So, turning the ripe old ages of 24 and 27 in June, the obvious birthday present was of course a crash mat! Taking matters in to his own hands Alex opted for a Black Diamond Impact Crash Pad from his favourite shop LD Mountain in Newcastle. Crash mat bought, the saying “all the gear, no idea” seemed a bit too familiar as we discussed where we should start our bouldering adventure… Luckily a trip to indoor climbing centre Climb Newcastle solved all our problems in the form of an Outdoor training session with the lovely Susan.
5.30pm couldn’t arrive soon enough, as we rushed out of work to get to our meeting point at Shaftoe Crags, near Belsay, Northumberland. Northumberland Bouldering book in hand, we set off to the warm up area, which unfortunately was too flat to even feature in the book! However I was so impressed as we learnt to trust the rock, pick our routes and reach the top. The obvious difference between indoor and outdoor is that you can’t rely your arms to pull you up as there is nothing to hold on to so you really have to use your legs and feet and little steps.
“The Ravine” conquered we walked on to the next area. Shaftoe Crags is the largest bouldering area in Northumberland with 300 problems to choose from and only 20 mins out of Newcastle which is great. Next we traversed along “the Cob” and up to the top. This was my favourite route as you climb out of the enclosed rock and get hit with the incredible view of the beautiful countryside all the way up to the Cheviots.
We learnt so much in the three hours we were out on the crags and definitely wouldn’t have been able to do half as much as we did without Susan (and for only £20 each it was great value!) Although the guide book is really useful it is like a foreign language with terminology like mantel, crimping and layback not to mention the bizarre names for the routes. For your first time you really need someone like Susan to interpret it and show you the routes, as well as the occasional unsubtle push to get you up!