Category Archives: Rockclimbing

Travel Insurance for Rockclimbing and Mountaineering – an Australian perspective

Title photo – Camp beneath Mts Whitney and Russell USA Sierras

Notes from Dec 2018

For Australian climbers heading overseas

You need to read the PDS (Product Disclosure Statement) for each travel insurance agency of interest. All agencies have this document easily downloadable.

The following has been based on my understanding of what I have researched and may be incorrect.

Communications in the field is often necessary prior to a rescue/assistance to confirm your insurer is going to foot the bill.

Generally rockclimbing and mountaineering requiring ropes and specialist equipment is above and beyond what’s included in most travel insurance policies.

Overlapping, chunking parts of the trip, doubling up – Some people may choose a combination of rescue cover from eg, Global Rescue or Ripcord and general travel insurance from a mainstream agency. The separation of these in a claim may get messy. Mostly you have to specify the whole length of a trip when purchasing a product. Take care to disclose all aspects of a trip.

Generally you require a medical certificate in the country you are claiming for in order for your insurance agency to accept a claim for medical cover.

Differences in altitude require differing levels of trekking cover.

Ian Brown – Regular Route Fairview Dome P 1

International agencies

The following is a link to an excellent overview of international travel insurance and rescue and evacuation services suitable for mountaineering and rockclimbing with a USA perspective.

https://expeditionportal.com/buyers-guide-travel-insurance-rescue-and-medical-evacuation-services/

Based on this intro/review and my own research the following seem valid points.

Global Rescue

  • Recommended/used by – Mountain Madness, American Alpine Club, Adventure Consultants
  • Combined with Signature travel insurance gives a product that includes rescue, evac, medical etc and standard travel insurance
  • For 1 year membership and Travel Insurance for a 5 week climbing trip in USA cost is approx. $650US
  • Preexisting medical conditions do not limit coverage
  • Available to Aussies
  • Some bad reviews
  • Requires two way comms – eg satellite phone

Ripcord Rescue + Travel Insurance with TravelEx

  • Recommended/used by – Adventure Consultants, IMG
  • Preexisting medical conditions not excluded
  • Comprehensive product
  • The only available option for Australians however is medical evacuation and rescue – approx. $312 per year membership – the travel insurance additional option is not available to Australians
  • Great reviews
  • Requires two way comms – eg satellite phone

Medjet Assist

  • Only covers medical transport

World Nomads

  • Activity specific
  • Limited rescue and evac capability
  • Poor reviews

American Alpine Club

  • Membership gives $10,000 cover anywhere in the world for rescue
  • Gives a discount for membership of Global Rescue

Austrian Alpine Club

  • Membership is available to anyone no matter country of citizenship/residence
  • Yearly fee approx. 50Euros
  • Rescue insurance of up to 25,000 Euros included and applies worldwide
  • Also discounts at wide range of European mountain huts
  • Rescue must approved prior to it being undertaken

BMC (British Mountaineering Club)

  • Looks to have a great policy
  • Only for residents/citizens of Britain
Ian Brown – Venusian Blind, Temple Crag, USA Sierras

Agencies with Australian retailers

Following is a good review of standard travel insurance available to Australians

https://www.choice.com.au/travel/money/travel-insurance/review-and-compare/travel-insurance

Most of these don’t cover hiking above 3,000m or rockclimbing. Some will cover hiking above 3,000m and rockclimbing if an additional “Adventure Pack” is purchased for an additional fee. None cover mountaineering using ropes and climbing equipment.

Allianz Travel Insurance available through eg, Teachers Health (available to non-members and members), Virgin Money etc includes with the additional “Adventure Pack”;

  • Hiking, trekking or tramping, peaking at altitudes from 3,000 metres up to 6,000 metres, where specialist climbing equipment is not required;
  • Outdoor rock climbing (with ropes and appropriate safety gear);
  • Abseiling
  • And lots of other adventurous things
  • Cost for 5 week USA rockclimbing trip with Comprehensive TI and Adventure Pack is approx. $720AU
  • Some good reports from Nepal with commercial activities providers.

