Onto the rock

This weekend I got to try something completely new: rock climbing. I’ve had a long-standing fascination with climbing and mountaineering, but with more sports competing to fill my free time than I know what to do with I hadn’t managed to make the time to try it for myself – until now. A Peregrine Expeditions Introduction to Rock Climbing course took me down to Anacortes, Washington, on a gorgeous summer morning.

First rappel

The short hike up Mount Erie to the cliff was quite beautiful, and the views from the cliff itself took my breath away. Joseph, the Peregrine Expeditions guide, had definitely picked a stunning spot to teach us to climb. As with the ski tours I’ve done with Peregrine in the winter, he struck an excellent balance between instruction and practice. Everyone looked super nervous as they prepared for their first rappels, but as soon as we stepped backwards off the cliff and realised we could trust the rope they became immense fun.

On the rockThe climbing itself was more of a challenge than I expected. Joseph started us off on a couple of relatively easy climbs, then moved us across to a pair of harder routes. I found that my main weaknesses were a tendency to try and rush through the next move (slowing down, looking around and really evaluating the available hand- and foot-holds worked better) and an over-reliance on my hands rather than my feet. It felt like playing a complicated game of physical chess, where one good move laid the foundation for success while one poor one caused an inevitable cascade into a retreat or spill.

I ended the day proud of what I’d achieved, eager to take on more challenges in the future, and really happy to have tested myself at something completely new. For beginner rock climbers, this is a fantastic introduction to the sport and I highly recommend it.

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