Friday, February 28, 2014

The house of three plumes

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!!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Going Native

I’m jumping on the long overdue blog update bandwagon. I had a little thing I had written about fun adventures I’d had in the past while, but then Ben updated his long overdue blog and so my update would have been outdated and surpassed in every other way! Not wanting to reheat old stories and tell them in a far less eloquent way I sat steady. Waiting for something else fun to ramble about to ya’ll.

The arete project
I can’t, however not mention what Ben, if any of you have read his blog, which if you haven’t you should, as it is great, has written in his last two posts. The bouldering in the Ukulore Valley!! It’s the ace of spades for sure! All time greatness within 5 minutes of your home, depending on where you live. There are quite a few areas now all with some of the best bouldering you could hope for. Honestly I think some of the problems would give the Grampians classics a run for their money! Am I allowed to say that?? Well it’s true!

Ben and I have been tramping down there with a reasonable amount of regularity lately and have been brushing, chalking, building landings, forging trails and of course playing on the boulders far past sunset. Very romantic! There are quite a few established problems now, ranging from V4-V11. It was, in some ways, slightly annoying the amount of mega awesome projects we had found. Where were you to start? Seems a funny thing to complain about; too much good climbing!

In the last couple of weeks Ben and I have put up the following:

  • The old reach around – V11, a tricky blind around the corner throw.
  • Jack to the hobos – V11, I managed to get up it 2 days after Ben. This is surely a contender as an all time classic anywhere in the world.
  •  Squatting in a slitted trashbird (name not yet confirmed) – V10, very cool footwork and hand sequence to a big throw and a commiting tall slab out.

Ecker's tears
  •  Beyond the glory hole – V8, Ben nabbed the 2nd ascent a couple minutes after me. This is a very fun and pasty corner problem.
  •  Ma Crow’s choice – V5, very cool high ball on the right arĂȘte of the iced vovo boulder.
  •   Ecker’s tears – V7/4, Sit start and stand start. The sit starts on a left undercling on the lip of the low roof and a right hand cartoon hold. Do a couple of tensiony moves to get yourself to the two good edges where the stand start starts. Then make your way up the arĂȘte on the amazingly sculpted holds.
  • Ma Crow's Choice. This photo doesn't give the boulder any credit for its size
    Ben on beyond the glory hole

    Ben on beyond the glory hole
A cool drain down in the Ukulore the cane farmers use to cross the road. The season is just about to start again so we will be seeing more of them soon.

Then there are all the radical hard projects to do as well. However you all have busy lives and I don’t need to bore you with too many details.  I could go on for hours! Just know they are rad!!
Ben brushing up 'and the ass saw the angel' project. This picture dwarfs the real life thing.
It is just the sweetest thing!

So now we get to the new story I get to tell you. I did my first first ascent of a route I bolted yesterday!! Wow o wow it was good. Not just in a quality of rock and moves way, but in a whole process way. This wasn’t the first route I bolted, 4th actuallyI have done a few first ascents before, however I had never bolted any of them. They were ether existing projects, link ups, direct starts or alternate finishes. Most of the time they were a known quantity and weren’t necessarily a huge adventure. This was an adventure though, in a sport climbing kind of way. It was so much fun to rap down a virgin cliff and start sinking my dynabolts, checking out the holds and seeing where a line might go. I spent days and days cleaning off loose rock, scrubbing off mud and gluing in my ring bolts. There may be a few of you who are reading this who have bolted before so you’ll know how much fun it is. Either that or you’ll know how much I’m hamming this up and will think I’m just some glory hungry upstart bolt clipper =).  Anyway, when I finally had the chance to try the route for the first time it was the best. To feel how the holds actually felt with a chalky hand and climbing shoe clad foot. Some of the sequences I’d thought would go didn’t and others I was bang on. Quite a few of the moves were even more outrageous than I could have imagined!
I had an attempt at Macarons. Not as good as the real thing
I tried a couple weeks later! They are yum!!

me catching a sick left
On a side note, surfing has recently peaked my interest again. Surfing was the thing I was most psyched on before I started running around in the dust at the base of cliffs. I have always loved the beach and, sorry for the wankiness here, it’s where I feel the best. After heading up to Brisbane in July for my birthday, I returned with one of my old boards! Dusty and covered in cobwebs, the poor thing hadn’t been near the water in years. Since coming back I’ve bought myself another board, a wet suit that actually keeps me warm and I’ve been charging down to the surf as much as possible. My daily website perusing now involves a little too much time spent pouring over any surf related material.

