A few weeks back a fantastic crew from the We Are Explorers community gathered at Northside Boulders in Northcote, Melbourne, for a night of bouldering, food and brews, plus a speech from Arc’teryx Mountaineer Dominic Douglas. Isobel gave bouldering a red hot go, here’s her take.
All sorts arrived, ranging from bouldering pros to absolute amateurs (with me and my friend firmly in the latter category). To kick things off everyone was treated to a cosy Arc’teryx beanie at the entrance, before strapping into climbing shoes.
As a complete bouldering rookie, I spent a good amount of wandering around a little cluelessly, trying to find the easiest spot to start. Once a kind soul explained the colour grading system, everything became much clearer and we got stuck right in. Man, bouldering is fun! I wasn’t sure how I would feel about climbing without a harness, but in the moment, with the concentration of the climb, it was so easy to forget about any niggling fears and I just loved it.
Standing in the gym, you could only appreciate how good some of those climbers were. One of our favourites, dubbed “fairy girl” just drifted across the wall with precision and grace most of us could only dream of. The pure strength displayed by one individual while hanging single-handedly from a tiny hold suggested maybe building a bit of arm strength wouldn’t go amiss!
Time To Chow Down
With shaky muscles and roughed up hands, there was really no better way to end the night than with food, drink and chats. With refreshing bevs provided by Mornington Peninsula Brewery and the most gourmet varieties of cheese I’ve ever tasted from Maker & Monger, it was quite a feast.
The chats weren’t ordinary either, especially when you’re joined by the incredible Dominic Douglas. This Melbourne-based Mountaineer, trail runner, and genuinely nice guy had plenty of stories to share about his adventures around the globe. Questions from the audience were firing on all fronts and brought out some cracking stories and a few chuckles. Here are a few of the highlights.
Life As Dom Douglas
When you’re tucked up in your sleeping bag, camping high up a mountain in the freezing cold, you don’t go outside for a leak. You just pop it straight into a bottle and then repurpose the toasty liquid as a mini hot-water bottle. So when Dom woke up the next morning, mouth dry and dehydrated, he quickly reached for the nearest bottle of liquid he could find. As his tent buddy and high-paying client found out in a spray of liquid across the tent, he definitely picked the wrong bottle…
On a more serious note, perhaps one of the most inspirational stories Dom shared was of a client named Yuval he took up Denali, the highest peak in North America. This wasn’t your average client. He had multiple sclerosis. Climbing a 6,190m peak with kilos and kilos of heavy gear is hard enough as it is, but this incredible individual persevered with a chronic neurological disease. What’s more, the other perfectly able-bodied man in the group happily offloaded kilos and kilos of gear to Dom, yet no matter how often Dom asked, Yuval never accepted help lightening the load. Dom’s respect for this individual was really inspiring; it showed me a whole other side to mountaineering.
Learn more about Dom Douglas and his shenanigans in this interview!
Dom’s Sponsored By… A Fossil?
Not everyone’s familiar with Arc’teryx, but those who are often speak about it in hushed tones, eyes glazed over with a whimsical look of desire. They’re makers of top-tier, no compromises gear and they sponsor some of the world’s most hardcore athletes across climbing, skiing, trail running.
Many people think the brand is European, but Arc’teryx was actually started in British Columbia, Canada at the end of the 80s. The name is short for Archaeopteryx, a famous transitory fossil that represents the evolution of dinosaurs into birds. Arc’teryx strives to evolve gear, through in-house design and manufacturing, in a metaphorically similar way.
Gear can get obscenely techy – if that whets your appetite then head to their website to see just how obsessive design can get – we’re just happy to partner with a brand that’s so committed to excellently designed, sustainable gear that’ll last a lifetime, leaving us to focus on the exploring!
A big thanks to Arc’teryx for making this epic climbing month event possible!
All photos thanks to Jason Lau Photography | @jasonlauphotos
Keen To Give Bouldering A Crack?