Florida, Marriage, Babies

A lot has happened since we went on that camper trip back in August last year.

  • Taz cycled from London to Paris
  • We went on holiday to Florida
  • We got pregnant (I have a separate blog for the baby www.ablogforourbaby.wordpress.com)
  • We got married

Blogs about London to Paris (if I can get Taz to knuckle down and write one), Florida and getting married are still to come, but here’s the one about our baby! This blog post will probably be very very boring to people that don’t climb. DSC08257 I reached a point where a baby came up all the time in conversation with Taz. It sounds terrible to some people, but climbing was one of the main reasons I kind of dreaded ever having a baby, that and limited/awkward travel. Not just because it’s a sport I like but because it’s my lifestyle. Such a short break sets you back at least twice as long as you’ve had off, how long would a baby set me back? Would we be able to have random adventurous climbing holidays the way we do now? And what if something went wrong and I never went back? But I got over it with positivity. Lots of people carry on, lots go back and if worst comes to it, what’s more important in the grand scheme of things? I found my peace with having a baby through blogs about pregnant climbers and parent climbers and on youtube. And my mum did say having a baby was a whole new adventure!

Cimbing this autumn in Wales helping a friend with his photography project.

Climbing this autumn in Wales helping a friend with his photography project.

One of the first blogs I found was this: Crush Crux. This is where I learned about the first harness designed for pregnant people – The Mountain Mama. The woman who wrote it, Cate has the philosophy that “at the end of nine months, I will ask my body to do one of the most physically demanding actions I will ever ask it to do. So why would I spend the months leading up to that moment letting my fitness and strength decline?” I was also reassured to read that she shrugged off negativity about climbing pregnant and that there was a specific harness that would allow me to carry on safely and comfortably. If MadRock make maternity harnesses, climbing with a bump must be ok and becoming more common. I had visions of me hiding my bump and only climbing when it was really quiet, to avoid people voicing their opinions at me – our climbing hall is full of observing parents who sit watching while their children have lessons. I was worried about an audience of disproving looks. But they don’t climb, they don’t know about the good it does for your mind and body and how addictive it is. I dug a little bit deeper and found this on youtube: a professional climber call Carrie Cooper, who climbed right past her due date. Her relaxed attitude is cool. She has climbed for 10 years and didn’t intend on stopping unless her body said so because she loves everything about it so much. This cemented the idea that I’d be ok. As if this wasn’t inspirational enough, I saw another video shortly after of the same lady going on a climbing trip with another mum. Then I saw a very pregnant climber at my local wall, the only one I’ve ever seen climbing with a bump in the flesh. I took it as a sign. Normal people can do it too. Her husband had her on a tight top rope and she breezed the wall, clearly doing what she has always done. 10736005_10152880498103760_791500471_n A couple of days after getting back from Florida I went climbing. I was feeling lazy. After 2 full weeks off and only doing a couple of sessions prior to this with all the wedding planning getting in the way, motivation was low. So when I struggled to get up the wall and was easily tired I put it down to this. In the following weeks pure exhaustion set in, a constant head ache plagued me and I was finding getting through my working day with my eyes open really hard. Then I found out I was 4 weeks pregnant.

I was 9 weeks pregnant at my hen do:

Maybe the only time you’ll see Taz in a dress:


I was also really ill from the day after my hen party and this stayed all over Christmas: a flu bug and then continual raging morning sickness to go with it. I was in bed for 5 days solid, completely out of it. The thought of tea and coffee made me feel sick. I don’t know if it was the baby or the cut down from 10 brews a day to none that gave me the first migraines of my life. I have a separate baby blog.