Julian's best attempt at gettin up
Thom has also gotten his hands on a surf board and so now we have joined the Blackheath surf brigade. There are actually quite a few Blackheathens who enjoy a surf. Thom, Julian and I went down early yesterday morning for sneaky morning session. We pulled up at the car park and it was looking fairly flat. Bummer. There was enough to make getting wet worthwhile though. Ten minutes after getting in they started to pick up a bit to about 3ft on some of the bigger sets. A very fun size without much washing machine consequence if you tumble into the frothy stuff. I spent the morning carving it up and looking like a pro. Not quite, but I managed to get a metric shite ton of them it seemed. Towards the end of the session I could barely paddle back out my shoulders were so worked! After a little false start on his new board Thom found his feet and got up on a couple of swish lookin waves. Julian, however, looked like someone dressed a baby giraffe in a wetsuit and plopped it on a board. It was entertaining to watch. In the end though we all had a cracker of a day with many waves in the bag.

Thom and I doing a few ding repairs on our quiver 
Getting the boards down

Now we cross seamlessly back to rock climbing. After the surfing Thom and I were still psyched to play. So we headed back up the mountain for some rock climbing. We went straight down to Elphinstone, Gay Paris wall. Gay Paris wall for those who aren’t familiar, is a cool new wall that completes the triangle of glory of the three cliffs that make up Elphinstone. Nory, Thom and I have bolted a few routes on it, all of which are all time, none of which had been climbed.
First Mango of the season. Gosh I love em

Thom and I did a little track work around the base of the cliff, cutting out some steps and laying pavers so as to make the Gay Paris experience an enjoyable one for all you merry travellers. After a little hard labour we got bored and started climbing. I went up and put the draws on my Shame at the Anvil project. It certainly is a cracking route. It would weigh in at around 40+meters and you can break it into two sections. The first half being fairly steady climbing for 15-20m at around grade 30. You get to a stonking rest and you can get most of it back. Then crank up through the top half without so much of a rest and turn the lip of the cliff via a leap and a skip. Thom had a go on his new line too. This route will be a super thing!! Moderate and from the looks of things very gymnastic and funky climbing to a 6ft dyno that looks extreme. Following that madness it’s a further 20m of trickiness to the top.
Thom bolting his route on Gay Paris wall

After Thom had his play I strapped myself in again. I got up higher than before and well and truly into the business. After nearly fluffing it a couple times and forgetting the top slab sequence between the last bolt and the anchor with a deep pump, I got to the top. Jugs. Heaps of fun!! So yeah, the Gay Paris wall cherry has been popped! Get on it and give it a tickle.

My new machine as of today!! It's the end of an era with the Iced Vovo (1986 Volvo GL).
The castle on wheels was just getting too expensive on fuel.

Protective stuff you have to wear working in a caustic tank
Bolting at the top of a 170m chimney
Rosie practicing his skyhook aiding

check out gay paris!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


You seem to loose sense of time when your'e on a climbing trip. Only when you see Andersons or the Cave full of people again do you realise another week has gone by. Two weeks sounded like a good chunk of time, but throw in some crumby weather and a couple of rest days and you soon only have 3 days left. We went down with grand plans of checking out Baundik, Taipan, Araps and all the boulder fields between but soon enough reality kicked in and we just didn't have enough time to finish everything on our plate. What we did eat though would have won an Iron Chef final. Each morning we got up late, had a lazy breakfast and got out to clamber about on some of the best rock getting around.

The Cave quickly became the area of choice for us, somewhere I've always wanted to climb.  I was psyched to do a few of the classics and have my eye on a few others for next time. One day it would be cool to put together the full link. 

