Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Learning Curve - Europe Part 2

 I had seen many photos of the climbing in Kalymnos and one thing stood out more than anything.... So many tufas! I had only done one Tufa climb before this (Les Colonnettes in Ceuse) so i had some learning to do. I have always enjoyed going to new areas and learning new climbing styles so i was pretty excited to try and master climbing on crazy polished tufas.

Kalymnos. Photo: Wiz Fineron
Kalymnos was great! Everything was so easy and relaxed. There were a few of us staying together so it made it nice and cheap to rent a little apartment.
For the following 6 weeks we had a lot of fun here in kalymnos. Climbing most days, chilling on the beach, slack-lining, swimming, and buzzing around town on scooters! This was the highlight...Racing around the narrow busy streets with some dodgy rented scooter, pushing it to its limit trying to drive up the steep hills with three people squeezed on the back. Helmets..... what are they?

The climbing was great fun, but i have to say it did take me a while to get used to the familiar hollow sounding 'dong' as you climbed on to the thin tufas hanging from the roof. I think they were solid but it definetly crossed my mind a few times "what would happen if this thing ripped off" as i was straddling it... Luckily i never found out the answer, which i am pretty happy about actually.
The technique i found most useful was the 'straddle', at the time when all else begins to fail, wrap your whole legs around them and sit... Wala, you have a no-hands rest!
The constant pinching was endless, each move was another dose of pump often resulting some good air time and bulging forearms. "Can somebody untie my not please....?"

Irmak Thompson feeling the pump after On-sighting her first 7c+ Photo: Wiz Fineron
On the harder climbs the tufas would get much smaller, more like little blobs creating some really cool three dimensional sequences on steep angles. This was great fun to climb.
Again i found my self avoiding the crowds, scouting out areas that seemed to be less busy. This was nice, i like having the crag to your self but it did mean i was very limited... I realized this and it had come to the stage where it was pretty hard to avoid the crowds so i just had to toughen the hell up and get on with it. This was a good mentality and i think it worked... 

We were also lucky enough to be apart of the 'The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival' which was great fun. The Cheap Ass that i am, i was pretty skeptical about paying the 20 euro entry fee, but in the end i definitely feel like it was worth it! A few good days full of climbing, music, slideshows, videos and coming 2nd in the Big Marathon Competition was a bonus! Managed to win a new North Face backpack! That 20 Euros was definitely worth it! Seeing the prize for first place made me wish we tried a little harder.... A Sleeping bag!!!  Maybe we shouldn't have done so much sitting around melting in the heat! Oh well.

Wiz Fineron climbing Dont Call Me Greasy 8b, Kalymnos. Photo: Irmak Thompson.

Towards the end of October the season here was coming to an end. The herds of people were getting smaller and the local restaurants and shops began to close down. It was time for yet another important decision to be made and for me this is always going to be hard. I hate making decisions. Where to go next? hmmmm....  The plan from the very start was to be in Spain for the winter but i felt like it was to early to go there now. So where do i go for the next month?...

Toward the end of my time here i was getting used to having so many people around and began to climb better and more confident and i manage to do many great climbs. Here are some of the harder ones...

>Fun De Chichunne  8a (flash)
>Daniboy 8a (flash)
>Sardonique 8a (2nd go)
>Angelica 8a (2nd go)
>Gaia 8b
>O Draconian Devil 8b
> Dont call Me Greasy 8b
>Lucky Luca Extension 8b+

 In the back of my mind i still wanted to be stronger (always stronger) so this is where my master idea came from... "Lets go train hard for the next month and get strong for Spain" So this was the plan. I got in contact with the master of training him self, Alex Megos and before long i arrived back in Germany psyched out of my mind and ready for a long and brutal training cycle.
Together with myself, Alex, and Melissa, Team Motivation was ready to attack the Gym hard!

Dont Call Me Greasy 8b. Photo Irmak Thompson

Ive been here in Germany now for about five weeks and its been great! Waking up every morning in a lot of pain (good pain) but with a smile on my face and ready to train again! This was the pattern  of everyday. Wake up, big breakfast, chill, then train our butts off in the evening! Psyched! I am stronger than Hulk now so watch out.
Just want to say a huge Thank You to Alex and his family for having me for the past five or so weeks! Its been great and i have had a really great time. Hope to return soon. Thanks guys!