Zoom

Seems to have a policy similar to Allianz with the Adventure Pack but at about half the price.

Insure4Less

  • Has specific policy additions for rockclimbing and mountaineering
  • Not for USA, Canada, Nepal
  • Formal link to VCC (Victorian Climbing Club)
  • Online only
Ian Brown – Charlotte Dome, USA Sierras

Other

NZAC (New Zealand Alpine Club)

  • Provides insurance for Australian members for mountaineering in NZ only for a fee

Travel Insurance with your Credit Card

If airline tickets are purchased with a credit card some credit card providers include complimentary travel insurance. This insurance is generally underwritten or arranged in conjunction with a mainstream travel insurance agency eg HSBC Platinum complimentary travel insurance is underwritten by Allianz. However policies will most likely not include mountaineering or rockclimbing and additional “Adventure Packs” are probably not available.

For this insurance you need to have available proof of air ticket purchase eg a copy of your credit card statement, to elicit acceptance by the card agency.

Take with you a contact for the insurance aspect of your credit card not just a 1800 number.

Pre-existing conditions
Many policies (read the PDS) include automatic coverage of a number of pre-existing conditions, but most of the listed conditions are useless (eg. acne!). If you have any potentially risky or expensive conditions which are not automatically covered, you should make specific enquiries about them. Many providers are quite helpful with this, and after asking a series of questions will give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether they will cover you. Different providers might come up with different answers, even if they are selling the same base product (eg. Allianz is a common product resold by TI retailers). And subtle distinctions can be important. Case study: A traveller has a blood clotting issue and is on medication that increases bleeding risk (eg. warfarin). No policy could be found that covered for claims arising from a blood clot, or from bleeding. On enquiry, some companies said they would not pay on any claim that had ANY association with these issues. However one company said that as long as the original cause of the claim was NOT those conditions, then they would cover a claim (eg. a broken arm, that was a bit harder to treat because of more bleeding). Although this could be read as at variance with the wording of the PDS, the company would not put the clarification in writing, saying they had recorded the phone call against the quote, and that was enough. Is it? Who knows.
Evening Light, Top section of The Nose of El Capitan, USA Yosemite

Thanks to Ian Brown and Zac Zaharias for input.

Edge – Night Climb

50

Edge Night Climb

4/2/16

Booroomba Rocks

Rock climbing

 

Canberra summer. Too hot to climb on a north west facing crag, toes burn inside black rubber randed tight boots, any exposed skin prickles and burns, sweat, thirst, hot to touch granite.

The heat is too long a time not to climb.

Other adventurers go mountainbiking, caving, do pre-dawn starts to mountaineering days. All under new bright head torches.

A film fest showed a mini film about Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson doing the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite. They found the best friction and temperature of the rock at night. Under lights. Thousands of feet up the face.

Turning around the subconscious that tells us you only climb at night if you are having an epic was a challenge.

I talked about the concept with a few people and Neil was the only one interested to try it out. On the afternoon drive in we chattered about doing different things. Rather than just doing the same trips all the time he thought it was important to try new ways doing things, different locations, new canyons. To keep what he called your “edge”. Your ability to stay sharp, in tune with all the components of adventure – the group, the weather, the activity, the place on the map, the time, the terrain……….

As we got into the climbing, a middle grade warmup as the afternoon stretched towards evening, I discovered we had more in common than our professional outdoor education pasts. We both wore the exact same worn out black running shoes (kayano 18s), our sunscreen for the afternoon came from the same orange and yellow mini refillable cancer council containers. And then he made a comment about the amount of time he had spent away on school trips when his family was young that linked us in our emotional inner depths. On that day and evening though we could be like the singing golden whistlers nearby with independent grown up children and wives at work or travelling overseas.

