You never forget your first Mountain climb

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There is something special about your first Mountain climb. The moment that seems to last forever.  This climb made all other climbs that I’ve done before seem insignificant.  I was oblivious to how hard this would be until the shit had hit the fan and I was deep into the pain cave.  I couldn’t see the summit at any point, until I rounded the final bend and saw the lookout at the top. This is the story of my first mountain climb; Mount Donna Buang.  A Hors Catégorie climb (“beyond categorization” or in laymans terms “frekin hard”).

View from Mount Donna Buang

You never forget your first Mountain climb

I was in Warburton with the missus, and had a window to go and climb my very first Mountain. The weather was pretty ordinary, but being the mad cyclist that I am, I still went ahead with my ride. I had heard stories of how cold it could be up at the top, and the advice I was given was to pack the kitchen sink.  I was still relatively new to cycling, didn’t have much in the way of kit, which cost me dearly later on.

Mount Donna Buang is 16.8km in length and has an average gradient of 6.4% & as I was to find out a climb of two parts.  The first section from Warburton to Cement Creek absolutely wasted me.  I was struggling right from the start, and could not believe how steep this climb was.  I was wheezing & gasping & grinding my way ever so slowly up to Cement Creek.  Collapsed on the ground I enjoyed a brief respite as I desperately tried to get some oxygen into my lungs.  From Cement Creek I soon found a new challenge.  I entered the cloud cover, and it started to drizzle.

I didn’t have any wet weather kit, and quickly became soaked to the skin.

The climb was relentless and seemed to go forever.  Someone had painted signs on the side of the road for how far there was left to climb.  My time was spent desperately searching for the next & then the next & the next .  They were all a welcome sight knowing that every slow pedal stroke got me one step closer to the top.

I reached the top, and there was no fan fare.  No ticket parade.  Just me and a freezing cold summit.  In amongst the cloud cover I didn’t even have a view to make the climb worth the while.  I was shell shocked and, needed a big rest, but it was freezing. My body was shaking like a leaf, and considered getting under shelter, but all I could see were the toilet blocks.  Honestly I was too snobby to sit it out in the dunny’s to warm-up.

I had climbed Mount D in a time of 1 hour & 20 minutes.  Which for my standard back then was really happy with. It was still raining and I didn’t want to hang around and turned around to descend.

Right from the start began to shake.

My teeth chattered uncontrollably, and my whole body was shaking which made controlling the bike on the steep descent quite scary. I was soaked to the skin, and chilled to the bone and could’t believe how horrible I felt. The road was quite slippery, and my hands were going numb squeezing the brakes so hard. 3 km’s down the road I passed a massive picnic shelter, and couldn’t keep riding and pulled over and sat under shelter.

I just could not stop shaking, and wish I had brought some food up with me. With no phone reception, I couldn’t call the SAG wagon.  I kept bouncing up and down on the spot to get some warmth into my body. Hoping that someone would show up and offer me a lift down the Mountain.  And dreamed of some clothes to help warm me up. It took me close to half an hour before I stopped shaking.  Before I dared descend again, and it took me an hour to descend Mount Donna Buang.

The faster I descended the colder it got, and I was hurting. I was turning the pedals to keep the blood flowing in my legs, but nothing could stop the teeth from chattering. Once I dipped below the cloud cover, I could feel it warm-up a couple of degrees.  But I was still freezing, and yearned to get this nightmare over & done with.

That descent was hell, and I didn’t have the experience to know how to ignore the cold. It took me longer to get down than it did to get up.   I learned a lot that day, and was just glad to get down in one piece. I vowed to return, but with the kitchen sink next time.

Here is a link to my Strava Activity here:

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