Team building with this year’s Honours Class involved a happy weekend up in the mountains at Fort Fordyce. It is a great place to climb and one of the highlights of our stay must have been the night abseil at the Forgotten Dream Sector. The climbers guide says ‘this really is climbing in a jungle environment’ and I wanted to try and get some night pictures of headlamps descending into the forest. So I headed off with the advance party who were setting up the ropes – Gillian, Ian, Rosie and Kate – and went hunting for a place further along the cliffs to set up my camera on its gorilla stand.
It was gloomy, the forest was scratchy and full of spiders webs and a good view point wasn’t easy to find. I ended up about 500 metres away on an exposed cliff top. It was getting dark, I was on one large boulder and my camera perched on the next – all rather exposed – so I tied myself on to a length of fencing wire that was trailing from the nearest fence post. There was just time for a few quick pictures with camera on maximum zoom to make sure I was set up okay. The exposures were about two or three seconds. Then I just lay back with my back against the boulder and the buzzards whizzing past to wait for the sounds of the party coming.
About 20 minutes later it was pitch dark and I could see their headlights twinkling through the trees half a kilometre away. Time to lean forwards from one boulder and half straddle the one with the camera, click the remote and count to 10, 20, 30, 100 or whatever exposure I wanted. About 20 minutes went by before I decided I had enough of this. I was cold and uncomfortable, time to hike back through the forest and down to the others, glad to see Kate’s head torch bobbing below me. I declined the offer of the abseil, I reckon I already had plenty of excitement.