Being scared of heights and also getting the odd spell of vertigo - climbing is not the first thing you might have thought I'd be trying out.. But that's exactly why I wanted to.
The last time I was climbing was up a tree as a kid and back then the height factor wasn't an issue. The fact is, I do a lot of walking up mountains and a bit of scrambling so I wanted to know about climbing and the ropes to become more confident.
Up the road from where I live is a climbing centre called The Castle - I looked at the website I booked a days training (5 hours for £70) and thought - yeah, let's give it a go.. On arrival I was early and had a look round the centre - and then looked up.. ok, that looks high! After a visit to the toilet I joined the small group of trainee's (5 in total) and we began our lessons. We did climbing using a belay and bouldering..
So belaying involves two people and a long rope - the rope is on a pully at the top of the wall, both people tie the rope at opposite ends and one climbs - the other supports.. this involves scaling the wall pretty high - for me very scary stuff but I did manage to reach the top on a couple of occasions.
Bouldering is like 'free' climbing and uses no ropes or harness's.. the walls are less high or you go around objects - like boulders, funnily enough. Less scary but some walls are pretty high and an awkward fall can cause serious damage or even death... just saying.
By the end of five hours my fingers were red raw and my arms would hardly lift above my shoulders.. but I had enjoyed myself immensely! I left it quite a few days before venturing down alone - mainly because my muscles were knackered and they needed a rest!
So here's how is works - in the centre are various angled walls with objects attached to them in order to make climbing easier.. these objects are all colour coded and the colours represent routes of different grades.. So starting you try the easiest routes until you become more confident..
So basically I have been bouldering ever since.. I've joined the club and jacked in my gym membership.. Climbing uses pretty much all the main muscles from your arms right through your shoulders and body to your feet. This is real fitness - and fun too, I'd never stay 3-4 hours in a gym and not want to come out.. by the time a session is complete I really do feel drained and that's what exercise is all about - the fitness is coming slowly but the enjoyment is 100%.