Feeling beaten and ready for a few days off, its time to get the brain thinking again and organize the trip to Spain. Pretty damn psyched for some hard Rock Climbing now!

Next stop Margalef, Spain!!!! Psyched!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The learning curve - Europe Part 1

I have been in Europe now for over three months and wow, have I seen a lot, done a lot, and learned a lot! I am going to try and focus this blog post more on the places I have been, the journey, and the many important thing that I have learned along the way, instead of purely on hard out climbing. But we shall see how it goes. Hopefully you guys will learn something too.

I started my open ended European tour in no-wear else but within the magical southern Alps of France. What an amazing countryside. After a day of confusing train rides and multiple hitchhikes the huge cliff band of Ceuse was in site. Driving to the campground gave me an amazing feeling, making me realize how amazing this place is! I remember saying to my self "wow, I could see myself living here..." Clean blue skies, awesome French food, amazing climbing, and the odd sky diver plunging towards the ground. What more do you need!

        Ceuse, the crown of the mountain! Photo: Wiz Fineron

This was my local crag for the next four weeks (almost) and man was i excited to get started! Ceuse, home to some of the best sport climbing in France. How could i not be excited!

My first challenge was to mentally prepare my self for the one hour slog up the steep hill from the camp to the base of the cliff. I had heard mixed comments about this from many people, so the only way for me to find out my self what it was like, was to get on with it and do it. Over the course of the the next three and a half weeks I walked up and down this thing like a mad man. The first week was maybe the hardest as it was really warm and i was pretty unfit, but after a while i found my rhythm, plugged my iPod in and i was off! You end up getting so used to it that you are at the cliff before you know it. I cant say it was easy tho! Music really helps.

The climbing here is amazing! Long sustained pocketed, slightly overhanging limestone was something so different for me as i had just come straight from the Blue Mountains, Australia were i was so used to climbing on short, steep and powerful routes. It didn't take me to long to get my endurance up to scratch and quickly started working through some of the more classic routes of the area. This was my first stop of many to come here in Europe so i didn't rush in to jumping on to anything super hard to quickly...I new that there was plenty of time for that in the following months. I took my time and tried to work on my flashing and on-sighting more than anything. This was a good way for me to get some good mileage and try and gain some fitness. It meant that i climbed in a lot of different sectors, really getting the full experience of Ceuse.

 I quickly learned that the so called "easy warm up routes"were not the best to warm up on as they tend to be on the more vertical to slabby angled walls , meaning they were very technical and thin. Not so good for the fingers. Luckily Ceuse has a bit of everything so its never hard to find a steeper, jug pulling route to warm up on.

You could call it a warm up..... swinging around waiting for the shade at Sector Biographie PHOTO: Irmak Thompson.

I quickly noticed that here in Europe, your never climbing alone at the crag. I had heard it gets busy here but wow, i wasnt expecting this many. I didnt evan know this many people climbed! :) For the first week or so the camp was absolutely full, but this was good. The place had a good vibe to it.
Personally i found it quite hard to get used to climbing with so many people around, coming from NZ (and even in Australia) its very rare to turn up to an area and it being chockablock. Evan now after more than three months in Europe i still feel like i am learning how to adjust to this madness. Its different.

Having the mind set of not worrying about rushing in to trying anything too hard had it pros and cons. It ment that i did a lot of climbing and got pretty fit, which i really enjoyed but i also began to notice that i was falling in to a trap. A trap where i became so comfortable with just climbing things that i new i should be able to do with in a few tries. Maybe this had something to do with there being so many people around, i didnt have the confidence to try something at my limit and go through the first stages of projecting.? I also felt like every day that i walked all that way i really wanted to be able to walk back down knowing that i have achieved something. Projecting something super hard for me was an intimidating thought because the possibility was there that i would leave disappointed and with nothing done...? At the time i was fine with it, just climbing lots and having fun but now looking back..... I mean come on..... gees... If this ever happens to you just slap your self in the face and just get on with it. Confidence is a major part of climbing, so you cant let these thought get in the way.

