Almost exactly four years ago I was stood beneath a piece of grey pockety rock in a German forest, having just put on a brand new pair of 5.10 climbing shoes, about to get onto my first ever outdoor sport route on the sharp end of the rope.
It has been quite a while since my last post on this blog, and the main reason for this is that the time I used to spend on the laptop typing up blog posts has been taken over by writing for work…yes, the honeymoon travel period has come to an end, and I’ve had to pick up the pen for payment rather than pleasure once again!
Have you ever heard of Tirolean climbing grades? Neither had I until very recently, when my brother told me a story about him and his climbing partner struggling on routes that were supposed to be far, far below their abilities. Having spent around three weeks climbing in various parts of Tirol, I can now testify that this is indeed a thing.
There’s nothing like a different type of rock to make you feel like a bit of a novice again. Austria has been a country of many firsts for me, and one of these was my first experience of climbing on granite. And it well and truly kicked my ass!
With a sickening noise, the tyres skidded on the loose pebbles, as the van swerved violently this way and that on the steep incline. One, two, there revs of the engine and we had to admit defeat, retreating back to the relative safety of the road below. Deep breath, let the tyres cool for a second and try again.
We were less than ten minutes drive from our destination, but separated from it by a steep track of loose gravel, which swallowed up our heavy vehicle in a cloud of dust as we tried to propel our way up, holding the wheels in a tight grip they couldn’t escape. But there was no way back at this point, either. Reversing back down the zig-zag we had just driven up was out of the question.
I don’t know how long-term travelers can hop from one place to another every few days, always on the move and never settling anywhere for long enough to catch their breath. It seems more like torture than fun to me! We prefer to travel by settling in one place for at least three weeks at a time – it allows us to get a feel for the local life, create a routine for ourselves, and of course sink our teeth into some climbing.
So after nearly six weeks in Greece, all of this within a 100km radius of Leonidio, a week on the move through three new countries was a bit of a shock to our systems. Not only did this entail perpetually looking for new places to stay overnight, shop for food, etc, we also decided it was time to be tourists and see some stuff. And as it happens, this can be pretty stressful and expensive. First world problems!