8/6/10 - India. There are few countries with such a rich cultural tapestry literally dripping with sights, sounds and smells that are so insulting and inspiring at the same time. It is truly a land of distinguished disparity, and once you have made her acquaintance you will always answer her beckoned call. And if the constant flow of spice and commotion isn’t enough to draw you back – the soulful granite of Hampi and grand sandstone cliffs of Badami certainly will.
Upon my visit to Hampi last March, we heard whispers that someone was toiling over a much needed guide book to cover the region. It was merely a rumor to the myriad climbers that made their "pilgrimage" for a long while – now, the rumor has come to fruition. Considering the nearly infinite number of problems, author and competitive climber Rohit Chauhan has delivered a very homegrown, yet comprehensive, look at many of the classics that carpet both the Hampi and Badami regions. For years, the only recorded beta consisted of crude topo drawings scrawled on two pieces of notebook paper – over-photocopied and sold for 50 rupees at a local hostel. The author received funding from sponsors like Black Diamond, Petzl, Beal, and Camp – then dipped into his own pocket – to bring this guidebook to the table. Now, for the first time ever, climbers can purchase a legitimate and substantial information source for the more than 250 boulder problems and 60+ sport routes in Karnataka, India.
While it doesn’t read as clearly as say, a Supertopo guide, the info finds its way through. The cultural tidbits and travel facts sprinkled throughout also offer some reading material for the hours you spend drinking banana lassis and waiting for the scorching sun to become more humane.
The guide consists of 150 pages with images in both black/white and color. The "topos" are simple dashed lines; however, the landmarks are clear. The beta covers the bare essentials: route name, location, rating and best time of day to climb. Also, the ratings seem to be consistent with what we heard by word of mouth while climbing in India last year – not too soft, not too sandbagged. Construction of the book itself is pretty bomber and will most likely hold up to the rigors of travel.
Overall, Chauhan has presented a comprehensive look at the established routes in this region of India. And with a few bits here and there that got "lost in translation" – you might not even miss the authentic appeal of the old hand-sketched guide.
Book available for purchase at (850 rupees – approx $18 USD): http://climbinginindia.blogspot.com/