The camp... shared with the untidy Aussies, kiwis and the German! Photo: Irmak Thompson

I don't feel to fussed about it all as i have a suspicious feeling that i am going to be staying here in Europe for a fairly long time (luxuries of a European passport) so after a lot more rock climbing and some more hard out training i am 100% psyched to return to Ceuse much stronger, and now with the classics out of the way i will be able to focus all my energy on the harder stuff! ATTACK! After all i am here traveling around Europe climbing (living the dream) so you cant feel too down about things like this. Im only 18 so there is plenty of time to get strong... except actually, no i really want to be strong NOW! 

After almost a month of being in Ceuse we all found our psyche levels slowly decreasing. Due to the sun being on the cliff for most of the day there was a lot of sitting around until about three pm. This was the crux of everyday, trying to build up everyone's psyche to get of our butts and face the walk for another time. Going climbing wasn't the problem, everyone was psyched for that but just thinking about the walk made us all fall asleep in our chairs! Most of the time we were all pretty good but towards the last few days we were having far to many rest days so something had to change! Our good friend Jonas was always talking about the Frankenjura... The sentence "short walk ins" was enough and with in 24 hours we had made our decision and were saying good by to Ceuse.

Ceuse is an amazing place to climb but it is important that you approach it correctly! Having a deadline of when you are leaving is important otherwise you will fall in to a trap of " ah...its ok ill just chill for today and climb tomorrow" with this mind set you never get anything done. This is one of the main things i learnt during my time there and will make sure i apply next time i return.

 Here are some of the great climbs i did:

>Bourinator 8a (2nd go)
>La Couleur Du Vent 8a (2nd go)
>Petit Tom 8a (2nd go)
>Carte Blanche 8a (onsight)
>Sueures Froides 8a+ (Flash)
>L'ami De Tout Le Monde 8b  (2nd go, so close to the flash)
>Slow Food (right) 8b

      Sunset at Ceuse. Photo: Irmak Thompson 

Goodbye Ceuse! Hello the Frankenjura! 

Next up was Frankenjura. After a long drive we arrived in the forest covered land. Strangely there was no rock in sight..... Hmmmmm are we in the right place...? But yes, hidden within the beautiful, green forest, are some of the hardest sport climbs in the world. Some may say they are not the most inspiring looking lines but they definitely climb well for sure!

Unfortunately from day one we were very unlucky with the weather, having it rain almost every day for the next two weeks! Luckily the weather had been really good for a while before this so the rock was still dry thanks to the steepness of these crags! (if you call this lucky)
So the first few days were good and i managed to get some good climbing in. It felt like i was at home again.... short pocketed climbs and with mostly no one else at the crag! it was great, It felt like the confidence that i may have lost climbing in Ceuse was back and i was buzzing with psyche! Lets go climbing!!!

Most blue sky we saw the whole trip....Nice day climbing at Elderado.

The first few days were great! Confidence and psyche were high, and having a vehicle made it easy to find the dry crags. 
Unfortunately this had to come to an end after a few days as our good friend "the german" had to return to 'the normal life', having to start uni soon, so we made our selves at home at the awesome Oma eichler camp ground!
From this point on the weather became worse and worse, so we were very lucky to have such a nice place to stay. Our days were spent watching movies, internet, eating (lots), and walking in circles going crazy... I want to go rock climbing!!! I was lucky enough to have some contacts in the area, so i let my good friend Alex know that im around and he quickly invited me over to his house for a couple of days to do some training. You dont know what training is until you train with this guy. Amazing strength and the will to try hard! Inspiring. I NEED TO GET STRONGER! I continued to go back and forth from camp and his place a couple of times as i had a new found psyche to train hard and man did i want to get strong! Awesome boulder sessions at Cafe Kraft to crazy strength training to ring sessions at home and a mid night beast-maker session was how we were doing it. The Psyche was high! Every time, I would retern back to camp a broken man, waking up the next morning in agony but with a smile on my face. The feeling of pushing your body to the limit is amazing and for me... addictive! Pain means your getting stronger! (hopefully)


Hanging around at camp getting miserable and complaining about the weather was obviously not gonna get me strong so something had to be changed. Pretty much everyone else at the camp felt the same and were all heading to Kalymnos, Greece together in a few days so after a bit of umming and arring i decided to join. F@#$ it... lets go climbing. I really enjoyed the little bit of climbing i experienced here in the Frankenjura and definitely knew that i would return, making the decision much easier to leave. On the other hand, the camp mum baked some very amazing cakes.... this was hard to leave behind.

