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Climbing Tuition With Bren Whelan

Date: 3rd June 2006
Submitted by: Anthony Feeney
I met Brendan Whelan at Dunmore Head at 9:45am, having arranged a 9:15am meet. Drove like the wind from Dungiven having slept in after a few birthday bevvies the night before. Got set up and led Absent Friends (VD) to show Bren how I was doing things on the understanding that he'd later correct my faults. We then spent ages at the top going over clove hitches, figure 8 knots, rope angles and "out of reach" anchors.

Bren had an abseil rope set up and then showed me the protected way to abseil with a prussik loop on the rope and the figure-8 device tied in a sling away from the harness. Fantastic. It feels great being able to abseil knowing that if the worst happens you'll be safely locked up.

I then led Cheating Bitch (S) and we did more at the top on gear placement, sling based anchors and "in reach" anchors. Naturally we spoke about the infamous Wales trip because that was what had prompted me to get this training and we went over multi-pitch climbing and the swap-over of leads, tying off your second etc. One of the days highlights was us multi-pitching SRS Slabs to practice this swap-over stuff, something I'm sure has never been done before. :)

Rounded off the day with 2 HS leads on Orange Blossom and Diversion, going over everything from earlier in the day. That effectively doubled the number of HS leads I've ever done, having stuck to VD and S up till now. But with Bren's encouragement that I was climbing strongly and the confidence in my anchors and gear placement I think it's bye-bye VD and only S and HS from now on.

I know I can second VS and possibly HVS on a good day but I'll leave leading them until I've practised the small stuff for a while. I'll be aiming to lead VS at a minimum by the summer's end though.

Have to say Bren was the perfect trainer - friendly, patient and very knowledgeable. I would recommend him to anyone looking for SPA style training. He was talking about maybe doing an SPA course at reasonable rates with interested Colm Cillers, so spread the word. Mountain Training

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