Climbing Mount Toolbrunup

Day Four – Friday 3rd February 2012

Today’s fitness training was breaking new ground for me. I climbed a mountain, well what is called a mountain here in WA which in reality is just a big hill.

My wife, Melissa, and I had decided for our day off to drive five and a half into the south of WA to the Stirling Ranges and climb Mt Toolbrunup, one of the peaks down there which is around 1040m asl. We took with us Melissa’s three youngest siblings with us as we thought that they would enjoy the experience too. To achieve this task we left home at 4:40am, the plan was to pick up the kids and be on the road by 5:00am which was a success. We headed down and arrived at around 10:30am, the weather wasn’t looking too great with there being quite a bit of moisture and a light mist falling.

At the beginning of the ascent I was a little worried of my knee that I had injured at indoor soccer on the Wednesday night, I wasn’t sure how it was going to hold up largely because I wasn’t sure how steep the climb would be and what the terrain would be like. We started the ascent and for the first half and hour to forty five minutes the ascent was steep but it was possible to walk it without being on all fours. Very quickly I had stripped off from having my jumper on  back to my t-shirt, the knee was holding up ok but there quite a few slippery parts and a lot of lose rocks that I did have to keep my footing on. Very quickly it became obvious that I was the weakest climber of the entire group and I found myself at the back, this didn’t overly bother me as it meant that I would be able to climb at my own pace and keep my footing.

At about the forty five minute mark we came to our first part wear we had to scramble across the rocks. The ascent became a lot steeper in it’s incline, the lighter and more agile ones of the group just speed up the incline and before I new it I could just see them off in the distance. By this stage the mist and weather had started to come in a lot heavier and the visibility was probably down to about five metres in front and behind us, this is probably because we had very little protection. My legs during this part were really burning and it felt like it went on forever. A few times the ground levelled out and it was possible to walk again upright, I found that I couldn’t see anyone in front by this stage, so for a first time climber it take me a bit longer to work my way up the lose, slippery rocks and over the path which wasn’t too well marked. The climb continued, I felt like I was falling further behind and my legs were getting more tired, my knee was going ok just at times was hurting a little but my calves and glutes were really starting to burn.

I managed to get up to this ledge and lost the track, I eventually found it again and continued up, the weather had really come in and I was ready to go back. By this stage the others had reached the summit (unfortunately this was not the case for me) and I managed to call out to them for us to start back down.

The journey down was just as difficult as the way up, a lot of the rocks were very slippery and lose and scrambling backwards equalled a lot of crawling on my backside all the way down the mountain. Once we reached the pathway I found that going slowly was very important, I had to exert a lot of energy and control to not go too fast otherwise I would not be able to stop and in places the path was quite narrow with a long drop in front of it.

By 1:00pm we managed to make our way back to the car, tired, wet and very dirty. This session today I think is probably one of the most challenging I have done so far. Tomorrow I am sure that I will be feeling sore and stiff. Now it’s time to go and have a beer!

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