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My First Epic
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mrhardgrit


Oct 4, 2003, 8:53 AM
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Registered: Nov 28, 2001
Posts: 153

My First Epic
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I was sorting out some of my old rubbish and old photos today and came across an account of my first ever climbing epic that i had written about 6 years ago. I occurred during a climbing trip in India when my best friend and I had gone climbing in relatively unknown area with a guide.

This is part of what happened.......

In an attempt to move out of the baking heat if the midday sun, we hiked round to the area of most of the largest pillars. Climbing an enervating amount of steps up to a Hindu shrine we found ourselves standing under a 250ft bolted 5c climb. The first pitch easily climbed a slab to a large recess at 100ft. From there, Pradeep set off up the second pitch of three where he moved out of our sight due an obscuring overhang. He had previously informed us that the route swung to the right, passing just left of a pulsating bee’s nest, above which the second pitch ended.

Our guide continued to climb for quite some time and the rope passed through Tom’s ATC at an increasingly slow rate. We both had a severe case of no blood in the legs and were beginning to wonder what was going on.

“Tom.” I asked, “Why has he used up so much rope? I thought that this pitch was only about 100ft.”

“That’s a fair point. As a matter of fact he’s only got about another 5 metres of rope left.” I decided to find out what was going on.

“Prraaaddeeep! There’s no rope left!”

I heard a faint noise drift down from the heights. “I…doi…b…th…pitch…OK?” Tom and I looked at each other with equally worried looks on our faces, as the last of the rope disappeared upwards and came taut on his harness. Pradeep continued to tug ferociously on the other end of the rope while we shouted up to him that there was no more rope left. This saga carried on for another ten minutes while we started to question our guide’s climbing knowledge and experience.

Eventually we recognised a muffled “OK, Climb!” Tom gave me a “what the hell are we doing up here?” look and tentatively set off following the rope attached to his harness and leaving a path of rope behind him.
As things grew quiet and I could no longer hear Tom’s muttered curses, I settled down on the small ledge with my cheek resting against the warm rock, my eyes closed and imagining far off places.

I was rudely awakened by a hard tug on the rope. I quickly rubbed my eyes and painfully squeezed my sore feet into my shoes. Everything was going just fine…until I arrived puffing at the second bolt. Where was the quickdraw that was supposed to be attached to the bolt and in turn, why the hell wasn’t the rope attached to a non-existent quickdraw? My heart missed far too many beats as my eyes slowly scanned up the rock face following the rightward slanting rope. Every quickdraw had been removed from its respective bolt and the rope had a rather large arching bow-shape to it. Shit! What the hell was going on? By this stage I was getting pretty pissed off.

“TTTOOMMM! Where are the bloody quickdraws?” Typically he couldn’t hear a word I was saying and vice a versa.

The problem was not that there was a worrying amount of slack in the rope, but the fact that if I fell, which was a distinct possibility at this stage, I would end up swinging rightwards in a large 50-60ft pendulum. So what? I hear you say. Well, the rock face that we were presently on, leant towards the right and the area that I would end up in, after a fall and consequently swing would be an attractive hold-less overhanging face. This, I didn’t really fancy. Another more pressing fact was that in another 30ft, I would be level with that big bulging bee’s nest which I could see, was all too active for my liking. As you can imagine a fall would result in an unpleasant clash with the nest. I doubt that the bees would have given me a very friendly welcome.

I rested for a moment, wondering if this was the dreaded climber’s “epic” which thankfully I had never had to deal with. I could feel my legs trembling beneath me and my stomach wasn’t feeling too great.
“Come on! You can do this.” I said to myself, as I silently prayed to the God of Friction, Strong Forearms and Big Bollocks. Much to my surprise I did top out in one piece having cautiously inched my way up shaking hand by shaking hand.

Once at the top, I let rip with the full force of my pent-up anger, in the general direction of my two climbing partners. Having said this, I did feel I had achieved something by coming out of it unscathed. Just a quick walk to the base and we could go back to the safe confines of our hotel…
You must be joking! A walk to the base? This is Indian rock climbing you know. At the true summit of the pillar we had just ascended, Pradeep introduced us to the descent path. If you are familiar with the Dolphin pitch on the El Niño route done by the Huber brothers and recently Messrs Houlding and Hammond, you would know the bridging section where it is a case of bums and toes. Well imagine a chimney of this width (1-2m), 80-90ft deep and dark. Our guide informed us that this was the only way down.

As we were slowly engulfed by the black terror of the chimney, I started to shake and I couldn’t move very fast. I stood on a ledge in the darkness with my back pressed as hard as I could against the dusty rock and contemplated a fall from this height. I shared my anxieties with Tom, who agreed that we weren’t exactly chimney aficionados and consequently suggested that we find an alternative method of descending.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get back to the top of the shaft and Tom was stuck on the opposite side having wedged himself into an open book crack and was having severe difficulties retracing his path back up it.
Meanwhile, Pradeep was already at the bottom and calling up to enquire why we hadn’t come down yet. I silently prayed to myself for the second time that day and forced myself to cross the widest and most exposed section of the chimney, with my lips and calves trembling in unison. My climbing style was to lose as much skin as needed and not to die!
Arrival at the bottom was a miracle, as was the fact that I actually had some skin left on my arms and back. Needless to say, that was the end of that day’s climbing.


apoorva


Oct 6, 2003, 3:59 PM
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Registered: Dec 5, 2002
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Re: My First Epic [In reply to]
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ah! thats a climb i avoided VERY luckily after remembering a story another climber had told me of epic descents. if i'm not mistaken, this was "Shanti" in Bangalore, right? apparently that chimney leads to a bear cave, etc etc. i'm very claustrophobic and after questioning my 'guide' arduously, i realised that there was no way i was going to do this climb...


mrhardgrit


Oct 9, 2003, 8:21 AM
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Registered: Nov 28, 2001
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Re: My First Epic [In reply to]
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Er, no idea I'm afraid! For some reason the name Kalidaha comes to mind... but could be wrong. Yeh, that decent chimney definitely goes down in my all-time worst ever decent. Bear cave? No suprises there either!

Did you climb at the wall at Nirupathunga Road in Bangalore? We did a comp there and the locals were climbing in bare feet! (harder than Fr 7a in some cases...)


apoorva


Oct 9, 2003, 2:54 PM
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Registered: Dec 5, 2002
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hmm, was it in ramanagram rocks? all these granite mounds sticking out of the jungle? sounds very much like 'shanti', and im still very thankful i didnt go do it and find myself stuck on top. plan to go and put rap rings on that if/when i go back. no way im going to chimney into a bear cave.
i dont know the name of the road, but there arent too many walls there. i climbed at the one the locals frequent. yeah, crazy barefoot climbing, torn shoes with toes sticking out climbing, et all. crazy guys. what made you head there? tons of rock to climb. check out my site, www.climbingindia.com especially if you plan to head to india to climb again. (not much online yet, but will be... sometime soon!)


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