Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Nothing to fear but…


My body felt charged and my breathing was shallow. I stared as the climbing instructor made short work of the slab above us and then disappeared round the side of the mountain. He was out of sight and – it transpired –out of earshot. I waited for his call. Nothing. I wasn’t going to move until I heard the obligatory:

‘Climb when you’re ready!’ to which I would answer:

‘Ready to climb!’

Then I felt a sharp tug on my waist, the rope between us became taut and inexorably; I was dragged upwards. Funny how terror intensifies the senses: I could smell the softener in my sweater, the scent of grass in the meadow below and the damp rock above me. The rasp of my metal studs on the rock sounded like a death knell and my eyes dissected the rock so that every molecule stood proud.

That was a long time ago but the experience is still fresh in my memory bank and when Cliff Rhys Jones said, after a terrifying experience on his programme ‘Mountain’ last night

‘Is rock-climbing for me? I think I know the answer to that.’

I was with him all the way.

I came across the photos below of Harrrison’s Rocks where I used to practice. I’ve had them for years and am unable to credit the photographer but thought I would share them. Harrison Rocks are owned by climbers and as they are soft sandstone leading is forbidden and top ropes must be used.


sablonneuse said...

Yes, I watched Muntain and felt for GRJ. Have you really done that too? Voluntarily? Chapeau.

PI said...

sablonneuse: it was a period in my life when I felt a bit desperate and needed to focus on something a bit frightening. Weird logic I know but it worked.

apprentice said...

Great looking rocks aren't they?
I love scrabbling up things as a kid, huge trees, rocks, new buildings, walking along second floor joists.

You're right scary is good for you from time to time, and it does make you narrow your focus to the here and now.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You are too gung ho for belief. Nice work, Pat.

PI said...

anna: bet you were better than me:)

Hoss:thank you. I forgot to say I was rubbish at it.

Sim said...


I take that you aren't scared of heights? You're a better woman than I

PI said...

Sim: I am. And I'm not:)

Nea said...

For me it's feathers, not heights, no logic there at all.

PI said...

Nea: you're as nutty as a fruit cake. Like me:)

Carmi said...

I distinctly remember freezing up on a sheer cliff face when I was a teenager. After I got over my initial freakout, I willed myself to complete the climb. I've been rock climbing since, and I've been fine. I guess I just had to get over it that one time.

Popped by from Michele's on this lovely Saturday, Pat.

Dara said...

I had a similar experience many years ago, minus the rope! I would have been frozen had I allowed myself to look down and not keep moving. One foot, then the next, up up up. Sounds like we both came to the same conclusion. Hellos from Michele as well!

rob said...

Mmmmm...monster propers go out to you, sister. As an acrophobic with persnickety bowels, rock climbing is, most decidedly, not for me.

That doesn't keep me from annually throwing down the gauntlet at an indoor climbing stone, which, invariably, hands me my ass half way up.

I just fear pooping myself 20 feet above the ground.

Hell, I fear pooping myself 0 feet above the ground.

And, yes baby...I'm a yankee. Thanks for stopping by, hon.

PI said...

Carmi: well done for keeping at it Carmi. A week at climbing school in Snowdonia put the kibosh on it for me.

Dara: without a rope? Now that is scary!

Rob: interesting that you keep doing it. The adrenalin rush,maybe and nice to have you visit BTW. See you!

R. Sherman said...

These look like a good place to learn. Reminds me of Sam's Throne in northern Arkansas.


PI said...

Randall: Sam's throne looks much more inviting and beautifully situated if a bit scary.