Rock climbing venture scaling new heights in Sligo
Readers of the Sligo Champion may remember we recently featured details of a new addition to the adventure sports available in the county, Carraig Climbing, run by outdoor enthusiast Conall Ó Fiannachta.
This week, work experience reporter Becky Hammill went out with Conall to have a go at scaling the heights of some of the rocks of Sligo. Becky outlines: "I'm not a novice climber, in fact I have several years of indoor bouldering (climbing 15-18 feet up without ropes but with a crash matt) and the occasional outdoor session- when the weather is good enough- under my belt. So when I heard about Carraig Climbing, I was pretty keen to give it a go.
"Conall takes groups of up to six people out to pre-prepared sites for either half day or full day rope climbing sessions, with the location dependent on the level of climbing experience of the client. Those completely new to climbing needn't worry though, as there are plenty of places to climb that are suitable for beginners as well as those familiar with the sport.
"Carraig Climbing provide all the necessary equipment, from ropes and harnesses to helmets and specialist shoes, all included in the cost. Our leader has an impressive collection of outdoor activity and safety qualifications, and climbing with him left me in no doubt of his ability. After seven years of working in the adventure industry Conall decided to pursue his dreaming of setting up the rock climbing company. He completed a degree in Business, Recreation and Leisure at IT Sligo in 2015 as his first step.
"Also climbing with me were Steve Walsh, an experienced, if rusty, climber and new climbers Vincent Sweeney, Riain Shortt and Christian Monaghan.
"After equipping us with harnesses, helmets and shoes, Conall showed us some of the knots we'd be using on the ropes to help keep us safe, and encouraged us to have a go at tying them ourselves.
"A thorough equipment safely check later, and we were ready to climb! I have to say I was more than a little nervous to be the first in the group to attempt an ascent, but I was given plenty of confidence boosting shouts of "Well done Becky!" from the ground, and lots of time to get to the top without feeling rushed.
"We were all encouraged to climb without too much guidance in where to put our feet, but this all adds to the authentic rock climbing experience, and tips were given when needed.
"Conall has obviously spent a lot of time outdoor instructing, and is an expert at tailoring his advice to the personality and strengths of each individual climber. There were points where I felt like I couldn't climb any further and was ready to come down but he gently encouraged me to keep going, that I was nearly at the top and that the hardest part was already done.
"This patience and positivity really helped me to get the absolute most out of my climbs, and when he reminded me to turn around from the rock face and look at the magnificent view, well that was the icing on the cake! Carraig Climbing is a fine way to spend time in Sligo, whether you're an adventure seeker looking for your next thrill, or someone who just wants to try it out, and you'll come away feeling like you've conquered the world. You can find Carraig Climbing on Facebook and Twitter @carraigclimbing or at www.carraigclimbing.com.