ADRENALIN / On the rocks: On the face of it, rock-climbing looks like good character-building fun. Until you start the climb, warns Dolly Dhingra

Despite having lost three friends in climbing accidents, Paul Clark tries to spend as many weekends and holidays in the mountains as he possibly can. When asked why he still continues climbing, he replies, 'Climbing is not homogeneous - each climb has different degrees of difficulty. You wouldn't expect a friend of Ayrton Senna to give up driving to work because he died in a racing accident. I only concern myself with the easier climbs'. I consoled myself with these words as I apprehensively made my way to Betws-y-coed in North Wales to find out the reason for his obsession.

Walking to our destination amid spectacular scenery in the Idwal quarry, I could see coloured dots moving on the mountains. Focusing my eyes, I realised that they were climbers. Just as I was wondering what possessed people to risk their lives like this, I turned a corner to find about 30 men and women attempting the climbs known as Faith, Hope and Charity. Meanwhile, families were sitting around with flasks and sandwiches, watching their friends conquer nature. The climb that we would be doing was so ordinary that it was actually called Ordinary.

After much harnessing and fiddling around with vast quantities of ironmongery, the basics of climbing were explained to me. Clark was to be attached to one end of a rope which would be fed through my hands and a belay device around my waist. By pulling the rope back, I could prevent him from falling.

As he began the ascent, the pile of rope by my side began to diminish. Every so often Clark would secure himself to the mountain, putting the rope through various runners (if a climber falls, he drops twice the distance of the last runner). The runners determined the path I would climb as it was my job to retrieve them. With only a few yards of rope left, Paul shouted from above that a belay had been set up and that he was secure. I could now make my way. To complete the climb, the sequence had to be repeated four times, which took over three hours.

Looking at the vertical rock- face in front of me, I wondered how on earth I was going to manage this first stage let alone the others. Once a climb has been started it is best to complete it, unless you are prepared to abseil down, which not only wastes equipment but also adds further dangers. Leisure by its very nature should be easy-going. I decided that rock-climbing was far too serious to be regarded as a leisure activity - even before I had begun.

In order to complete a single step, the rock-face has to be searched for cracks and bumps on and from which you pull, push, balance and move. There were times when all hope was lost and I was convinced that I would not be able to make the next manoeuvre. Frantically searching, on the verge of tears, I would find a crack that my hand had missed the first 10 times. Paul told me that these cracks were named 'Thank God cracks'. I soon understood why.

To climb properly involves good balance, twisting one's limbs in unimaginable ways and using parts that even Heineken cannot reach. You learn how remarkable the body is, what its limits are, what it is capable of. It requires huge amounts of confidence, faith, a certain degree of luck (you never know when a rock may drop from above) and a strong belief in the old adage, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger'.

For courses and club information contact British Mountaineering Council, Crawford House, Precinct Centre, Booth Street, East Manchester M13 9RZ

(information: 061-273 5835)

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created