King of the big climb
POMONA’S Derek Stevenson does not have mountains to climb – just the one inspirational 439m elevation which steeply heightens the senses and the heart rate.
And now that 70-year-old Derek has conquered Mount Cooroora 500 times over the past 10 years, his quest to the top shows no signs of dropping off any time soon.
Twice a week these days, as the sun starts to rise over a mountain inclined to attract a rather racy set of climbers, this uncrowned mountain king ascends a well-worn path to partake of his lofty pleasure.
And Derek has never put a foot wrong since finally succumbing to Mount Cooroora’s siren call to keep on rising – onwards and up, feeling as one with the mountain.
Even after so many climbs, come glorious dawns or hellish high water cascading off the steep slopes, Derek’s natural high is as potent as ever.
“Now that I’ve done 500, I won’t rest until I’ve done 1000,” said the former merchant navy man who moved to Pomona 11 years ago from Victoria and began mulling over what it would be like to stand up there overlooking Noosa.
“It took a while before I climbed it the first time ... I would look at it and it intrigued me,” Derek said.
“I used to do it every once in a while and then I started climbing it twice a week for fitness.”
The father of five and grandfather to two local teenagers said he leaves pre-dawn because that is his time – free from all other demands of a still busy life that includes caring for a disabled son, and the chores assigned by his wife Glenis who wonders what she will do if he fails to return on time.
But that has never happened in his decade of his peaceful assaults on Mount Cooroora, despite being up there in torrential rains.
Derek does not think twice about setting off, has never turned back ... the inner rewards and physical returns are so great.
Derek’s Saturday and Tuesday enlightenments are as panoramic as they are invigorating – the perfect heart-starter for the former Coast Guard Noosa volunteer and Member of Cooroy Probus whose feet can nimbly negotiate ballroom dance moves as they can the Mt Cooroora trail.
There is no race to be won like the famous King of the Mountain recently staged in its usual up and down helter skelter – just a mindset synchronised with the elements.
“I feel at one with nature when I climb – I take in everything and it is just beautiful when you get to the top still puffing and see the sun rise.
“I’d rather be out there in the open looking around, taking in everything than sitting in a room with four walls with your eyes closed, breathing in and meditating like some people do.”
Derek will be celebrating this weekend what surely must his crowning glory.