Climbing Across Europe

When I applied for the Tony Balthasar Achievement Award in early 2014, it felt like such a distant dream that I never truly considered that I might actually win. But then I did, and for that I am so thankful!

I proposed to spend one month bouldering – climbing with crashmats and without a rope low to the ground – in Fountainebleau, 80km south of Paris, attend International Rover Week at Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Switzerland and then spend one month traditional climbing – climbing big walls with rope and lots of gear – in the Dolomites in Italy.

In mid-2015, after much planning, hours of plane travel and a few busy days getting lost in Paris it was such a relief to arrive in Fontainebleau!  There I met my brother with his campervan – my travel buddy and home for the next four months.  Bouldering in Fountainebleau requires excellent technique, which was a bit of a reality check – I was strong from climbing in the gym but my technique had plenty of room for improvement. However, after a few weeks our technique, confidence and strength started really improving and we were able to try – and even complete – some harder climbs. The biggest challenge during the month was choosing when to rest and when to climb as our fingers were constantly sore and swollen and the weather could be somewhat unpredictable. We had the most magical time and my climbing ability drastically improved.  

After Fountainebleau we drove south to the Pyrenees where we went hiking and canyoning.

From there it was on to International Rover Week (IRW) at Kandersteg International Scout Centre, which is the highlight of my time in Rovers so far. This was a 12 day camp full of activities such as international campfire, hiking, swimming in a glacial lake, Via Ferratta (similar to rock climbing) and a disco – just to name a few! IRW coincided with Swiss National Day and the birthday of B-P – on the same day – which attracted over 1,000 Scouts from all over the world. IRW at KISC provided the opportunity to meet so many amazing, like-minded people from all over the world. I really felt the sense of being part of the Scouting family and that Baden-Powell’s dream was alive and strong.

After this we drove to the Dolomites in Italy for a month of climbing – which was unfortunately cut short as I fell and hurt my back on the eighth day. A trip to the hospital found no permanent damage but I couldn’t climb for a month. Despite this, I had still managed to get in some epic climbing and a taste for climbing some bigger walls.  As we had more time we drove around Italy, before heading north through Germany, the Czech Republic and The Netherlands sightseeing and visiting Rovers we had met at International Rover Week. We then spent one final week bouldering at Fountainebleau.

I am incredibly thankful to the Balthasar Award Committee who gave me this incredible opportunity. It truly was the trip of a lifetime!

The video from my trip can be found here

Georgia Buckley
Turramurra Rover Crew