Category Archives: Climbing
Right now I am in Vasisht(Manali). I came here on 8th May for bouldering. I
have been waiting for this trip for a long time.
Last time I have been here, was one year before, when I was back packing
with my English friend Luke. We did some bouldering back then, but the trip
time was short and I swore I would come back here next season.
The last three climbing days were perfect. First day I
climbed with Hugo from Spain and Rahul from Delhi and few other friends. We
went all out for 5-6 hours pushing ourselves. All of us climbed, til the
last bit of energy was squeezed out of us.
This is what I love about climbing in Manali. The weather is so pleasant
here that the only thing that stops you is your own body limit. Back in Hampi we
had to plan much more about the timings. 11 am to 4 pm was a no-no for
climbing in Hampi because of the temperature.
After the first day, the muscles were a bit sore. I thought I would take a
rest day. But luckily some other friends from Hampi invited me for sport
climbing in Aleo. Since one of my friend, Linn was leaving India, the next day, I thought it
would be good to spend some time with her. It was a perfect climbing day
for a rest day.
We could try only 3 routes, because we had only one rope among five of us.
The routes weren’t that difficult so it was good for me. It was my first time, doing sport climbing and I lead a 5C route. I felt it less scary to lead than doing it on top rope.
The 3rd day we went up in Vasisht, where Hugo and Tom from Hampi had some
unfinished business. It was a beautiful route, no wonder they got so psyched
about it. There was an easy route on the left side, very balancy, which I
flashed. I started trying the project after that. I made some satisfying
progress, but wasn’t able to complete the route. Next time.
We hiked a bit more up and saw a beautiful overhanging rock. Hugo got
really excited and started cleaning the dirt off the rock, and asked us to come and see the route.
The route was a sit start from an undercut which went to a sloppy crimp and then to
a sloper edge. Then toe lock on the take off undercut, and match on the
sloper, then a crazy mantle, which we haven’t figured out how to do, till now.
Working on that problem was a step up in my learning curve. We thought the
problem was impossible for us, but then one by one we figured out small
beta’s to make it possible. The energy was so positive, adrenaline was on
its peak. We were cheering up like kids. We didn’t send the problem, but
made some good progress on it.
Hugo is always very excited about finding and cleaning up new problems. Its
a very good quality which not many climbers has got. Climbing with him
yesterday helped me taste a part of this awesome feeling, establishing new
problems. I am even more psyched about climbing now.
Some times people ask me how I got into rock climbing. I try to answer that question through this post.
I have been climbing for a bit more than 2 years now. Rock climbing is still a pretty new outdoor activity in India. People hardly know about it. Even I had no idea about how it would be, before I did my internet research about it.
How did I get the Idea?
I got into climbing, after frequent intensive scrambling through boulders, during my CTC (Chennai trekking Club) treks. I loved the feeling of moving my body on a rock. Thus the search began, to know more about rock climbing.
I Downloaded some climbing movies. Progression was one of the first climbing movie I watched. I was totally psyched seeing the crazy things people could do . I knew I had to get into it as soon as possible.
There was no one to guide me at that point. I was living in Chennai at that time and literally there was zero climbing scene there. But I had to start off somewhere.
After some internet research I decided to do a 10 day basic rock climbing course at Swami Vivekanda Institute Of Mountaineering(SVIM) at Mount Abu. It was my first experience going by myself that far. I loved the new experience and felt proud to have taken such a decision myself.
The course was designed just for getting a taste of rock climbing. Frankly, the way we used to climb during that course, I have never done it outside in the last two years.
Climbing is a physically demanding activity where becoming an expert needs, may be, dedication over a decade. You need to be regular and get stronger slowly. There is no safe short cut.
Chennai Climbing scene:
Simply doing the course was not enough for me. I wanted to climb every day. It was very different compared to trekking. Trekking was a weekend activity while climbing was more like a daily routine. The more climbing videos I saw, the more I got psyched. As I mentioned before, there was no climbing scene in Chennai at that time. 5-6 months passed like this after my course in June 2011.
Finally some time in Jan 2012, I met a guy named Shashank who was basically a mountaineer with interest in rock climbing. He too wanted to climb and was looking for partners. We formed a group called Chennai rock climbers in facebook hoping to connect to more people. It wasn’t a huge success. People wanted to climb. But their busy schedules didn’t let them to, or their minds found other excuses.
Shashank was a better climber than me, he had a crash pad, special climbing shoes, chalk powder etc. I learned basics of bouldering from him. The nearest location for natural bouldering was Mahabalipuram(around 45 km away from Chennai, which didn’t make things any easier). Due to the lack of interested people, I considered myself lucky, if I went climbing atleast once in a week.
After 3-4 months in Chennai trying to climb, I realized that if I have to pursue climbing seriously I need to change the location. I was a member of Bangalore climbers group in facebook. It was an active group, especially one guy named Gujju Razak climbed on a daily basis and updated the group with pictures and videos. He got me really psyched and I decided to move to Bangalore. It was one of the best decisions I had taken.
I generally consider myself a lazy person. After I decide to do a thing, I don’t execute it immediately. I wait around finding excuses not to feel guilty. But some times you have to just do it. Leaving Chennai was not easy for me. 3 years I have been living there. But I had to say bye to all my trekking friends and get out of my comfort zone to pursue a more important part in my life.
Bangalore Climbing scene:
After moving to Bangalore, I started climbing with Gujju and Ananta, two really strong and passionate climbers. They were like my mentors. They taught me different sides of climbing in their own way. I am very grateful to them for that.
There were lot of active climbers in Bangalore, but I noticed that most of them climbed only at artificial climbing walls. Personally I feel climbing at artificial walls is less fun but gets you stronger much faster. But I didn’t understand why people climb only on plastic holds and forget about rocks altogether. After all, you want to get stronger, to finally be able to do harder routes on real rocks.
I learned that for some people, there was more to climbing than just having fun. I met people who considered climbing as a sport. Still its a puzzle for me, how people take up climbing for competition. I don’t like the concept of considering Climbing as a sport. For me its a life style. I love it for the the freedom of it. You do it for the pure joy of it. Its not about comparing yourself to others, but about reaching your personal best every day.
Moving to Bangalore had another advantage. Hampi – one of the biggest International bouldering destination – was just overnight journey from Bangalore. The sharp granite rocks over there were painful, but I loved it.
The rocks wasn’t the only thing, special about Hampi. Climbers from all over the world used to come there. During 2012-13 season I spend there totally two and half months. I met lot of interesting travelers, made some friends. It was a total new experience for me.
The time I spend in Hampi, changed me internally. When I came back to Bangalore and started working, I realized that I can no longer be at home for months and work normally. I felt the restlessness rising, my mind kept asking for a change. This restlessness is what motivated me to do my first back packing trip across north India over one and half months. I spend two weeks each in Manali, Leh and Dharamsala with my climber friend Luke, whom I met I in Hampi.
In the last one month I was working on providing video beta for many turahalli bouldering routes. Its lot of work, and Gujju has done much more. I posted some videos here too, but I guess just sharing the youtube channel is easier than sharing single videos.
If you want to watch videos, as soon as I upload them you can subscribe to my youtube channel.
I will try to take videos, whenever I climb a route. The main idea is to get more people into climbing on real rocks rather than just training in gym with a competition mentality.
Also, for the easier documentation purpose we have added Turahalli to 27crags. Its still under construction. Most of the famous rocks are already added. The grades may be wrong, but I guess anyone is free to update the grade.