Maybe you’ve heard tell about the bouldering in Hampi, but do you know about the sport climbing in Badami? Kush Khandelwal has been a Touchstone member for 13 years. He shares with us now his trip report to Badami, India, this little-known area full of single pitch sandstone gems. As an Indian-American and a life-long climber, Kush’s experience in the city and at the crag was a beautiful meeting of worlds. In this excerpt, he describes why hiring a local guide was worth it:
[A] beautiful part of traveling for climbing is interacting with the local climbing community and connecting with their life and experiences. This is especially true for ‘under the radar’ areas where the sport hasn’t quite exploded as yet. Many years ago I found an authentic scene in Vinales, Cuba, and now I found one here. It’s life-affirming to find shared love with the locals.
Ravi, our informal guide during this trip was just another local village kid looking at a bleak future of blue collar work in an impoverished part of the world when climbing found him. With donated shoes and a harness, he, and a few others like him, show visiting climbers around the area and earn a little money to support their climbing habit and feed their family. His unaffected demeanor, humility, and psyche for life is infectious, and it was a treat to spend time with him and ask him to climb with us even after we had learnt our way around the crags. By western (and even Indian urban) standards the guiding fee is a total bargain, as are the other costs of staying in Badami, where meals are just a couple of dollars, and adequate rooms just a few more. Being your typically self-reliant climber, I don’t normally hire a guide but was quite glad of one here, for I learnt so much about the place, its history and the local culture, in a land particularly special to me given my Indian roots.