Neil led the first two pitches. I had climbed and adventured lots over the past year while for him this was a more special treat. Then I took us through the easy ground and on to the top. The view over the imposing North Buttress and down valley to the distant city was filled with contrast and shadow in the late afternoon light.IMG_0893

Just like in the old days we made a small fire and cooked beans and cheese jaffles and drank tea. Except this time it was for dinner rather than lunch.

We scrambled down the central rocks and then skirted under the main cliff to the northern slabs and arrived at the base of our climb just as the sun set. The sun going down over the horizon is a defined moment between day and night but the edge of the day is less well defined. The light continues for a long time. He headtorched up the first pitch. I needed only a small amount of light from mine to make the moves up the familiar ground of the climb and fiddle the nuts and cams out. We swapped leads and I did a rising traverse across a slab and into a corner system. Night had fallen. The rock was almost in black silhouette against a starry sky. Dark clouds slowly passed overhead. The city lights way off in the lowland were beautiful. A gentle breeze cooled. We climbed on. Not quite at ease because this activity was so ingrained in our combined consciousness to be a pursuit of the day. But intrigued with the sensations of the situation and open to a new range of aesthetics. Around 11.00pm we approached the top unexpectedly wide awake. Stimulated by the differences, the drama of the scenes, the small pool of climbing light at hand. Unhurried. With all the time in the world. Until morning if we liked.

We were thankful of the good exit path and track through the scrub. A final take in of the whole nightscape vista from the summit rocks. Then back to the packs and down to the car.

IMG_0896Home in the early hours. The luxury of a sleep in. Strangely at ease in the world. A sense of shared experience beyond the edge.

Big Wall Roped Solo Booroomba

43

Big Wall Roped Solo Booroomba

10-11/12/15

Booroomba Rocks

Rockclimbing

Capture

Yosemite. Tuolumne Meadows. Stunning, beautiful alpine granite. Huge walls. Wonderful climbing. History and stories. Over decades I had read the magazine articles and books, seen the Ansell Adams photos. Inspired by the earlier adventures of John Muir. These are climbers’ dreams. They are/were my dreams. To go there and spend time in the vertical world. Immersed. In the balancing of life’s relationships, family, work, time, money some dreams get prioritised to the periphery. Occasionally creative alternatives pop up that fulfil the ache left behind. My local crag, Booroomba Rocks, has 5 pitch routes up to 200m long with ledges big enough to sleep on. An idea percolated while I waited for the right time.

The crux slab pitch
The crux slab pitch

I hiked up in the early afternoon. I climbed the first two pitches roped soloing before dark then camped on a ledge and climbed the remaining three pitches the next day. The system I had was mostly relatively safe – the end of the rope tied off to a bottom anchor I then led each pitch while feeding out rope lengths attached to my harness with alpine butterfly knots. This was pretty much the same as normal lead climbing except that there was more slack in each new loop without a belayer meaning I would fall further than “normal”. I had done the climb years before and felt pretty confident. The crux second pitch focussed the mind/body/judgement totally as the climbing for me was tenuous slab climbing on slopers and very small holds. Staying in control through this section was challenging when unclipping the next loop and undoing the knot in the rope with one hand and teeth then watching the rope snake further down below my feet making a potential fall longer. There is not much protection on this steep, hanging slab section anyway for the leader but somehow up there with a slack rope I felt very alone and exposed. (Whenever I watch the video of this part I am instantly “gripped”.) Even after this section at the headwall the protection is fiddly and a little questionable. I was totally stoked to reach safe ground at the ledge. I then abseiled down the anchored rope and reclimbed the pitch with the pack using jumars as a self-belay and backup knots as I removed the protection. The water was heavy so I hauled it up next in a smaller backpack. The system worked reasonably well on this climb. It took a lot of time but unlike normal climbing with a partner I was on the go the whole time rather than spending half the time sitting belaying.

IMG_0328The night on the ledge was beautifully cool. The aesthetics were heightened by the situation – being surrounded by rock, sun set, evening glow, breeze, tree silhouettes, stars, dawn. The distant street lights of Canberra shimmered like the embers of a bushfire.

