Harz – Okertal

Finally, the weekend of the trad climbing course was there. We went to the camping place right up the Okertal by bike on Friday. It was an ok trip, only a few showers of rain and hail but we managed to get there and set up the tent without any problems.

Most of the group arrived quite late, only one guy was there before the others, so we had time to chat and get acquainted. When the others eventually came, we made our introductions and got the details of the schedule for the following days, before we went to sleep.

The temperatures dropped quite a bit during the night and Rikita learned that her sleeping bag wasn’t up to the challenge the hard way – we swapped on the following night, and I could only agree with her judgement there, it was definitely not warm enough for those weather conditions. However, we were lucky enough to find excellent weather and climbing conditions for both Saturday and Sunday during daytime.

On Saturday we got introduced to all the different pieces of equipment, friends, nuts, tri cams, hexentrics and whatnot.

Initially it was quite frustrating to place the gear, only to find out that we didn’t do it right. However, in the afternoon we did some technical climbing with the gear we placed and there we could feel some progress, as all but one of the pieces we had placed was holding to carry our body weight. We climbed a few easy routes in toperope afterwards.

Our first taste of technical climbing, to get a feel for how good the gear really holds…

On Sunday we went to the „Marienwand“ in the Okertal. While we were doing some more exercises, our coach Daniel brought up some ropes and we were supposed to get up those routes later and place some additional gear whilst still having the safety of the toprope. In the end we did one easy route on the lead, but again used mostly the gear Daniel had brought up.

Rikita climbing at the Marienwand

Nevertheless it was a very interesting and nice weekend and I feel we learned a lot – now it is just a question of applying those skills in the future and maybe trying to place additional gear on sport routes that aren’t sufficiently secured as well as practicing on easy trad routes where there isn’t any realy danger if any of our gear won’t hold until we feel that we are really able to trust what we place there. We both enjoyed climbing in real rock and although the routes we did were quite easy, climbing one for instance that was close to 30 meters was quite exhilarating.

We agreed to inform other participants of the course when we will venture out to real rock in the future, so that others can join in – for one thing became very obvious, we don’t really have enough gear for long routes and looking at our slim budget currently, that isn’t going to change any time soon.

Altogether a great experience with many nice people and we got a lot out of it. I could add the first route to my trad table, but since I didn’t place all gear myself though climbing on the lead, I will desist. But I am pretty sure there will be the first entry there very soon…

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