Learning the craft of tradclimbing

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Trad climbing course on Kullaberg, Sweden. Stefan Jacobsen, my instructor, gives a running commentary, while I try not to freak.

I have been climbing for about 1 year now.

It is a passionate love story, between me and the rocks. When I started, I was dreaming of high, snow clad mountains.

(I still have this dream!)

But in the meanwhile, I have discovered the beauty of meeting yourself, your fears, your physical limit on lines in crags much shorter thatn 5000 m. How clean the mind becomes when you let the body guide you, purely concentrated on surviving, getting the next hold, finding the balance,  breathing.

The first step, the  very beginning – climbing plastic holds in my local gym at OSKK was pretty scary. I was worried to fall down the 20 cm, that my partner would forget to hold the rope. Somehow I learned to trust my partner, discovered that you dont learn to climb harder without pushing to the limit and taking these falls.

The second step, getting outside, doing sport climbing routes on real rocks. They felt much more hard and sharp than the plastic holds in the gym. I was scared, 3 meters up, under the sky, confused how to translate my knowledge of holding pink and blue grips into this ocean of grey stone.  Again I discovered, that to climb harder, to meet yourself at your limit, to get this transcendental experience of yourself alone in the world on the rock, climbing up, up, up – you have to fail, and fail,  take a lot of falls. You have to trust your partner, the rope, the shiny bolts in the wall. The coctail is a magical drug, enchanting, providing sore fingers and silly, instant happiness.

I just took the third step.

Tradclimbing.

Meeting the rock, virgin as it is, without any man made enhancements to assure protection and safe falls. Bringing your own gear, placing it meticulously, judging the probability it will stay there in case of a fall. Freaking out whe you go too high above the last placement, and cant find a good spot for the next piece of gear. Breathing slowly, calming down your beating heart.

On the beginners course, an instructor was hanging on a rope next to me all the time.

Own gear, is own responsibility.

Its up to me myself to ensure I come down alive, and healthy.

The first climbing trip to the crag, after graduating the beginners class was an empowering and scary experience. Leading a route without an instructor next to me, alone, seperated by a 20 m vertical wall from the rest of humanity, I discovered I was discussing with my guarding angel.

– Come on, help me out here. Will this hold?

And the sun breaks trough, shines on a hold, I finish leading the route.

Bubbling happiness, silly happiness, still so many things to learn.

Full of gratitude to teachers, belayers, climbing friends and guarding angels.

Aiki Travel to Japan

What is aiki travel?

We went to Japan for the first time. With our Sensei. Thats an entirely different way of travelling.

I have been practicing Aikido for 3 years. Not very goodyet, but eager to learn more.

With me was my son. He is really cool doing Aikido.

And our Sensei.

I learned a lot from our trip to the head quarters.

But the most important lessons was from my Sensei.

Always watch your feet.

Balance yourself, before you meet others.

In Aikido, we work with energy.

Lessons taught when playing cards with the boys in the long hotel corridor.

When my senses suffered total overload after 3 hours of shopping in Shibuya.

Japan is a total sensory overload, here exploring Shibuya

Practicing in Hombu Dojo

It is such an honor, to walk trough the doors to the Aikikai Headquarters. To change clothes in the dressing room, enter the big dojo with the white tatamis, sit quietly waiting as the rows fill up with people.

Its 0630 in the morning, and time for the traditional class with Doshu.

Together with Doshu, in Hombu Dojo, the world headquarter of Aikido

 

Returning is part of the journey

That is right.

The day you come home is still part of your trip.

Bring with you all your bags, souvenirs, unpack in the cozy, well known atmosphere. Relax. Land.

Close your eyes, and feel how the trip has changed you.

Balikaylar Canyon

Around 1 hours drive from Istanbul, close to an international airport is a fabulous canyon – Honey Rocks – or Balikaylar in turkish.

weekend vocabulary

  • fire – ateş
  • rope – ip
  •  fish – balık

It surprises me to se63321_439805333213_7562749_ne litter scattered around this beautiful place, but luckily its only around the head of the trail.

We run along the trail with my 2 turkish friends, dragging the lunch with us, following the gorge upriver.

We meet friendly climbers, that let all of us have a go on an easy route, my first encounter with the vertical world.

We eat our lunch, bread, cheese, eggs, watermelon looking at the rainbow sparkles from a waterfall.

We get back to the camping, its first time my turkish friends try to tent, they are full of worries, but relax when we join the company of the climbers around the fire.

We sing aloud to celebrate the birthday of the owner.

We wake up in the morning mist, the body gets warmed by hot turkish tea from these small glass cups. Time to pack the tents, say goodbye to new friends, a little photo session before driving back to Istanbul.

On the way back to the city of 20 millions, just half an hours drive away, I am  tired, happy, and have a smoky smell in the hair.

 

Hiking in Japan

Japanese Alps
We came with the shinkansen from Hiroshima
Changed in Osaka
Slow, scenic route
police station
Takayama
K-house, an excellent surprise, cheap and clean, and friendly.
Kamiguchi – busride

No map 😦

Explosion of colors

Straight up, hardship is good for your character

The few people we meet are very well prepared, all the right equipment, in awe of the mountain
Yamaya

yellow shoes and blue shoes
Mt Yari we

are woken up around 0500, everybody is packing and shuffling

Standing at the top of Yarisan (3190 m), looking down at the world trough a sea of clouds, sun on the right, moon on the left, in the magic moment of dawn, I appreciate the japanese tradition of conquering peaks together with the sun.

Japanese style – look at the sunrise!

Climb down, and enjoy the breakfast

Down in the mountain hut again, Pawel is enjoying a well deserved breakfast, after an early ascent and catching the rising sun at top of Mt Yari.

Down, down, down

Magical, enchanted forest

Hiking down trough a magic enchanted forest, I expected a unicorn or sorcerer to stand before me on the next bend of the path

Onsen

Clean, fresh, reenergized, all kind of thoughts fly trough our head in the bus and train, on the way to Tokyo.

Preparing for take off

Well, the tickets are bought, visa applications are sent – and we have had administered the needed shots.
I am looking forward to my first trip to India, happy as a little kid …
Very excited – this is an old dream coming true … but also as the departure gets closer and closer, starting to be a bit worried.
I will be travelling on my own with my 2 kids, aged 9 and 12.

Apart from lightheaded happiness, small issues of worry kick in …   recent reports about assaults on single female travellers in India (happened somepalce where we are not going) , maoists in Nepal, the zillions of bugs we can catch there, everybody arount trying to scare you with dirt, ilness …

I am thinking and wondering – how will  the locals will react to our family?
Can we expect friendliness and helpfullness – can we basically feel safe?

We plan to fly to Chennai, stay a few days in Mahabalipuram, the go on to a wildlife sanctuary for a safari experience (and riding elephants!).
Ideally we would like to visit a hill station, stay at a plantation, sail on the backwaters.
I have allocated 3 weeks for all of this – and then  we will fly on to Kathmandu, where we have booked a trek to Everest Base Camp.

I have played around with Feng Shui a bit at my home – and put all my travel books in the hallway – to clearly illustrate what I want. Now it is going to HAPPEN, as we speak we are 10 days from lift of!

I have plans of posting updates from my travel both here on my blog.