Adventure

Why Climb The Mountain?

Why Climb The Mountain?

“There’s no point heading up Barn Bluff if the weather stays like this. We won’t get a view anyway.”

That’s fair. “Is that why you climb?” I should have asked. They came to climb this majestic peak, but it was rainy and foggy and the white oblivion was the only view to be gained. Personally, I’d do it anyway.

Something about the mountain excites me. I feel it in the pit of my stomach when I think about it, and my head begins to whirl. There’s a certain feeling it provides, and I can’t get it from anywhere else. My spirit is magnetised towards it.

We were at Scott Kilvert Hut, a pretty lakeside refuge nestled beneath the Cradle Cirque, on the shores of the beautiful Lake Rodway. We didn’t really have a plan, but I didn’t realise until the morning we set out that Barn Bluff was actually attainable from the hut. When I made the decision to climb it again, I was very excited.

barn bluff
Lake Rodway in the morning mist. Pic:©Sambo Christie

Apart from the wind blowing quietly in the background, it was dead silent in the cloud.

Cradle Cirque

The climb onto the Overland from Lake Rodway is steep and gruelling. After days of rain, it had become muddy and slippery. Eventually, we reached a cairn marking the top of the spur. The Cradle Cirque is an eerie place on a misty morning. Apart from the wind blowing quietly in the background, it was dead silent in the cloud. Upon reaching the turnoff, we went our separate ways – dad to Waterfall Valley, me to Barn Bluff.

barn bluff
Mist on the Cradle Cirque. Pic:©Sambo Christie

If I became injured or hypothermic and lacked the appropriate skills or knowledge to bail myself out, the consequences would be either death or emergency rescue.

Knowing that I would have the mountain to myself was such a liberating feeling. I’ll admit I was a little nervous to be climbing alone in suboptimal conditions, but it all added to the feeling. When you’re alone, you need to trust in your own ability to respond sufficiently to any situation that arises. There’s something very special about that. It was just the mountain and I. If I became injured or hypothermic and lacked the appropriate skills or knowledge to bail myself out, the consequences would be either death or emergency rescue.

A Different Way

I made good speed over the foothills towards the mountain. Through the mist, I could just make out its hulking shape. The trail disappeared abruptly, replaced by a choppy boulder field stretching upwards to the dolerite towers looming menacingly above. Rock cairns were scattered throughout. They tried to lead me but I often lost them for brief moments as they blended into the dull conditions.

barn bluff
Barn Bluff looming in the mist. Pic:©Sambo Christie

Over a boulder I went, down the other side, and repeated. Hungry crevices were a constant threat as they lay about waiting for their next victim.

I vaguely remembered a lot of the route from last time I was there. Alarm bells rang when things started becoming unfamiliar. When I found myself concentrating very carefully to maintain balance before bracing for the next move, I realised that I had come a different way.

I certainly didn’t remember it being that difficult. Either it was psychological, bred from being alone, or I had ventured astray. The cairns were still there, albeit fewer and farther between. I reckon there are multiple sets of cairns up there, and I got a bad set.

Although not always friendly, I like to think that the mountain enjoys my company, as I enjoy it.

It flattened out when I reached the top of the ridge. Large boulders and slabs of rock were piled up, some balancing and teetering precariously. I continued ahead and lost all cairns. I knew I was close to the top, so I kept going. Over a boulder I went, down the other side, and repeated. Hungry crevices were a constant threat as they lay about waiting for their next victim.

A View From The Top…or Not

The rain made the rock slippery and all the more hazardous. Upon re-finding the cairns, I recognised the summit immediately.  The jumble of rocks that lay before me didn’t contrast starkly with all the others, but they were very special – the top of the mountain. I made it and it felt absolutely amazing. The clouds had no desire to leave and once again, I saw nothing but whiteness from the top of Barn Bluff.

barn bluff
The summit of Barn Bluff, believe it or not. Pic:©Sambo Christie

Many have stood atop its rocky crown, others have retreated shy. To spend time with the mountain is a privilege. There is so much it can teach me.

On a sunny day, the mountain will provide you a vantage to look out upon the things that surround you. For me, the mountain offers so much more than that. It’s cleansing of the spirit. Bad moods and my worldly angst dissipate in the face of the mountain’s challenges. I don’t pit myself against it; it allows me to climb up it. Although not always friendly, I like to think that the mountain enjoys my company, as I enjoy it.

The mountain has seen so much. It has suffered the darkest winters and the deepest snows. The harsh summer rays beat down upon it. The purest blanket of stars circulates glimmering through the night sky as the mountain sleeps. Through the years, countless souls have treaded upon its flanks. It has felt euphoria and pain, life and death. Many have stood atop its rocky crown, others have retreated shy. To spend time with the mountain is a privilege. There is so much it can teach me.

A Sketchy Descent

It’s important to recognise that when you are at the top of the mountain, you are only halfway there. Fortunately, I was able to follow the ‘proper’ route down without any problems. As I got off the steep ground towards the end of the boulder field, I felt relieved.

