I climbed this today. Technically, it is called Bluff Knoll and it is the second (or third, depending on who you believe) highest point in Western Australia. But things lower than this are called mountains so, dammit, I am claiming this as my mountain.
I had had a hankering to do this for a while and so I persuaded a friend of mine to do it with me.
Let me tell you first that I had entirely the wrong idea of it. I thought “oh, 3.6 km: fairly windy path with lots of switchbacks”.
This was 3.6 km of UP with no flat places and an average gradient of 40 degrees. In fact, it was so steep that it was like climbing an endless flight of stairs.
Maybe one of the hardest things I have ever done, physically. Not because I am that unfit (I am fat but quite fit) but because my particular type of arthritis means that I am fused in the hips and therefore don’t bend very well to lift my leg high, and fused in the ribs so the bottom half of my lungs cannot expand.
After about 500 metres it became obvious that I was holding back my companion and so I urged him upwards to the top. And then I struggled up, having to stop and breathe about every 50 metres or so.
I had a system: when the light headedness turned to whirly spots in my eyes, I sat down and put my head between my knees until I felt better and then I carried on.
My friend got to the top half an hour before I did (he only took an hour) but I think an hour and a half is a very respectable time. Especially when it took us both just under an hour to get back down. Total round trip three hours, including half a hour at the top in the clouds that drifted in and out. They say that the average time is 3 – 6 hours so I feel reasonably accomplished.
You know what was very depressing though? They had these trail signs every so often and your heart would lift, thinking that you were nearly at the top and then the sign would turn out to read “3 km to the summit” or 2.5 km to the summit and such like.
Just when you had struggled up what seemed kms worth of staircase already. Those signs were very discouraging and I made it a policy to kick all of them after the first, summoning up the residual oxygen buffer between me and brain-dead me in order to do so. I felt VERY strongly about the signs.
I abused my calf muscles going up and my quads going down. I didn’t stop at all going down because every time I did my muscles started quivering and I was scared I might fall down. Today I can hardly move.