“Pilgrimage”, the Big Up movie featuring Chris Sharma and Katie Brown bouldering in Hampi, India, inspires anyone who watches it to dream of one day climbing in India. Unfortunately, getting there is both expensive and time consuming. Sonnie Trotter, who lately has achieved notoriety for his hard trad exploits that include FAs of The Path (5.14 R, video) and Cobra Crack (5.14, video), bit the bullet last year and committed to making his own pilgrimage to India in early 2008. When his girlfriend approached him expressing a desire to visit India to study yoga, he jumped at the chance. He had this to say about making that decision in a recent entry on Patagonia’s blog:
The truth is, if we didn’t book them early, we may never have, and then another year would pass us by. It was the first time in my life that I felt as though I could commit to something that far in advance and let me tell you from experience, it felt wonderful.
Thanks to Trotter’s commitment, those of us stuck at home can now experience India vicariously through him. He arrived in India 6 weeks ago which has given him ample time to explore all that India has to offer:
The beta here is to get out of Hampi downtown and go to the other side of the river, so quiet, so exotic, so beautiful. The locals more friendly and less invasive, the hussle and bussle is gone and the food is without compromise. The pad people rise early, hours before dawn and warm up as the sky turns a pale shade of orange. The boulders are very round, very perfect. It’s important to try your project before sunrise, because after it sees light, your trying effort will go up significantly. Even just one ray of vitamin D will spill over the entire boulder and make your starting hold feel like a wet fish.
By 10 am your tips hurt anyway, your smile hurts too and you return to base camp, slash paradise slash Goan Corner for a siesta and cup of tea, maybe even a good book, a smoke, or a bite to eat. Climbing resumes again around 4pm. It is the life for me, no doubt and I can’t seem to remember at all what -30 feels like, it’s all but a dream. My fear of germs is gone as well, I wash with local water, I eat whatever I want and I face the music, no matter what melody it brings. Like all world class climbing areas, we have met friends from all corners of the earth, charming, enchanting people, people with passion, stories and maybe a spot of hash.
Photos: Bouldering in India – Sonnie Trotter blog
In his last few days in Hampi before exploring other areas of India for his final 4 weeks, Trotter turned his attention to a boulder problem known as “the Mandala of India”. Of course, like America’s Mandala, this problem was made famous by Chris Sharma when it was on the cover of “Pilgrimage” (see photo at right). The problem is actually called Middle Way and it weighs in around V11. Here is what he had to say over the course of 2 different days on the problem that eventually led to a send:
Last night I tried “middle way” it’s also known as the Pilgrimage Cover Boulder. Known the world over as the boulder on the front cover of the Pilgrimage DVD, also on the poster and one of the wildest looking climbs in the world. It’s the Mandala of India only it goes at V11, not V12. Goddam Sharma is strong.
Yes, this beautiful boulder problem went down last night and I stood on top of it’s whale’s back shaped summit. Shaped like a whale but textured more like a dynosaur’s skin, only much sharper. This is sort of a big deal for a guy like me and it could not have happened with better timing. Tomorrow is my last day in Hampi.
Finally, any report from far away climbing areas wouldn’t be complete without a call for stronger climbers to come and check out the futuristic projects:
Actually, the truth is, Dave Graham and Paul Robinson, Daniel Woods, those b oys would have a field day here, Ive seen like 10 open projects all V13/14 or harder, so goooood, really proud lines.
Check out his blog at SonnieTrotter.com for the whole story and more photographs from India.