Anybody for mountain climbing in Auroville?
With the help of
friends from France, two climbing walls were built in Auroville.
It was a good example
of quick materialisation: a utopian idea became reality in less
than two years. Auroville is now the proud possessor of two climbing
walls, one indoors at Transition School, the other a semi-natural
outdoor one nearby 'La Ferme', Auroville's cheese factory close
to the Aspiration community. Aurovilians, both young and old,
can now be trained to master different levels of mountain climbing
The idea to create climbing
walls in the flat Auroville area is, for most people, far-out.
Not so for two French couples and their sons, who have been visiting
Auroville regularly over the last few years. Francine and Denis
and their son Florian, together with Françoise and André
and their son Antoine, all hailing from the Alsace region in France
and self-proclaimed climbing addicts, decided to finance and equip
two climbing walls in Auroville.
"I realised one day that most Aurovilians have some morphologic
elements in common: they are tall, thin, and elegant," says
Denis. "We saw a lot of young people climbing trees, jumping
from one tree to another, monkey-like, moving freely in nature.
That is not only a great advantage for doing hatha yoga and sports,
such as Tai Chi, but also for climbing. As we all are mountaineers
and adore climbing, what was more natural than offering something
of our own hobbies, our skills combined with a part of the needed
materials and money, to Auroville?"
Gradually, the idea
took shape. Cecilia coordinated the communication and did the
leg-work in Auroville. As usual, consultations took some time
but then all of a sudden things came together in an almost miraculous
way. La Ferme is situated next to a deep canyon where, two years
ago, granite stone dams had been built to prevent soil erosion
and water running off into the sea. It was then decided to transform
one of the so-called wing-walls, the canyon walls next to the
dams, into a ten-meter high outdoor climbing wall of natural stones.
Olivier was willing to design and build the wall. At around the
same time Juan and Aloka judged that one of the five metre high
inside walls of their body-awareness classroom in Transition primary
school was also eminently suitable to become a climbing wall.
Locations being decided,
it was up to the French enthusiasts to find the finances for the
work and for the required parts and requisites. Support in France
for the necessary and mostly expensive materials (like safety-pins,
lines, ropes etc.) came almost for free from main dealers, while
the firm of André Muller and company provided technical
expertise for the construction of the climbing walls. And so the
climbing walls materialised.
Can we now expect Aurovilians to challenge the austere Himalayan
peaks? That is not really the point, it appears. The point is
rather that climbing develops essential traits of character: it
develops courage, resourcefulness, cunning, strength, ability,
mastery over fears and power of endurance in a situation of inherent
Another point is that
climbing develops the consciousness of belonging to a group. For
climbing, to a far greater degree than other sports, is teamwork,
with each member both supporting and being supported by the group's
achievement at every stage. The first thing climbing teaches is
how to save the other. It requires detailed knowledge of the use
of the rope, the anchor and the carabiner (a metal loop or ring
that can be snapped into an anchor and through which the rope
may be passed). It also requires a well-trained body: hands are
used for balance, feet for support. The body weight is maintained
as directly over the feet as possible, the climber remaining as
upright as the wall or rock will permit. A climbing rhythm will
develop slowly. It is not easily mastered but when achieved, becomes
the mark of the truly fine climber.
The satisfaction then
is not only the 'conquest' of a peak but also the physical and
spiritual satisfactions brought about through intense personal
effort, concentration, ever-increasing proficiency, and contact
with natural grandeur. The Auroville climbing walls offer the