Fort Jivdhan. Naneghat. Wanarlingi. Nanacha Angtha. These enchanting names themselves are enough to set the adrenaline gushing with utter madness of climbing. And with these iconic Sahyadri rock edifices around & 15 mind-blowing budding climbers, brimming with energy and hunger for learning advance rock craft; GGIM’s first ever Advance Rock Climbing Course turned out to be a monumental success.
9th Feb 2017.
The group had a varied age bar from Kshitij, just a 13 year old kid to Rajesh, a businessman from Mumbai in his 60s. But all had singular aspiration to climb higher and harder that brought them together.
The course began at 11:00 AM with introduction of the surroundings followed by revision of basic knots and learning new advance knots such as Figure 8 rethread, Italian hitch, Prussik hitch, tape knot etc. Enormous cave of Nanacha Angtha was an ideal place for the session. After a group photo at Naneghat, all arrived at the campsite for lunch. The camp site was a simple house with a few basic rooms just enough to accommodate entire batch. Despite challenges of wilderness, penury and shortage of basic needs, Adhari family has been manning this place and serving all trekking, climbing enthusiasts for past 14 years.
Post lunch, team departed for bouldering session. The boulders were located in a dense forest which gave respite from the scorching heats of afternoon. The bouldering session was just a warm up before getting into more technical sessions like usage of advance belay devices; use of quick draws for clipping a rope etc. And lastly the day was concluded with ‘valley uprising’. A vivid audio-visual documentation of how climbing culture had evolved in USA in past 50 years.
10th Feb 2017.
After having early breakfast at 7:00 AM, team moved to lead climbing spot. Giripremi team already had opened three new routes for training purposes. Previous night’s movie seemed as if it had influenced the upriser within each one of them. All members did lead climb on two routes with assisted top belay. It was really satisfying to see each of them climbing steadily and confidently. They also learnt about the setting up the anchor systems and belaying the climber. After a much needed and well deserved lunch, they learnt the next steps of lead climbing. Equipment racking, placement of quick draws and some advance anchoring setups. It was followed by multipitch jumaring and rappelling session. Power naps were tempting. There were a lot of free times in between the sessions.However, not meant for resting but for knots and rope coiling practices. At night, after Giripremi’s Cho- Oyu – Dhaulagiri 2016 movie and excited debates and Q&A session on high altitude challenges; Morse code activity gave some calming sense from tiring physical workloads and hefty technical bombardments.
11th Feb 2017.
The day started with lead climb. But today, there was no assisted belay. You make a mistake, you fall. But if you keep your calm and progress steadily, the feelings of completing the whole route would be inexpressible. And that’s what happened with most of the members. Each one of them made a great progress and with each QD clipping, they confidence was uplifting to a new level. Lead climb session was followed by rappelling, jumaring and rope retrieval techniques. An intense advance bouldering session with variety of grades and moves gave the climbers a euphoria of becoming an advance rock climber. Evening session was focused on learning the fundamentals of map reading, orientation and navigation with the help of compass and map followed by an activity which engaged them in finding out a hidden treasure whose only GPS coordinates were available.
As we were coming closer to the end of the course, it was time for practicing the knots, revising all the contents that were taught since the next session was Exams. Written test was followed by knot test.
12th Feb 2017.
It was the last day of the course and was dedicated exclusively for practical tests. Lead Climb, Jumar- Rappel changeovers, Anchor systems, Rope retrievals everything they demonstrated. Such intense exam was necessary. They were to be qualified as advance rock climbers with recommendation for rock climbing expeditions. But the great thing about this course was, no one felt the pressure of exams, grades and results. They were all so well prepared, well-practiced that even the instructors were finding difficulties in giving the final grades. But lastly, Zaid with his exceptional performance not only in climbing skills, but also in terms of rope management, system implementations and course behavior outperformed everyone to become the best candidate.
The course concluded by 2:30 PM. Bruises, cuts, cramps, muscle pulls and what not they had endured. But more than the certificates these climbing emblems and mind-boggling memories of three and a half days were perhaps more triumphing to them. We hope that all the climbers continue to challenge themselves with their climbing goals but with absolute safety, thorough preparation and responsible & mature outlook.