Winter is pretty much here and ready to destroy our dreams of climbing after work… but wait, what’s this magical candle you strap to your head!? Yes, it is time to get your head torch out!
You may see climbing at night as dangerous but it doesn’t need to be. It can actually be a great way to work on projects and keep the fear at bay. Even in the summer we often climb at night as it gives you a completely different feel whilst on the rock. You don’t have to lead and there is no need to be throwing wildly at the top of a highball. It’s time to be a ‘top rope tough guy’ and reap the benefits for when the sun does finally shine.
It’s not only about working on confidence. Climbing with a head torch can light up crimps and little nodules you would never see in the daylight. All the shadows work like arrows and as you get used to it you become more confident. This is why head torch climbing is great to work projects but if you’re unable to get to the top of your project or any climb, it’s time to lead at night.
Leading at night is a buzz for sure. All you want to do is see but if you look at your hands, everywhere else plunges into darkness. It’s at this point when you question how good your foot holds are. So you quickly look down and think ‘AHHHH WHAT ARE MY HANDS DOING!?!’ After a few quick and uncontrolled glances up and down, it’s easy to lose all sense of the wall. Once this has happened a few times you learn quickly that you have to keep calm and not just rely on your sight. Touch becomes the most important sense. Once you’re up there, alone, feeling with the edge of your toes and the pads of your fingertips you get a great sense of the climb (Or at least I do…).
Leading is a two-person activity, yes you may be thinking ‘I can’t see a thing’ but your belayer is also thinking the same thing. You have to trust your belayer, its best to have someone you have climbed with before as they are the guys who know how much rope you need to clip and how fast you climb. Also make sure to be vocal and shout ‘Slack!’ and ‘Watch me here!’, help them keep you safe. From the belayers perspective it is also down to the feel and the tension on the rope. If the climber hasn’t moved in a while and has gone quiet make sure you are ready to leap back and take as much tension on the rope as you can. This I’m sure is obvious stuff but we don’t want you guys going out and hurting yourself. Petzl Gri Gri’s are brilliant tools for when you are not able to see your climber in the dark and the light.
We here at After the Send LOVE climbing outside and if it’s dry we are out. This is why we wanted to let you know how we do it throughout the winter months. Keep us posted on your adventures on the rock and in the gym through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.