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Oct
23

Climbing High

by Jo 

So as a great man once said (or was it Driller), Get out, Do stuff.So I packed my rock-shoes and chalk bag and hit the world. 

First up, the desert.Id always wanted to experience deserts but a distinct lack of rivers had pretty well knocked this off our joint hit list.So when a chance climb in Jordan came up I was there.

It was more incredible than I could have imagined – dunes of red sand as far as you could see and massive Jebels, or rock mountains, rising thousands of feet high, hiding a complex maze of canyons.The climbing was wonderful and so was the hospitality of the Bedouins – no common language but signs and smiles.

One particular memory is when after one long hot day we were abseiling down to the desert floor – it must have been late because wed heard the evening call to prayer – and there was this small figure running across the desert towards us.He turned out to be a young lad desperate to climb so my partner leant him her boots and harness, several sizes too big, and I took him up a rock tower in the evening sun.He was a natural and his dream was to become a guide I sure hope he makes it.

And from the heat of the African deserts I had a chance to go north to the Arctic Circle to climb the granite cliffs that rise straight out of the sea in the Lofoten  Islands off the coast of Norway.The sun never set so we could come off the mountains at midnight and still swim in high mountain lakes.

Climbing high in the land of the midnight sun

and great nights round camp fires

Then down to the wild open landscapes of South Africa.Great memories of exploring the Kloofs, or canyons, then heading up to the remote Zimbabwe border where we hiked for a day to a high mountain bivvy cave; up at 4 am the next day to walk to the foot of one of the highest cliffs in South Africa, climbing as dawn broke to the sound of African drums.We climbed all day, it was complex route-finding and terrifying sections where there was almost nothing to hold on to, with 600 feet of space below our feet and another 600 feet above.

 

We were still climbing as the sun set and in Africa the night comes fast arriving at the top happy and tired, then finding our way down through the dark to the bivvy cave under one of the starriest night I have ever seen.Big grins all round.

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Yet again its the people that it so special, the friends you make, the village kids running alongside, showing you their goats and chickens and home-made toys.

 

 

And the good clean fun of sunny Mediterranean crags.   Or Eastern Europe, climbing in new unfamiliar countries, between blue seas and the snow-capped mountains of Croatia and Turkey

Then closer to home theres the Alps where you can climb way above the clouds in blazing sunshine and clear blue skies, or where you crouch, huddled against the cliff, hanging off a couple of rusty ancient pegs, trying not to worry about the approaching black clouds, hoping you will get up and off before the weather breaks and you wont be benighted.

Climbing in the Dolomites  

                                     

   above the clouds

 

 Then its always good to come home too back to Wales and the Lakes and the sea cliffs where you can be perched on a ledge eye-to-eye with a peregrine falcon and finally our local crags and mates.

But really its about the buzz, the mix of excitement and fun, tales told and legends born over beers with your friends.Not much different from paddling really.