It’s all good to have the option of indoor climbing walls in our metros, but the innate joy – the very word that distinguishes it from other forms of climbing – is the rocks within the sport of Rock Climbing. I’m sure there are enough climbers out there who’d agree that, bolts and anchors aside, the joy of traversing vertical surfaces is quadrupled in natural surroundings – of which, thankfully, India is blessed with impressive variety.
Continuing with our Get Curious series, where we focus on learning holidays of the kind that emphasise on the location as much as the activity, this week we chart out places where you can get up close and personal with rocks and learn a new skill to navigate the outdoors too. And no, these aren’t sarkari mountaineering courses, you can actually chill after a hard climb!
1. Hampi for Granite
For some travellers, Hampi in Karnataka is the place of gorgeous sunsets in the company of monkeys amidst ruins of an ancient empire. For another kind of traveller, the beauty lies in the immense bouldering possibilities – one can keep hopping from boulder to boulder, each of which is a remnant of gargantuan granite monoliths. For guidance, head to Tom & Jerry’s Climbing Shop, whose owner Jerry can be seen in Hampi Local, a lovely little documentary about the local climbing scene.
2. Badami for Red Sandstone
Obviously, granite is a tough rock, not recommended for amateurs! To be gentler on your fingers, head to Badami 140 km away, where flaming red sandstone lets you take on longer climbs. Some of the best climbers in the country choose to camp here and train, so you’d be in good company too. To learn from a local climber, try Ganesha Waddar.
3. Spiti Valley for Solitude
The granite found in the nondescript ‘village’ (more like a pitstop) of Chhatru in Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh is of a very different kind than Hampi. To begin with, it’s cold to touch. Situated at an altitude of over 11,000 ft, here you need sheer stamina to scale, for which you’d be awarded with starry skies and very silent nights. Delhi Rock (Delhi’s Climbing Centre) has a Chatru Bouldering Trip coming up in August. Enrol here.
4. Mt Abu for Volcanic Formations
Mount Abu is actually a part of the Mount Abu Wildlife Sanctuary, one of the oldest mountain chains in the country. Although the area is made up of granite as well, what we are talking about is volcanic rock formations that speak of the weathering action of the elements over the millennia. Take up a 10-day Basic Course in Rock Climbing organised here by Swami Vivekananda Institute of Mountaineering.
5. Ladakh for Boulder Fest
They call it the ‘Climbing Party @ 12,000 ft’, that’s what the Suru Boulder Fest in the Suru Valley of Ladakh is. The ‘boulder problems’ and routes in this region were opened as recently as 2007, and have since become a coveted spot amongst climbers from around India and overseas. While there’s no official course here per se, it’s a great opportunity to learn from the top bouldering athletes. You can also take up a rock climbing tour with Gravi T Climbing, a bouldering gym based out of Leh and the organiser of the festival.
Image Credit: Bikatadventures