Lights of Canberra
Lights of Canberra

The second day’s climbing was easier but had its own adventure exacerbated by a strong wind which twisted the ropes and tried to blow me off the balancy moves. At the top I felt a great sense of satisfaction. I had experienced much of what I envisaged the big walls overseas to be like. Now I’m thinking about a week up on Tiger Wall and The Bluffs at Arapiles as the next step.

Please note that any solo (roped) rockclimbing activity is dangerous and requires a very high degree of skill and knowledge to apply even an elementary level of safety. The attached video is not intended as instructional material.

Cliffcare

22

Cliffcare

21 June

Honeysuckle Crag – Namadgi

Rockclimbing

½ day doing cliffcare tasks and ½ day climbing.

Many popular climbing areas have groups which take on cliffcare tasks – Arapiles, Blue Mountains etc. Typical tasks are track work, erosion control in descent gullies and rebolting routes with safer technology. Along with a good sized group from Canberra Climbers Association we worked in the morning then climbed in the afternoon. Charles and I climbed the classic of the crag, a 3 pitch route with a nice corner system then a run out slab followed by a steep wall to a final crack system. Deep Space/Sickle link up *** climbing. The crag has a different outlook to the main Booroomba Rocks – only a few distant signs of civilisation in a sea of rolling montaigne forest.

Club Day at the Local

13

Club day at the local

3/5/15

Booroomba Rocks

Rockclimbing

 

Maybe some people are club people and others aren’t. Macquarie Uni Mountaineering Society, Navy Ski Club, Canberra Canoe Club, Canberra Bushwalking Club, Southern Tablelands Four Wheel Drive Club, had been or are a big part of my life.

We chatted companionably as backpacks of gear were sorted in the carpark. Zac, the current president of the Canberra Climbers Association, filled us in on what he knew of the earthquake situation in Nepal. Climbing groups were allocated and we hiked up the hill.

Over at the northern slabs I spied two new shiny bolts on a climb I had taken many years to psyche up for and develop the skills to do. It was extremely dangerous but if your technique was solid and your mind in lockdown it was fabulous. The bolts now made it much less of an undertaking. Diminished. They stuck out like shiny silver flags in an acre of almost pristine granite.

Charles, an ex Pom, pushed through the first tricky section on lichen damp steeps. Both of us are not monarchists but we still chatted about the new baby princess born the day before. Fourth in line for the throne. Lady Di would have been her Grandmother. She was one of my heroes. I still can’t believe how one of her best mates could sing “Candle in the Wind” at her funeral in Westminster Abbey with such composure. While writing this I stopped and relived it again on youtube……..”we’ll miss the wings of your compassion more than you will ever know”. I hoped that Club Royal and the baby’s despicable grandfather, soon to be our head of state, would treat her better than her departed too soon grandmother. Forty years prior I would like to have been able to be a Pom and stay on in England.

I led the stunning second pitch of Counterbalance. “If this was in the UK you would have to book up a time on the Internet six months in advance” joked Charles. At the belay ledge another party from the club crossed over our route and I could hear another of our groups further across. Later we abseiled to a ledge and did Hurricane Cracks, another classic. I top roped a harder crack system nearby. On the top when questioned Zac explained about his clever rescue knife that he carried on his harness. He’d been caught upside down in a bunch of old ropes descending the second rock step on Everest and nearly died. The knife was a present straight after. Clubs have a huge amount of shared knowledge and experience that can be transferred. My break from work had finally enabled me to have enough time to become involved with this club that I had been on an email list for about eight or ten years. Comeraderie at the crag.

All we needed at day’s end was a local English pub in the village nearby where we could swap yarns about the day together.

 

Goodbye England’s Rose – Elton John. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A8gO0Z818j4

Ethics and Retreat

11

“Ethics and Retreat”

Secret spot #2

14 – 16 April

Rockclimbing – more new routes

What marks do we leave on the world?

