I had only been climbing a couple of time on an indoor wall when my friends and colleagues suggested we go climbing in Swanage.

I already had plans that weekend, but on Thursday night I couldn’t fall asleep and the word Swanage kept jumping on my mind, so I turned on my phone and searched the internet. The images of people climbing in Swanage were pretty different from one to another, but they all looked amazing, so on the Friday I took the plunge and told my colleagues that I had cancelled my plans and was ready for my first outdoor climb!

On Sunday morning, 5.30am I opened my eyes and got super excited for the day ahead. We set off around 6.30am and arrived in Swanange after a couple of hours drive. After a nice breakfast in the village, off we went walking towards the cliffs. The first views were breath taking and we were super lucky to have the most beautiful sunshine greeting us. The two Tom’s, and Kyle started setting up the ropes and explained we had to abseil first to then climb back up. The fact that the only route up was climbing made me a bit nervous, but I fought my fear and off I went knowing that the guys knew what they were doing and they would not take any risks.

Down the bottom, the sea was lapping at the rocks and by then all my senses were open. I went off with Kyle to look for a route which was hiding behind some rocks and we had to jump a couple of pretty scary jumps above the sea to reach our first climb. After a thorough explanation of what I had to do, off Kyle went, disappearing pretty smoothly up those sharp rocks, leaving me behind, alone. Then came my turn, I gathered up my courage, and started climbing. It was a pretty hard route and it felt very different to what I have experienced on the indoor wall, but I kept going. A few times I thought I would not make it, but I did. I am not sure I really enjoyed that first climb as I was petrified, but pretty chuffed I managed to do it.

And off we went again… with no break, and this time it was a slightly easier route. I was getting used to using my feet griping on the rock it all started making more sense and becoming more enjoyable, even though I did get stuck a couple of times and thought I’d get stuck… I kept trying, breathing, focusing and taking one more step, knowing I was secure with my instructor holding me safely from the top.

As I started to understand the difference between climbing indoors and outdoors, and using more and more the rocks as my aid, I started taking more pleasure. I was also very grateful to be in such beautiful location with such nice people. I did about five climbs in total and enjoyed them more and more as I did them. Now I can’t wait to get back out there and have a go at outdoor climbing again, trying different places and different types of rocks. It is such a great way to exercise, spend time outdoor, forget about all worries and have a good time with friends, I loved it and I am ready for more! We have now planned another trip to go rock climbing again and I am really looking forward to it. My first climb was an amazing experience and I can only recommend you to have a go at it if you have never tried. You will not be disappointed!

Cathy Jenkins

By Cathy Jenkins