In search of more friends and climbing partners here, I joined the Queenstown Climbing Club Facebook page. I made a post to introduce myself, not sure what kind of response I would get. But I was flooded with direct messages, friend requests and comments.
It was a little overwhelming, mostly dudes. All frothing to get out on the crags. Later I was informed that some people try and use groups like these like Tinder...
We'll get to that later though.
I met up with a few guys I had been talking with at the trailhead in the morning. A bunch of other people were showing up as well. Everyone seemed pretty open and just happy to be getting outside on a Monday.
We scrambled up the steep approach through native bush until we reached Arawata Terrace, a sport climbing crag.
A group of girls showed up to join too, all pretty excited, some had never climbed before. Some of them were super strong and inspirational. It was a good mix of energy, everyone seemed to be around the same age.
Kim, a crusher from Colorado, on a 24 overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Yea girl!
Biggles Wiggles, Happy Hooker, Job for the Jobless, Priapism... all pretty appropriate names for climbs.
Mid-morning, I branched off with two guys who were also keen to get on some harder stuff and explore the lower terrace. Ico, from South Africa, and Eugene from Argentina. They were both a bit quiet and seemed to share a similar goal to send a variety of routes.
I was feeling a bit rusty leading sport, it's such a head game... and it's all about those baby steps, just taking each move as it comes. One bolt at a time.
Not focusing on what could go wrong, but what could go right.
After a full morning exploring the different routes and socialising, the group bee-lined it to jump off Little Thailand Cliffs to wash off the crag dirt. It was a hot and dry one, so our feet and fingernails were gritty as. But we loved it.
As soon as the crew found out my van was kitted out with a bbq on the back (which I rarely bust out usually cooking for one), they came to the consensus that we were going to bust out a grill sesh. Naturally, I was happy to share and host some friends in my backyard kitchen.
A cool cat, Scott from Australia, got some snaps. Being vegan for a few years, he was just as stoked as I was on this spread.
We camped out at 12 Mile Delta, fired up some black bean beetroot burgers, veggies, ginger beer, and good vibes. I couldn't believe how easy it was to just hang out and be myself around all of these people I had just met. How liberating it is to throw yourself into a situation where you are completely new, and the words you have to say make a difference.
The key is finding an activity to bring people together. Shared experiences. You can all relate that way, and go from there, learning about each other's backgrounds.
We shared stories from our homes and travels until the sun sank below the mountains and the sky was sprinkled with stars.
I crawled into my van feeling fulfilled, full.
This is what travelling is all about.
I know I won't see many of these people again, but I'm happy to have connected for now, and maybe again in the future.