What do we leave behind?

What is the evidence of our passing through?

Any published writings. A pile of detail and forgotten emails in the digital cloud. For a time we rest in the hearts of our surviving loved ones. Maybe our stories persist with our friends and family. In Education our legacy is probably fairly short lived, with a possible few students being deeply affected in their own lifetimes if we are lucky. Research. Roads, buildings and inventions in other industries are longer lasting and more tangible. A carbon tonnage in the sky. In other cultures and countries our footprints are much lighter.

Of the whole volume of outdoor rockclimbing activity in Australia probably less than one percent involves the pioneering and establishment of new climbs. The vast majority of activity takes place on existing routes at cliffs that are documented on the web and in guidebooks. Cliffs are the country, mostly exclusively, of climbers. No-one else has the interest and expertise to venture beyond the tracks worn at the base of the crags. Loose rocks are quickly removed from higher up to make the climbing safe. Ethical debate rages in some circles about the placement of bolts which last for aeons. Some climbers don’t use chalk because it can remain in places on the rock protected from rain. Even in national parks cliff care groups do access track maintenance.

Last thing in the afternoon on day 1 I had descended a route and “cleaned” off the loose rock. The process involves carefully threading the abseil rope into a small backpack with the end tied off at the top. This allows you to abseil down the rope as it feeds out of the bag on your back. Any rocks that fall do not hit and damage the rope as it does not hang below. A prussic backup is insurance for any rocks that might fall from above and hit the climber as s/he descends. This turned out to be a sometimes loose cliff with giant columns stacked like huge “pick up sticks”. Parts of it were a climber’s delight – solid with zooming lines. A loose rock made a scar on the talus below as I worked my way downwards. The climbing looked hard but there were several resting spots.

Next morning I launched up. The climbing was superb. Sustained. Hard for me. The protection was excellent. Technical jamming of all types. Thrilled at the top to have been climbing well on steep, difficult, high quality stone. I called the climb “Scar Tissue”, grade 19 or 20. This cliff is on an outlying ridge out the middle of nowhere. Who knows if there will ever be a guidebook or even if anyone will ever climb it again? The climb exists now. A claim to fame? Evidence that I passed through?

Secret crag #2

Late in the day I led up a blocky corner and then out onto a steepening wall. Again the climbing was superb. Long reaches. High step ups. Balance. Thin cracks provided opportunities for protection but fiddling in small wires that wobbled in the parallel sides didn’t inspire confidence. I’d pulled off a hold on another climb and was spooked by the time I reached a hard section that verticalled.

“Did you hear that thunder?” Ian from below.

A wire and tiny cam didn’t feel like enough. Hesitation. Another look at full stretch. Only this section and we’d be on the half way ledge. It was getting late. I lacked confidence in my strength and was afraid of the unknown and psyched out by the questionable protection lower down.

“I’m lowering off”. The decision made. Not to push myself through. We don’t often retreat together. I wasn’t up to it. Not now. Not today. Our plans would have to change for the next day as we would have to return to retrieve the gear and rope or finish the climb. Disappointed.

It wasn’t far back to the top and then to the car. Almost dark under heavy cloud when we arrived and rain started. 10 minutes later it was pelting down. Had I pushed on and made it we would have been on the climb in the heavy rain and fading light. An epic avoided.

The rock was dry in the morning. We both abseiled the route again. I had a close inspection and removed some moss from a key ledge. The climbing was achievable but I still maintained it was too hard for me to lead. Ian set off from the ground. At the vertical he placed a couple more pieces of gear then committed. He did the moves to the small ledge then got tangled up and fell. His top wire pulled. The rope stretched. Eight meters down he came to a stop. Unhurt. A clean fall. He doesn’t fall very often. Rest. Back up to the high point his solution to every climbing problem is to put in some more pro. Next shot he cruised it. Yay. His push through was very impressive. I enjoyed following. The second pitch was a classic. Exposed channel chimney right up the prow. What a climb!

