Your First Time
There is always a first time for everything. And whether that’s putting on a climbing harness or summiting a four thousand metre peak, a lot of the feelings are the same. Here at Womenclimb, we wanted to celebrate those firsts. Let us know in the comments about your special ‘first time’.
Becci Pearson: My first day out climbing
Before this sunny June day, I had climbed for a total of 4 hours back when I was a child on adventure camp. I remembered almost nothing about it, apart from finding it really fun. Now I was 26 and just out for a laugh with my friend Jodie having booked a day in the Langdales with a climbing instructor.
We met outside Stickle Barn pub and having been loaded up with mysterious gear, set off up to Raven Crag. It was imposing and I fizzed with excitement, I just wanted to get started. Our first climb was Severnake and once our instructor had completed the first pitch, I volunteered to follow up first. My Karrimor trainers didn’t grip the rock, my arms felt strong but my fingers were weak, the sun was beating down and I was cooking in the heat… But none of this seemed to matter, as I almost ran up the rock.
From the first joyful pitch of the day to the walk down to the carpark, the whole experience was invigorating. I loved the dramatic backdrop, sharing the moment with my friend, and the feeling of movement on the rock. It took me a while to find another opportunity to climb, but this was the beginning of a very big adventure!
Gemma Smith: Discovering Ice is Nice
There is something incredibly satisfying about the thunk of ice axes on a frozen waterfall. When I first decided to try ice climbing, it felt like a natural extension of my move into mountaineering; my first trip to Cogne in Italy quickly transformed me into an ice convert. Climbing under normal circumstances is great, but I never thought that after just a few hours climbing the most incredible pillars of ice on that first trip that I would discover something so magical. It’s like a warped form of mediation and adrenaline mixed together, generating a melodic rhythmic noise as you ascend, putting your entire trust in forged steel and treated rope as the bitterly cold winds whip spindrift into your face. The frozen hair and glittering sheets of ice in the early morning sun only add to the atmosphere.
Climbing in the valley around Cogne is ideal for a novice ice climber. There are enough easy routes that even the most beginnerish of beginners can comfortably learn what to do, whilst still providing enough variety so that those progressing quickly can get stuck in with harder, longer routes, without the need for lengthy treks in. So if you’re thinking of giving ice climbing a go I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Lucy Temple: My first alpine lead
Last summer I spent three months working at Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Switzerland. I was living in the middle of the mountains, so I had a unique opportunity to go on spontaneous expeditions right from where I was working. One week a Kiwi friend and I had the same day off work, so we planned a glacier traverse, in an attempt to summit a nearby mountain.
After dinner we hitched a ride up the valley in a friend’s van and then started hiking up the mountain in the pitch black with our head torches on. We climbed until midnight, crashed for a few hours in our tent, then got up before sunrise to continue up to the glacier. When we reached the glacier itself and were all roped up, we realised that I was going to have to lead, because I was the smallest, so would be the easiest to rescue if I fell down a crevasse! This was August, so the glacier had already melted significantly, making it full of crevasses (pretty daunting for your first time leading!) Nonetheless, it was so cool to push myself to try something I didn’t think I was capable of (and survive!) Even though the rest of the expedition was cut short due to a thunderstorm, it was still an incredibly empowering experience!