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A Girl Who Climbs

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Pex Hill

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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