Ian at the steepening

Ian at the steepening

Adventure Climbing

5

Adventure climbing

March 10 – 12

Secret spot in the Blue Mountains – no clues given

Rockclimbing new routes

Ian Brown is one of Australia’s foremost current adventurers having expeditioned across the Antarctic, climbed in Greenland fjords, established major new climbs in the Darran Mountains of New Zealand and hiked criss cross over Cape York among other major undertakings. He has also quietly been one of the most prolific rockclimbing new route pioneers over a thirty year period in Australia. As we trudge through scrub, up and down steep talus slopes and balance along unstable cliff edges in yet another area he has dug out of the encyclopaedic recesses of his archive of new crags, this one from a hike 30 years ago, I contemplate the privilege of being a part of a couple of these exploits. Some have ended badly – the most oft remembered is the so called “fabulous outback rock untouched by modern people” that turned out to be conglomerate rubble miles from the car. We just looked at it and started the long return journey home leaving behind a small pile of large pebbles/handholds that fell off the cliff as we pulled on them. Oh well. Some of the discoveries were good and one had been a cracker. We had shared a gold mine of new climbs at Point Perpendicular over a five year period before rumours got out. Each treasured day was strictly divided depending on whose turn it was to select the line and lead. We both had notebooks of climb names that were added to as fast as they were used up. Ian had persisted, and uncovered the place that has become Australia’s premier sea cliff for climbing, where many others had looked but not appreciated the potential. I’d learned to trust his judgement and knowledge and take the risk.

So here we were saturated with sweat and scratched to buggery by scrub gawking up at the most amazing climbers crag. Every meter a zooming line of superb and mostly hard climbing on rock that looked great where it didn’t balance in precarious spires and worrisome pedestals. Steep, thin, perfectly straight crack lines the full 40 – 60 m height of the cliff. This was another gold mine of classic climbs as good as anywhere. At the far end disappointment. At about 1/3 height on a nondescript line a piece of protection was hung to a carabiner. There was some minor evidence of a foot pad along the bottom that we had tried to ignore. Here was incontrovertible evidence that we had been beaten to the treasure. Many of the lines however looked unclimbed. Research would have to be done to investigate just how many of the climbs had been done and by whom before we returned with climbing gear.

Ian’s second crag in the same area proved more immediately fruitful. Half a day’s scrub bashing showed us about a kilometre of cliff broken in places by gullies and ramp systems.  The rock angled back a little with the strata of the geology which also produced overhangs at regular intervals. The climbing appeared initially ok but not fantastic. Ian picked a promising line and tentatively made his way up to a steepening having threaded his way between loose blocks. At the hard part he hesitated and put in some protection. Then another piece of protection. And another. Then confidently he pushed through to the top. On following I found the hard move desperate. He was climbing well. Strong and confident. “Footloose 19”. A quality first climb.

New age crystals

My turn next and I launched up a rising traverse out of a corner onto an arête which continued up to a large ledge and belay. Surprising great climbing on good rock. Earlier we’d found a bunch of copper pipes hidden in the rocks at the summit. Two of them had big crystals taped to their ends. New agers must erect them to attract lightning during storms. “Crystal Power 16”Leading Crystal Power

Last of the day Ian led a hard crack system. I struggled on the hard section. Again the climbing was excellent. This crag seemed to be revealing a hidden quality not apparent from observation. This is sometimes the case. It’s not until you actually engage with the rock that you appreciate what it offers.

More exploring. Aboriginal grinding grooves on flat topped mesas nearby. Sunset over ridges to the west.

Next day Ian wove his way up the line of the crag. “Watch me here” – this near the top, so I paid careful attention on belay. He threw a few loose rocks off and pulled through to the top. Following I really had a hard time at the start. The climbing was superb, the rock scrumptious. The top move I found desperate – Ian had done this while removing loose rock and placing protection in the best hand jam hold making it unusable for him. This was one of the most impressive leads I’d seen him do. “…………. 19/20?”

