Climbing with Debbie
The sun is out and Spring has well and truly sprung. As usual the UK weather conspires only to be good during the week. Clive is at work, Darren is busy building sheds, I really don’t get that, what can possibly be more important than climbing? Les has a poorly cat, Helen is in Australia on a climbing trip, good for her. I am sure Australia is very nice but do they serve Coniston Bluebird at the end of the day? I doubt it. Chris has gone to France, for what reason no one knows. The list goes on and on, I want to go climbing but there are no climbing fools available.
Expecting a refusal I ask Debbie, who works at my local climbing wall, if she would like to go climbing, in the Lake District, for two days. To my surprise she says yes and in the same breath reveals she hasn’t really climbed Trad before, but she will happily show me how to climb sport 7a.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well nothing, sorry to disappoint, we had a fantastic time, it was great fun and isn’t that what climbing should be? It was so much fun for Debbie that she scattered the crags with offerings of offsets, slings and krabs, each sacrifice made with a happy announcement “Oh I’ve dropped another one”. Her movement on the rock was a Joy to watch, finding a knee bar on a featureless slab to facilitate a ‘hands off’ rest and using finger pockets rather than the jugs I had searched for.
Two days of serendipitous fun. By some magic Debbie’s munificent offerings unerringly gravitating to the vicinity of the sacks at the bottom of the crag. It was so enjoyable that I decided to join her and whilst placing a crucial offset managed to drop its numerical partners and retaining krab. Throwing your gear off the crag, on an extreme climb, certainly adds to the fun.
Debbie’s generosity was boundless, on seeing me faff about a bit on the start of a crux she offered to lead that pitch. I would have happily accepted except for the fact she had only done her first Trad lead the day before, a four pitch severe, which she polished off with a fine degree of composure. But I was aware that she thought being twelve feet above a runner was “run out” and I think I had omitted to tell her she was now climbing her first E1. They don’t come every four foot in nice evenly spaced intervals.
But enough of the climbery (new word) stuff. It was all jolly japes, chicken sandwiches, home-made flapjack, Darjeeling Tea and Slow Worms, which as we all know look like a small snake are, in fact, a lizard and we call them worms. Fabtastic (another new word)
At the end of two days, as we melted into the brook that was singing it’s song to the valley floor, I felt I had been climbing, not with someone who was new to Trad, but an equal, a partner, someone I had been happy to trust my well-being to and vice versa. For me and I hope for Debbie, that is one of the true joys of climbing and when found it should be cherished.