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Getting Outdoors // My First Outdoor Climb

Getting Outdoors // My First Outdoor Climb

“I never thought I’d see you posting something like this.”  Helen’s friends clearly didn’t think that rock climbing would feature in her life.  Ever.  Helen provide them wrong and has the photos to show it!  If you think ‘sport isn’t for me’ or ‘climbing is only for people who are strong’, then read on…. 

I have always liked to consider myself adventurous

I have a love for travel and the outdoors and have spent years of my life planning adventures and heading off with my backpack to different parts of the world. From a young age I have always been interested in the sport and outdoor activities, but as I grew up I realised that being adventurous really doesn’t come hand in hand with being sporty. As a student I literally tried every sport availably hockey, swimming, netball football tennis athletics etc. I had all the equipment, but I just seriously lacked in natural ability and soon got bored. I even studied A Level PE and two years of weekly coaching of different sports only seemed to confirm this. I was terrible and very entertaining for those watching. So, I resorted to the gym and fitness classes to keep fit.
Five years ago I moved to Milan and after 3 years in the city I met My boyfriend Marco. He lived 1.5 hours outside Milan on a beautiful lake Called Lago’Iseo. When he asked if I fancied spending the summer there I jumped at the chance. Milan is awful in the summer; it’s hot, airless and empty, as all the locals head to the sea. We found a beautiful apartment with a view of the lake and I moved there at the end of June. He is a passionate cyclist so before I knew it I had a bike and all kit to go with it and spent the weekends cycling and hiking around the lake and in the mountains. My inner sports person had been released again.
Once the summer was over, there was no way I could go back to my very expensive shoebox apartment in Milan so I stayed. In the winter I took up downhill and cross country skiing. I wasn’t the best,  but I could get from A-B without killing myself and enjoyed the amazing scenery in the process.

Why I didn’t want to climb

A few months ago Marco came home and asked if I wanted to go to the mountains to try rock climbing with his friends. ‘No’ was the answer and that was it. I just thought it was impossible. I have no strength at all and didn’t want to embarrass myself. So that was that. Then, one day a few weeks later, I met Emily. After a brief conversation about climbing and different sports I mentioned that I had the opportunity to try but had refused, as I didn’t think for a second that I’d even get off the ground. Emily did two things that day. Firstly she convinced me that it’s not all about strength, it’s about technique, so anyone can at least try. Secondly, I think she made me question myself. I’m not scared of failing, I’m not scared of heights and I had been given the chance to try a new sport in an amazing location. I had only refused because I didn’t want to embarrass myself and that wasn’t a good enough reason. So, I sent a message to Marco and told him I had changed my mind if the offer still stood.  That triggered a plan to go outdoors a few weeks later, near to my home in Italy.

My first ever rock climb

 I did it !!  Saturday morning we drove to Valle di Scalve and I climbed my first ‘Rock’. I have absolutely no idea how I even got off the ground never mind to the top!!! ( I think there was quite a bit of help from Alex who had hold of the rope at the bottom), but the feeling of reaching top and then bouncing back down was great.
I’m not going to lie, it was not easy at all and definitely not for the faint hearted, but then then no pain/no gain, as they say, and I must say I am feeling very pleased with myself today. I can’t move my arms and have a very bruised swollen knee from the journey down, but I did it and I think I shocked all my friends and family in the process. Maybe this could be my sport … I’m willing to give it another go in a few weeks and see what happens.

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 Helen’s First Climb – on film!

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  • Peter
    June 13, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Nice job Helen….which poses the question: “Just how high can you go?”

  • Dee kennedy
    June 13, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    This is a great story Helen, well done !

  • Lucy McAvoy
    June 14, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Wow, fantastic Helen! #thisgirlcan

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