Becoming a competent second

Long-standing Club member and principal of Contour Outdoor, Bob Thomas MBE AMI kindly offered his service to run a recent training weekend for ten newly joined Club members on becoming competent seconds.

Being a competent second is a vital element of safety in rock climbing, where the life of the climber on the ‘sharp end of the rope’ is literally in the hands of their climbing partner.

The aim of the Contour Outdoor course was to equip trainees, in a safe and enjoyable manner, with the skills and knowledge to be able to act as a competent second to a rock-climbing leader.

Ably assisted by Sophie Ashby, Lee James and John Jones, Bob took ten trainees with varying levels of sport and ‘trad’ (traditional) climbing experience through the essentials of safety at the anchor. Best practice set ups and techniques for belaying, lowering, retrieving placed gear, and controlling abseils were demonstrated and practiced.

Despite a weather forecast that was pants in parts, the Elan Valley venue – the rock crag named Craig Cnwch overlooking the Caban Coch reservoir – proved perfect for competent second training.

Trainees came away with new-found knowledge they can take on their next adventures in the mountains and at the crags.

Despite the campsite at Elan Oaks being Bank Holiday weekend busy, a lovely evening was spent sharing food, games, and warm clothing!