Erockita : Introduction to Rock Climbing

By Ella Weik

Saturday, 21st March.

A group of 20 bravely, adventurous climbers are heading bright and early to the smoke bluffs. No one else is around – because it is raining. Everything is wet and the sky doesn’t look like the weather will be better soon. But I guess once you fall in love with climbing, there is nothing to stop you from doing it, I guess, as it is the first time climbing for me. Luckily, I am not the only beginner and even luckier there are two gentle, patient instructors named Kat Rothe and Peter Hurley, who are willing to teach us five beginners how to (rock) climb. You  may think – “stop Kat, Peter plus five that makes seven. Where is the rest?” Well minded. They are already on their way to Lumberland or Neat and Cool with the other instructors, learning how to build anchors rappel.
But let’s go back to the beginning. Because nothing is as important as getting familiar with all those rules for climbing. First of all, you wear a helmet. Second and most important you never ever take your hand off the rope, when you’re belaying. Never. Ever. Once again, just to be sure – Never. Ever. And last but not least, you have to check your gear and your partner’s before getting started.

So let’s see.
Nothing is twisted.
Harness is tight.
2, 4, 6, 8, 10 – Double figure 8 knot fits
Rope is in belay device.
And ‘Click click’ – carabiner is locked.

After practicing to tie the double figure-8 knot, checking the equipment and how to belay another person, we are ready to head to Lumberland, where Emanuel Beraud’s group was. While Kat and Peter build the anchor, we are watching the others climb the steep slippery rock.
My first thought is- “It doesn’t look too difficult. She just has to take her left feet here and her right hand there”. Keep that in mind, you will see how that worked out for me.

"It doesn't look too difficult." Photo: E.Beraud

“It doesn’t look too difficult.” Photo: E.Beraud

So let’s do it again.
Nothing is twisted.
Harness is tight.
2, 4, 6, 8, 10 – Double 8 knot fits
Rope is in belay device.
And ‘Click click’ – carabiner is locked.

“Climbing.” – “Climb on.”

The first steps aren’t too difficult. I made a few moves, everything worked out but then there is this one part and. I am stuck. Suddenly everything looks different, the big ridge on the rock, where “she just has to take her left feet here” – seems now like a tiny, untrustworthy part, that you would never ever want to put your whole weight on. And it’s not just this ridge – suddenly you realize that nothing seems trustworthy anymore. Is this rope strong enough to hold me if I fall? Is my belayer paying attention to me? Am I really able to do this?

Yes, you are. You can do it. – That’s at least what the calming voice from the ground is telling you. And then you got it. Next step. Same thoughts, same calming voice. Step by step until the top. Or in my case until somewhere in the middle, deciding that it is enough for today.

Photo: E. Beraud

Me and the other girls. Photo: E. Beraud


Phew, on the ground.

I am completely wet, I can’t feel my fingers anymore and somewhere on my hand is a bit blood. But I am completely happy, having an adrenaline rush and the only thing I could think about is doing it again. And I tried it again, a bit higher every time. Step by step closer to the top.

The time went by so fast and after 6 hours, we met at the parking lot again. Tired, wet, hungry but happy. We relaxed away the evening with beer and something to eat at  a local pub.

E. Beraud

“We relaxed away the evening…” Photo: E. Beraud

My conclusion: climbing is all about trust. To trust a stranger holding your life in his or her hands. To trust the equipment to be strong enough to hold you when you fall and finally to trust yourself. And to be able to trust, is one of the most important things in life. You will need it for every relationship, for reaching every goal and for getting through tough times.

Thank you Emmanuel, for organizing the trip. Thank you Kat, Peter, Artem, Reid, Pawel, Gabriela and Emmanuel, for being such great instructors. Thanks to Koby for the pictures. And  thanks to all of you for having a such great time.

Photo: K. Michaels

Photo: K. Michaels


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3 Responses to Erockita : Introduction to Rock Climbing

  1. Roland Burton says:

    Knowing how to trust is something you can learn fairly quickly.

    Learning who to trust, learning that just because everybody is keen, doesn’t mean that it’s safe, or even possible, takes a lot longer.

    Thanks for the trip report.

  2. Clemens Langemeyer says:

    The last picture is of the best move at Burgers and Fries :-). Nice TR!

  3. Zack Wentz says:

    Thank you so much Ella for the fantastic trip report! I’ve been struggling lately with re-establishing my beginner mindset so I can hopefully be a more solid instructor; it’s trip reports like these that remind me how awesome it is to get beginners outdoors and see that mindset once again. Thanks Ella!

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