I’ve been doing a bit of rock climbing lately. Not so much before this latest bit though. After the last blog I had another couple of weeks to do fun stuff, then it was all work and no play. Before and after the ‘all work and no play period’ though, there was some good playing.
Firstly, the Ukulore Valley, gosh that place is good. It just is I tell you. It really is. It’s hard to get better. Ben and I kept on heading down there with a fair amount of regularity, trying to squeeze out the last of the juicy problems before the summer conditions enveloped the boulders in summery summerness. I don’t think we are yet to understand what good conditions feel like down there. It’s always been a little less then ideal. One afternoon we did get a nice breeze rolling up the Valley and Ben took this opportunity to pick the plum, now know as Jack to the Hobos, V11. I climbed it a couple days later. We have already spoken about this little fella though, so no need to bring up old news. It does, however, lead to fun stuff that happened next. Initially Ben and I had just been going down to the Ukulore and going at the easier stuff first and gradually trying the trickier and trickier looking problems. After doing Jack to the Hobos, there was just one main line left in the Jungfrau sector, the Dihedral project.
We had dabbled a little bit on it on previous days, however it seemed ultra tricky and we’d never really gotten passed, ‘gosh it’s hard isn’t it, do you want to try (insert less bowel voiding problem).’ But that’s what we had left now. It didn’t take long before we figured out what was going on with it. I think after that first day Ben had done all the moves apart from the last couple. We had no idea on how they were going to turn out due to a seeming lack of holds a meter from an obvious finishing point. The next day down there I climbed up a tree right next to where we thought would be a great place to finish the problem, hoping to find something. Hazzar!!! There we have two stonking, two finger pockets which were filled with dirt. Thanks for coming. We have a problem. Brush them out and fill them with chalk. By the end of the day we had both done all the moves and were starting to make a couple of small links. Nothing too noteworthy, but putting the pieces together felt great. We were both very psyched.
A few more afternoons down there working out the moves with more finesse and suddenly it was all on. Dihedral project, which was now known as And the Ass Saw the Angel project, was having proper attempts thrown at it from Ben and I. It’s fun when you start having those proper efforts. Any go now. Could this be the one? Then you get a little nervous in your head and begin to over think a foot fumble or slight hand readjustment as being the reason why you won’t be able to do it this go. Calm but not too calm blah blah blah. You can work yourself into a mess. Just climb the thing.
|And the Ass Saw the Angel, V13, down in the Ukulore|
I had a lonely morning at home so I popped on The Real Thing, I hope you all know it. If not, that’s your homework assignment for next week. Go buy it, rent it, download it, whatever, just get your chalky bloody hands on it. For those of you who have watched it you’ll know it’s pretty easy to get psyched. Well I took that psyche, put it in the car with my pads, boots and chalk and headed down for the boulders. Ben was at uni so unfortunately it was just a solo mission. Well I had the company of my phone playing music as loud as its little speaker could yell. Not the worst company I guess.
Conditions weren’t as good as they had been, certainly not as bad as they had been though. I had a warm-up pounce around and did the project in a couple of sections. After a little rest I had a couple more goes and was feeling good. I kept on falling off the moves Ben and I had been both coming off in our last session but I felt better than those previous days. Another little rest and a couple more goes later and I stuck the troublesome leaping helicopter move. Stab the feet on and keep going. Don’t fluff it. Up through the last few moves and its over. Sweet as. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect boulder problem. But I think this boulder is as perfect as a boulder can be on the imperfect scale. So there it is, And the Ass Saw the Angel, V13.
Then it was off for some work. It’s annoying when work gets in the way of doing fun stuff. We gotta do it though. Firstly, off to Kuranda, which is just up near Cairns in Queensland, for some geotechnical work. Part of a hill had slipped away and due to it being right on top of a major tourist train line, it needed to be fixed. So we drilled 80 rods 6 meters into the ground and installed nearly 300m2 of chain link mesh. At the 4 ½ week mark and with the finishing date changing by the day due to heavy rain and miscalculations, I was starting to loose my mind. We were out of there around the 5 ½ week mark though and I was glad to be heading home. Not for long though. Up into the Hunter Valley two days later for some inspections in a coal power station. After ticking them off I was home for a night before heading to Brisbane for more inspection work. This time on the main rail bridge which runs across the Brisbane River. From there I had 3 days at home, then back to the airport. It was for pleasure this time though, Christmas in Dunsborough with Amanda’s family. Ten days of surfing and hanging out on the Western Australia coast.
