My esteemed colleague John Burns, who is a mountaineer with forty years of experience and a skilled writer, has penned an excellent piece about the changes in British climbing.
“I’m going to start climbing,” a friend told me last summer. My mind raced back to when I began climbing forty years ago. Learning to climb then meant you had meet up with some experienced climbers and learn the secrets of their trade. That usually meant meeting bearded young men in the back rooms of pubs. They’d give you old pieces of equipment no one used anymore, smiling, “Just to get you started.” I thought of my days in Sheffield, driving out to Gritstone edges in my clapped out Marina, I thought of sitting in Grindleford Café, drinking tea and eating bacon butties, while we watched the rain run down the steamy windows. I thought of shaking my way up easy climbs, taking the skin off my fingers on the rough rock, being shown the mysteries of rope management by a grey bearded climber.
More than anything else, of course, I thought of going…outdoors. Here I made my biggest mistake, that wasn’t what my friend was talking about at all. For an old git like me that came as a surprise.
Outdoors! Why would anyone want to climb there?
You can read the full piece over at John’s blog (which I wholeheartedly recommend, by the way, for his frequently humorous accounts of adventures on the Scottish hills).
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