CLIMBING THE GREAT WALL OF DIGBY!

As the year was passing so quickly it was well past time that the GEF personnel dipped their toes into the “Adventure Training” pool.

The recent addition of Cpl Al Dixon to the section with his rock climbing experience and qualifications made a day of climbing a possibility. Al took up the challenge of organising the event and after a few quick phone calls soon had the transport, venue and equipment booked. All that left was an admin order and advertising and, like so many things in life, this proved to be a quick case of taking something that someone else had done previously and adapting it to suit our needs.

Although no Ben Nevis, the indoor climbing wall at RAF Digby was to be our first challenge and appeared to be the biggest incline in the area without a cathedral at the top. In total there were seven people who set off to test their nerves on the day with experience levels varying from self-appointed pro to absolute zero. The day began with a quick safety brief before being shown how to tie knots, the easiest way to climb and also belaying (the safety man who lowers the climber and prevents him from falling). Once the briefs were out of the way it was time to get down to business. Although we were all advised to climb with our legs it was soon apparent that everyone thought they knew better. After pretty much everyone’s first climb all our forearms were burning and we soon had to adapt. After everyone had reached the top on the “easy” wall we ploughed on to the more challenging areas with larger overhangs and less handgrips. As the session went on everyone improved with some hard lessons learnt. One such lesson was not to let an 8st SAC belay a 16st Sgt. When the Sgt decided to descend from the top of the wall the poor SAC that took his weight was propelled 10ft vertically quicker than a Typhoon doing a combat take off. With nobody hurt and only a little embarrassment this was by far the highlight of the day but unfortunately not caught on camera. When lunch time came, it was met with disappointment as the taster session had come to an end. It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning and comments such as “When can we do this again?” were uttered.

The gains from the event such as team building skills, communication and fitness were plain to see as the day unfolded. The boost to individual’s confidence as they overcame the obstacle and having succeeded in something new seemed to open up a new world of challenges. As mentioned a small event such as this is incredibly simple to organise and the benefits to the team and individual were outstanding. These facilities are there to be used and we’d advise everyone to get out there and give it a go; we certainly intend to! Ben Nevis beware, you’re on the hit list.

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