Ian on the hard move near the top

Ian on the hard move near the top

At the top we spied another whole section of quality cliff a couple of kilometres away on a far ridge. And another granite wall in a gorge on the other side of the deep valley.

I got in an alpine style ridge climb that had some beautiful easy moves up nice rock.

Writing up the routes and sketch mapping what we’d found at the end of the trip I could feel the excitement of the next few years of developing another “secret” spot. Another little notebook of lists of climb names would have to be produced. What a valuable treasure time is.

Eighteen Again

4

Eighteen Again

March 8

Booroomba Rocks

Multi pitch rockclimbing

Driving to the crag for another day climbing Charles chats about his work and his week. He’s a very smart guy (18 on his Google Scholar index I discover later). Previously an astronomer he is now an energy scientist. We discuss the current energy situation. The price has plummeted for oil. The USA, now wealthy with its own huge supplies of shale oil, has recently changed the geopolitical landscape of the energy world.  Saudi Arabia has the world’s largest reservoirs and decades of oil supplies. We range over fracking and coal seam gas. One solution I find interesting is the geosequestration of liquid CO2 from coal fired power stations into empty gas and oil wells.

We climb Denethor, swapping leads on three good pitches. By chance a piece of gear is dropped so we decide to try a more serious slab climb nearby so we can retrieve it. Equilibrium, one of my favourites from the past. The first pitch tunes me in to the harder run out moves up the sheer expanse of striped granite. The second pitch pushes me into a real climbing zone where I have to concentrate the psyche on staying in control when a long way out from protection. I feel like I’m climbing well again. Charles cruised up smiling.

“Well I didn’t think I’d be able to do this 6 months ago”. He had squashed his middle finger in the Simpson Desert. “Me neither”. I had been struggling with fatigue, arthritis and an out of whack immune system. I could now envision working up to climbing at a solid grade 18 again with a bit of training.

On the way home we stop at a wild apple tree beside the road. All the lower ones within reach from the ground are gone. “Come on. We are climbers. Surely we can get some from higher up”. It felt good to say that. They’re crisp and a little tart but they’re free.

Next day I read in the paper that the Indian government is pulling out all stops to develop renewables and cut back severely on fossil fuel imports in the near future. Adani, the Indian company driving the development of the huge Galilee coal basin in Queensland, is also switching to investment in renewables. At the same time Australia is ploughing ahead with Galilee as it tries to become the most backward focused energy nation on the planet. Wake up electorate!

Charles on Equilibrium 17
Charles on Equilibrium 17

Back on Rock

2

Back on Rock

Feb 15

Booroomba Rocks

Rockclimbing

 

Rockclimbing for personal enjoyment rather than as an educational activity for others and a huge duty of care for me. This was like revisiting some old friends – the forested granite cliffs and tracks and views that are so deeply ingrained in my psyche, climbs that felt familiar but new again after such a long layoff. Sitting on belay, still, the calming peace of the bush. An eagle soars overhead. With both Charles and myself throwbacks to the old days of double ropes and out of date protection devices that still work effectively. We both trade stories as we swap leads on two easier grade multi pitch routes (Possum, Hortensia) that provide surprisingly absorbing technical and varied climbing.

Rockclimbing has come of age now in Australia. People like me have been doing it all their adult lives into retirement. It’s no longer just the fringe sport of athletic youth. Styles and equipment, even venues, go in and out of fashion but the pursuit endures.

I wonder how long I will be able to keep climbing. Considering Armando Corvini who has lost many of his fingers and toes to frostbite in the Himalayas decades ago and is now at least 75 and still climbing I’ve got at least 20 years yet. Yay. Here we go again!

52 Adventures. That's the aim. In the year from February 2015 and maybe more. Like any real adventure the outcome is unknown. The journey, the comrades, the solitude, the challenges, the special places are what matters. And this is the record – writing, images and video. Enjoy.