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A Girl Who Climbs

A blog of bouldering

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outdoor

Victoria Park Boulder | Widnes

When you have lived in the same town your whole life, I think it’s easy to become immune to what it has to offer. The artificial climbing feature has been in Victoria Park for years, and I always deemed it as something ‘just for kids’. However, since climbing has been in my life
I have started to see things in a whole new light. So after dinner last night, I went over to the park with A Boy Who Climbs to investigate the boulder. Naturally we had a little climb on it too!

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Firstly I was really surprised by how authentic it was, the texture is great and somewhere in between an indoor hold and real rock. As you can see from the pictures, this boulder has some great angles and is packed with pinches, crimps, jugs and a bunch of interesting details. It’s obvious a lot of time, knowledge and money has been put into this rock feature. There are so many climbs you can plot on this one boulder,  I’m planning on going back with my chalk bucket and climbing shoes at some point very soon. I can see this becoming a great venue to have a fun session on over the Summer.

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I was considering taking some more photos at some point to visually show any problems we end up making on it too. There are already some lines set which you can find here on the UK Climbing website if you’re interested.

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I think these boulders are becoming more common across parks now, and if there is one near you, you should definitely go and check it out. You might be pleasantly surprised by how good it is!

 

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Bouldering Outside First Time Tips

I’ve only ventured out onto real rock a handful of times, and it has always been awesome. However, there are a few things I have discovered on these trips which I wish I had known before hand. Here’s a short list of things to keep in mind as you head out on your first outdoor bouldering adventure.

Travel Light
Only take to the boulders what you really need because if you’ve got a long approach up hills and over fields, you’ll be cursing that extra pair of shoes and spare bottle of water in your bag.

Pack Sensible Food
Take the right type of food to keep your energy levels up. Snacks that are individually wrapped or don’t require handling to eat are generally better, as you’re less likely to eat the dirt and chalk covering your hands.

Look After Nature
You should leave the area you’re climbing exactly as you found it, if not in better condition. Don’t litter, be careful with the chalk and try your best to keep the ecosystem happy.

Keep Clean
Try to keep your climbing boots as clean as possible by standing on towels/blankets. A friend uses a spare square of carpet which is ideal to clean off the mud/moss/bugs to help avoid foot slips.

What to Wear
Dressing in light layers is key, especially in the UK where the weather can turn ever so quickly. It’s also good to keep some spare clothes in the car too, just incase.

Get Ready
You still need to warm up when you’re climbing outside. Jogging and using resistance bands is a great way to start, as is climbing very easy problems or traversing to get your fingers acclimated.

Safety First
If you’re not climbing you should be spotting whoever is, stay alert and aware of what’s going on around you.

It’s Hella Scary
I found climbing out on real rock can be very scary at first, especially if you’re use to an indoor gym. Build up your confidence, work on whatever appeals to you and don’t get bogged down by grades and lines.

So there it is! From my very limited outdoor experience I feel like I have learnt so much. A few more real rock adventures and I’ll have it all down hopefully.

Tips and advice are always welcome in the comments 🙂

 

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Bouldering Outside for the First Time

Sunday it finally happened, I got to climb outside on real rock for the very first time, and it was awesome. After watching the weather all week I was so excited to be able to head down to Pex Hill, which is the local crag I previously wrote a little post about which you can read that here.

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Me sporting the Mad Rock R3 crash pad. Do not fall over in this! #Turtle

Late morning we headed down to meet up with some friends. Having no idea what to expect I was scared at first because it was all outdoorsy and there was a much smaller crash mat under me than I was accustomed to. It took me a few tries to get use to holding rock instead of plastic, but I started to settle in and understand why there is so much love for climbing outside.

There was something so lovely about being surrounded by trees, the fresh air (or as fresh as Widnes gets) and having such a good bunch of people to share it with. As more people started to arrive the atmosphere became exciting but calm in the perfect balance. Maybe it’s because the quarry is sandstone but it was so much gentler on my skin, there’s just something better about climbing on real rock.

Getting some moves down on Pisa Wall

Other climbers were also at the quarry, and rightly or wrongly I was shocked to find our groups fusing as we climbed problems near one another. Crash pads and chalk was shared, along with beta and support. It was an experience I didn’t expect, but one I’m glad I was part of.

I only played on bouldering eliminates on Pisa Wall, and had a crack at Poor Leno, Trad Sit Down and Gorilla. After a while I just joined in with whatever was being climbed as the grade didn’t matter to me, which is probably a good thing as the problems don’t seem to correlate with the guide book.

The element I struggled with was foot placement, mostly because 99% of the handholds at Pex Hill are old bullet holes. It was tricky remembering to work my feet up, as I’m used to whacking it on a coloured piece of plastic. At the same time it was easier because I could find a small pebble to step on that others wouldn’t deem useful.

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Hands down that was the best climbing experience I’ve had to date, and has made me love the sport even more. I can’t wait to get back out there, hopefully with my camera to grab some footage.

Any questions or advice on where a newbie should climb next within the north west is very welcome!

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Planning for the Outdoors

I am what some climbers would call a gym rat because I climb inside 98% of the time, and I’m okay with both of those things, but I would like to venture outside. Part of the reason I’ve not gone out is down to me being a newbie and feeling safer indoors, and some of it is down to me being uneducated on my surrounding outdoor area. We aren’t blessed with the most inspiring climate in the north west of England either, but there is still plenty of opportunity to climb some real rock and I want to start seizing it. I feel pretty lucky to have such easy access to Pex Hill as my local crag, and what better place to start for my first outdoor bouldering experience. I guess it could be considered a crime that I’ve not climbed here yet, in fact I hadn’t ever visited, so I recently ventured up there for a look around to get a feel for things. Afterwards, like all good bookworms I headed straight to the library internet and purchased ‘Cheshire & Merseyside Sandstone’. Teamed with some online research this has given me a good base to start understanding Pex Hill, which I shall share with you now.

 

The quarry has sandstone walls which were used for target practice in WW2, particularly Pisa wall. These bullet holes are now used as hands holds (more like pinky holds) , so needless to say climbing here will give you very good finger strength. It holds over 160 climbs of which 40 are boulder problems ranging from V0-V10. It seems to be the place to go for practicing crimping, endurance, finger strength, and nifty footwork. So basically everything, as there are plenty of traverses on offer too. As the walls are so high there seems to be a cross over between some boulder problems and routes, making them too long for one, or too short for another. This means the grading can be complicated but that doesn’t bother me personally. I feel getting caught up in grading and ticking off climbs isn’t always the best for my mental game, but I understand how it gets others motivated or psyched.

All that aside, plans are in the works and I’m excited to go grope some real rock, and experience climbing/bouldering as it was intended by nature. Just me and the rock…and my Anasazi boots…oh and a Mad Rock R3 crash pad, because safety should always come first.

I would very much appreciate any tips or real rock wisdom for bouldering outdoor for the first time! Please feel free to share.

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