Holy Indian Tonsai. One main strip of restaurants and bungalow stays. Western hippie rock climbers everywhere. Slacklines. There’s a Chillout Bar, a Uma’s Kitchen and a Namaste Cafe in place of the Sawadi Cafe. There are huge monkeys. The only significant difference I’ve seen thus far is that I’m yet to hear a single Bob Marley tune…but I don’t want to jinx it…(okay, next day update: I’m currently listening to Bob and last night they were playing the same house music as in Tonsai).
Oh, by the way, I’m in ಹಂಪೆ (Hampi). Andrea and I took a sleeper bus from Bangalore last night, which is absolutely amazing by the way. $8 for an 8 hour overnight ride in cozy beds with snacks and water provided, and you don’t have to pay for stay for the night!
Hanging out on our sleeper we watched Pilgrimage, a 2003 climbing documentary starring Chris Sharma. Hampi apparently became a known-around-the-world bouldering destination after the release of this documentary. At the moment we’re hanging out at the relaxing restaurant of Goan Corner, the popular climbers stay, and waiting out the heat for an evening climbing sesh. I’m excited and also nervous. I have only been outdoor climbing a handful of times, and after seeing this documentary, this shit looks haarrrrrrddddd. Hampi is an endless field of boulders but the climbing appears to be consistently big moves to sharp crimps on rocks that are otherwise absent of any features. Well, I guess I’ll have a better idea this evening!
My fangers!!! Ahhhhhhhh!!! My poor poor fangers!!! This rock is not forgiving when you fall. That being said, it’s spectacular quality granite. And this boulder field is endless!!! It makes Prilep look like peanuts. Seriously.
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We got a few days of good climbing in. The climbing runs in two sessions: morning and evening. We get up about 6:30 AM and climb until 11 or so, when it just gets too hot. Then there is typically an evening session once the sun is low enough. The sunsets are spectacular here by the way!
On one particular day we decided to climb The Rishimuk, a beautiful peak right next to Goan Corner with some sport climbs on it. The climbs are in the shade until late afternoon which makes them a great follow-up to a quick morning bouldering session!
There are first pitch climbs that lead up to the same anchor and then a second pitch finishes on top. The climbs are grades as only 6a+ (5.10c) but I thought they were fricken’ hard! The crimps are so thin and the wall is completely vertical. There’s really no rest ’til the finish.
Typical rooms at Goan Corner, hammocks and stacks on stacks of crash pads:
We celebrated Holi with a colorful sunset, some colorful powder and some moon meditation. Time to get weird!
Finally time for a rest day. Let’s go check out the temples!
I genuinely felt like I was in the Jungle Book. I’m pretty sure I found Cousin Louie’s Temple. When I arrived at the entrance of the temple photoed above, I took off my shoes as the sign instructed, and then stood there at the entrance pondering over how I could possibly get in. There were so many monkeys leaping about and sitting around picking bugs off of one another that it was impossible to get by without tripping over one. I eventually mustered up the courage to just go for it, having no idea how the monkeys would react. Would they run away? Would they all of a sudden panic and attack me?! I sort of stomped my feet on the ground and waved my hands, hoping not to catch any of my inattentive distant relatives by surprise. Finally there was a free space and I made my way through. In the end the monkeys had not too much interest in me with the exception of the youngsters. One in particular insisted on swatting at my foot as I tried to sneak by!
Every morning there are 2-3 boys up on the rocks with thermoses trying to earn a few bucks selling chai before school starts at 9am. They shout the moment you come into view, “Chai? Chai? Chai?!”. On the one occasion that we decided to buy chai from them they LEAPED across the rocks to get to us as quickly as possible. The least I can say is good service! Thanks boys!
Andrea and I hiked up to the top of Mathanga Hill the next day. Some sections of the hike are really crazy. There are low angle rocks ramping off to steep edges with nothing but a suggestive “stay-away” white line of paint between you and the abyss below.
On our last day we made a few site-seeing stops with a more climber oriented agenda. Having watched the climbing documentary on the way here we wanted to see some of the crazy crazy climbs that Chris Sharma and friends were doing. Below is The Middle Way, 8a (V11). Trying to get some Sharma power from the rock!
Nate Gold’s absolutely crazy double dyno climb Lambaba, 7b+ (V8):
Sunset at the monkey temple! 575 stairs…ahem, Kristina???
Last day sendwich!
We made a few friends that just so happened to be headed to our next destination, Badami, on the same day. Hop on the bus! It’s time for new adventures!