We got married on 29th December, 10 weeks into growing a baby. Our wedding day was beautiful and I don’t think our ceremony could have been any more special. When we get our professional photo’s back, I’ll post a couple. 10906563_10153058270628760_4553543143758460738_n 10952362_10153101469353760_2232238196122654672_n We went away to Scotland for a mini break with the dogs where all I did was blissfully sleep the entire day. 10885377_10152443955326511_4440971759105877937_n I ordered the Mountain Mama from the USA to prepare for my climbing future. For those wondering how much it costs to get it to England, basically it was $120 to buy $20 to post and £25 in taxes at the UK side to pick it up, so it was a £120 investment by the time I got hold of it and it took just over 3 weeks to arrive. A tip from crushcrux though: ask your local wall if they’ll stock a MountainMama that you can rent, if you don’t want one of your own. 10950912_10153092228908760_1276876220_n I had to tell the children’s parents that I look after that I’d be having a year off from 17th July which is the start of the summer holidays. I plan to work every single day. I’m self employed, so if I’m off I’ve got to pay for the cover or organise refunds if I’m off and that’s just not practical when you’ve just paid for a wedding, as reasonably prices as it was. I also have my maternity to save for – you don’t get much being self employed but it’s nice that you can have some time off like most people. The MountainMama harness arrived so I will try this out – my ordinary harness still fits but for catching falls it’s better that it isn’t my waist taking the strain. I am hoping I’m still able to use this in Spring and early Summer when we go camping and and have the opportunity to climb outdoors. 10937435_10153103815143760_1636600530_n I’ll I’ll update the blog soon 🙂 Jemma x

A climbers life: Wales, England and France

We got home from our last big trip 15 months ago! Time flies.

But what’s weird is that we’ve just been getting on with life without me pecking Taz’s head to commit to more travel dreams. But it’s slowly creeping back now, phew. I feel as though another trip is in order but it will be at least a year away. Being attached to our home comforts and having to jack in all your financial security has held us back a bit firmer this time. There’s also an amazing Thai takeaway 5 minutes from our house so when I crave Thai food (this happens a LOT) I am satisfied immediately and I’m not drawn to flight websites as much.The lady that owns the place knows us well and just reminds me of what we loved about Thailand, we go 2 or 3 times a week sometimes. It’s really good and handy after a climb or swim when it’s late and you can’t be arsed cooking and you have the willpower to drive past the chippy. Chicken noodle soup is my ultimate favourite.


Back in March we popped in to visit an old friend we met back in 2009 when we were climbing in Thailand. Johan is French, he lives in Grenoble and climbs 8a! He lives with his room mate Julian who is the man behind some of the best climbing films ever made. His company is Baraka Flims. We were in the presence of an idol. You don’t have to love climbing to be impressed by their creations. We spent the week in France, 2 nights with Johan where we did some trekking and indoor climbing (rain!) before driving to Ceuze and Sisteron to climb and stay in a rented farmhouse for 4  days. The walk in to Ceuze took us about 3 hours because we got lost and it was so steep my knees hurt for weeks afterwards. It was worth it just to see a few really famous climbs, like Biographie. Sisteron had a roadside crag, no snow, and was nice and warm. Big thumbs up! We squeezed in a quick drive (and speeding fine) to Marseilles for a day on the beach. Then back up to Johan’s to say bye and have a crazy night in a random drum and bass place where everyone was out in hoodies and trainers. I was surprised by how much I liked the place and the music. We were lucky with the weather, at sea level it reached about 15-20 degrees most days with virtually no rain so perfect for climbing, other than in Grenoble where it was none stop. We were invited to tag along to the Petzl rock trip happening later this year in Eastern Europe where Julian will be filming and as amazing as it sounds, realistically work won’t allow that to happen.

DSC07558 DSC07600 DSC07643 DSC07316 DSC07359 DSC07391 DSC07300 DSC07202 DSC07283 DSC07334 DSC06965 DSC07043

We went to a random camping pod last month for a night away in York, and climbed at Harrogate climbing center on the way home. It was raining for a change. The pod was ace and is great to escape to for some peace and quiet. It’s adults only. Bliss.


We went to Sheffield to watch CWIF again. We did one route at horseshoe quarry where we were rained off and it was so windy, so we spent a couple of hours in Awesome walls instead to finish off. We returned to Sheffield awesome walls a few weeks later to see off Jason and Sarah who are now in China and will be away travelling for a year. They have a blog and it’s awesome. They met our friends from our local wall, John and Sarah whilst in the Rusty Bolt Bar in Yangshuo, they are away for 2 years going to similar places I think, but had never actually met before. Small world.


But anyway we’ve been climbing… a lot! We’ve dabbled at Denham quarry and I led my first trad route “Mohammed the Morbid Mogul” a Severe 4a route. We climbed at Anglezarke and I lead “Metamorphosis”, a VS 4c which I loved and a few others that were less memorable.


