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“I start carefully by placing my feet on small bumps. The friction is good. My feet are holding well while I caress the small crystals with my fingers. The first few metres of the ascent are easily tackled. Sweat starts to break out as I jam my fingers in the crack and get my feet to balance on a small ledge. The protection anchor, though only 5m below, seems miles away. Yes! Ten metres is a long distance to fall. Maybe just too long. I carefully select the appropriate protection, while balancing gingerly on the hand and foot holds, and slide a nut along a crack till it is securely wedged in the bottleneck portion of the crack. I quickly pass the rope tied to my seat harness through. As I feel the rope tighten, I know that I am safe.”
The next few feet up are tricky as the footholds disappear. I am forced to push the soles of my climbing shoes hard on the plain surface. Thankfully, the high-friction, rubber-soled, skintight shoes are doing a great job! I jam the first digit of my fingers in the crack and move up, my feet still smearing the plain surface of the rock. The overhanging nature of the rock is tiring my arms and forearms. The rock is tearing at my fingers; my being is focused on the tiny rock crystals in front of my face. My body is threatening to give up and send me crashing into the void. Hyperventilating, I scamper on to the safety of the ledge securing myself and wait as my climbing partner effortlessly follows up the crack. We scramble up to the top of the pinnacle enjoying every bit of the euphoric moment. Months of training have paid off….
Three months have passed since my ascent of the ‘pinnacle’ with Annie. I begin to feel that same old familiar itch yet again – a longing to feel the air below my feet, and the steep rock close to my face.”
Courtesy: Mohit Oberoi (Rock climber, Ironman triathlete and trail runner, Mohit is the author of India’s first manual for rock climbers, ‘Guide to Rock Climbing in and around Delhi’)