During my third day in Algeria and my second day in El Aouana, near Bejaia, me and two of my climbing club members finally got to start doing our thing. I mean installing climbing tracks in an area that had none, until we came.
It turned out the nearby mountains had some dark history, one they didn't tell us about when they invited us (though we wouldn't mind coming anyway if we knew).
Those mountains were occupied by some Algerian armed outlaws/terrorists. Only a year earlier did the Algerian army announce it safe again after eliminating the last group of outlaws/terrorists.
We Fight Terrorism With Passion
As a climbing club, we know all about the relationship between outlaws and mountains, and the importance of fighting violence with love, fighting terrorism with passion. Back in our city, our love for our sport and for our neighbor mountain prevented any use of it as shelter by outlaws. Our mountain was too lively and too frequently visited by mountaineers to be an isolated safe spot for them. And we also know every inch of it, so they have nowhere to hide. One other mountain in Tunisia, the tallest one in the country, wasn't that lucky, though. But that's another story of a lost "battle". In Algeria, that day, we were helping our fellow mountaineers win their own "fight".
That day we used three ways of climbing:
The first way is ...
When someone is still learning or just trying it out of curiosity. It this case, the rope should go through a ring in the top of the track and come back down. So the climber would be linked to his destination. All the assistant has to do is to keep the rope tight. I can see no way this can go wrong unless the climber slips and the assistant decides to take the chance to murder him, by intentionally letting him fall hehe. Never heard of that happening.
The second way is...
Well for the rope to go through the ring someone has to go up there and put it, right? That someone has to use the techniques of "Sport Climbing" when he uses "QuickDraws" to link the rope to some fixed anchors installed in the climbing track. Each time he reaches one of the anchors it becomes his next security point, if he slips from the rocks in between anchors, he would only fall one to three meters in the air, then the rope (which is also a little elastic) would hold him safely. Till he reaches the ring and passes the rope through it. The risk in this method is almost null. We hear of an accident around the world every once in a few years (or decades), after which they identify the cause and make an update to the security equipment.
The third way is...
Ever wondered how the ring got up there in the first place, and those fixed anchors too?
In order to install them, we use another kind of rock climbing called "the traditional climbing" in which we use removable protections as we climb until we reach the top, dig two holes next to each other, install two anchors, link them with a chain that has a specific bigger ring in it, and... Tada! We have a ring! All we need to do then is to pass the rope through it and start using the first, easiest type of climbing, but carrying some heavy equipment to clean the track by removing any instable little rocks and to install the rest of the anchors.
This "traditional climbing" is the riskiest of all because those removable protections, are.. well, removable, there's a risk, even if it's a slight one, that they don't hold when we need them to.
The first climbing site in the mountains of El Aouana, Algeria:
Two Algerian champions (literally champions, they won several national Algerian climbing competitions) did the hardest task, I mean installing the rings. I helped install the rest of the fixed anchors. The whole thing took us a day to install the first climbing site in "El Aouana", which has three climbing tracks in it.
I did my best to explain what we did without including too much technical details, I hope I managed to do that...