We’ve been sport climbing in North Wales again. Our mate Chris came with us this time. His first taste of real rock. He did good! It was really sunny. We did a couple of routes at Penmaen Head first and then headed round to Llandullas. We must be slightly better than last year because I remember crapping myself on a 6b called “White Man’s Burden” and couldn’t climb it so I was chuffed to get it this year. Although inside I’m sort of breaking barriers with my climbing indoors and I’m able to on-sight pretty much anything below a 6c and redpoint up to 7a now, it’s nice to see this might be helping me grow bigger balls for outside. We chilled at the top of Llandullas cave with some ciders afterwards and then stopped at the chippy on the way back to the A55 and sat outside. It was a really nice day out, I enjoyed everything about it.


Llanddulas Cave @ Forgotten Sun Area. The climb is “The Man With The India-Rubber Head” 15m 6a *


Penmaenrhos Wall at Penmaen Head. The climb is "Helyg Crack" 12m 6a *

Penmaenrhos Wall at Penmaen Head. The climb is “Helyg Crack” 12m 6a *



Our mate Chris on Penmaenrhos Wall at Penmaen Head. The climb is “Red Handed” 12m 6a

We have had the opportunity to take my cousins Becky and Ben climbing outdoors too which was nice. We got a nice night after work at Anglezarke and set up a couple of top ropes. They climb on a Monday night with me indoors and they seem to be loving it as much as me.


Ben on “Metamorphosis” at Anglezarke, a VS 4C route


Becky on “Metamorphosis” at Anglezarke, a VS 4C route


This bank holiday just gone we went down to Tremadog to camp with Joel and Mike who we met briefly at John and Sarah’s leaving do a few months back (now in China). I built my first belay station from just nuts (not a bolt in sight!!), eek! And I led my first multi-pitch climb which was also trad. Routes completed include Merlin (Hvs 5a), One step in the clouds Vs 4c), Christmas curry (Hs 4b) and Poor man’s putrid (S). The camp site belongs to Eric Jones who’s now an OAP but in his time he soloed the Eigre and was (and still is, I believe) a base jumping enthusiast. What a legend! He was hanging around the cafe at breakfast so I said hello, and he said he liked my bike 🙂


The route is “Poor Man’s Peuterey” a Servere 55 meter route which we did in 3 pitches, Taz led the first, I did the traverse and Taz led the last, pictured here on the last leg.

1505547_10151971338076511_7294094278829508956_n (1)

10167986_10151971237511511_4418453301695443088_n 10171165_10152444136123760_1685395770222399899_n

We discovered LLanberis slate too whilst driving home from Tremadog. A spectacular sight. We got a few routes done. Started with a 4+ called “Titan”. A low grade, yes but this was our first time on slate and I didn’t want to jump straight into the 6’s like a blind maniac. The 4+ was called Titan in the Never Never Land area, pretty straight forward! We did the 6a+ next to this next, called “Zeus”. It had one slightly tougher move that felt a tiny bit exposed but more because there was that much wind blasting down the wall you felt you were going to get blow off it. Next we headed away from the wind and down to California, the Tambourine Man Area where we had a brew and a pot of porridge before climbing “We No Speak Americano”, a sweet 6a with a daring crux that involved a thigh grip for me around a block, shuffling up to reach a great ledge. It was a cool day. I couldn’t believe our surroundings, so beautiful. Climbing on slate is a brand new experience for us and we liked it. The sharp edges, cracks and clean cut ledges were amazing to see and have a go on. It got late in the day, we had the bank holiday traffic to contend with so headed home via McDonalds at around 6pm.


Jemma belaying Joel on “We No Speak Americano”


With all this adventure and general enjoyment of being in England and mini trips at the moment it’s easy to get comfy. And I’m enjoying life here at the moment, and other than the stress of looking after other people’s babies, I feel content, eek. If we don’t set a future travelling plan of action into stone just yet, I’m 30 the year after next so I’m hopeful that as a last resort a mid life crisis will happen and will spur me on and even more amazing things will happen! The most important thing is that we love what we’re doing and we make happen whatever it is that we want to happen. And at the moment it seems a 3/4 week break each year will suffice and provide ample adventure.

Jemma x