Climbing Mountains in Delhi (And Beyond)
I’m dangling from a rock ledge 50 feet off the ground, heart pounding, mind racing trying to determine my next move. I extend my right hand to reach for the next hold and a bat comes scurrying out of a crevice directly above me. We lock eyes for a couple of seconds and he (or she?) flies away. Yes, according to bats.org, bats can see. I refocus and continue the climb. I’m at least halfway done with the route and already further than my previous 12 attempts over a series of 3 days. I think I have enough strength to reach the top. Yes, there is a belayer down on the ground and a rope to catch me if I fall, but I’m determined to finish the route…
I’ve enjoyed running and hiking since my teenage years, and also did indoor rock climbing in college. Upon taking a job opportunity in India, I was excited by the prospect of exercising my love for these activities in a new country. After all, India is known for the Himalayan mountain range which is home to 10 of the 14 highest peaks in the world. These peaks are known as eight-thousanders as each reach over 8000 meters, or 26,000+ feet above sea level.
But since my company is in Delhi (a mere 820 feet above sea level), I don’t exactly live within walking distance of the Himalayas. The only peaks I see from my rooftop are those of office buildings, and a good 6-hour drive is required to reach even the foothills. However, after living in India for 6 months, I’ve found this not to be a problem. Here are 3 ways I exercise my love for hiking and climbing in India.
1. Delhi Rock
Three times a week I can be found taking a class at Delhi Rock – an indoor climbing gym complete with workout spaces, slack-line and multiple options for bouldering, top-rope, chimney-climbing, and lead-climbing. Our instructor, Ganesh, is a four-time Indian national champion in climbing. I’m so appreciative of his willingness to pass on his wealth of expertise and experience in the sport.
Check out: www.delhirock.com
2. Dhauj, Haryana
This little-known place, 45 minutes south of Delhi, is part of the Aravalli mountain range. The routes here were pioneered in the 1980s by a small group of climbers who remain legends to this day in India’s climbing community. It is at this beautiful place that I’m learning proper technique and safety for outdoor climbing.
3. Nag Tibba Trek
While I may not be able to see the Himalayas from Delhi, I can certainly fly to them quickly from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. And while it will be some time before I’m ready to tackle an 8000-meter peak, there are so many “lesser” peaks to enjoy for all skill levels. My favorite so far has been Nag Tibba, a 3,022-meter peak (9,915 feet) with beautiful views of snow capped mountains from the top.
…If I can manage to reach the top, this will be the first time I’ve completed an outdoor route – a 5.9 ascent at an area of Dhauj named the Swiss-Corner. Arms shaking and mind intensely focused, I conduct the remaining moves in a calculated fashion and now here I am at the top! I let out a shout of excitement and victory as my climbing partners join in the celebration below. A sense of satisfaction comes over me as I take in the view from the top. I am thankful for my climbing friends and filled with gratitude to have this opportunity.