The roads wind, go up, go down and open into views that take your breath away. The morning jog route is lined with trees and quaint little houses which look like they’re straight out of a six year old’s drawing book. Every morning, as I run among these lovely hills, I thank God. But I also wish that my shoe lace would come undone so I could stop to tie it and take a few extra breaths before my lungs explode.
But of course, it never does happen and I keep running. As does everyone else. We meet a lot of early morning walkers – people of all sizes and colors and they seem to really like find this group of panting, puffing people. We get a lot of “good morning”s and “hey, good show, keep going”s.
Today will go down in history as the day we did Sports Climbing on the institute’s indoor wall. Everyone has different reasons for this but the indoor sports climbing is something no one will easily forget. The lesson learnt is that to be a good climber, enthusiasm and sincerity is not enough; strong upper arms and Perry Allan shoes are absolutely essential. I cringe as I remember how often I slipped and fell and how I watched in envy when Akanksha just kept on going, like some human lizard. For those of you reading this BEFORE going for the course, I would like to say that carry a pair of shoes which has minimum surface area and good grip. The shoes that you use for running and/or trekking are simply not the thing. Also, do some chin ups in the gym. If you are like most people, you will be surprised at how difficult chin ups are, not say to how painful.
Sports Climbing, also known as Artificial Climbing and Wall Climbing, is about climbing walls which have shapes like nothing on earth and which have footholds and handholds in supposedly helpful places. A climber’s expertise is graded on the basis of the speed in which she covers the maximum distance. I think it is a fantastic sport, satisfying both physically and mentally. The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute has two excellent artificial walls - one indoor and one outdoor – and the instructors are great too. My only grudge is that they didn’t give us the right shoes for the thing.
It’s been four days, and we’re all finding likeminded people and making friends that will go a long way in deciding the type of experience we have over the next month. The day starts at 0600 in the morning with the run and the PT, and bedtime is at 2100 hours - Fifteen waking hours in which we do all we do is learn about mountaineering and talk. No TV, newspapers, sightseeing, partying, or shopping. So we live into each others’ lives, talking and sharing in ways that come naturally to women. A large part of the reason why the Basic Mountaineering Course has been an experience that I will always count among special blessings is that I have found friends here that I will always be proud of.
Hey, didn’t one of you girls promise to find out walls in Pune where I could climb once I got back to Lonavala?
The Quadrangle by night