Thought should be given to what to take on the road and how to get there.
The current adventure was to West Flank and Ravine, in the Northern Grampians
We took some food, warm clothes, our climbing gear and the car.
A cabin with basic facilities was booked.
Out in the bush, every sound tells a story. Nature’s stories provide comfort and guidance.
A city dweller exposed to constant pollution, I must take every opportunity I have to breath, enjoy the hike and imagine patterns in the rock. The city offers a mere tiring soundscape of machines and uninspiring manmade jungle – straight lines of roads, with buildings as square trees of steel, glass and concrete.
Having a friend to trust with my life on a rope in the most critical moments is essential.
Friends from many cultures and nations have graced this trip.
An Australian, Scottish, French, Mexican, Vietnamese, Iranian, German and an Israeli walk into a cabin could be a start of a joke. Laughing is also an essential safety measure. To look beyond stereotypes and use them to laugh and bond over a warm meal.
A burrito making affair unfolded on Sunday, directed by a real Mexican and made by an Australian and Iranian duo. The Curry effort on Saturday was mostly taken by the German, who also brought homemade bread with support from the Vietnamese. The Scottish made his famous oregano lentils, the French supplied some wine and cheese and the Israeli made the hummus.
The Scot also kept the fire going and saved my life.
There is a point in attempting to lead a bolted climbing route, often between the second and third clip, at the start of each climb, where the heart pumps the hardest and assessment of the risk involved in taking the next step is important.
Falling from this height involves risking hitting the ground. The trusted friend needs to know how to belay and the slack in the system must not exceed the distance to the ground. After the third clip, falls are much safer, as there is more of margin for error and less risk of hitting the ground.
It is humbling to think that on an average climbing trip my life has been saved multiple times by my friends. In particular when I was stuck on a harder climb, between the second and third clip, scrambling, unable to find the next hold and move to a safe clipping position, I started to shake and announced I’m giving up.
“I’ve got you”.
Said the Scottish accent from below.
I let go.
Jim had me. Hanging from my harness, less than two meters off the ground, I was happy to be alive, I was happy to be with Jim, but my climbing day was over. I sat on a rock in the sun for the rest of it and thought about why am I doing this.
Looking at the lush landscape, feeling the adrenaline flowing through my body and debriefing over dinner around the fire gave me enough reasons to calm down and carry on the next day.
Knowing your tech, understanding how the equipment works or at the very least having a friend who does, is also an essential safety measure. Finally, drink plenty of water. In winter too.
“Leave nothing but footsteps, take nothing but photos”
Idealistic quotes are inspiring but really difficult to practice.
We all have an impact. Just by breathing and being, we convert oxygen into something else.
Our footsteps make an impact on the land we walk.
What, if anything, is reasonable to expect to accept from the generosity of mother nature?
Every effort was taken to respect the land, leave no rubbish behind and use minimal resources to enjoy the freedom to climb a rock.
There is an ongoing debate on the impact of recreational activities on the environment and in particular on aboriginal sites of cultural significance. Like tourism and hiking, climbing has guidelines and rules, managed to various degrees of success by authorities.
Banning things is one way of solving a problem. However, it is equivalent of sweeping the issue under the carpet. In the case of climbing, there is much more work to be done to nurture this old and exhilarating activity.
Nothing we take stays with us. Everything we use makes us responsible.