I’ve just spent the past four days with the team from the Australian School of Mountaineering, ASM, learning more about rock-climbing and advancing my rope handling skills.
This was done in the Blue Mountains, just to the west of Sydney, a place where I am finding myself with increasing frequency of late, and not surprisingly as there is plenty of opportunity to hone my abseiling and climbing skills on the abundance of cliff faces in the region.
And what better place to do it than one of the world’s great mountain heritage areas.
Whilst my ultimate goal is high-altitude climbing, there are basic skills that can’t be practiced enough, much like military drilling, to ensure that the skills are second nature and can be performed under extreme conditions. I have been placing a lot of focus on rescue skills, after all, it is good fun until something goes wrong, and whilst there is always a chance of that how you respond will have a great bearing on the outcome…
That isn’t to say it shouldn’t be fun, and when I embarked on this journey I made a promise to myself that if I stopped having fun it is game over and time to do something else…
And we did have a lot of fun, and Shane, who instructed me on my advanced abseiling and rope rescue course, laughed as we welcomed each other and asked whether I can tie my shoelaces yet? Sadly, I had to tell him I couldn’t, but I had mastered quite a few other knots.
There were three other people on the first two days of the course as it has various stages that can be done separately, and with some time due off from work, I decided to spend four days in the mountains to cover as much as possible.
Our climbing was done in the spectacular Mt York area, not too far from the small township of Mt Victoria, against a very scenery backdrop.
The course began in the headquarters of ASM located in Katoomba covering important aspects such as safe movement on and around the cliffs.
On the first day we undertook a series of small climbs at Mt York, in near freezing conditions. These climbs left me wondering what they call larger climbs!
It was great to be on the rock-face, improving skills under the guidance of our very experienced instructors, and there were even some moments where I happily found myself outside my comfort zone!
Our second day was spent entirely on the rock-face, climbing and learning, and we managed around five climbs of varying degrees of difficulty.
It was nice to have the weekend pass knowing that I still had another two days in the mountains learning and climbing. I did this with Nathan, another ASM instructor who was covering important areas like route selection, hazard assessment, and protection systems. We did some revision work on rescues using Z-drags, and abseiling an injured climber in tandem. I hope the need never arises, but it is important to be proficient just in case either is called upon as a rescue tool.
We were greeted with fantastic weather for the final day which was spent setting up climbs, climbing, and moving on to another climb.
It was quite an exhilarating weekend of climbing, learning new skills, getting outside the comfort zone and just having fun out and about. I can’t wait to get back out there for another crawl up the wall.
As for Dope on a Rope, let’s just say I’ve improved greatly!!
Very impressive! I’ll stick to indoor climbing for now, but I’ve got to say the views are compelling.
I stood in awe of the view frequently last weekend,even though I’ve seen it often!! Take care…
It’s a great part of the world!! The Blue Mountains….
Great post, loved the pics!
Since I live in Florida and we have no mountains, I really enjoy going to the indoor rock climbing gym.
For the past year I have had this desire to break out of the indoor wall and hit the real thing. Last year I was in Tennessee and signed up for a rock climbing adventure, but due to an unfortunate event involving keys getting locked in the truck, we missed the experience.
I’m heading out to Utah next week so I am hoping I can make this happen!!!
I’m the opposite, but will be heading to the indoor climbing gym over the next few months. But as you can see from the photos, it is such a great thing to be doing outdoors. Just standing there taking in the view.. Is it far from Florida to Utah, or is my geography letting me down??
Everything is better outdoors! Running outside as opposed to inside on a treadmill makes such a difference.
UT is on the other side of the US from Florida. I’ll have a bit of flying (and layovers) on my way out there and back.