The trip got off to a good start as I arrived at the airport, handed in my itinerary and the lady says, "Im sorry sir but this ticket is for yesterdays flight"..... Yes thats right, I arrived at the airport a day later than I should have. Great.
After a good hard training cycle on the home woody my body felt ready to return to Mount Arapiles and face its unique funkiness that had beaten me, the last time. Feeling stronger than ever and super psyched I arrived back at the campground of 'The Gums', where I was to live for at least the next three weeks. I had given myself just over three weeks to achieve only one major goal. It was to climb 'Punks In The Gym' (32/8b+). A major classic put up by legendary Wolfgang Güllich in 1985. The worlds first 32/8b+. I had tried this climb a few times on my previous trip in the winter but was forced to leave with it unfinished. It was hard to handle at the time but I guess it was a good thing in a way as it got me super psyched to train extra hard and return as soon as possible. I must have done something right because this time, on my second day climbing and second or third (can't remember) shot of the day it was over. I had done Punks In the Gym. Becoming the youngest person and third kiwi or first Welsh to do so :) This was me first 32/8B+!
After this I didn't quite know what to do with myself. I had done it and still had 3 weeks left. Luckily enough I was among some of the best climbing in Australia so I was definitely not limited with climbs. Thousands of classic routes just out of my tent in Arapiles and just a 45 miniute drive away was the Grampians. Taipan wall!! A huge 70m tall bright orange wall in the Northern Grampians. The first time that I saw it, I just knew that this was the place for me and it was. Throughout the whole trip i spent a lot of time climbing here and absolutely loved it. One of my major highlights there was the day after climbing Punks. Everyone had talked about a climb called Serpentine. A major classic route taking a beautiful line straight up the tallest section of the cliff, I couldn't wait to get on it. The day after sending Punks I arrived at the bottom of the cliff feeling strong and super psyched and jumped straight on it. Starting with the first pitch (not many people climb this one apparently) winding its way up to the first belay point. A desparate funky introduction to Taipan Wall, so I was stoked with the Flash. An interesting pitch but fun never the less. The next pitch was the business end of the climb and probably one of the coolest looking lines I've seen. Half an hour later and all my gas drained I found myself sitting on top of Taipan wall after flashing my first 29/8a. The exciting bit was yet to come. The famous victory jump. I looked over the edge of the cliff and saw whopping loop of slack coming from my belayer. Without thinking about it too much I launched myself off the cliff and fell for way longer than I expected. I think I took an estimated fall of around 35m long and still barely touched the wall. Bloody awesome!!! :)
Another awesome place I really enjoyed was Muline. A steep overhanging cliff in the southern Grampians, home to many amazing climbs. One climb in particular stood out called Eye Of The Tiger (29/8a). I heard that it was really good by many people and a few had mentioned that it would be a good one for me to on-sight. I only climbed hear the one time but really enjoyed it. After arriving at the base of the crag tired and sweaty as hell (after crawling up the access track) I glanced up and was excited to see some holds that I could actually pull down on. It was a good change from the featureless slabs of Arapiles. The main goal of the day was Eye Of The Tiger and after a few laps on the warm up climb I was all geared up and ready to go. I had decided to go for the on-sight, so I was up first. The hardest thing about doing this was planning on where to place the long quickdraws. This was important as it goes through a steep roof and then out on to a head wall and who likes rope drag! I reached the halfway point of the climb and my arms were feeling good but god dam my right leg was tired. The climb follows a slopey left curving rail forcing many right heel hooks in a row. After a few leg shakes I was ready to attack what I had thought was the crux, a long reach to a slopey gaston with some crazy toe hooks but I did not know about this method and swung my feet across using a really wide left pinch (defintely not the right way). From here I hoped the hardest bit was over and I just kept my head together tick-tacking my way up the head wall (almost falling off the last move) fighting the pump. Before long i found my self clipping the chains of my first on-sight of a 29/8a 'Eye Of The Tiger'.
After this my three weeks were coming to an end and I was having far too much fun living in the dirt, bin diving, and meeting many awesome people to go back so I contacted home. " Hey dad can i stay for longer..... ?" After lots of emailing i exended my flights for two weeks longer and it was definitely a good idea. This extra two weeks allowed me to finish off some projects and get lots of really good climbing done. I had been working on a climb called Snakes On A Train (32/8b+) on Taipan Wall. A new addition to the wall and was still awaiting a second ascent. After falling off at the last clip on my second go I really had to get it done (expecting to get it next shot). A few weekends later and many massive whippers (typical taipan style) it was done. I had done the second ascent and also my second 32/8b+.
For the rest of the trip i decided to stay at Arapiles (no more trips to the Grampians) and set my targets on an unclimbed project called Somalia. The climb is situated on the front
face of the Uncle Charlies pinnacle at Mount Arapiles (Just
around the corner from 'Punks In The Gym') and
takes an unlikely looking line through a steep bulge before finishing up
another amazing line called Ethiopia (30). The hardest thing about doing this
climb was keeping my skin at a bearable level to hold the crystally
crimps (the usual story I guess) not to mention pulling down on the one
pad one finger pocket! It was the first time that I had been on a climb
that included a mono and was very careful on all of my attempts making
sure that my fingers were still all in one piece. A good friend of mine, Zac Vertrees,
who had been working it at the time told me to give it a go just to see
how I went. So I did. Surprising my self and Zac, thanks to all the Beta
from him, I managed to do all the individual moves fairly quickly
(linking them was a total different story) and that was it, I was hooked. It became a bit nerve-racking towards
the final few days of the trip as it still had not been done. After a
few crucial rest days it was down to the final day and good god was I
nervous. I managed to keep my calm and on the third and probably final
shot of the day (due to fingers reaching the point of no repair) it was
done. Somalia (33/5.14b/8c) One of, if not the, hardest route in the
Overall tick list:
>Tyranny 29/8a (2nd go)
>Wagalak 29/8a (flash)
>Serpentine 29/8a (flash)
>Eye Of The Tiger 29/8a (on-sight)
>Snakes on A train 32/8b+ (second ascent)
>Punks In The gym 32/8b+ (first 8b+)
>Somalia 33/8c (First Ascent)
After a few weeks back home, exams done and school is finally over, I'm off to Hueco Tanks! Peace out!