Wild Wonderful Karnataka

Rocking in Ramnagaram

  The rocks are always so inviting to climb, and we were a group of people always looking for something adventurous. Magnetized with the excitement of a day in "Sholay" land , we were on our way to Ramnagaram with a coach to do a lot of learning in climbing rocks, after a long planning.

  Agenda for the day was (in no particular order):
  1) Rappelling
  2) Bouldering
  3) Obstacle river crossing

  It was a not so ordinary Saturday for all of us. Specially getting up at 6:00 am on Saturday and making to the waiting van at 7:00am was just showing the enthusiasm we all had. One
of the participants even had a walkman with headphones listening to "Sepultura" (very very hard rock indeed) at 6:30 in the morning!!

  The van was preoccupied by 3 people - the driver, the person who had helped to organise the "adventure", and a kid who looked younger than 15 years old. The "organiser" deserted us mid way through the journey, and left me wondering "How is he going to get to Ramnagaram?". This was based on the assumption that the organiser was the coach. Only on reaching Ramnagaram did the clouds break and we came to know that the "kid" was the Men's National Sport climbing champion and he is leaving in June to France for the World championship... Didn't care too much about the organiser any more. Oh! We really are in safe and great hands to learn.

  Well, Ram Nagaram is considered as the Mecca of Rock Climbing. It does have awesome opportunities for the budding and professionals alike. It has some great routes to climb and few bolted routes as well.

  After having home made idli for breakfast and some warm up we were raring to go. After the initial "how to do and how not to do" session, first on the cards was bouldering, in which we climbed small/medium sized rocks and boulders without any external help/ropes. Nagrajan was going great with his skills to jump high and firm grip. With most of us making it a great success we moved to dyno, where you are perched on the rock face, and the next good grip is 3-4 feet above you. One has to jump high, fly through the air and somehow manage to get a good grip higher up, something similar to what Tom Cruise does in MI-2.... Not very easy unless you are anticipating the next grip well.... Most of us got the fingers bleeding in trying it out, and few had to repeat the stunt no less than a dozen times before they got the hang of it. Still it was great fun to enjoy the "never give up" attitude in trying...

  After that unexpectedly came a great show, when the coach gave us a treat of watching 7-b rock climbing.. That is one of the most difficult rock to climb in India. The routes more challenging than this are in Hampi and Badami in Karnataka. Professional equipment was used for the climb, mostly imported, but the shoes were the most intriguing. The sole was pitch black rubber and was in the shape of a "bent" banana. "Are you sure that is a shoe?", "Where do you wear it?" were some typical questions the shoe evoked.

  The rock face shown in the picture has an angle greater than 90 degrees.

  All charged up with the show, we moved ahead for rapelling, but not before finishing the lunch. The coach gave us a free hand in Rapelling. Rapelling was the most thrilling and frightening ( for me!! .. I really was scared. ;) ) part of the complete schedule. Hands holding the ropes got really hot during the descent, and it was discovered that slow and steady was the way to go. One of the participants even went to the length of saying "Main kasam khata hoon ki main neeche nahin jaoonga" (I swear that i am not going to do this). The coach slowly lured him over the cliff, step by step, to a point from which he couldn't return. So the deed was completed by all. While one was rappelling others enjoyed the coconuts from close by field, freshly plucked from the trees.

  River crossing couldn't be managed as we took enough time for rapelling and the river was pretty far.. so we had to simulate it somewhere!!! We found two coconut trees and then tied the rope between them to have some fun. While we were about to finish tying the rope, an old man from the farm came to us shouting and all unhappy about what all was going on!! We had to stop. Thus we concluded a great day, memories of which are going to float forever in the busy minds...

  ps: Reality check
  Do carry lots of water, first aid for the hands, sports shoes and any other small luxuries you can think of, like a stereo or an umbrella for shade while you are waiting for your turn on rapelling. The water from the handpump in Ram Nagaram is yellow in colour, a bit muddy and tastes metallic. No wonder Gabbar was such a survivor!!