I joined IMC this year to widen my circle of climbing friends; I had climbed before so though the course would be pretty routine for me. I contacted Jon, IMC Training Officer, telling him about my previous experience and he suggested I come along and help out if I could. So I did. Other things I wanted from the programme was to increase my level of climbing, visit new venues and do some multi pitch routes.
Throughout the programme I got to climb in Awesome Walls, Dalkey Quarry, Bernagh Slabs, Spallack and Glendalough and I also attended a Tuesday night meet to Lough Dan. this was the first time I climbed at most of these crags.
The first night of climbing was in Awesome Walls and there were approx 50 new members and topics for the night were anchors, movement skills, equipment needed and climbing techniques. The group was split into smaller groups and I help by facilitating the Movement Skills workshop. Through involvement in my children’s’ climbing clubs I have complete some coaching training so was able to show the basics.
The next session was in Dalkey Quarry the following Sunday, good weather was promised!!! That morning the rain was very heavy but I went up to the Quarry anyway thinking no one would be mad enough to come out on day so wet. Well I was proven wrong as approximately 20 new members showed up so the session was on, on with the waterproofs. There were three sessions, two were on personal abseils and a third on anchors in the Quarry. I helped by top belaying climbers up Honey Pot Crack after they abseiled down Yorkshire Pudding; the other abseil was on Paradise Lost with the anchors session between both. We then all went to Queens for something hot.
Then we started the Thursday night sessions in Dalkey Quarry, which is the part I was looking forward to. It was a loose arrival time, you could show up at a time that suited most as we all finished work at different points. On arrival you find a climbing partner or two and head off, usually an experienced member with one or two newbie’s. I found theses sessions fantastic as I was being introduced to new climbs and more importantly learning how to lead more difficult routes. A few nights I partnered myself with a less experience climber and tried to show them a few of the easier routes, two of them had their first lead while with me – well done guys. I also got to lead Tower Ridge, my first multi pitch lead.
Weekends were also part of the programme which were to introduce us to multi-pitch climbing, firstly we went to the Bernagh Slabs in the Mournes and in Glondalough. In the Mournes we stayed in the Melmore Lodge and used this as a base. I partnered with Vincent and Sinead and I lead Grand Central. That was interesting morning as there were some many of us sharing the belay I can see why it was called that!!! I lead it and just as I finished building the belay a hail storm hit us, but it was over in a few minutes. I then seconded Hypothesis and Crooked Chimney. This was a great introduction to multi-pitch and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The second day the weather was due to close in around lunch time so a few of us headed to Spellack, I tried to lead Double Berth but could not get the crux and had to be lowered off. The top was easy accessible so we dropped a rope down and topped roped it. I then led Fianl FU and got to the top.
The second weekend was in Glendalough. The plan was to stay in the Hut, however the improvement works had already commenced which meant we could not stay; the weekend turn into two single day trips. I could only make the Saturday but the climbing was fantastic. I seconded two routes Sarcophagus and Quartz Gully, two classic apparently. The climbs were challenging even as the second but I enjoyed the day. To descend an abseil rope was set up and at approx 80 metres that was an enjoyable experience.
All in all I very much enjoyed the New Members Programme and got what I wanted and a hell of a lot more out of it. Not only have I increased my circle of climbing friends but feel like I am part of a climbing community now. I would like to say a big thank you to Jon Smith, Training Officer, for all the effort he put into organising the programme and special thanks to all the existing members who generously gave up there time to help the new members; too numerous to mention but you know who you are. I look forward to the rest of the summer climbing with IMC in Dalkey and further afield and hope that I can give something back next year to the new members that join the club.