Saturday morning, the weather is good, some clouds in the sky, it’s not neither hot or cold outside. I make a super breakfast with muesli and almond milk, slices of whole bread with honey made of the flowers of oranges and cinnamon, peanut butter, banana and cassius. I hear the sound of the espresso machine, I serve the coffee on the mug I add a teaspoon of brown sugar and I sit with my breakfast at the balcony.
Alongside i read once more the climbing guide with the routes i want to climb today. I estimate it’s an hour drive to reach the climbing crag. Mostly driving to the parking on a dirt road on the mountain and about 15 minutes walking. I check my backpack with the equipment that i have prepared from the night: rope ok,climbing shoes ok, safety belt, carabiners, chalk ok, helmet, first aid ok, i add a cold water, some fruits and nuts, chocolate and the last thing the climbing guide. I call my climbing partner we set a time to meet at the crag. I get into my car. Next stop – West Parnitha Mountain.
As i get closer i can see the marks of the mountain path with some stones placed one above the other and i start to walk. My sight gets absorbed on the green of the forest and that of the blue sky. Undefined fields, without any measurable size and endless meadows. The sounds of the birds and the raindrops of yesterdays rain that fall on the leaves of the trees, with every leaf making its own unique sound according to its size, sounds of the microworld that works silently for survival, the flora is made from every colour you could in a colour chart, the smell of wet soil from flowers that were just born from dirty ants nests.
The smell of the wet wood relaxes me completely. When I touch the natural carpet of moss on the tree trunk my sensation of touch is fully satisfied. There you will see clouds that are created by the humidity of the forest when the sun fall on it, and you can see them as they reach the sky. There is a magical silence through all this natural noise. During this choir of activation of the senses i can only be an observer and the more consciously I feel a part of it, the more humble and whole I feel.
After a turn on the path i can see the climbing crag far away. A little bit more walking up the rocky road and I will reach my destination. From there I can hear my friends that they are already at the sector talking, maybe someone shouting while trying to climb a route on the rock. I can feel the tension in my heart building up from my desire to climb and my walking rhythm speeds up as i get closer, but through this I find my balance and I continue with excitement.
Many friend climbers, girls and boys, welcome me. Some with humour, others by shouting and some with just a nod. Smiles and clean eyes, ambitious climbers with the feeling of healthy competition. An atmosphere of joy and freedom created from everybody, harmonised with the nature. A mirror of your true personality, because nature doesn’t allow any lie and the hypocrisy of the city. Climbing apart from an adventure it also means discovery, not only of the nature and the mountains but also of your true self.
With climbing you discover & learn by travelling at different countries and civilisations, you learn from the people you cooperate and climb with them from all the different cultures. Everybody has a different style in climbing, they have a different body type, they are different on the way they decide and think and this is the most interesting thing.
I bind the rope on my safety belt, I wear my climbing shoes, I put chalk on my fingers, I double check with my climbing partner that secures the rope and me from possible fall and I start climbing. Here everything stops, time, fear, thoughts, how I felt before has no meaning anymore, I am alone on the rock and the only thing I can think of is the next grip and where should I place my feet to go up.
When i reach the hard part of the «route» and start to work at the limit of my body and spirit, that is when i enter a trance or a natural ecstasy, tied with rope enough meters of the ground hanging from my hands and going up exclusively with only my powers, i think of nothing except the next move, not two moves after, I focus only on the next grip, then another grip & another and this way I go up and up and i feel all this ecstasy increasing at every move I make and with every move i try to balance with that sensation and i don’t want this climb to stop.
If i make a mistake and lose my concentration I will fall, a feeling that is absolutely entertaining but nature definitely don’t allow any mistakes. And as a human being i clearly belong to nature, I fall and I lose the ecstasy and I move on spiritually to peace, or maybe at physical relaxation sometimes I become angry with myself because it’s nobody else fault that I lost my concentration, my calmness or the flow of the movement, I knew from the start that I must not fall if I wanted to finish the route. Finally like this I feel responsible for every move & for every thought that I make and do, and i take this and add it to my everyday life, to my work & to my relationships.
If i was not climbing maybe I would have discovered another way to share all that i have learned form climbing. Something that would be as challenging, maybe being a surgeon or an astronaut.. maybe I would play chess.. i don’t know for sure! but something with high intensity and duration so i can reach the limits of my mind & of my body that way i can discover myself more and more.
The day ends, torches light up, little lamps in the forest under the rocks and between the trees, some people are still climbing, i feel whole & strong. Today my senses have reached beyond their limits, a feel a kind of peace and calmness that only rock climbing combined with nature and friends can give to me. A good meal while chatting and laughing with my friends would be the cherry on the cake in all this explosion of emotions.
Climbing means a lot more than simply climbing rocks.
It is the journey and the route, it is about meeting other people, it is the building up of new relationships with friends, it is the discovery of new destinations, it is to learn, to know and to share like a child, it is to learn to stay positive despite of the result.
P.S. Don’t forget to smile!
About Dimitris Dermentzis:
Dimitris Dermentzis is a Rope access technician and an Electrical engineer in industrial and renewable & energy industries, with a career in Greece and abroad. He is actively involved with mountaineering and rock climbing from 2003. He has done plenty of winter ascents on Greek mountains and many sport and traditional climbing style ascents at the most important climbing crags in Greece. He has also climbed routes with rock, ice and mixed climbing at the slopes of French and Italian Alps. He has been a member of the board of the directors in cultural mountaineering club (Fylis) where he is volunteeringly in charge of firefighting and on the the organisation of climbing festivals at west Parnitha. Also he has worked as a climbing instructor at gyms and indoor climbing gyms with his athletes wining metals in Greek championships of competitive climbing. The last few years he lives in Nauplio where with cooperation of the municipality of the city he organises the maintenance of existing routes and the bolting of new climbing routes in the area with the goal being the development of sport climbing in Greece for the new generations and to create a touristic attraction for the country. For him rock climbing is a way of life.