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“Sure what’s another half a kilo?” said Barbara, encouraging me to pack my climbing shoes, “You never know, their could be loads of great bouldering.” So while most people preparing for a 10-day trek religiously pare down their loads, I was busy adding “essentials” to mine. In went a quarter bottle of vodka, not wanting to get caught short you know, my CD Walkman and two sticky rubber soled climbing shoes.

As many of you will already have guessed, any eagerness that I may have had for the exceptionally strenuous form of rock climbing would evaporate with a day’s hard walking and rapidly thinning air. Perhaps it is that I am overly optimistic about both my energy levels and available time, but I constantly seem to be burdened with a shoulder-numbing weight of gear that I don’t use. The twelve kilos of climbing equipment we brought with us hasn’t been too much trouble, given that we haven’t been carrying it around with us, but over 10 days of trekking you feel every gram.

It wasn’t just the weight of the shoes that was an annoyance; every evening I would have to unpack them and every morning they would mock me, resisting my efforts to force them into my already overfull daypack. I kept thinking of the chocolate that could have replaced the shoes – and the chocolate would have been getting lighter everyday.

There was loads of great bouldering to be had. Massive rocks were strewn across riverbeds made easily accessible by low water levels. Regularly as we plodded up a steep series of steps I would stare eagerly at an overhanging problem that cried out for the strength, determination and crash pads needed to send it - none of which I had.

Twice - just twice over the entire trip did the shoes end up on my feet, and only then for ten minutes a time and more out of a sense of stubbornness than genuine desire. Annapurna may have thousands of unsent boulder problems, but with uncertain landings, rasping lungs and burning thighs I wasn’t going to trail blaze the area.

Pictures - click to enlarge
picture of caelen bouldering in Annapurna Nepal travelogues
At Last Shoe meets Rock

Annapurna - a Boulderer's Paradise