A very moist day in the cave

Andersons was another spot we spent a little time at and was another spot where we all got some good climbing done. Bec, Grant, Amanda and I all did the classic Mr Fox, V7, as well as some of the other gems hidden amongst the trees.
Grant on the final moves of Mr Fox V7

The evolution in pad design!! BD have created a pad that will walk itself in for you!!

Crux slap on Etch-e-Sketch v11. Was psyched to have done this one

A couple of trips up to the Kindergarden also came up. The first being on a miserable rainy day where it was forced upon us. Mist, sweat, high humidity and bad skin made the day somewhat uneventful, however, left us with a few projects to come back to. On one of our last good days Grant, Bec and I headed up to knock off what we wanted. Grant came close to sending Spanking the Monkeybars a week earlier in the spoodge, so with good conditions he was definitely in with a chance. After falling while matching the final rail, he took a break, then sent it packing. I had also tried Gripmaster a week earlier but spoodged off the final desperate holds. With crisp air all around and some good new beta from the SA lads I was psyched to press out the mantle and finish it with the awkward squat beneath the roof.

A quick go on Zeus V13. I was able to do all the moves bar one which was cool. One for next time.
I went for a walk around Taipan and the surrounding boulders one rainy day.  As I walked back to the car it started to clear and made for a beautiful afternoon

Grant busting laps on Mana V13

What more could you want on a birthday cake?
Climb through all the chalk on the left then traverse out right up the water streaks
Another day and another area, Campground boulders were another site of interest for us travellers. Amanda was psyched for Butthole Surfer, a problem she had tried on previous trips. A bung elbow and feeling a bit under the weather, didn't diminish her psyche though. Poor conditions made it hard to have good goes on it, but she has now done it in pretty much two sections. After I did Butthole Surfer I had a gander at the wall to the right of Butthole. The Butthole and Beyond project. I'm not too sure if it has been done before. I searched through the all powerfull and somewhat all knowing internet and couldn't find a mention of it having had an ascent, but really, it doesn't matter, considering how good it is. After you do BS, you scoot out right to a good jug flake. A heel above the noggin and a long reach gets you to a cool pocket and leaves half your body 3m off the deck as you are now right over the edge of the 2m platform Butthole sits up on. Reset your heel to the jug flake and make another big move up to a lockable slot. Swing your right foot over to a bad high edge and bone down to a good flake. Your'e about 4m off the deck now and right above the edge of the platform. I fell here a few times and came crashing down, smashing my hip hard into the edge of the platform before falling another 2m to the ground. Once you have the flake your feet go above your head again, you REALLY don't want to fall here, and make a few last moves to top it out. I really enjoyed working on this problem. It had a little bit of everything going on with it. I needed to try hard and with the thought of the landing in the back of your mind, it made it that much more exciting. Not being 100% sure whether it's been climbed or not I feel somewhat reluctant to name it. If it hasn't though, I've called it Fairy Hole and think it would sit somewhere around V11. I'm no good with boulder grades though. So it could swing lower or higher?? No matter in the end though, she's a tasty bit of climbing in an amazing part of the world.

After falling straight onto the edge of the ledge hitting my hip, missing the strategically placed pad, on the project. Doesn't look much but by jingo it hurt!! It still does 3 weeks later!!
My good friend Peter Crane just happened to be in the neighbourhood, so we caught up for a climb. This is him trying Fat Cow, V6. We use to climb together all the time when I first started and he taught me a lot. He pretty much shaped my climbing when I was younger. Unfortunately he gave up for a few years, to focus on his photography, but is now slowly getting back into it with his camera in tow.

On a restday we went for a walk around Araps. Couldn't resist pulling onto PUNKS! Next day we went out and Grant and I both had a go. Definitely a route I'd like to come back and do soon.

