Washing The Rope

Bucket List; Do you see a theme developing? I re-ignited a passion yesterday and so started forming another idea for the list. Saving that for my century post.

Yesterday I climbed for the first time in nearly a year (down from 1-4 times a week) and as I was standing at the wall (climbing gym to you dang foreigners) I experienced a very strong feeling of returning and belonging.


People have oft remarked how egalitarian the climbing fraternity is yet I had never really felt it. Yesterday I really felt it for first time, and it was great. No one gave a tiny, eensy little shit about me, what grade I climb, how I got there, my injuries and illnesses, how I spoke, what I was wearing or how I came to be back there. Anything at all. I was a climber amongst other climbers, end of. It was great.

I can only really spot one difference and that is between the folks who do it and the folks that are playing at doing it. Which is cool as we all start somewhere. They are like the ab-initio addicts taking their first hit. It’ll do it for them and they are in or they’ll hate it and not come back.

A chum that I had got into climbing very kindly took me back, patiently belayed me as I got pumped super-fast, fingers failed and generally I tried to climb what my mind was able but my body guffawed at. A legend in my own mind? Yup. It’ll come back though, I know it. Time to clean my gear and start perusing Climbapedia for destinations for the summer.

I sit here with my bread dough rising (new sourdough starter and new recipe – I WILL make decent bread before I kark it) feeling all the familiar aches of neglected muscles re-awakened.

And I am smiling.

Thats Torn It Then

It took several repeats before the penny dropped. Where had I heard the name Bamako before? Where?

I have had an ambition to climb the Kaga Tondo in Mali for over 6 months now that was inspired by an article in Summit magazine about the 10  “must climb” peaks in the world. The Kaga Tondo, the tallest of the five fingers of the Hand of Fatima formation in Northern Mali just looked so very very, very cool. More importantly it was within my very average climbing abilities. I have had my eye off it for a few months now in the drive to get a job and the small fact that I’d need at least £2k. Additionally, the only time to really attempt it is when it is a freezing 30-35 deg C in the desert daytime. That’ll be Jan/Feb 2013.

Deutsch: Hand der Fatima, Felsformation bei Ho...

The Kaga Tondo is the tall skinny one.

Now, with just a month to the presidential election there has been a military coup in Mali overnight. Bamako is the name of the capital city in the South. The South was supposed to be the safer part of Mali and the FCO don’t advocate travel in the North whilst the Canadians seemed far more laid back about it 6 months ago – as Canucks often are – so I thought I’d go in my guise of a Canadian and hope any marauding Touraeg’s intent on kidnapping a worthwhile Western trophy wouldn’t spot my mostly British accent and consider that, as a Canadian, I was a worthless Bob & Doug style hoser. Although things have changed as of late… Now the entire venture seems far too fraught with hazards, which is deeply disappointing.

I don’t fancy being kidnapped and possibly shot because I don’t think that I have rich enough friends to raise a decent ransom.

PS: Interesting fact about the Kaga Tondo… The first Westerner (Todd Skinner I think) to summit the 1600 metre formation found clay pottery on the top….do the math!