Having completed her RCI assessment just after lockdown no. 1, Hati shares her tips for blowing away the cobwebs and getting back into the habit of consolidation.
Is this how hedgehogs feel come Spring? Do they groan with irritation at their 7am alarms and stumble round their nests in search of distractions, procrastinations, and anything other than what they’re supposed to be doing? Did they too spend hibernation watching videos, reading blogs and rigging group abseils down the stairs to keep their paws in? I like to think so…
After my RCI assessment was cancelled in March 2020, I hurriedly booked in for the summer. Then all of a sudden summer was upon us, I was dragging myself out of my nest, shouldering a much heavier backpack than I remembered and marching up to the crag with the lockdown lethargy weighing heavily upon me.
If you too have emerged from lockdown all fingers and thumbs, here’s my action plant for getting back into the swing of things ready for your RCI assessment. Why not give it a go?
Thanks to Youtube, Libby Peter’s Rock Climbing: Essential Skills and Techniques and the poor pointing on my exterior walls, I managed to practise some rigging in a low-pressure environment over the lockdown period (let’s call this stage one). Bannisters, doorknobs, patient family members… at this point, anyone or anything can be your anchor.
But I hadn’t had much feedback on my rigging and, patient though he may be, my partner does not make the most bombproof anchor. So stage two was to rig some bottom ropes with friends and critique each other’s handiwork. This exercise built my confidence and I came away from the session with some good ideas too. That said, it’s worth choosing your friends wisely. If you don’t happen to have fellow RCI aspirants in your phonebook you can always try UKC or Facebook groups to find people (listed below). Alternatively, you could call in the experts and schedule in an RCI refresher day to blow away the post-lockdown cobwebs.
Stage three was to get into the habit of rigging group abseils. It’s handy to have a patient climbing partner for this, but any unsuspecting
victim friend will do. For me the challenge was always to find an appropriate spot, but by regularly heading out with an abseil in mind I’ve got into the habit of looking out for good sites. Get your rigging in before you start climbing – it’s all too easy to get carried away with the climbing and put the abseil off for another day!
To start with, keep things simple and beg your partner to behave themselves as you work. As you progress, encourage them to adopt some more challenging behaviours, get stuck or have a few meltdowns to keep you on your toes.
In what we now refer to as the ‘new normal’, shadowing opportunities feel few and far between. Whilst some companies welcome shadowing, my stage four was to take non-climbing friends and family out climbing too. I’m usually around fellow climbers, so it was enlightening to get honest feedback from inexperienced climbers on my choice of crag and venue. Experiences that you wouldn’t blink at can seem frightening for others and your instructor manner makes a huge difference. This is also an opportunity to consider how you might safely manage various groups at the crag.
Remember, preparing for your RCI assessment is supposed to be enriching and fun. Enjoy it, and never be afraid to ask questions!
Feeling ready to take you assessment? Take the plunge and book it here.
A few places where you can link up with fellow aspirant RCIs/instructors to practise with:
Trainee Instructor Forum (Facebook) – some centres share their availability for shadowing for ML and RCI here.
The Women in Mountain Training Facebook Group
Beyond the Edge Ltd is based in Sheffield two hours by train from London and within easy travelling distance from Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and other Northern towns and cities.
We are one of the UKs most experienced providers of climbing, walking, scrambling, mountaineering and navigation training courses.
Most of our courses are run in the nearby Peak District National Park which has some of the finest climbing, bouldering, walking and hiking in the world.