Climbing the wall

Climbing the wallWarwick University Bear Rock Indoor Climbing Centre

Last week in an attempt to keep the bulge at bay I signed up for an intensive 2 hour rock climbing course. Like many things in life, rock climbing is better if you have someone else to share the experience with...if nothing else they can hold the end of the rope...which really makes a difference if you happen to fall! So with this in mind my little brother Stefan came along too.

It's really quite rare that we both have the time after work to catch up and I was really looking forward to the course and catching up with Stef.

We headed on over to Warwick University's Bear Rock indoor climbing wall, which is considered to be the best indoor climbing facility in the Midlands. I have to admit to being slightly nervous, not knowing what to expect. I definitely didn't expect the shoes...the tighter the better apparently. Booted and harnessed up we headed to the wall. We were led down normal looking corridors, through normal looking double doors…then wham! You're hit by the scale of climbing room which houses the 13m climbing walls. Definitely a 'wow' moment walking in there for the first time.

The 2 hour course was designed to teach us how to climb, abseil and belay. By the end of it we should be competent enough to climb unsupervised.

James our instructor told us not to worry, 95% pass the course. “What about the 5%?” I asked. "Well let's just say they didn't have a head for heights". He also reassured us how safe the centre is. The floor is designed to absorb enough energy to turn a potentially fatal fall into a broken leg or twisted ankle.

"Has anyone fallen from the top?" Stef asked.

"Once, but they only suffered a broken leg" said James, "Don't worry, I'm sure you lads will be fine!"

James was right, after about 45 minutes we were confidently tying ourselves on to the wall using figure of eight knots, and belaying for each other. Belaying is when you hold the other end of the climber’s rope. Standing at ground level you can exert tension on the rope to ensure that if the climber falls, he won't fall very far. At the end of the session we practiced what to do when the climber did fall off. Stef and I are around the same weight, but when he fell he lifted be clean off the ground. A little shocking at first, but I'm pleased to say I caught him with the rope.

James said he was confident that we’d be okay climbing unsupervised, so passed us both! He mentioned that the centre also has a bouldering wall. Don’t know what bouldering is? Well basically rock climbing without ropes! The walls are much lower and the bouldering room has an extremely squashy floor. We had a quick go and didn’t think it was much harder that what we’d just been doing next door. But then James said we needed to follow single colour toe and finger holds…that makes it completely different. Imagine playing twister on a vertical climbing wall. Some of the holds are tiny, no bigger than a finger. We had another go using only the white holds. For me it was almost impossible. Stef did a bit better but then James showed us how it should be done…another wow moment!

We both really enjoyed the 2 hour session but felt exhausted. Apparently a 60 min climbing session burns over 900 calories...good news for me and my attempt to shift some excess weight. But the best thing was that it didn't feel like exercise. When you're at the gym, on a treadmill it can feel quite tedious...with climbing it feels like you're actually achieving something each time you reach the top of the wall.

We definitely plan to go back on a regular basis. Of course, it would be nice to go climbing whilst away, which is difficult if you're travelling alone...if only there was an app to meet up with other people whilst travelling!

Happy travels,

Mark @ TripLinks


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Posted by Mark Wisniewski @markcoolski

Mark Wisniewski @markcoolski
Mark is a co-founder of TripLinks and investor in renewable energy...well he's got to do something to offset all the flights he makes! In his spare time (although he doesn't have much being a dad to two boys) he likes to brew beer, watch F1 and take long walks – walking helps him think apparently. He seems to have an uncanny ability to inspire others to do the things they really want to do, for example his barber Tom wanted to move to Australia and after half hour haircut Tom decided he was going to look into it in more detail. Tom now lives in Adelaide and, rather annoyingly, no longer cuts Mark’s hair!

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