Looking over at Watchtower Crack.
After getting back from Gramps it was down to Goulburn for work for a couple week. Staying fit while away.
Now I'm back and very psyched on routes again. We've had some crazy good weather lately, compared to the start of the year, so I've been trying to get out as much as possible. I've been out to Elphinstone a few times in the last couple weeks and can't really see myself straying too far from there anytime in the future. It really is the best cliff getting about in Aust. (note I haven't climbed on Taipan yet). The routes are mega and there is much left to be done. I've been able to drag my arse up a few of the routes out there so far. Rowan's route Brummel Hook, 30, could be one of the best routes for the grade I have ever done. Long and sustained climbing with hard moves off the deck winding up with the potential to take some serious air time on the last few moves as you fight a vicious deep pump. Yesterday I got out again with Rowan and was also able to do Aristocat, 31. This is one of Lee's additions to the cliff and is also an absolute classic. With a very bouldery lower crux, easy climbing in the middle and another crux at the end just to keep you honest this route is sure to get many more repeats in the future. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

All tomorrows parties

It appears I have been a victim of time dilation. An off shoot of the theory of relativity. Time dilation looks at the relationship of gravity and velocity with respect to time. It basically states that the less gravity is affecting you, the quicker time goes by. With the bluies being at a higher altitude than Brisbane, time here does actually go quicker!! It doesn't feel all that long ago I moved down to the mountains, but it has been 8 months already! It feels like I haven't really had time to breathe lately. I've been working a fair bit in the last 2 months, which has been really good, but it has meant I haven't been able to climb nearly as much as I'd like.

Thom up high on Grasshopper
Having said that, since my last blog I have done some fun stuff on rock. Before Thom Samuels left for his big 2 year trip to see the world, but mainly Canada, he wanted to do Grasshopper, 25, out a Pierces Pass. He'd been frothing about it for months and months and really wanted to free it (he aided it a year or so back). A group of us went out early one morning and had a crack. It really is a bloody impressive line. A single pin scar which runs for 50m up an otherwise fairly blank face. I racked up and went for an onsight. I've not done a whole lot of trad and had never actually fallen on gear before. I felt there was a good chance I'd be loosing my 'no falls on gear' virginity on this thing. But after stalling a little at a crux at mid height, I got to the top clean and was super psyched to have climbed this amazing pitch. Ben had a lash next but after taking 2 6m gear ripping falls at the mid way crux he came down and handed the sharp end to Thom. Thom cruised on up, placing a little more gear between the few pieces I'd placed and flashed it easily. It was one of the most enjoyable mornings climbing I've had and got me amped for more trad!

Me mid-crux on Grasshopper

I've also got the Mechanical Animal off my back that had been on there way too long. I went through the full ups and downs of redpointing on this route. I feel I could have climbed it much earlier but due to brain farts, bad beta and a few other things it became a bit of an epic. Finally clipping the anchors on link was a great feeling and the journey I took on this route is one I'll remember.

View from the top of the proj at Sail Away wall
On a new front, I've been working a project down on Sail Away wall at Porters Pass. Those of you who have been done to Sail Away wall in the last few years would have for sure seen Vince's project out to the right. A bunch of long slings and burly moves take you all the way from the ground to the tippy top of the wall in one stellar pitch. Vince bolted it few years ago, over 5 days and invested a bit of time on it, gearing it up, chalking holds, finding sequences and putting moves together. The route has 2 very distinct sections. The first half of the route starts from the get go. Jump from a boulder at the base of the route to a good break then a high right heel, big lock off and reach up to a ledge then mantle. Easy enough climbing takes you up to a reasonable rest where you get ready for some powerful and balancey moves puts you at an obvious break. I think Vince half called this a route in itself and goes around 30, but the 'extension' is where its at! You get a good rest after this first bit of climbing, which you definitely need as you are about to launch into some serious business. After a few introductory moves on edges you get to quickly clip and bust up into a thin high gaston, a foot shuffle and a big throw to a horrendous slopper then pop again to an edge. Now you're under the big 45 degree headwall, pump is well and truely numbing your brain and you still have almost 20 moves left. Grab a few pockets and cross over to an edge and deadpoint to a crappy little crimp then a big hard move to a sloppey jug. Now just 3 moves on some pretty bad sloppey crimps take you to the lip and the tricky mantle. Do all this in one hit and you've got yourself a seriously wicked route. It feels like I'll have to invest a fair crack of time on these moves. A lot of fitness needed.

