Satish Shrestha (सतिश श्रेष्ठ )

In The Quest Of…

Unforgettable Climbing Fiasco

Posted by Satish Shrestha on June 12, 2011


It is the second day in the camp ground; sunny, warm and beautiful. Heather seeks people to go climb Aqualine route, a two pitch climb graded 5.9 in the east side of Banks Lake. It requires us to kayak to get to the rock face and start climbing from the kayak. I tell Heather that I don’t have much experience in kayaking. She convinces me that if I wait until I get better at it to try an adventure, I end up doing pretty much nothing. I concur. Trusting the company, Heather, Wyeth and I commence our journey in three kayaks to the middle of Banks Lake.

Map of the Lake and our Location. Click on image for better view.

After kayaking for about 20 minutes, we reach our destination- a spectacular rock wall about 150 ft high. I get off my kayak and start preparing my gear. Heather, an adroit climber, leads the climb as Wyeth belays her from the kayak. After completing the first pitch, Heather preps to belay Wyeth from the top. She tells me to check Wyeth’s gear and knots. The whole time I think that Wyeth is an experienced climber. Taking Heather’s suggestion into account, I keep my eyes on Wyeth’s knot. To my immense surprise, he doesn’t tie his figure eight knot right. I take the end of the rope and tie it for him. I start questioning myself if I should climb today or not. In the mean time, I try to get back to my kayak and I stumble as the waves generated by a motor boat sways my kayak. I am all soaked. As Wyeth climbs up, I am in charge of untangling the rope. The kayak is drifted away from the bottom of rock face and the rope is tangled in a paddle attached to the kayak. Fortunately, Jacki and John appear in a canoe. They attempt to help push the kayak towards me and untangle the rope. Again, a motor boat passes by us and the water gets very wavy. Jacki attempts to get off the canoe but stumbles. John, then, loses his paddle. Analyzing the situation, I shout to Heather that I am not sure if I want to climb today. But in order to clean up the carabiner, it was essential for me to climb. Making sure that Heather was on belay, I opt to climb. Because the kayak was drifted away, it is not possible for me to start climbing from the recommended starting point. Thus, I start traversing from the side next to the shore in order to avoid water. It was a fun traverse. After traversing about 12 feet, I finally reach the recommended starting point of the climb. As I get there, the waves get my rock shoes and it is partially wet. I ask the belayer to take some rope but the structure of rock face and the noise from motor boats passing by make it very difficult for me to communicate with the belayer. I shout “take” several times but my voice doesn’t reach Heather. My feet are unstable after holding on to a tiny ledge for some time. Finally my partially wet feet slips, I land on water and my rock shoes are all soaked. It makes it even harder to climb. But I do not want to give up yet. My toes are wet and are making spongy sound every time I put pressure on them. Jacki and John are a little away from the rock face and can see Heather. They communicate with Heather in my stead. I push myself to around fifteen feet up despite the wet slippery shoes. I try to convince my mind that it is possible to climb despite wet shoes. After taking rope off of the biner in first bolt, I keep pushing myself up. I need some slack and I shout. But my voice still doesn’t reach Heather. John, from his canoe, communicates with Heather and I get some slack. Because she can’t see or hear me, it is difficult on her part to know how much slack I need. Not getting enough slack to take off the rope from the biner, I opt to leave it there. Traversing towards the sharp edge of the rock I get a good hand hold and try to mantle myself up that hold. Unfortunately, my wet shoes give up on me and I slip. Then, I decide this is not the day for me. John passes on the information to Heather and she lowers me. That’s the end of the climb for me for the day. Ryan appears on another Kayak and help me unlock the kayak to get to the shore. Heather and Wyeth then go climb the second pitch as I lay my wet gears and shirt on the sun to dry. On the way back, I get some kayaking tutorial from Wyeth. At the end of the day, I reminisce the events and thank Heather, John, Jacki and Wyeth for their patience and company. I am more thankful to John and Jacki whose presence made my communication with top belayer possible. In retrospect, considering Wyeth’s better experience with kayaks, I think I should have been the second person to climb instead of third. Despite the fiasco, none of us is hurt. Though not quite satisfied as I couldn’t finish the climb, I think the whole experience was a great learning opportunity. If I get a chance, I will certainly attempt to climb that route again. Thanks to Petey for making all this possible.

Found this picture on google. Added texts for info

Here’s a picture taken from Petey’s camera

Heather leading the climb, Wyeth on belay

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