Tag Archives: Wye Valley

A breakthrough weekend

This weekend I went back to Tintern Quarry, where I have already been before, but somehow it felt massively different and I liked the place so much more this time around. Everything worked together this time to make this weekend a breakthrough moment in my outdoor climbing so far this summer.

Tintern Quarry lies on the east bank of the River Wye, not far from Chepstow and just over the Severn Bridge if you’re driving from London. The Wye Valley will always be memorable to me as the place where I did my first trad lead, but the sport climbing in England hasn’t really managed to find its way into my heart until this weekend.
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Breaking down on the way back from Wye Valley…again!

One minute we were cruising along the M4 on the way back form a day of climbing in the Wye Valley, talking about where to find the best pizza in East London. The next the car suddenly lost power and a putrid smell filled the salon. We only just managed to make it over to the hard shoulder. So much for an early return back home to London!

My climbing trips are always a (mis)adventure of some sort, which I’m sure regular readers of this post are more than aware of, but this one I’m not going to forget in a hurry. I’ve experienced my fair share of breakdowns (once even also on the way back from a climbing in the Wye Valley), but it has never previously amounted to five hours of waiting by the side of the road and a night spent in a hotel. In Gloucester, of all places.

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Why trad climbing makes you a geek

“This is just a Diff, it should be really easy!” – I was furiously thinking to myself, as I scrambled around for somewhere, anywhere, to put in a piece of protection for my climb up. But apart from the wide cracks, into which I couldn’t even jam my (admittedly tiny) hands, there was nowhere that I could see with the naked eye to place my metal pieces of gear…was I supposed to solo this thing??

It amazed me how different I felt trad leading in Stanage, Derbyshire, compared to my first ever trad lead in the Wye Valley. There, I led a VDiff and moved quickly onto a Severe without any problems.

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The mind game of rock climbing British style

I never thought I would get so excited about something as mundane as a crack in a rock or a well-rooted tree.

Before leading my first trad climb, this sport was mostly about pushing myself physically for me. But this time, it was all about pushing myself mentally.

Traditional climbing, or ‘trad’ for short, is a type of rock climbing that dominates the scene in the UK, where a climber must put in his or her own points of protection into a rock face while going up, and then clip the rope into these. Its European counterpart is sport climbing, where the metal bolts are already built into the wall for a climber to clip into.

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