My first experience of traditional climbing (the activity in which you climb a rock face placing your own protection in the rock as you climb) was with my old friend Johannes Felter at Lime Kilns about 3-4 years ago! I remember climbing "Humbug" VS lead and traversing the whole of the big boulder, and thats about it. Yesterday, my good mate Charlie "Mr one armer but can only climb 6b+" Mackie took me once again to experience trad climbing at Lime Kilns. After work (5ish), Charlie, Pocket Sarah (Sarah Kelly) and Shawn (can't remember his second name) headed off from ratho to experience some awesome local climbing!
After reaching Lime Kilns, Charlie gave me a quick briefing on gear and what I'm to do once at the top, and that was it, I headed up on my second ever trad lead "DTs" VS 4c. It made for interesting climbing with quite a cool top out, I was a bit scared when all the final holds seemed to be shaking whenever any pressure was put on them... oh well, just get on with it aye?
After Charlie seconded, we moved on round the corner to try "Dead Ringer" E1 5b! This was a bit trickier. The climb set up the start of a corner, moving out left you hit some cracks and then from there you move into the crux. The crux is on small crimps that would be bad on a hard boulder problem, the only difference is you have big ledges for your feet. The final challenge of this climb is to do 3 pull ups on the iron ring at the top of the wall... hahahaha, it didn't feel too safe but it held... thank god!
The next route was something a little trickier... "Elgins Crack" E2 5c. Charlie told me that this route was a bit trickier than the others and more difficult to place gear on. He also exclaimed that certain Ratho colleagues and friends of mine were projecting this and still hadn't managed to climb it so far, this made me quite apprehensive as these guys where no punters when it came to trad and where especially handy on sport. Knowing this made me feel that perhaps my strength and fitness levels from sport may not help so much on this route. Anyway, I headed up the start, placing some early gear in the first crack made me feel a lot more confident as I continued up into the main face. Not realising, I continued climbing without placing any gear and before I knew it I was well above my last piece! Placing some gear quickly, I headed on up and finished the route without much difficulty...
The final challenge of the day was to be the well known 3 star classic of Lime Kilns, "Velvet Glove" E4 6a!!! On this route I felt very much that my fitness helped me loads! As the route was steeper than the rest, the holds where bigger and it required more weight on your arms, you got pumped a lot quicker hanging around, especially when your placing gear... I wasn't so good at this which meant I spent a lot of time faffing around... I laid back up a crack on the left hand side and got some good pieces in before the crux. The crux was just a rather large span to a good crimp , to hold myself in I got a heel hook on a good flat edge under the small roof and pulled up to a new crack! In this crack I got a really good hand jam and could shake out easily enough, reducing the pump in my arms... Moving on up I pulled over the final lip and topped out!
Trad has never been something that interested me to be honest. From this experience, I can definitely see myself doing more of it in the future, but truthfully, I don't think I'll be pushing it too hard, purely of my ambitions in sport! If I get injured then I'm off sport for a long time and thats why I'm going to use easy trad as a good rest day activity and keeping motivation up for hard sport for when I peak in my training! I won't be out pushing the limits of my Trad anyway, maybe just as a relaxing fun day at the crag with my friends...