Climbing "High Lonesome" again after 15 years
How long does it take to forget an experience? And what do you really forget? The people? The incidents? The adventure? The physical bodily awareness? What parts of the experience remain in memory?
Note: This blog post is for serious climbers with some technical climbing jargon. But it's a short read and you won't spend more than a few minutes on this. I'm not getting into detailed descriptions of the climb itself and there are a few decent pictures of the beautiful landscape towards the end.
Among my climbing friends I am known for not remembering the "beta" (climbing jargon for information that is useful to pass the hardest part of a climb on a rock) on a climb even though I've done it a few times. I always pass this off as a good thing; it is almost like every time I get on a climb, it feels new and feels like my first attempt at it. I may not remember the route, or a sequence of moves to clear the "crux" (the hardest part of a climb), but I sure remember the location of the climb, the approach to the climb, the scenery around, the path to get to the base of a climb, the people who were with me the last time I was on it, etc - the bigger picture if you will - even if it has been a decade and a half.
View of BM Betta from Kanakapura
I say this with confidence because last week on the 20th of June 2020, I was amazed at my recollection of the view of Bananti Marramman Betta (BM Betta for short) from the bridge before Kanakapura driving south from Bangalore. And by the end of the day I realised that my memory of the entire climb from 14 years ago was surprisingly quite accurate. Back in 2005 - 2006, I had made multiple visits to this 800 foot giant slab of rock, but I hadn't gone back since. The rock hadn't moved obviously (I say "obviously" because of the rate of quarrying around Bangalore), the bridge was much smaller back then, and the town of Kanakapura hadn't expanded this much. All said though, seeing the face of the climb from a distance brought back the same exhilaration that I felt in 2005 when I climbed "High Lonesome" for the first time.
So to clarify, High Lonesome is the name of a classic 7 pitch climb on the face of BM betta. After my first time climbing High Lonesome in 2005, I had written an article that got featured in the Deccan Herald - not too proud of it now looking back.
High Lonesome has been retro bolted in 2018 (for more information refer the Bangalore climbers community - BCI - Climbing Guide Book) and last week when my friend and I climbed all the 7 pitches, I was reminded of the awesome effort on part of two of my good climbing buddies who had lead the climb on two separate occasions back in 2005-2006 when the bolts were seriously far apart. They had lead the critical pitches high up on this face with a calm head, not freaking out from the exposure and the run outs that this climb was so famous for. I wasn't confident to lead this climb back then.
All my memories of this climb seemed to have remained. The gorgeous face itself, the ledge at the top of pitch 5 and the freakishly long run outs (which no longer exists thanks to the retro bolting effort) of pitch 6 and 7. The only thing that had changed was my confidence as a climber now, meaning I'm more confident now than I was in 2005. So who cares if I do not remember the moves, as long my climbing skills and form keep me on the rock and get me past the crux. This is more enjoyable in my opinion..
High Lonesome is a very elegant climb and if you are up for a nice long day of climbing (provided the weather is good), this is one climb that should be on your list. Anyway....Have fun and climb safe.
Above: Pictures from 2005-2006
Below: Pictures from June 2020.