A few weeks ago with sleepy faces and a serious requirement for a coffee drip (okay,that was just me!) we all bundled into the car and headed to Portland to climb for the day.
As you may (or may not!) know, I rarely climb these days and I felt huge waves of apprehension towards sport climbing outside as I’m so out of practice (read: nervous). Lugging bags laden with water, equipment and food, we headed down to our first crag of the day. Initially, I was very much of the opinion ‘I’ll be happy to sunbathe and take photo’s’ but with a little persuasion I top roped a steady route and felt pretty satisfied with myself.
The group were keen to move on and went in search of a different crag, I then had to face my fear of the metal ladder down the rock to the next crag. Whilst this *shouldn’t* have been an issue, I peered over the edge before promptly declaring that ‘no way I am going down’ and ‘I’ll go for a walk instead’. My heart was pounding and my head was spinning. I could see my friends and it was only around 10ft with 5 steps, but in my head, I was basically going to abseil down El Capitan. Not taking no for an answer my friends helped me down and I’m truly thankful they did.
The crag’s with lower grades (from 3a-6a+) are extremely popular, mainly as these are achievable grades for most climbers and as some of you may know, climbing outside is a completely different experience to climbing inside. What makes climbing outside so different is the fact you are no longer following a colour; you need to read the route, move with more precision, place your feet carefully and really trust the rock.
When I allow myself to take a trip down memory lane, I daydream about the fact I spent many year’s loving climbing outside. Mainly enjoying being in the fresh air, not knowing what the route would bring and hoping to add the route as ‘climbed‘ to my log book. After watching everyone climb and relaxing in the sun whilst watching the waves, I had a moment of confidence and followed Harriet up a sort slabby route.
I then realised everyone else was climbing a route called ‘A dream of white Porsches’, which immediately caught my attention and brought back so many memories. I remembered all those days at that I had spent at various crags and evenings spent training at the indoor wall. I’d previously had lengthy discussions with my dear climbing partner who had set her sights on climbing a classic but tricky route called ‘A Dream Of White Horses’ at the Cornish Coast. She went on to climb the route and enjoyed every moment. I knew that I simply had to work my way up ‘A dream of white Porsches’ with some subtle swearing and help from my belayer of course!. For a few moments, I was lost in climbing, remembering the technique and easing my hands up the crag Porsche’sI reached the top and felt accomplished as I looked out across the coastline.
Whilst I may never lead climb outside again, or feel the crunch of my crampon’s under a sheet of fresh snow,it was truly wonderful to climb on the Jurassic Coastline with good friends.
It was soon time to start heading home, I nervously battled my way back up those frightful iron stairs (note: these still really scared me, not a lot had changed in a few hours) and my moment of confidence was rewarded with fish and chips by the sea. Oh, with loads of salt, vinegar, ketchup and Ribena because secretly I’m still 5 years old.
If you climb or fancy walking in the salty air, I firmly recommend Portland.
You can find out more about climbing in Portland here
Have you ever climbed outside? Or visited Portland?