telbaila: village route

i’ve been practising sport-climbing at crags around bombay (in belapur and dighe) this winter. after several months of feeling unconfident, i finally said yes when invited to climb a pinnacle. we ascended telbaila via the village route1: ramkumar led the climb2; niraj was in the middle; i was the last-man, climbing with our water and food.

i’m wretchedly terrified of heights and exposure, so i didn’t even look at the view while climbing3 : i hugged the rock, and focused on our systems to avoid panicking. things got a bit adventurous as the day wore on4, and we grew quite tired; so, i’m really glad i didn’t make any mistakes on the day.

i’m learning how being a ‘good climber’ is a very small part of the sport : you need a lot of discipline and focus, especially in the non-glamourous parts of the sport (planning, rope-work, calls, rehydrating, belaying, safety checks); those are more important because they’re the things keeping you alive. and, above all, you must find the courage to trust your belayer and the systems, because if you don’t, you’ll always climb below your limit5.6


  1. i’ve heard people describe this route as being a 120m climb, but i think the summit is only about 75m above the base. perhaps there’s some truth in both numbers, though, since the route does zig-zag on the way up (so, the length of the route would be longer than its elevation). i’d also grade it as a 6a/6b climb, although it may have a few 6b+ moves at the beginning of pitches #3 and #4. the grade may wander, though, as the rock weathers over time. 

  2. ramkumar asked if i wanted to lead the first pitch, but i hesitated (and lost the chance to). i hope i don’t repeat that the next time such an opportunity comes my way. 

  3. “why do you even climb, then?” is a fair question to ask at this point. 

  4. we were on the rock for twelve hours instead of six; we got dehydrated; niraj suffered three cramps, and wasn’t able to climb the last pitch; i was naïve and let the rope slide down the rock-face while holding the coil in my hand, so it burned my wrist as it untangled; high winds made it difficult to communicate with each other; monkeys stole our food reserves; i did get nervous at the summit and fumbled with my prusik-knot, and so had to ask for a safety-belay while rappelling back down. didn’t die, though, which—all things considered—is an outcome i can live with. 

  5. … as i did, on the day. (ramkumar had placed a ladder at two places to assist niraj. i could have climbed those patches without the ladder, but still surrendered to the support.) 

  6. if you reword this paragraph slightly, you could call yourself a management guru (or mentor, or whatever stupid term people like to use these days to make themselves feel less small).