Climbing has been a very important part of my life in London and thanks to a bunch of really cool people, I could also experience it outdoors a few times. Click on the picture to read my summary and also check out the video at the end of the post from the 30m cliffs at the Isle of Portland, England.
So I was asked my past as a professional gamer from a friend down at the castle, my local climbing gym in London, when some random chinese guy popped up on the side asking “Are you talking about WarCraft 3?”. I said “Yes, do you know mTw?” which left him nodding followed by “and do you know Tak3r?”, turning the chinese guy into a cheering fan yelling “Yes of course!!!”. He could not believe it was me and I could not believe that people would still know me nearly 10 years after my prime! Considering the fact that Qi (the chinese guy) and his soul & climbing mate Aaron were about 10000 levels above me in climbing, I was very happy to have met them and brought along some of their trips.
The first one with them was down south from London in an area called Harrison’s Rock. We went there on a nice sunny day, but some of the sandstone was still wet from earlier rain. Climbing a few cool routes including a nice overhang slap into a sloper, it was easy to tell that the outdoor grading of the routes is much harder compared to the indoor gym. I would usually climb V3 to V4 in the Castle, but out here I did not get beyond a V2 I think!
Just one week after Harrison’s Rock, it was time to get my hands on sport climbing in what must be one of the coolest places to do it within the UK: The Isle of Portland. Qi and Aaron are very skilled and experienced climbers, hitting the rock nearly every weekend. I, on the other side, just had a few indoor lead sessions prior to this trip and no idea of how sport climbing works. Renna, Aaron’s sister who joined us for the trip as well, explained the theory to me in the car and it did not sound too complicated to get the gear down, but I would have prefered to not do it and focus on climbing instead.
We arrived at the camping site at 2PM and quickly set up the tents before heading down to the 30m cliffs on the west side of Portland. Using a rope to rappel down, I immediately liked the fact that you actually have to hike and scramble across some rocks to get to the actual climbing site. Passing some other climbers, we hiked about 10 minutes along the cliffs and ocean before we reached our spot and also some other climbers that I knew from the Castle.
Wasting no time at all, I was first to go up the easiest route in the sector, which was a 6a+. It is about the level that I was climbing in the castle as well, however the fact that the wall is much higher, packed with sharp rocks and a blowing wind in my back made it pretty hard! When I say hard, I am not talking about the technical difficulty, but rather the fact that my mind was playing with me and I could not focus on the climbing since I was thinking too much about the eventualities. In the end, I was not using any proper technique at all, leaving me with a pump just 10m in. I decided to go down again and let Renna try her luck, before she would get bored to hell belaying me🙂
She obviously finished the route, letting me know that the section I struggled with was actually the hardest part – well that made me feel a bit better. The Isle of Portland is part of the Jurassic Coast and with some luck you can find fossils here. I used the time in between climbs to look out for them but could only find some shapes remaining in the stones. But we were not there to hunt fossils anyway, so I got back on the wall, top roping the same route again to get more familiar with the stone. I ended up getting to about 28m without finished the very last move. It was still good enough for me and certainly great to be up that high just next to the ocean!
On the next day, a change of scenery took place and we headed to an area on the east side of the Island. I still suffered from an old finger injury and decided to just watch this time so I would not have to take a big break of climbing during my last weeks in London. Just watching the guys was great fun though and I also used the time to walk around the near by boulder field. Some people were actually bouldering there as well, but I did not have my shoes with me sadly.
Coming back to the sport climbing site, Qi was just doing the crux move on a 7b+ I believe and I came just in time to capture it on my camera. Looking at the stuff he and Aaron are doing, I really felt like a complete climbing newbie😦 The weather was great, we enjoyed probably the best food that I had in all of my time in England, accompanied by great beer and great people. The trip to Portland was not the last one either, just last weekend Qi and Aaron took me along to the Peak District with another friend of theirs and I was actually able to finish a route leading it and even if it was just a 6a+, it felt really good!
I will certainly miss those times with the guys and am very grateful that they took me along, even though I was just a beginner compared to them. But in the end that is one thing I love about climbing, you can just do it with everyone no matter how good or bad they are. It is such an awesome and social sport, hopefully I will have some opportunities to climb on my big trip as well! I certainly will once I hit Cape Town and the nearby Rocklands🙂
[vimeo https://vimeo.com/106974924 w=640&h=480]
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this entry and would appreciate a comment below.
If you want more, head over to my Travel Report or Photography pages. Or join me on one of my Upcoming Trips!