Here are some climbs i managed to get up in between the rain:
>Vogeln Verboten 7c+ (flash)
>Ekel 7c+ (2nd go)
>Heise Finger 7c+ (2nd go)
>Out Of Berlin 8a (flash)
>Simon 8a+ (2nd go)
>Witchcraft 8a+ (3rd)

So yet another decision had been made and before i knew it i was flying in to the beautiful islands of Greece.  This is what i love about Europe.... Its so easy and cheap (most of the time) to travel from country to country, all with amazing climbing to be done.

Still more to come, so stay tuned for part two...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Australia and beyond!

I have been in Australia now for almost four months and a lot has been happening. Everything from moving out of the tent in the bush, to beautiful crisp days in the mountains, to bouldering in the Grampians, and to finally booking tickets for the next step of my trip.

First up is the story of how i have changed from a total dirt bag climber/bum to lets say just a climber/bum (for now). It all started about three weeks after i set camp in the middle of the bush here in the Blue Mountains. Just another normal day out at the crag was followed by a nice hot shower and awesome dinner, at a very comfortable and welcoming home. Now that doesnt sound like the life a homeless dirt bag climber does it...? NO!! Well this is all thanks to a very nice family that we met at the crag after watching there daughter cruse up some very impressive climbs on Wave Wall. We got chatting and later found out that she was only 8 years old and had just ticked her first 27/7c!!!! WHAT!!! Her name is Angelina Scarth-Johnson, check her out on the classic .

After sharing stories they soon began to feel bad for us and probably couldn't stand the smell of us for much longer so soon invited us over for a warm shower and some dinner. This then led to us house sitting for them over a weekend, and then not to long after that, we were living there. In there barn was a huge upstairs room with a pool table, power and eventually a makeshift bed topping off what has felt like a five star accommodation to me. 
   Our home for the past four months!! Thanks a lot to the Scarth-Johnson Family!!

Other than living in a nice warm house and having amazing meals cooked for every night i have also been doing a bit of Rock Climbing surprisingly. Nice clear but cool sunny days have allowed for many amazing days out climbing here in the bluies. I have spent most of my time just climbing locally here in the Glen ticking off many awesome climbs. One of my favorite climbs was a route called 'Inertia', a steep roof climb with awesome 360 degrees campusing moves on good pockets! Its one of those climbs that the first attempt on it feels desperate but once you figure it out it goes smoothly on the second! It made me feel strong at least :) (not much of a campusing kind of a guy)
                                    Wiz Fineron on Tripe (30/8a+)           Photo:M Jackson

Nothing to different has happened on this trip to the mountains compared to my previous visits so i wont bother boring you with the same old stories etc so ill cut to the chase…

                                   Wiz Fineron on Search And Destroy 32/8b+  Photo: Melanie Jackson

        Wiz Fineron on Double Adapter 31/8b       Photo:Roman Hofmann

          Wiz Fineron on Better Than Life 32/8b+    Photo: Roman Hofmann

Other than climbing many awesome routes here in the mountains i have had the chance to explore some of the nearby bouldering spots also. All thanks to a good friend and fellow kiwi crusher Roman Hofmann. Winter is the best time for bouldering here so i took the opportunity of having a car and a guide to check them out and see if i could pull my self up some boulders. First up were the hidden sand stone blocks of sydney. Hidden in unlikely areas of suburban sydney behind peoples houses were some really nice and hard problems. One of my favorite areas was called 'The Frontline', an area with many rounded sandstone blocks with splatters of chalk everywhere you look. A problem that stands out as one of the best here would be "L' Homme Obu" (V11) A Fred Nicole line i believe with some big moves on perfect rounded sloppy edges through the cave. Unfortunately after having a really good first day, by the time we got to this problem i was already pretty tired so we decided to climb the first have of the problem which is given V8 and then the second half which is V9. Having done these pretty quickly i decided to put my last bit of energy into the link. After a few attempts and a lot of skin i had to walk away empty handed after giving it all i had and falling off with my hand in the finishing jug…

