Exercise Dragon Climb

Exercise Dragon Climb was a climbing expedition held in the quarries around Lancashire for troops from 3 Regt AAC. The aim was to complete their rock climbing single pitch foundation (RSF) Course and further develop their climbing skills and knowledge. This course will allow members of the climbing club to gain the first rung on the ladder to becoming an instructor.

During the five days everyone learnt and became proficient in the skills required to become a competent second, being able to belay from the top and bottom of a cliff and keep their climbing partner as safe as possible. Most people then progressed onto lead climbing. This is where the climber has no ropes above them and has to not only scale the wall but place their own protection in the form of wedge shaped bits of metal slide into cracks in the rock. Doing this focuses the mind and tests your technical skill and mental strength to the limit as the potential and the severity of the fall the climber could take is greatly increased. In this form of climbing you need to be able to keep calm, control your fears and keep moving while hanging onto a rock face by your fingertips placing your faith in your own ability and a small piece of metal wedged into a crack.

Other things we covered during the week were; bouldering, a form of climbing where no technical equipment is required, correct ways of setting up anchors, different methods of abseiling, understanding guide books and navigating to the crags and rope care. Throughout the week we visited a variation of challenging  locations and rock types from short and technical quarried grit with some very precarious top outs, to imposing sharp and steep limestone crags. Nursing some tired bodies and sore fingers after a very hard week of climbing, and with the weather closing in, we bailed out into the indoor wall for a hard few hours of technical bouldering before the drive back.

The trip was challenging yet enjoyable. Everyone was tested and placed outside their comfort zone. A memorable event was seeing Sgt Jay Gould hanging on his gear below the crux move of a climb called Mohammed the Medieval Melancholic, a VS 5a at Dedham Quarry, puffing on his E-Cig whilst having a few choice words with himself to find the courage to make a delicate move at full stretch to find hidden hand holds that he hoped were there.

Overall Exercise Dragon Climb was an excellent week and everyone that attended was successful in completing the course and will now hopefully progress onto become a rock climbing instructor in the future.

LCpl Eva Harper

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