Earlier today I was browsing the Start Here section of UKClimbing.com, which is where we have loads of Frequently Asked Questions articles, beginners articles, instructional stuff, etc.
I was actually looking to see how well we have covered ‘Setting up a belay’ – as this is pretty vital for many climbers in the UK and is something that I think should be fairly prominent on that part of the website.
I found we had this article from Libby Peter, but I also think we should perhaps have a more in depth piece on this belay set up.
Anyway, I also stumbled across this article from 2003 by Charles Arthur: 100 things you learn from experience.
And whilst I didn’t learn anything from the article, the title got me thinking; ‘actually, I know a hell of a lot more about climbing now than I did when I first started’. But can I point out exactly what these things are?
I have tried to think of a few, but it isn’t easy. So here are some things that I have learnt over time.
Big wall / Alpine climbing:
Firstly I take a pair of approach shoes I can climb in, and I use them for approaches, any scrambling, easy pitches and some wide cracks. I also take 3 pairs of fairly stiff shoes on the trip.
One pair I take is my usual UK ‘hard routes’ pair – tight and for general hard climbing ( I have an even smaller pair for slate etc – but would never consider them for big walls!). I never wear these ‘hard routes’ shoes all day on big walls, but they come in for bouldering/sport days or very occasional crux stuff on big walls.
Next is my ‘big trad’ size, which is half a size bigger than my UK ‘sport routes’ size. These usually turn in to my ‘hard big free routes’ shoes and can be paired up with the approach shoes pretty well. It is important that they are stiff and not too old. As they are a bit bigger than I usually climb hard in, I really appreciate the extra stiffness and support. If I’m on a really hard route, with pitches that perhaps I think I might need to redpoint, then I carry my smaller ‘hard routes’ shoes on my harness.
I then take another pair that is half a size bigger again. I always stick with exactly the same model of shoe, but just in different sizes. These largest sized shoes feel too big for anything in the UK, but are great for really long routes with easier climbing. Or I just climb in approach shoes.
Right now I use Evolv Pontas Lace-Ups in a UK 9, 9.5 and 10
Email: Jack.geldard ( at) gmail.com