Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nyamuk Wall

One of the first things I learned about this place is how its name ("nyamuk" means mosquito in Malay) indicates its regular inhabitants. Literally. There is no direct access, so from where the cars were parked, we had to walk a short distance through a housing area to its edge, where a trail begins. From the start of the trail leading to this climbing spot, it is a short 5-minute hike (about 10, for someone like me, of course). It isn't a clear-path hike, mind you - we had to climb over boulders, zig-zag around impenetrable obstacles, and keep from tripping on tree roots (fine, this last point is applicable only to me). Although the experienced climbers joked about the hike being the warm-up, they seemed hardly worked up at all by it. On the other hand, I got all flushed and was sweating like mad. And that, with a girl climber having helped carry my rope! *major embarrassment*

The rock face here is much higher than the part of Nanyang Wall that we climbed previously. It has but a narrow ledge upon which the climbers and their gear perch, with very little room to walk about to and fro. I don't know how the other climbers do it on 2 legs, but when I had to move about, I did on all fours, plus my butt for additional stability. *ahem* I am so not outdoor-trained.

The site itself is lovely - quiet, secluded, and sufficiently distanced from highways, buildings and other forms of civilisation.

There are quite a number of routes set-up here, the easiest being 5cs. I do not know for sure how high most of them go, but I would estimate they're at least 25 meters on average. This is because the modest 50m rope I brought was only enough to climb about three-quarters of one of the average-length routes.

At first, we were the only ones there, and the climbers jokingly cheered at being able to hog the entire place to ourselves. We put our gear down, and they proceeded to unpack various types of insect repellents. I was handed a can and instructed to spray it all over my legs. Some sprayed the repellent all over their arms as well. Coils were lit and placed at convenient corners all around.

The name of this place isn't a joke. Within no more than ten minutes getting there, I'd had to brush away several nyamuks, eager for a meal, from my arms. Of course, while some fussed a little, no one would actually let those little things get in the way of a good climb. As we got ready to start, more climbers arrived.

While most of the climbers there that day could've completed the 5c and 6a routes, I think, not every one is up to lead. Thankfully, we have Sifu, who, as usual, graciously led several and set them up as top-ropes for the rest of us. Sure, some of the stronger climbers also led every single time. Not me though... I needed the assurance of a safely anchored rope!

There is something inexplicably gratifying and extremely enjoyable climbing such long but none-too-difficult routes. They say it takes endurance, but I hardly felt it. There were plenty of good positions for momentary rests, a soft breeze keeping me cool all the way up and the constant eagerness to find out where and what's the next hold like. Unlike indoor colour-coded routes, every next move is an exploration - even more so for the first-timer. It is, I must say, intoxicating and totally addictive. I now understand why serious climbers all have an addiction problem.

A little while after we'd begun, we heard thunder rumbling at a distance. The climbers insisted it's no more real than hallucinations, and laughed it off. I don't think they find it physically possible to stop unless they actually feel raindrops on their heads and noses. It's great.

So, we climbed on. Against the darkened sky, rolling thunder and stronger winds, we climbed on.

And you know, Reader, it never actually did rain until dinner time, which is usually when they would stop anyway.

I don't know if it is possible to continue climbing after it gets dark, but it must be, for as we were leaving, there were others still climbing. On my clumsy hike down, I got in the way of a lone climber going up. He eyed me for two seconds, then promptly stepped aside to let me stumble past him, (probably) lest I should stumble on him... *yikes*

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