Getting passionate about …

The first time I was in my forties, and I blame the WI. After all, if I hadn’t seen the day out in the County News I would never have decided to have-a-go.

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Cheesewring, Cornwall – photo Ann Foweraker

So it was off to the wilds of Bodmin Moor – to the quarry at the foot of the famous Cheesewring. When I say, at the foot … if they had continued to quarry there would have been no famous Cheesewring left to see, as it hovers near the top edge of this defunct granite quarry.

We, a group of WI women from all over Cornwall, were gathered to have-a-go at Rock Climbing and Abseiling.

I have to say, it was an exhilarating experience, made all that more wonderful by the fact that you could almost palpably feel the goodwill driving you on to reach that next hand hold or edge of rock to rest your foot on, from the women below (and above) as you climbed the ‘sheer’ rock face. Okay, so it was a real ‘beginners rock face’ with plenty of hand holds once you knew what to look for, and the places to put your feet were substantial enough to suffice, even though we were all in conventional trainers.

Once we reached the top, yes all of us managed it, we had the opportunity to abseil down again. This was quite another thing.

Climbing, taken that you are roped and belayed, is relatively safe, you are also in control of your movements. The LOOK of abseiling sent my heart beating fast. It looked unsafe. It looked out of my control.

My turn came, the sound of my heart beating, in my head so loud I could barely hear the instructions. I stood on the cliff edge feeling sick and started to lean back over the abyss, the rope taking the strain, my grip on the rope, as it went through the rappel, tight.

It was magnificent! The bouncing off the cliff-face and landing further below; a new sort of freedom, and it finished all too soon.

That day was completed with a second, higher, climb and abseil and I exalted in it, enough to organise another event for other members of my own WI on Kit Hill the next year. However, that was it… until my boys, now very (read EXTREMELY) keen and good climbers started taking me with them on local sorties … and to the local climbing wall where they also have Bouldering. A giant ‘rock’ in the middle of the huge climbing barn, dotted with coloured holds, making routes of differing difficulties which you climb without ropes. And, though some routes can be a struggle (for me) the sense of achievement when you reach the top on your second / third / fourth go! ZIPPP!

And I am hooked. I am thinking of buying climbing shoes (rather than hiring them) and, in true WI style, making my own (very individual) chalk-bag  😉 My only grievances: – my fingers are not very strong, and though this will improve, I suspect over-sixty is not the best age to grow new finger-strength – watching  youngsters fly up the holds, their lithe, lightweight bodies scrambling like spiders, and wishing I’d done it back at that age  –  and finally, time – it is hard enough to fit everything I want to into a day as it is!!

Here’s a lovely video of a baby to show you just how easy it is really 🙂

Do you have a new passion this new year?

Have you tried climbing – is it your thing?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you…

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