Friday, 21 March 2014

Gen X and Climbing!

I have been climbing for the past 25-30 years. Over this vast period I have met many a climbers young and old, novice and eager to learn ones too, the list is unending. Someone attends a so called rock climbing camp and the next thing you hear is that they are calling themselves Rock climbers! Is this really true? Climbing is not something which can be learnt in a fixed period of time. Lots of people come to me asking me to conduct crash course on rock climbing. ....My answer is no. Usually people who did come at my gym (a small climbing den in my hall) for practice didn’t last over a few months. They tend to leave.... sighting reasons which have no meaning what so ever.
The story I am about to tell you is about a young climber who just dropped at my place three years back one evening to climb. She was a student in the same school my son attended, and had probably heard in school about climbing. She came regularly every evening for a couple of days. One day after practice her mom came to pick her up, that is when we came to know that both her parents were Doctors and the fact that they didn’t know what climbing was or that their daughter wanted to do climbing.

Eventually after much hesitation she was permitted to continue with the climbing.  I was a bit skeptical too, my past experience was that girls never lasted more than a couple of days in this sport, forget taking it seriously. She continued to drop in regularly for practice, even waiting till the sessions ended in the evening to work out and do exercises with all the other guys. This was really something, a single girl with all this guys! It was at this point that I was able to see that she had a lot of strength and potential to do rock climbing. Never had I seen a young girl who could do 25 pull up and 50 push ups at one go. This girl was really something! Her name is Mayuri Deshmukh.
 Mayuri continued to practise daily in the evenings for the next couple of months. She now even practised and attempted the same routes and problems with all the regular pro climbers climbing graded routes. She was definitely improving and always ready to try harder problems. Nothing stopped her from her daily workout or climbing practise not even her school. ­
As months passed her climbing drastically improved. Besides climbing and training Mayuri likes running, is a basket ball enthusiast likes cooking, dancing, singing, writing, nature addict, and skiing is on her to do list.
Before the competitions Mayuri took great pains to practise . She would go for a run in the morning at five, then practice at the gym, followed by school and back to practise in the evenings and end the day with a good dose of exercises.
Mayrui’s achievements in a short span of 2 years are worth mentioning as this is something not everyone can do.   
2012 : Girivihar Open International Sport Climbing and Bouldering Competition(sub juniors) 2nd position in lead, 3rd in bouldering.
2012 : Ramjas Open National Sports Climbing Competition New Delhi 1st position
2012 : Banglore Open National(Geethna) Sports Climbing Competition 4th position2012 : Girivihar(Potdar) Bouldering Competition 1st position
2012 : Mayor Cup 2012 2nd position in lead, 3rd position in bouldering
2012 : India Nationals (IMF Delhi) 2nd  position in bouldering
2013 : Banglore Open National(Geethna) Sports Climbing Competition 4th position
2013 : Girivihar Open International Bouldering Competition 2013(Womens) 5th position
2013 : Selected for Asian Games training camp.

It’s not just artificial sport climbing that she does, she is equally good on the natural rock!

Definitely a climber who will make India proud! She is just 16 ...a long way to go. All I can say is that she has what it takes to be good climber and wish her a bright future in rock climbing. I would also like to thank her parents for giving her the support which is a crucial factor especially for girls at least here in India.

 Climbing is Fun!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Climbing Fear?

False Evidence About Reality!

What is Fear?  Consult an dictionary and you will see it as 'an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm'. Fear control us, it has since been there since ages. It controls our emotions, actions and thoughts. It is what drives us to things that we thought were impossible to do. You could say its a survival mechanism. As human beings we should be grateful that fear exits in our minds.

If you have ever read the Harry potter books you find something called Boggart in it.  Even though it is fictional , A boggart is an immortal shape-shifting non-being that takes on the form of the viewer's worst fear. Because of their shape-shifting ability, no one knows what a boggart looks like when it is alone, as it instantly changes into your worst fears when you first see it. Fear is like this boggart planted deep inside our minds.

 When people talk to me and  I tell them that I do rock climbing , that I am a rock climber, the first reaction is that ' Aren't you afraid?, Don't you think its to risky? '. The fear in their minds, makes them assume that since i climb and put my self in danger  and that I can never be scared and am fearless.  On the contrary since I often find myself in many a dangerous position while climbing , I am more aware of what FEAR is!

As a rock climber I can never ignore FEAR! Its there on my mind always. In fact I could say I have a very very strong and everlasting relationship with fear than the common person.The average person in today's society is hardly ever exposed to what fear is in the real sense unless, some  very unusual things happen in their life, but real mortal danger in the everyday life is a rare incidence.

 In today's world any fear of us being prays to natures predators has almost been negated except may be in some very remote, unexplored jungle. So this feeling of fear is all very repressed. Today fear is of the kind that develops out our inactive lifestyle which induces health related issue like high blood pressure, anxiety , diabetes etc. Our ancestors have always adapted to natures threats and developed a way to avoid these threats making the next generations more strong, fearless,s clever, patient.  So the common person is , what you can say is fearless and even go on to strike a comment " I can do that too' , But when faced with life threatening , dangerous situations like I face at times while climbing , They would probably, no mostly say that I am crazy and stupid. Fear is a state of mind and people are mostly afraid to go anywhere near fear, having made FEAR look like the boggart I mentioned earlier.!

Most people  think I am crazy. Living a life of a rock climber is not easy , what with daily affirmations from everyone around you like ' Man, you're crazy! What if you fall, What if the rope breaks? what if there is rock fall? what if ..... the list is endless. 

