Monday, October 12, 2009
I’ve been a rock-climber for nearly as long as I’ve been diving for. My brother - some 9 years older than me - took me off to a cliff with university buddies when I was 8. I loved it (and added some interesting dimensions to what other considered ‘chimneying’) but only really started to getting involved when I was 17 myself. I’ve been climbing ever since, opening a lot of sea-cliff routes, having suitable rent-an-epics ever since, and the rock and quality thereof on Flinders had some influence on our choice too. It’s curious however how many wonderful and weird people it has brought me in contact with. I met Barbs at the bottom of a cliff - what more can I say (and stay out of trouble ;-)). Best catch of my life that one. Okay it IS a selective mechanism. Most climbers tend towards the less-than-ordinary end of the scale. And, although there are always a few extremists in any extreme sport, a close proximity to one’s own mortality does tend to show your climbing partners your true colours. And while it’s a very individual sport, your life is in your second’s hands, so you need them and have to get on with them. You have to trust them and they have to trust you. If you have no climbing partners, you end up not climbing much. So the ones still involved after a few years tend to be selected both for survival potential and for getting on with at least some of their fellow mortals. It also has the whole camaraderie of survival of the extreme thing you get among combat soldiers and those who have taken on tough stuff and survived together. (Grin) Climbers tend to regard themselves as rather special bunch (which for certain values of ‘special’ they probably are. Bunch of lunatics all of us. I remember climbing Execution rock (a horrible multi-pitch thing) on the way to Port St. Johns and having a gent screech to halt below and bellow "Come down you mad fools! You’ll kill yourselves." Considering the rock quality he wasn’t that far off being right.) The upside of this is that the climbing community - although small - tends to go out of its way to be good to other climbers (and sandbag them of course). Years ago Barbs and I hiked all over the UK doing the routes in ‘Hard Rock’ and starting with knowing one climber, got ‘passed around’ from climber to climber. It was great. So with the boys coming over with us and them being better rock-artists than me I thought I’d better try and make some local contacts. So far, no-one on the island but Tassie’s climbers seem set to prove they’re a friendly bunch too. It’s very encouraging.