Thursday, 28 August 2014

Blind sight versus onsight! Gwynfor Roberts leads his first trad route since losing his sight...

Me and the 'Guru' Roberts! 
You know, there are methods that instructors and MIA's use to manage a climber when they are learning to 'TRAD' lead by being on a rope alongside them to ensure the gear is good and assist the person by being close to the action.

But today was not that kind of day. Gwyn had lead up to E4 as a sighted climber 14 years ago and today he spontaneously decided to go back 'up' into that place where you are on your own. He asked to lead (well, he TOLD me he was leading the route!) and so from that moment on my day became really exiting and truly emotional to watch my friend step up and feel his way up the rock and work out the width of the cracks from his fingers and work hard to place gear based on touch.

 I gave him my opinion on the key elements of the route but it was always going to be his truly personal journey. All I could really do was to tell him to sort his footwork out on the first few moves with more concise pressure on the rubber of the shoes and the rock then reassure him that if his gear ripped then I would still catch him from splattering all over my nice walking boots.

Gwyn is a better climber than me in terms of technique and flexibility and ultimately courage but I'm stronger at the moment, but I am confident if he continues as he is with his training the gap will shrink. His initial mindset for his lead reminded me very much of mine when I used to onsight near my physical limit with and without ropes where the analysis was mainly focused on wither one could physically climb the wall and then secondly worry about the gear. But I hassled him to death to place more gear so he wouldn't spoil my footwear.

He climbed to the top of his first trad lead as a VI set up his belay then brought up Jay. What a great day today, for Gwyn, Jay and myself. It felt more historic than when I last belayed someone doing something special up there in that magical place in the windy quarries of Llanberis. Tomorrow, I get to enjoy a morning run with a special woman then coach a person with MS in the afternoon. A good day ahead I think. It was a hard start getting settled here in Wales again but I think life in Wales is getting more real and more worth the effort...  Gwyn & I want to climb Right Wall (E5 6a) on the Cromlech. I did it when I was 16 but to see Gwyn do this will be mind blowing and truly exceptional...

Top out!

Referrals from clients:

"...This training season I decided to get all the help I can to speed up my improvement. I needed guidance to work towards my goals in long term. I also needed more vision and opinions about my exercises and weak links. I am glad I can share my training with Mark..." (Ville Mustonen, Finland)

" I met Mark in Glen Nevis on his return to climbing to check out some lines he had in mind for me, I wasn't really training at this point but after a day or two talking and training with him I had a much more structured idea of what to do to improve and I did" (Kev Shields)