In my relationship I tend to take to role of sideline supporter while Sion plays the role of adrenaline-fuelled, extreme sport junkie, incredibly well. He's sky-dived and glided, beaming his smile all the while.
When I was younger I tried rock-climbing and abseiling with the Girl Guides but since then my sporting activities have been very much on firm ground. Now that Operation Clawback is in full swing (monthly update coming later this week) I was looking out for different activities to do to keep the gym boredom at bay.
Luckily (or not) for me I was invited to try my hand at indoor rock climbing, which is how I found myself 10 metres up one Thursday evening a few weeks ago...
We were invited along to the High Sports site at Alton to take part in their weekly Adult ROCKStart session. Over the course of an hour and half we were expertly guided through all we needed to know to start climbing. Harnesses were handed out for us to get into (this confused us straight away - not a good sign!) and we were carefully taught the 2 knots that we would need to use throughout the session.
Once our instructor was happy with our rope technique we were let loose on the walls. Working in pairs one of you climbs while the other feeds through the rope. The walls are graded to different levels of ability - to start with we used the basic flat wall to build our confidence, moving through to walls with slight overhangs to tackle.
Within each wall section there are various different colours of foot and hand holds. We were encouraged to try to scale the wall using only one colour to stretch ourselves, each colour again is graded to help you develop your ability. Our instructor encouraged us to try lots of different colours and routes and we soon moved onto the more difficult walls.
As there was only one other couple (who had already covered the basics before) at the session we had the attention of our instructor for most of the session. Quiet but very approachable, he let us get on and learn routes through trial and error. He answered all our questions and was brilliant at encouraging us to try lots of different sections. After an hour of climbing my shoulders felt like they were on fire but Sion carried on climbing right until the end of the session.
The usual ROCKStart course is a two or three week course, at the end of which you will be able to use a climbing wall without an instructor. One ROCKStart session costs £20.00 and last one and a half hours. At the moment you can buy 3 sessions for £50 or 4 for £60.00. All equipment can be hired, including climbing shoes if you wish to use them. I would recommend wearing gym clothes that don't restrict movement and keep you cool. We wore our own trainers and these gave plenty of grip for the level of climbing that we experienced.
There are 16 High Sport sites throughout England, all the contact details for your local site can be found on the website here.
We were very kindly invited along to try a session free of charge, however all thoughts and opinions are ours alone.