Bled Rock

10 Aug 2007

I release the hold and step back from the rock to consider my options.

My Australian instincts are overkill here in Slovenia, but bright red with black dots is "poison" in any language.

The bug scuttles away, leaving the hold clear. It's an easy climb, really more of a scramble, and the only reason to fall would be a surprise bite. Since an embarrassing rescue at Morialta, I've been edgy about freeclimbing, but my exploratory instincts finally push me upwards.

I'd spotted the cave, high on the mountain that supports Bled Castle, from the church, and thought "there has to be a way up there". In the end I was almost disappointed by how easy the track was to find; the beer cans indicated that I was far from the first.

The first cave was surprisingly large - with only a mobile phone to light the way I hadn't reached the end - but featureless. It was the sharp scramble up from there that had captured my attention.

Finally I grit my teeth and move up several metres in a series of inelegant but powerful moves. Then I stop and go back down, to check that I can, and up again. There's a second opening into the hill, pitch black, barely big enough to crawl into. I give it a miss.

I'm flinching at every touch by now. I don't like heights and I don't like spiders. With my limited reserves gone, the smallest provocation draws an extreme reaction.

Further up I reach the payoff, a narrow ravine in the cliff, screened off from the town below. I pull myself up to the edge and see that I'm now level with the bell tower of the church that led me here. The view's not quite as good as from the castle, but this one is /mine/.