Another route with Vince's name to it, this time he was just the first to climb it, not bolt it. Baboon Banquet, 33,  at Bowens Creek. This is an absolute classic route on the far right side of the main wall. Right from the blocks this one kicks you in the guts. A few crimpy moves gets you to a very weird pouncey move out right to a sloppey edge then a heal toe cam in front of your face gets you through the next couple of burly moves. After a good rest you just need your burners to keep going through a pretty goey, but not too ridiculous last boulder. There's a potential heartbreaking left gaston move only a few meters from the top but I figure if I sing enough Achy Breaky Heart to it while I'm up there each time it'll get the massage and all will be ok and I won't come off.

The last route I've thrown myself at lately is Sneaky Old Fox, 34, at DF yesterday. Despite baltic conditions it was actually quite a nice morning out. I wrapped in putting the draws on and felt a few holds and chalked a couple things up. First lap on Hairline for a warm up I was having second thoughts about climbing out there. Numb Fingers and stiff muscles aren't nice to climb with. But after a second lap I was feeling good. Amanda, however, wasn't feeling so chipper. It was quite funny really. Despite 4 layers she'd still scurry off around into the amphitheatre betweens catches to defrost. Back on topic though, SOF is just awesome. It starts up Fantastic Mr Fox and does its crux, then a tough traverse up to the rest below Grey Area before launching into those classic 2 moves of GA. I linked a few sections together and worked out some good beta and am psyched to get back on it soon.

DF!! If you have a keen eye you can spy my blue rope snaking up the red and grey streaks of SOF

I don't think it'll be too soon though. Got a solid week of work, followed by 3 nights of nightshift over the weekend then Amanda and I pack the car up and go meet Grant and Bec down in the GRAMPIANS for some southern rock action. Pretty excited for Gramps. I've never been so I think I'm going to just try and get a taste of it all. Some bouldering, a bit of Taipan action and perhaps a little trip over to Araps for a dabble at the trad classics.

On a sadder note, recently we lost a very close friend. About a month ago Jay Trent was hit by a passing car on his way to work after pulling over and fixing something in the back of his ute. Although I've only known Jay since I moved to the mountains in November, he's been a big part of my life. When I first met Jay he and Thom had just walked in the backdoor after a day of climbing. He greeted me with his big smile and a 'gday mate, do you want to go grab some beers?' After getting back from the bottleo Jay, Thom and I all sat around having a few and joking about as if we had been mates forever. Over summer Jay had some time off work due to bad weather and we climbed and got up to all sorts of shenanigans together for a bit over a month. Thrown in there he and Ben Jenga did an express trip down to Tassie to taste the best of the apple isle. Jay was always psyched to get out and climb and have fun with his mates. He'd give everything on redpoint burns of his project, drive 12hrs to Frog just to climb for 2 days in the rain, look for new lines to bolt, multi pitch at Pierces Pass or almost throw up on his warm ups at Diamond Falls because he'd drunk waaaaay too much the night before. He'd do it all with a big goofy grin and a laugh.

Seeing Jay top out on Don't Believe the Tripe after weeks and weeks and weeks of  low points, high points, dummy spits and bad weather he walked up it. It is honestly one of the best feelings I've ever had in climbing. I'm glad I was there to see him finally climb it and in style.

Slackline action in Blackheath park
Jay in his finest hour
We are going to miss you buddy, but we are all better people for having had you in our lives. One and a half thumbs up!!

