Rock Climbing and Gorge Walking. Just Your Average Team Bonding.

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Last week we had a regional meeting with all our UK employees. Like EVERYONE’s regional meetings, it included workshops, a big old slap-up dinner, and then some team building activities. The evening activities included a magician who completely blew my mind, and a photo booth where I spent many a few hours:

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I am sporting some lovely gold-star sunnies, and my buddy wears that glitter cowboy hat just right, don’t you think?

But I have to say, our UK manager outdid himself with our team building activities. Last Thursday, our entire UK operations had a day of…. rock climbing and gorge walking!

 

I have never done either: I’ve done indoor rock climbing before, where you have chalk and nice plastic pieces to hold, where the worst that will happen is your nails will split from all the over-chalking. I’ve never done it outside, where there are no plastic pieces to hold, and where splitting nails is only one of many concerns.

 

Outdoor rock climbing is a different beast, and concerns that day included ‘my colleagues are responsible for my support ropes, and they’re all rather hungover’, and ‘if I make a wrong move here, I’m going to fall to the ground. Which is made of rock’.

 

So. We split up into two groups, and I was in rock climbing first. As you’d expect, the weather in Wales in late October was drizzly and grey, but that didn’t dampen our moods! We were ecstatic to be outside on a Thursday – a Thursday for crying out loud! – and we weren’t going to let a little rain get in the way of climbing up a mountain amidst a torrent of annoying humorous banter.

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As a child, climbing trees was my all-time favourite, and I was looking forward to this. But as I reached the half way point, I looked down and felt very nervous: if I slipped, and if my colleagues stuffed up and dropped the rope, there was nothing for me to grab onto quickly to save myself. I’m not scared of heights, but that was a little disconcerting.

 

However, my team didn’t let me down, and I soon reached the top and back in no time. Actually, it seems I was quite the speedy climber, and when we later held races, I am proud to say that I won mine. That might have been because some of my colleagues amused themselves by twerking on the rock face, because it was the perfect angle for such frivolities.

We also did abseiling, where we literally walked off the side of a cliff, and down. That wasn’t as much fun as the rock climbing, because for me the fun has always been trying to get as high as you can as fast as you can.

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Here is our instructor Will, who was much bemused at the amount of singing that went on in our group.

After lunch, it was our turn to go gorge walking. During lunch, everyone who had done gorge walking first wore a dazed expression, and said things like ‘yeah, no, it was fun, but…. it was cold….it was very cold….’. When we started, I understood what they meant: you are literally walking up a river, climbing over rocks, walking through waterfalls, and jumping off cliffs into freezing cold water.

 

Sadly, my camera didn't come on the gorge walk. So these pics are from the website.

Sadly, my camera didn’t come on the gorge walk. So these pics are from the website.

More than once, when I stepped from the rocks into the water (which was sometimes above my head), I felt like Rose in Titanic when she gets that axe to free Jack. I summoned her strength and determination, and made it through with dignity, although every time we had to jump from a cliff into the water, I couldn’t help but give an almighty shriek.

I looked just as glamorous as this during my gorge walk. I think my Edwardian dress did the trick.

I looked just as glamorous as this during my gorge walk. I think my Edwardian dress did the trick.

It. Was. Amazing. That was my favourite activity of the day – it was slippery, cold, challenging and exhilarating. And the scenery was gorgeous. The water was crystal clear, and the water alternated from being a river to being rapids with rocks, or waterfalls down mini-cliffs (I mean, they weren’t 18-feet or anything). All the while, we were framed by black, slender, spidery tree trunks and golden Autumn leaves.

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The next day, more than a few of us had sore muscles: it turns out rock climbing and gorge walking is a great workout for your adductors and core! That evening, after our group disbanded as the conference was over, I went back to my hotel room and had a Pizza Express takeaway pizza. And I ate the lot.

 

Ellie B

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