This slim volume, written by a born rover who has been an expert mountaineer, trekker, and rock climber, will interest many a youth in our country who enjoys participating in adventure sports.
In the history of mountaineering, 29 May 1953 became a golden day when Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary scaled the highest peak in the world ? the Mount Everest (8,850 metres high). This historic feat created considerable mountaineering awareness in India. What followed was the establishment of the Darjeeling Mountaineering Institute where regular training courses in mountaineering were started. Other similar institutes were set up in Manali and Mount Abu too.
Rock climbing is an activity which entails climbing rocks, cliffs and mountains as a hobby or as a sport which is taught at the institutes in Darjeeling and in Manali. Rock climbing as such began on the Alps in the 19th century before spreading to other parts of Europe. Initially it was taught to troops but gradually interest was aroused among the civilians till it became a regular pastime during weekends.
Rock climbing ranges from simple bouldering to the most highly technical climbs which are done with the help of technical aids, like pitons, pegs of various designs such as horizontal or vertical, and expansion bolts, etc. ?Crack climbing? was considered rather strenuous some years ago, but with the development of a device known as ?Friend?, crack climbing has become easy and safe considerably. It is so designed that it can be adjusted and fixed in the cracks of different widths and at different places.
In Britain, rock climbing developed in various phases, e.g. the gully era, slab-and-wall climbing era. In the gully era, a good standard of climbing was reached as gullies were considered safe with walls and ledges at intervals for the climbers to take rest. When the climbers acquired confidence and experience in gully climbing, they took to climbing slabs. A slab has very few and small holds and its surface is smooth, requiring more concentration and balance. While climbing slabs, the climbers discovered the techniques of balance by climbing on feet rather than by pulling the body on one'shands. The hands were used for keeping balance only.
In India rock climbing is acquiring popularity but still we have a long way to go as the plains here are vast and the mountains far and few.
A very interesting chapter is on belaying in which the climber ties himself as a stationary member of a roped party in order to afford safeguard to the moving climbers. For climbing down the rocks, the different techniques of rappelling are described as these are a quick method of descending down. It is also useful in rescue operations, as in firefighting or in accidents on inaccessible sites.
This is a book which expounds on the need for developing the spirit of adventure, patience and perseverance for it has been rightly said that these qualities can help overcome mountains. The sport of rock climbing develops inner strength and confidence besides building up one'sphysique and teaching how to move in a group and take up this challenge.