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Moon Blog / Old website blog / Katherine Schirrmacher - Learning to Climb

Katherine Schirrmacher - Learning to Climb

Well I finally decided to put fingers to keyboard and write something for this blog.  Here I am on my ‘comeback’ to climbing having had my baby Vanessa some 11 months ago.  When is the right time to write something?  My recent ascents are most pitiful on any kind of ‘scale’ but for me personally I am really happy with my progress.

First thing to say is just how unbelievably hard it was getting my body back to something that was fundamentally able to climb, let alone perform.  I was really surprised, but that was probably due to my complete naivety when it came to anything to do with pregnancy or birth.  So post birth it all came as quite a shock.  I soon realised there was no point whatsoever starting till the new year when Vanessa was 4 months old.

Above: Katherine and Vanessa when she was 6 months on thier holiday to France.

But since then it has been a steady improvement.  This year I’m in no rush and I simply make sure I get climbing as much as possible, wherever that may be.   The great advantage is that my muscles had the most wonderful rest (6 months of becoming a couch potato – I have never done this before!!) and my return to climbing is combined with all the knowledge you don’t have when you’re a beginner.

I really did become a beginner again, at the start having to redpoint 6bs, re-learn a pull up and build up my head again in order to be prepared to fall off.  And that’s barely a quarter of what I still need to work on.

But I am more than surprised at how my body is responding to effectively a very limited weekly climbing schedule.  I try to climb 4 times a week and I also do pilates.  One day a week I get a full day out climbing at the crag.  The other 3 involve me managing as best I can with Vanessa in tow.  Fortunately she is a very good sleeper and I can squeeze in sessions that last about 1 or 2 hours.  It seems to all be about timing and organisation.  I wheel her to my climbing destination, pray for some sleep and get going!!  My options are Broomgrove Road (a vertical brick wall attached to a uni hall of residence with a very fingery traverse), Rubicon (a limestone crag with a long pumpy traverse) and the Climbing Works.

Above: Katherine’s husband, Nic Sellars, taking his turn looking after the baby at The Foundry, Sheffield.

And all this seems to mean that when I do get my weekly day out, my climbing is ok!  The first part of the year I exclusively trad climbed –low impact on the body and lots of fun.  Since then I’ve built up to coping with Peak limestone sport.  I’ve led a couple of E3s, one E4, onsighted a fair number of 7as, flashed 2 7a+s and redpointed some more.  Basically I’m ready to go a bit harder.  But all in all there just isn’t any rush.

My motivation is sky high.  I feel like I’m climbing with a new energy.  I appreciate my climbing time more than before.  It’s  a haven of time just for me.  I seem less bothered with grades and more with the number of routes I can fit in when I do go climbing.  I’m aware that this weekly improvement is the only time in my life this is probably ever going to happen so I need to enjoy it while it lasts!  We have trips planned this year to Lundy and Colorado.  I can’t wait!

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