    Wiz Fineron on L'homme Obu V11/8a       Photo: Eddie Fawk

It was disappointing at the time but not for too long as we returned a few days later and it went pretty easily first go!

Another bouldering spot i checked out was a more local area called XXXX (4 X). A good little bouldering area with good rock and a fare amount of hard problems! After a few warm up problems, i was drawn to this very steep arete with what looked like some very nice moves on awesome blue mountains rock. I was given the rundown of the beta and quickly became super psyched. It looked pretty hard but i had a good feeling about it so i decided i would give it a good flash attempt. After chalking it all up i quickly put my shoes on (except it wasn't so quick as there lace ups…) and got on it! It all went pretty smoothly up an till the last move where i found my self blowing chunks with my fingers wrapped over a very small and sharp crimp, trying to find the power to go for the last move. After a couple of failed slaps for the hold i managed to stay holding on and improvised, cutting loose and throwing a heel hook high above my hand giving me that little extra strength to reach the hold before easy climbing to the top. Desperate!

Standing on top of the boulder in the dark, i felt exhausted. I have never really tried that hard i think... I was soon told that i had just become the first New Zealander to have flashed a V11/8a boulder!!It was pretty exciting but i was so tired it took a while to sink in. Super stoked but smashed.

          Wiz Fineron Flashes Garths Arete V11/8a           Photo: Roman Hofmann

I hadn't done to much night climbing before, so maybe that made it seem more exciting. :)

That all pretty much raps up whats been happening here in the Blue Mountains so hope you enjoyed it!

     Wiz Fineron on Moonshadow 33/8c           Photo: Roman Hofmann

Here is the tick list :
>TuTu Sullied Flesh 29/8a                       >Cheesemonster 30/8a+ (2nd go) Nowra
>Tsunami 29/8a                                        >Tripe 30/8a+
>August 1914 29/8a                                 >Point break 31/8b
>Middle Earth 29/8a                                > Pooferator 31/8b
>Fabricator 29/8a                                     >Double Adaptor 31/8b
>Cagney n Lacey 29/8a                           >Search And Destroy 32/8B+
>Microwave 30/8a+                                 >Better Than Life 32/8b+
>Temptation 30/8a+                                 >Moonshadow 33/8c
>Inertia 30/8a+ (2nd go)

Next up was a fun but wet three week bouldering trip to the Grampians. It all started off great with two weeks of awesome accommodation (Thanks again to the Scarth-Johnson Family), great weather, and lots of good climbing. I had been to the Grampians before but only for sport climbing so i was excited to change it up a little and check out the bouldering. I had heard its meant to be pretty good there... ;)

    Hiding from the rain at the 'mostly dry' Kindergarten       Photo: Melanie Jackson 

We spent most of our time climbing in areas such as The Cave, Andersons, and the Kindergarten, as these are the areas with most worth while lines to do. I have to say tho, i did find it a little hard bouldering when there was world class route climbing just around the corner! Especially at Kindergarten as you can practicly see Taipan Wall. Beautiful!
Some good bouldering was done for the first ten days or so, ticking off many amazing problems and also seeing some pretty hard stuff go down, as the presence from Team America and more, shook the Grampians with their pure strength combined with the odd tantrum over the bad winter weather. :)

Wiz Fineron on Last Action Hiro V12.     Photo: Aureliano Ramella

Unfortunately our luxury accommodation soon came to an end as the rest of our new 'family' left for home, so we unpacked the tent and got back in to dirt bag mode!  An extra ten days of climbing was the plan but after the first night in the tent there had already been a lot of rain and word was out that there was more to come! There sure was!!! Every day until our very last i don't think it stopped raining once so many morning were spent sulking in the warm nearby cafe. The delicious brownies definitely cheers us up tho! We did notice a pattern in the weather tho as at about 8pm or so the weather would clear and we could see the stars again. This gave us enough time to have a couple of quick night session at the Kindergarten making us feel a little happier about our selves as we had managed to pull down on some semi dry rock.

