How to climb E1 // Interview with Beth Thomas
Beth Thomas is no stranger to Womenclimb. She is a reviewer and writer for us and we also climb with her. She’s recently broken the HVS barrier and climbed her first E1 trad lead – Tighe’s Arête at Hobson Moor Quarry. We talked to Beth about how she feels having climbed E1….
What preparation have you been doing to climb E grades?
Lots of climbing! This was my 162’nd trad climb!! In 2013 I climbed 208 routes and problems. That’s not to say you have to get that much mileage in before climbing E grades. I think my main issue has been with the fear and the head game of climbing run out and scary routes. Also I have seconded plenty of E1‘s and a couple of E2’s and been happy with them, it was just never the right time for me to jump on lead. The best prep I could have done though was to relax and try not to think it is an “E” grade but just another fun climb. I definitely had fun climbing Tighe’s Arete.
Did you plan to do it today…how did it happen?
Not really. I didn’t really think too much about it. Leading an E1 was my 2013 goal and when it slipped through my fingers I didn’t put too much pressure on getting it done so early in 2014. We did talk about it when planning on going to Hobson Moor but it wasn’t set in stone and I certainly wasn’t anxious in the morning. We got to the crag and just walked straight to the bottom on Tighe’s Arete and started racking up! Jim (Partner) has hurt his shoulder so today was always going to be more about what I wanted to do. He rigged a top rope up and I practiced it about 6 times, trying out the gear and practicing each move. The first go I had was horrible, my hands were like blocs of ice and I found it quite tricky and cold, the rock was also still a bit damp; I really didn’t think i would go for it. Luckily Jim encouraged me to try again and after a few times I started really enjoying it, my hands warmed up and the moves became easier. When I was ready It was obvious, I was so excited and anxious in a good way- apparently I sing when about to lead E grades 🙂
So, how does it feel having climbed E1?
More relieved than anything. I had come so close last year. I got on Motorcade at Froggatt and got past the gear (sideways micro nuts!) and had to retreat. My head just wasn’t in it. I also got my first piece of gear in The Link at Stanage about 2 weeks ago but it was about -2 degrees and I couldn’t feel my hands so thought it safer to pass. Other than relieved I feel so so psyched to get on more routes and start to feel really comfortable and confident at the HVS/E1 grade.
What are your climbing ambitions for 2014?
I would like to feel confident and comfortable at technical HVS and E1 grades. I still need to do lots of work on my head and coping with exposure. I would love to lead an E2 by the end of the year but at the moment am just psyched to get more HVS and E1 leads under my belt.
What’s your favourite crag?
Without a doubt Froggatt Edge. I think it’s mainly as I love the environment, the walk in, the atmosphere, and it has loads of varied interesting routes. I did my first HVS here- Sunset Slab. This year I hope to do Valkyrie there.
Thanks Beth and good luck with your climbing this year and beyond. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be hearing more from Beth…
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