Lakegala mountain near Meemure.
We climbed this thing. Almost. The last 100 meters or so is a pure vertical incline and you have to rock-climb up a crevice, then pull yourself up via a rope that someone attaches. You are hanging by your fingers and toes of a cliff face and this is slightly insane. Our rope wasn’t quite long enough and when the guide asked what religion we were we decided to turn back. When he started chanting ‘Buddham saranam gachami’ I was pretty confident that this wasn’t a good idea.
Climbing Sexy Mountain.
That said, of all the rocks in Sri Lanka, this one has one. Lakegala is a hell of a mountain. I like to call it Ravanlingam. Rumor is that his Pushpaka Vimana aircraft is stashed somewhere in the hills and that Sita briefly sojourned in a cave nearby.
I’ve done some climbing before without too many complaints, but this mountain is something else. First off, just look at it. The incline is really really steep, and you have to walk for like 2-3 hours before you even sight the summit. Meemure is already one of the most isolated villages in Sri Lanka, and this mountain is not a tourist spot, at all. As you get further there is no path, you’re just zig-zagging up hill, on top of crumbly and unstable rock, the sun beating down.
Village dog on Lakegala.
What made it all the more maddening was that we would huff and puff to move like 30 meters up and the village dogs would casually saunter by. They climbed the whole mountain except for the vertical part faster and more efficiently than us. For them it must have been another Saturday. I gave the fellows half of my food but they honestly didn’t seem into it for the lucre. I think it was another place to pee.
Rock pool on the way up. We called it the Jacuzzi
Despite the pain and ultimate fail, this was still one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on. Meemure is a truly idyllic place, flowing rivers, bathing pools, crystal clear mountain water, verdant shade, impressive rock. With breaks the whole thing took like 9 hours up and down.
I must impress upon you that this is not a tourist destination. We slept on the floor of a temple, ate (amazing meals) at peoples homes and drank water from the mountain springs. My body still hurts, half the posse dropped out at various points, somebody lost a toenail, people threw up and – quite honestly – we almost died.
I can vaguely climb stuff, but there was a point where I was hanging with my fingertips on 5 mm of rock and just praying that I could find a toehold in time. If we slipped I suppose you’d come to a halt eventually, but this would be after losing the skin on half your body by fervently clinging to the rock. I’m rarely scared while travelling, but this time I really was. I was quite honestly thinking about my death or, alternately, waiting 12 hours to get transported out, and came to a realization that my life is going pretty good right now and that I kinda liked being in my own skin, literally.
Of course, that last 100 meters is still the prize. We need to get a longer rope, a younger guide and go back again.