                       Wiz Fineron on So You Think You Can Dance V11. Photo: Melanie Jackson

Luckily the weather gods chose to be nice to us for once as on our very last day climbing it cleared up and a fare bit of wind was around which meant most things dried up pretty quick. We took advantage of this dry rock and started off back at the Kindergarten. Of course this was one of the only dry areas, meaning almost every climber around was there. This made the atmosphere pretty cool.
I had been trying a climb called So You Think You Can Dance for a few days now and had got pretty close but was running out of power up high. My knees were getting trashed from all the knee bars so i had to walk away from it for a while. Luckily a friend had brought his knee pad so i got psyched for it again and began trying. After a few tries i managed to do it, feeling pretty happy as it was our last day.
I then continued the psyche by quickly working out all the moves on the long and powerful problem 'Point And Shoot'. After a quick brake and refuel, i jumped back on it managing to climb it pretty smoothly, giving me my second V11/8a boulder of the day. I was feeling strong! Petty it was the last day.

Grampians Ticklist:
Etch-a-Scetch V11/8a
Dead Cant Dance V11/8a
So You Think You Can Dance V11/8a
Point And Shoot V11/8a
Last Action Hiro V12/8a+

I am now on the other side of the world adapting to the very long and pumpy sport routes of Ceuse, France. It is the start of my travels here in Europe so i am very excited to check out the amazing climbing areas it has to offer. Thinking Spain next!
Living the dream!

If you have made it this far i congratulate you! Hope you enjoyed it and didnt get to bored. :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The US of A! PART 2 - Bishop.

During our time in Hueco we had met and made friends with many people and i noticed that they all had at least one thing in common apart from climbing. They all said that during our time in the US we had to make it out to Bishop. Another world class bouldering spot known for its high balls and many say it is better than Hueco... (this may be judged on the fact it has no rules etc). I always had it the back of my head that during our trip we might be lucky enough to go check out other areas and it was coming close to the end of our time in the states and the thought of being able to get to anywhere else had not even crossed our minds. We felt like tiny little ants being in the land of America with no form of transport so the thought of traveling across states was madness!

   The Buttermilks, Bishop.

This all changed after receiving a very unexpected but exciting message via 'The Facebook'. It was from a very good friend of ours who we had met earlier on in our trip in Hueco, his name was Jeremy. He said that he had come up with an idea on how to get our poor asses to bishop by simply paying for mine and Isaac's flight to Oakland then he would drive us up to Bishop and climb with us every weekend. How rad is that!!! We both were very excited about this offer and after a bit of thinking (thinking is bad for you) we could not think of a reason not to so jumped at the opportunity and began organizing. It was hard leaving Hueco as it had been our home for the past two months and we had made many great friends but we had heard a lot about Bishop and felt like a change in scenery would really do good for our climbing.
Wiz Fineron enjoying the classics of the Buttermilk's. Awesome V5 arete.

By the time we arrived in Bishop we had about just over two weeks an till our flight left for home so we immediately began ticking off some of the classics. On our first day Jeremy showed us around some great problems and we ended up sending three V9s including my first flash of the grade which was Soul Slinger. The other two were called Twin Cracks and The Fall Guy. I really enjoyed the climbing style here as it was a lot about technique and not so much power which matched my style well. It was crazy seeing all this chalk on what looked like nothing of a hold but as we learned during our time there if you get your body in to the right position and pull/push on the hold in the right direction you would be able to hold on to what looks like nothing. This is due to the amazing friction here in Bishop. Most of the time it is your friend but don't get me wrong, it will attack!

