like you're above an awfully long drop!

What you do get trad climbing is to spend time on mountainsides in very pretty countryside. Belay ledges afford pretty awesome views, and you have time to appreciate them, too! It's hard to describe, but it's like being part of a near-vertical face of the hill - you can look down and think "wow, I came up here", and it feels like a proper adventure. There's a focused self-reliance, too. Don't listen to my witterings, though - go and try it for yourself when the weather improves again :-)

[1] if you're a member of a climbing club, or know people who already climb trad, they may well be able to lend you gear
[2] The chart at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_(climbing) is pretty good
rydra_wong: Lisa Rands' chalky hands on the sloper on the route Gaia (climbing -- hands)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Climbing in London is a weird business, since there's a notable shortage of actual rock in the vicinity.

I've been climbing indoors for a couple of years now, but have never managed to make it outside -- all my attempts to organize a trip or tag along on someone else's have been foiled for reasons ranging from "someone forgot to e-mail me" through "sprained ankle" to "five months in hospital". I was starting to suspect that the universe was conspiring to ensure I never made it outside.

A couple of weeks back, I finally snapped. I looked at the weather forecasts, decided this might be my last chance this year, and cadged a lift down to Bowles Rocks on my own.

Cut for length )
dancinglights: (leafyshiny)
[personal profile] dancinglights
This is a trip report I wrote a while back locked down on lj. I had already joined this community, but didn't repost it because, well, I didn't know anybody here. And, as I just mentioned in the intro thread, that's kind of silly. So here it is. It was specifically targeted for new climbers growing up in a gym environment, but it also goes on about fear and why I got into this hobby in the first place.

It's also a bit long )
jumpuphigh: Pigeon with text "jumpuphigh" (Default)
[personal profile] jumpuphigh
Here is a good basic climbing technique video that may help some beginners.

sixbeforelunch: a stylized woman's profile with the enterprise and a star field overlaid (p&p '05 - darcy & bingley)
[personal profile] sixbeforelunch
Does anyone here have experience with outdoor bouldering? Nature and climbing both being rather helpful to my mental health, I'd really love to combine the two, but I don't have the first idea where to start. I know that there are bouldering problems out there *waves in the general direction of the unpaved world* but I don't know how to find them or where to start with them or what sort of equipment I might need. (Crash pad, yes, but anything else?)

Help? (Help can come in the form of "Here's a book/website, go read it". I'm not averse to doing research.)


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