10 Things for Summer Rock Climbing
It's that time of year when we put on our sticky boots and delve into a summer of rock climbing, still a little rusty from the winter. Mark Walker from New Routes Adventure has shared with us 10 things he does to make the most of his season.
1. Know where to go
Have a Winter Climbers mentality and look at the wind direction. It does 2 things;
- Dries rock
- Blows climbers around
2. Have a go-bag
Military people, doomsday preppers and oddballs have these things called go bags (basically for items in order to “survive” for 48 hrs or what have you) I make one for climbing – so at any time I have a bag packed with gear ready for a last minute cragging session.
The Patagonia R1 Hoody is my “go-to” top for almost everything - it has a full balaclava style hood and long wrist warming thumb loops – in a bind it almost functions like having a pair of gloves and a hat.
4. Zipped Chalkbags
I prefer a bigger chalk bag (I have Cumbrian hands) filled with loose chunky chalk, I also like to have a pocket on the chalk bag; to keep some finger tape, knife etc... in. NB. Just watch having finger tape in a chalk bag and going bouldering! I once fell off a problem and landed on my chalk bag, which was on the mat, this resulted in a slight roll of my ankle and me with some horrible damage to it, which I can still feel today! Also, NB. Don’t even think about having a chalk bag on anything other than a length of “prussic” cord.
I like a guidebook, I like an information filled guidebook – these days however, the guidebook stays at home and I take a photo of topos and descriptions on my phone. Also, there are some areas where one can download topos and descriptions.
6. The mighty pros of a visor
Yes, you look like a golfer. Yes. People will ask if you’re “going climbing or playing golf?!” But, the visor is a fantastic bit of kit. Put on a baseball hat and slap yourself on the head! – Hurts don’t it?! Most caps have a button on top and are at best uncomfortable, and at worst absolutely deadly underneath a helmet. Not so with a visor, I regularly wear one under/with a climbing helmet. If you have Viking blood in your veins you’ll probably want one too (Vikings weren’t that into visors, I don’t think?!, but they weren’t too great with bright sunshine; on their skin or in their eyes!)
7. Select appropriate footwear
Lots and Lots and Lots of “climbers” will automatically stick on a pair of Approach Shoes to walk in to a crag. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not bemoaning approach shoes . But, sometimes, they may not be the best footwear. In the summer I generally wear Approach Shoes, Fell Running Shoes, or Gore-tex boots. This decision is made in part with a look to what the weather is doing, but almost more importantly where the crag is. No matter what time of year or how hot it is you cannot get to Esk Buttress without getting your footwear wet, you do cross “Great Moss” after all.
8. Take an assortment of
wires, but check the rock type!
This is more for people who are maybe a bit new
to climbing: Wires are the bread and butter of a rack. And, there are loads of
wires out there, first things first: Buy British! The main reason is for
patriotism, the second is that cracks are worn by previous placements, most
people use either DMM or Wild Country so it's worn to these shapes. Take micros
and offsets but not because you have them, placing a wire and removing it is
very quickly learnt. It’s a lot more challenging when it comes to micros and
offsets. Practice - if you’re not used to offsets they can be an absolute pain
9. Leader needs nut key
Both the second and the leader needs a nut key. Yes, to remove nuts they may not have placed quite right but also for hooking slings when threading.
10. Know Scrambling Techniques
Most mountain crags don’t just stop, they continue in a scrambling fashion. Know some techniques to move quickly, efficiently and in relative safety in order to get off. Taking coils and moving together are important skills.
Meet The Author
Mark is a highly experienced Expedition Leader and Climbing guide. With over 20 years mountaineering experience and 10 years leading experience over 6 continents. Mark has led a variety of expeditions to the far corners of the globe and specialises in technical mountaineering and remote trekking expeditions. Having grown up in the English Lake District he knows the area inside out. He offers superb local knowledge and can take you far from the crowds! Check out his company New Routes Adventure - newroutesadventure.com