When on a climbing expedition its like as if I am on a pilgrimage. When I climb , nothing else matters, its just me and the rock, moving on each step further cautiously and carefully , concentrating on each move, where I have to find my way forward , up that tricky rock face, putting my best foot forward , challenging my self mentally and physically. It is at such a moment you realise , you are all alone. Your mind keeps challenging you, 'come on, can you do it? You think you are right? Are you doing the correct move? Have you placed the right gear? Everything depends upon you? This is fear, and this is the moment your mind replays your worst fears again and again. But you gain control and the climb resumes...This is that moment when you know and feel your heart pounding loudly, that wave of shiver down you spine, a moment of intense silence, and then you are up and ready to make that awesome and tricky move! 

These intense instances may take just a fraction of a second , but these are those moments you realise ' yes! I can ! . And it is this feeling which last a lifetime making you a responsible person ready to tackle obstacles in real life too.  Although there are times when even I fear failure, I Fear heights, even the possibility of death, I am a Human being after all and climbing doesn't change that. 

The realisation that I can face fears when climbing is what matters the most. This emotion of fear while climbing has given
 me an ability to distinguish between fear and a sense of insecurity. As I climb on and succeed in my climbs , the sense of achievement empowers me and the the struggles that I face  humble me, making me land safely back on my two feet! 

Climbing Is Fun. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Safe Summer...

Hi ! Adventure lovers .

The Summer's just begun ....and with it the adventure camps too...

Here's some thing you need to do before you go out on any adventure.

Before you go out with any one please check out if they have the relevant experience to conduct the activity. See if you can find out if the outdoor experts too are experienced to handle the activity.

Most of the adventuress don't have any idea of the gear used, its shelf life, whether the gear is of standard quality, etc.. All of the gear used for the adventure activities has some standard specification set by the UIAA (its an international body). But most of the time the standard gear is not used here for such activities.
In case of an accident , please ask if a back up plan is in place before going out for such adventure activities.

You can always make sure yourself of the gear used before you do start the activity. Here what you can do :

Check out if the Gear is clean , Especially the Ropes, ( A static Rope Line is used for the rappel and dynamic rope for the belay). See if there are and cuts or nicks on the rope, if any kind of adhesive tapes are used on the rope ( They might just be hiding a cut). A 9 mm Rope for rappelling is usually preferred, and a9.5mm and above for the belay(safety). 

The harness should always be clean, metal parts should not be rusted, Even if the harness has a 2mm of cut ,discard it. A de colourised harness is also an indication that it has to be retired .Check out the certification tag on the harness.
The harness come in a variety of sizes, it should fit you comfortably, neither too tight nor too loose.

The Metal gear too should be checked out to see if there are any deep grooves on the metal due to extreme usage. Check out if the gear is deformed, or any loose screws present. All the metallic gear has its breaking strength engraved on it ( not printed). Also the minimum breaking strength has to 22 Kn( kilo newton , Approx 2.5 tons).

The whole system ( All the gear used - right from anchoring points , harness, rope line , other metallic gear etc...) must have a breaking strength of 22 Kn.

Helmets : See for any cracks, the chin straps..... see for knots. The helmet must fit snugly , and not come over your eyes or go back on your neck.
Most of the time during retreval of the gear it is tied to the end of the rope and pulled up the rock face thereby damaging it, you need to check out that this doesn't happen.

You may feel that this is the responsibility of the organiser but think again it's your's too.It hardly takes not more than 5 min to do the above check. When you go out for buying your clothes you spend hours checking out if they are stitched properly, whether they are torn, the brand , the stitching , the zipper etc...and they are just clothes. And even if you do buy something defective it's not a threat to your life. And what we are talking about is something more dearer to your life. A slight defect in any of the adventure equipment may cost you your life.

Keep above points in mind and have a fun filled adventurous summer

Climbing... A Way Of Life

Climbing... A Way Of Life

I'm very often asked,"Why do you climb?" as if to do so is a strange thing. My answer is always, "Why DON'T you climb?" I have climbed in a lot of places in India and the Swiss Alps , and some of the best moments of I my life I have spent climbing  in these places. To get to these places for the climb is not always easy, its a test for both the mind and the body. Out of this comes a long lasting friendship with the person who comes along with me for my climbs . So if I can get a sense of well being out of this , I can say "Why Not Climb?"

I was born to climb, its my passion , its my way of life.There is some thing about the rocks that draws me to them. Every time I see a cliff, a mountain side, a rock face.. something just clicks inside me.... its time to climb. The silence in the valley,  the fresh air, the peacefullness...unending list of things ..small and big all calling out to me to come and climb.

Right from the first rock face that I ever climbed to this day, I have always felt a sense of rebirth after every climb, Its ..a feeling very difficult to put in words. A sense of achievement, but followed by the feeling what next? I  am very lucky to have an understaning wife, with the same passion, and one who has always supported me in my dreams to climb. She has always been there to help me keep the spirit of climbing alive and burning inside me. May be this is why I am still climbing even at 48. 

Its not that I climb with  friends my age ( a very few who still climb) only, but do so with the gen x too, It does very much help you keep young

I climb beccause its my way of life, a simple way to live.  On the rocks there is no favourite and there is no one to cheat. Ony the fittest survive.. Climbing is some thing very close to me , all I need is to believe in myself.  When I climb ...climbing is what I do.. all the tensions, the deadlines ...the work .... nothing matters.. The way i feel ...connnected to myself , body, mind, and soul its ...something very very special.

I climb........ 
becausse its there.....
(Mallory's answer to the press when asked about his upcoming Everest expedition)

 My favorite one liners.

Climbing is fun.