The Beginning Of The Affair

Posted by Bob Hickish
Thursday 26th November 2009


So, the massive 2 year climbing bonanza is at an end L, it was great whilst it lasted but now here I am stuck in Sheffield University learning about Physics whilst I could be out climbing.

Hang on a minute, Sheffield is the climbing capital of the UK with 2 different rock types and thousands of routes/boulders only half an hour from my halls.

Hang on a minute; I only have 15 hours of lectures a week.

I think I'm on to a winner here - Roll on the 3 year climbing extravaganza!

To a small time country boy from the climbing equivalent of the back end of nowhere moving to Sheffield was quite a shock to the system. There are literally climbers everywhere. It's a pretty regular occurrence to be walking down the streets of Sheffield to see someone on their way to bus stop with a boulder mat. The non-climbers have clearly got used to it because you never get asked why you've got a mattress on you back ;-)  Routes that are considered pretty tricky when back home are suddenly now the entry level requirements at crag like raven tor. You may think you are pretty solid at onsighting a trad grade, but wait until you try it on grit and end up (30mins later) on the top a gibbering wreck despite only having climbed 10m. Such are the joys of my experiences thus far in Sheffield. The course is ok too!


Having spent 2 years climbing a lot of 40m overhanging limestone routes I feel like I've got the stamina side of things quite well covered. What I really need is POWER. But the engines cannae take it. So moving to Sheffield, the home of front on basic power, where heel-hooks and knee bars and any sort of technique in general are frowned upon, was pretty much the best thing I could do to take my climbing to the next level. I've been training a fair bit and doing a lot of bouldering at raven tor and I think I'm starting to see some gains.



Me on The End of the Affair 


This weekend in particular was a good one for me. On the Saturday I managed Chimes of Freedom; quite a power full 8a+ at Raven Tor, I then almost did Bens Roof V10 which will be my hardest boulder problem to date (yet I feel I can do harder), but what's really satisfying is that I don't think I could of done it a couple of months ago.

On the Sunday we went to Curbar and I did my second ever trad redpoint. Me and Theo top roped this route a couple of years ago, fuelled by watching Hard Grit, it was a stupid idea because we were no way good enough to do it. Yet to our amazement we did it!................on top rope. Anyone who has done any headpointing before will no there's a massive difference between top roping a scary trad route and leading it. Both psychological and physical, the fear makes your body tighten up; you don't climb nearly as well and are likely to make mistakes.

And by my (not very bold) standards this route is very scary; blatancy arête smearing the crux at the top, the only gear is at 1/3 height, if you blow it the belayer must jump off a smaller cliff behind to take in the slack quick enough but even then it's very close. Luckily it was my friend Ben doing this for me as there aren't many people I trust more (or many who are willing to throw themselves of a cliff for me!).




Me on the dangerous move of End of the Affair, for me this move was very balancy and on off, with the gear feeling far too close to the floor.


So we rocked up at the crag and I top roped it to work out the moves, physically it's not too hard for me so i sorted it out quite quickly, but I still practised it a few times to make sure I wouldn't make any mistakes. I then pulled the rope down and it was time for the all important lead. Most of those around me where experienced gritstone headpointers, and I could feel their expectancy and excitement as they were about to get their fix, they where feeding o my experience as much as me, it all felt quite bizarre. As I tied on I felt nervous but then when I stepped on to the rock confidence washed over me. Thankfully I didn't blow it, I've never known 30 seconds of climbing feel so intense. Stood on the top I felt a wave of euphoria and relief, not only from me but also from the onlookers; the gritstoners had got their fix. It felt great to be part of it, I think I could get into this......

The End Of The Affair E8 6c.... feels more like the beginning to me.


Someone else (with really cool hair) doing End of the Affair- I nicked this from the internet because its a much nicer photo than the ones of me.

Read more blog entries by Bob Hickish

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