January came round and we were back in Blackheath. Time to climb again. It had been two months and I had only climbed twice! I was frothing to get back on rock. In some of those days in between working away Ben and I headed down to the Glen with my Bosch in search of new things. We found them, one in the same roof as the mega classic route Inertia and one on Wave Wall. Yes you read that right; ANOTHER route on Wave Wall and it’s not a squeeze job. Fancy that.
The one in the Inertia roof is all time!! All time quality and all time hard. It’s got some pretty brick moves. The guts of it is the middle third. About 15 moves of tough. It’s not exactly your typical Blue Mountains route. All the holds are actually quite good, the difficulty comes from the distance and funky positioning and movement required between the holds. Some absolute full extension moves, with ankles above your head, cut looses, two hands and a heel on the one hold in a roof and to top it off there’s a stonking big throw at the end which is sure to break your heart a few times. We have done all the moves now and there’s been a few good links happening, but I think a full link will be truly hard. We think it could be in the 35 bracket. It’s certainly harder than anything I’ve ever tried on a rope. This puppy has the working title, Low down dirty dawg.
|Ben cutting sick on the last hard move of LDDD|
|Me on the crux moves getting into the roof on LDDD|
|Me on the final few moves turning the lip on LDDD|
|Me on one of the opening moves on LDDD|
|Ben layin down the law, 'you give me bad beta again and I'll...'|
Then there’s the Wave Wall project. This fella starts up Point Break but where it heads right to finish up Microwave, this project just keeps blasting up on virgin, unclimbed wall. Technical, low angle face climbing at it’s best with underclinging rock-overs and cool womping moves to el typical crimpy crimps. We have only tried this one twice so far and on both days it was grimly humid. Only one move eludes us, but those yummy cold dry days will be the secret to success. I think this one will be in about the 33/4 category. Its working title isn’t fit for publication ;).
Now we get back to the Ukulore Valley. There are too many cool hard projects here. To rattle them all off to you would take the rest of your great grandchildren’s lives. I will say, however, the quality and downright difficulty of some of the problems is very exciting. There are proper world-class lines here. As good as you could get anywhere. Ben and I have been getting down there a fair amount. We have ticked off a couple of the more moderate problems laying around the Valley. The other day I did the first ascent of a cool flake, On the far side of the peach grove, V9. The next day I put up another one, A leather shop in Arizona, V8. Ben put up a funky problem where you attempt to mantle the start hold with a funky heel rock over maneuver. This will sit around the V6 mark and is yet to be christened with a name. To finish off, Lee put up Pocket to cool rail problem, V7, adding to the growing list of classic moderates down there. It’s still too hot for busting out the trickier problems, but we’ve been playing on the moves now, figuring they will feel that much easier when those crisp days roll in. We are hoping this is the case at least. Otherwise all this lost skin is for nothing!
|Ben on the first ascent of an extremely good quality,|
easy new highball in the Ukulore
It is exciting to have all these projects in our backyard. I’ve only mentioned a couple of them too. Of course there’s plenty more to happen at Elphinstone as well as various other projects scattered around at different crags. It’s very cool. All we need now is perfect weather year round, bulletproof skin, no injuries and a winning lotto ticket and I reckon there’s a chance of knockin’ them all off this year. Although doing them all in a year would be like scoffing down dinner at a three Michelin star restaurant. Sure you were there and it was yummy, but you didn’t fully appreciate it. For me, just charging through and ticking them off methodically and quickly is not what climbing is about. It’s the battles you have with tweaky fingers, shot skin, buttery holds and brain farts one move from the top that makes the send that much more rewarding. The times when it all goes wrong just makes the victory that much more special.
|Crux on Tiger Snatch, 29, at Elphinstone|
|Coming into the crux on Tiger Snatch, 29, at Elphinstone|
As a little side note to finish off this post; two days ago Ben did the First Ascent of Street Walkin’ Cheetah, 32 in Centennial Glen. He bolted it more than a year ago and due to university commitments and general life stuff he never had a good lash on it. On Tuesday he got on it for the first time in about a year and fell two moves from the top twice. Then two days ago it was all on and he did it first go of the day. I got on it straight afterwards, having tried it once on Tuesday, and fell three times on the second last move. It’s an absolute classic of classics heading out a couple roofs and around a few bulges to glory. It pumps you up to a good rest at the base of the final roof, where you set yourself for the final bouldery redpoint crux. If you have enough burl left in your guts, grab the slot swing your feet round and make the big pounce to the finishing jug. Oh Yeah!!