I'll try to keep on top of this blog a little more now. Stay tuned for some gramps photos and a trip report in the next few weeks.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A good saturday

So the gang of four, Thom, Jay, Amanda and I, headed back out to DF this morning. Although walking in was pretty warm, once we stepped over the edge for the rap in it was very nice. Cool in the shade and a nice constant breeze giving the air some nip. After the warm ups I got back on Grey Area. I got up to the rest and was feeling good. I had a moment midway through the crux where I thought it was all off. I wasn't high enough up on the undercling and the nipple seemed miles away. Screw it!! Just reach up and give it some curry. I clawed the nipple and suddenly thought, shit, here we go, dont screw up. Right foot up, get set and huck for the jug. I let out a victory yelp and clipped the anchors. Psyched. 5 goes in the end. It seems a little soft, but it is 2 moves after about 28/9 climbing and I guess the moves are my style. But all in all it doesn't matter. It was fun =). Afterwards I had a play up Rhythm and Stealth and got a bit of a sequence happening. It's pretty rad too and I'm keen to get back on!!

Victory jug. Photo: Jay Trent

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Between Showers

Previously I’ve blogged about a route I was trying at DF called Mr. Tickle. Although we’ve had some horrendous weather lately we have been able to get out there on the odd good day for a play. There must have been something in the air on one of these days because both Andrea and I sent. Andrea did Mr. Line in style, first go of the day and I snagged the crux hold on my second go of the day. I had been trying MT for 4 days, falling from the blind jump crux move over and over and over. It turned into a one-move wonder and I felt as though I wasn’t progressing at all. This was really frustrating and I may have dropped some F bombs a few times. But everything turned out in the end and I am psyched to have climbed it.

The last few times we’ve headed out to DF we’ve been rapping in. As many may know, the rap chains are basically right above Grey Area. Each time I rapped down I had a bit of a sticky beak at it. On Sunday, Jay, Thom, Amanda and I headed out to DF on another rare sunny day and I decided to give it a go. As we got to the top of the cliff before the rap the wind picked up. It was nuts. The waterfalls were blowing sideways making pretty much everything on the ground wet and a good chunk of the cliff was seeping from a week of solid rain! But Grey Area was dry, and so was Mr. Tickle, which Thom was keen for.

On GA the first 15m of climbing is pretty straight forward and takes you up to a good rest right before the crux. The crux is the last two moves and involves grabbing a good undercling with your right hand, getting your feet really high, reach up for a small nipple with your left and bust up for the victory jug. It took a bit of mucking about to work out the crux, but after trying a few different things I had a sequence. It’s a funny thing though. The crux sequence is all about your feet rather then hands. I got home that afternoon and popped on Smitten to see how Lee does it, it’s the final crux of Sneaky Old Fox, and saw he was using different feet. So on Wednesday when Thom and I headed back out there for another stellar day of climbing I had a play with Lee’s little foot sequence. It works!! And is about 34% easier, which is rad! My highpoint now is getting the nipple with my left and holding it for a second, then sagging away and falling. I’m so psyched and it feels quite close. Thom also had a good day on Mr. Tickle, despite having raw tips. He worked through all the moves and now has a sequence on the go and is psyched to get back on! Hopefully the weather holds for us and we can get back out there on Saturday.

I had a quick trip to QLD a couple weeks back and got back on a project I tried a bit in 2010. It’s a route Antoine bolted at Coolum and is very tricky. When he bolted it none of us thought it’d go. But after days of playing on moves and feeling holds it all came together. When he bolted this he said he was bolting it for the future. He is one of the most psyched dudes out there and its cool he’s bolted this line for the community. When I was originally working it I was able to do it all except for one clip down low and couldn’t ever muster up the Jacobs to skip it. The other week when I was back in Bris I figured I’d drop by Coolum and do it. I feel stronger now so thought I’d jump on, reacquaint myself with the moves and do it that day. HAHAHAHAHA NOOOO!!!!!! I got shut down hard and after 2 goes up it was absolutely shattered. Coolum is just such a different style to anywhere else and it can take a bit to get your head into it. Had fun working on it though and am keen to get back up soon and have another play.

Recently I joined the Sea to Summit team, which I’m stoked about. They stock Evolv, Black Diamond and Beal, amongst many other great brands. Check their website out here I’m loving my new kit!!

Low moves on Grey Area. Photo: Jay Trent

Close but no cigar on Grey Area crux. Photo: Jay Trent

Thom on a night of crack climbing at Katoomba bridge. We call it urban Indian Creek