Monday, September 17, 2007

The call of the wild

By Rod Smith

AS a new climber I want to know if I have to sell my car so that I can be like all the other climbers that I hang around with.

None of them have transport which I put down to their heightened sense of environmental awareness, especially when we go to wilderness crags like Earlwood, Berowra and the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons.

Having six climbers hanging out of my Datsun 200B is not 100 per cent safe for humans – although many wear their Petzl brain buckets on the way – but it certainly is better for the environment.

I’m willing to sell my car for a number 10 hex.

While it will be inconvenient not having a car it will also lessen the embarrassment of being the only climber I know who owns a car and knows how to drive an automatic transmission.

With no car I can clear my head of all the mechanical knowledge I have and replace it with important climbing learning, like how to sling a chickenhead and why it’s better to thruch up a grade 8 death chimney with no protection than lead a bolted grade 14.

What I hope is that lots more bumblies appear on the horizon to take up the slack in the system by letting me bum a ride.

The only real disadvantage I can see in not having a car is the safety factor. My last emergency-climbing epic was at the climbing gym when I was benighted on a green climb.

Luckily I had the car and next morning could drive to the nearest McDonald's for breakfast. If I'd had to catch a bus I would surely have died on the spot from starvation.

After I sell my car I plan to make two more important changes so that I am a more environmentally conscious climber like my friends.

1. Never offer to buy a shout at the bar.

2. Get together with three others and buy a coffee and then sit around it for two hours.

Now that I read back those two aims look more economically conscious. Maybe I’ll stop buying deodorant, which is both economically and environmentally conscious.

By the way my name is Billy and I have been climbing for five minutes.

I've already put up six routes - four of them are unclaimed staircase climbs; one was the monkey bars at my old primary school and the other was the first recorded ascent of a ladder on a bunk bed display in the Ikea shop.

I’m on the lookout for climbing partners. Beginners are OK, especially if they own transport, like a Vespa or a pair of rollerblades.