Since I mostly failed to take any photos, here’a brief account of our baby’s first “climbing trip”.
We left Milton Keynes at 8 am, as planned. We were going to pick up a friend and her baby from Sheffield, but our car is a little too small for three adults and two baby seats, so we first walked down the path at Burbage North, and found a good spot to drop boulder mats, baby and gear. Richard went off to do the pick-up, and I waited. There was a group of climbers who seemed to be under instruction. They looked a bit rough, and I thought, “they look like prisoners on day release, haha”. I didn’t actually think they were, so I was a little bit horrified when I heard them talking about their “offender managers”, and how the admin works when you get out of prison. Still, they were actually perfectly nice, even if one of them didn’t look hugely happy about me feeding the baby.
It was already hot at 11 in the morning, and there wasn’t the slightest breeze, which is pretty unheard of for anywhere in the Peak District. Richard and Stef came back, with the second baby in tow, quite quickly, and we started off the first route after some lunch. I was terrible; could barely fight my way up a fairly straightforward Severe. Things got even worse on the climbing front when I tried a really nice looking vertical crack. I should have known it would be hard since Stef struggled a bit, but it was just so disappointing. A few years ago, I would have found that a great climb, full of interesting angles. Now it’s just there to mock my flabby arms, total lack of leg strength, and of course my self-fulfilling belief that I can’t climb any more. It doesn’t really help when you can hear your baby crying at the bottom of the crag. I feel stupid pursuing a hobby like climbing sometimes. I have no real opportunity to improve and it only keeps reminding me how much I have lost by having a baby. I thought I wouldn’t mind the physical decline that age and babies bring, but I do very much. I think I need to throw everything at physical fitness. Even naff exercise videos will make a difference. I can wear weights and walk with the Baby.
In between climbing, I went and sat on the boulder mat – which spent the day as a very expensive picnic rug – and fed Conrad. At one point, Stef’s baby starting crying while she was climbing, and I couldn’t really do much about it. An older man came over and held her, which was helpful. He did ask Stef’s permission. He seemed to be very taken with her. She’s rather delicate compared to our very own little fatso, whom he looked at with disinterest. So he was jiggling her on his knee, and pointing things out to her. One of the day-release group walked past. He happened to be mixed race, and happened to have taken his top off. So the older man is chatting away to the baby, and says,
“Look, there’s a gorilla”.
I studied my hands intently and played with my baby.
I only climbed three routes all day, led none, then went off to the boulder fields and completed a grand total of two moves. Still, it was worth doing if only to prove that it’s possible to take babies outside.