The slippery conditions made for a sketchy descent, and I felt safer when I was hopping over rocks rather than clambering down mini-cliffs while the void lurked ominously below.

barn bluff
Descending the boulder field. Tread very, very carefully. Pic:©Sambo Christie

It’s important to recognise that when you are at the top of the mountain, you are only halfway there.

Walking away from the mountain, I felt lighter. We should all climb the mountain once in a while. It has a way of bringing every ounce of you into the moment. When you’re up there, you can’t afford to live in the stresses and confines of your normal world.

If you tune in your senses, you might learn what the mountain has to offer.  I looked back at the mountain, and I thanked it.

barn bluff
There she is, the mighty Barn Bluff, shrouded in her mysterious cape of mist. Pic:©Sambo Christie

Sambo Christie

Sam is currently studying a Bachelor of Outdoor and Environmental Education at Federation University. He is an aspiring adventurer and outdoor leader and enjoys sharing his passion for wild places through writing. See more of his work and get in touch via his blog at Sambo Christie.
Sambo Christie

Latest posts by Sambo Christie (see all)

Follow @tyresandsoles
  • The Osprey Savu lumbar pack allows you to carry two bottles at once so you can keep riding for longer. The pack is compact and secure, even on the roughest trails and has excellent storage options to store all your ride essentials. @ospreyaustralia ⁣⠀📸 @richardmcgibbon ------------
  • The new Salomon Speedcross shoes are incredibly comfortable and supportive, and come with a super-aggressive grip that can handle the toughest terrain. Well done Salomon, you’ve just upped your game. A big thumbs up from us. 👍 | 📸 @richardmcgibbon
  • The Granite stash multitool in action. #stashnhideit in your steerer and you will always be ready!
  • If you've got a crush on your bike, then treat it with the @krushoz cleaning products, it would be rude not to. 😍 | Photo: @richardmcgibbon
  • The Michelin Wild Enduro tyres offer a magical mix of grip, strength and speed like no other tyre we’ve tested. 🤟 #Yiiew | Photo; @richardmcgibbon | Rider: Jason Lorch
  • Swipe right to see what can be stored in the Evoc HIP PACK PRO
.
📸@paulmasukowitz
.
#hippackpro⁣ 
#evocbike⁣ 
#evoc⁣
  • Remember to keep well lubed throughout winter!💦 Nobody wants to suffer from a stiff, dry and noisy drivetrain whilst out riding🙅🏻‍♂️The @peatysproducts Link Lube is an anti-corrosive, fast penetrating, water displacing oil which will find it's way into every nook and cranny of your chain. @jimtopliss 📷
~
#linklube #peatys #chainlube #drivetrain #happydrivetrain #dhmtbiking #bikeporn #lubeitup #lube #lubey #link #chain #oil #enduromtb #mtbenduro #wintermtb #dirtbike #dirt #bikelife #mtblife
  • ATTENTION TRAIL RUNNERS! Here's a sneak peek of Salomons latest Speedcross shoe.

THE EVOLUTION CONTINUES - SALOMON UPDATES THE LEGENDARY SPEEDCROSS TRAIL SHOE

For trail runners seeking, superior grip, stability and rugged protection from the elements. Runners who like to go fast on and off trails in tough and challenging terrain. For outdoor enthusiasts who want the performance of a running shoe with low-to-the-ground manoeuvrability and ultimate grip, look no further than the latest iteration of Salomon most popular trail shoe - The Salomon Speedcross 5. | Athlete/tester: Hannah Porteous | Photos: 📸 @richardmcgibbon 
@salomonrunning @salomon #trailrunning #sydneytrailrunners
  • OSPREY RENN 65 – PACK REVIEW

The Osprey Renn 65 is designed specifically for women as a lightweight, durable & comfortable pack, full of features to make the most of every hiking adventure. Featuring a LightWire peripheral frame that provides stability and comfort at a fraction of the weight of packs in similar ranges. The Renn 65 is a very capable and comfortable pack for single to multi-day hikes. 🤟 📸 @sydney_trail_sisters
  • Holy guacamole! @ospreypacks have done it again. This is one hell of a pack. The “Aether Pro 70” rocked our world, will it rock yours? We think it will. 🙌 FULL REVIEW coming soon!!! | 📸 @ianganderton
  • The MTB @deuter backpacks have been designed from the ground up to handle the specific needs of mountain biking such as; load carrying specifications, comfort, hydration and all-day performance on the trails. | Riders: @karen_eller_mountainbike and Tanja Hendrysiak riding the amazing trails around Lake Molveno! 💪🏼 -----
#deuterbackpack #itsgreatoutthere #traveladventure  #traveltales #outdoorlife #bicycletouring #bikinglife #mountainbiking
  • Dreamy loam is hard to beat when it comes to riding surfaces and the Aquila feels right at home digging through it! 💥 #onzatires #loam