Since Kirsty’s move to Munich I’ve become an Easyjet regular and this Friday saw another early exit from work to catch my plane. Which was delayed. Obviously. Once aboard things seemed to start running a little more smoothly and I arrived at Kirsty’s new swanky flat in Hohezollernplatz before the new day dawned.
After breakfast on Saturday we headed down to Viktualienmarkt to catch the end of the beer festival. A load of Munich breweries head down to show off their horses and give out free beer, not a bad start to the day.
Anyway, this is supposed to be a blog about climbing so back to the subject at hand. Sunday we headed to the Klettern & Boulderzentrum to get ourselves a little chalky in the sun. The place is huge with some pretty daunting lead walls but we just stuck to some bouldering and traversing before chilling out on their sun deck with some food and apfelsaftchorle. Unfortunately that called an end to the weekend and next thing I knew I was back at the airport, crowding round some strangers ipad trying to watch the first half of the England vs Italy game before boarding the plane.
So you may be thinking that this weekend seems a little light on climbing to deserve a post, but it doesn’t end there. I also had Monday off as Dan and I were booked onto a climbing course at the castle “The road to the Nose” - learning to aid climb with Andy Kirkpatrick. For those non-climbers reading this, Andy is famous for doing big-wall climbing in some of the harshest places on earth, often solo, and has written a couple of amazing books (psychovertical and cold wars) describing his adventures which are a fantastic read whether you climb or not.
The day started off in true British style with a cup of tea and got better and better as it progressed. We were taken through a couple of styles of aid climbing which essentially involves using slings known as daisy chains and hanging ladders callled aiders to progress up the rock clipping into pieces of gear as you go. It all sounds easy right? It’s all well and good on an indoor wall but when the gear you’re clipping on is something like this it’s a little more sphincter clenching!
Andy gives us a “how not to do it” demo
After some practise aiding we learnt how to jumar a fixed line. Dan got so involved in jumaring he decided to head butt his jumar and definitely came off worst!
Once we had jumaring sorted we finished up by moving on to setting up belays and hauling (tiring work!). We finished up about 6pm then headed back to the cafe for a recovery tea and a chin wag where Andy regaled us with even more of his hilarious stories and gave us loads of sounds climbing advice.
“Please sir, can I have a photo?” - me being reduced to a giggling 12 year old!
For those who are wondering, “The road to the Nose” refers to possibly the most famous climb on earth, the Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite. When asking what Andy would recommend as a first El Capitan route he went for Zodiac over the Nose. It’s shorter at 16 pitches though the aid is harder and has the added benefit of not luring the crowds quite as much. Next question after that was “what next?”, what should we be doing if we wanted to climb El Capitan? In true Andy style the answer was simply, “go climb it”. As with so many things in life the hardest thing is deciding to do it. Guide book ordered today, now just need to find somewhere to practise aid climbing before I commit to a date!