Rosses finger after sliding out of the top jug of the classic Seven Spanish Angels (V6)

After spending a few days running around doing some of the classics we decided to have a crack at some of the problems on our tick-list. First up was Evilution V11. An awesome high ball classic on one of the largest boulders iv ever seen. Unfortunately i was shut down quicker than expected and after many attempts i still couldn't do the first move. I found this a little frustrating but later found out that the same move stumps many people which made feel a little better but i was still determined to return and  make some progress on it. Isaac on the other hand was doing real well. Sticking the first move consistently and getting high enough to get scared. We returned a few times and he was doing good but a combination of hard moves and fear stumped him a few moves higher. Me, i was still stuck on the bloody first move.
Wiz Fineron working the moves on the classic 'The Mandala V12'

Next up was 'The Mandala' one of the most beautiful lines i have ever seen and i would do anything to return and do this problem. Again the first move was really hard but i managed to get through it eventually and began working on the moves higher up. After a few working sessions we had made some good progress with only the last long move towards the top to go and i felt like it could definitely go but needed some work. This is when we began to notice how tired we were mentally after going three months straight projecting problem after problem. Standing beneath one of the most iconic boulder problems ever and were struggling to find that extra psyche that we needed. What was going on? After three months of solid hard bouldering we found our selves hit rock bottom with no mental or physical strength needed to project hard boulder problems. After a long and well thought decision we decided to take a step back and set our selves a goal. To try and do 30 or more boulder problems above grade V6 in the ten days or so climbing in Bishop. This was also good as i needed one more V10 to achieve my goal of 10 V10s.
Wiz Fineron on Sharma Traverse V10, Bishop.

We spent our last five or so days climbing all day and almost everyday, jumping on anything that looked fun and with not a worry in the world about weather we sent it or not. Doing this we felt much happier and felt like we climbed much better with out any pressure. During my last three days climbing i ended doing five more V10s starting with Redrum sit (Happys) then Acid Wash (also in the happys). The following day we returned back to the freezing cold Buttermilks and i managed to push through the pain and send Bubba Gump which i was happy about but couldn't even think about climbing something else as my fingers were so sore.
Our trip was just about over so after packing up we drove down to the Sad boulders for our last few ours of climbing in the states. I enjoyed the Happy and Sad boulders but i have to say they are nothing compared to the Buttermilks.
                  Wiz Fineron enjoying the classic V5 at the Sad boulders on the last day.

We spent most of our day in the Ice Caves trying fun problem called Beefcake V10 which started off feeling really hard but after a while working it out it i finally got it. The hardest bit was trying not to dab on the ground and on the wall behind me. This secured my 30 boulders above V6 but i carried on climbing for the rest of the day aiming to have no skin left by the time we left. I have always liked the feeling of leaving an area knowing that you gave it all you had.
I then jumped on this problem called Aquatic Hitchhiker, another V10 on the other side of the Ice Cave. It was a very short problem with a really high heel hook at the start, it looked fun so i went for it. A few seconds later i was at the top... "What the....?" "flash?" really...? This was my first V10 flash but i still couldn't understand how... I ended up jumping back on it to show the beta and managed to do it again straight away... Just one of those problems i guess.

We spent the final few days of our time in the states sprawled across Jeremy's couch/pads, oh and we also did a little of the tourist stuff too. :)

Full ticklist of our short time here in Bishop.
>The Fall Guy V9
>Soul Slinger V9 (Flash)
>Twin Cracks V9
>Bubba Gump V10
>Beefcake v10
>Aquatic Hitchhiker V10 (Flash)
>Acid Wash V10
>Redrum Sit V10
>Sharma Traverse V10

Just like to say another huge thanks to Jeremy for all his help during our time here, it really made our trip. :) I am sure we will run in to each other somewhere down the line.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The US OF A Part 1! Hueco Tanks

Again i find my self sitting at home trying to come to grips with 'the normal' life again. What is normal? Having showers everyday, going to work.... That just sounds boring. This time after spending three months living in a tent and only having the odd shower, i decided that i am not 'normal'. I like going weeks without showering, living in the dirt, eating pasta and rice every night. At least i get to travel the world doing what i love, climbing in the most amazing areas in the world.
I mean check this place out!

 The Buttermilks main area, Bishop.

After a weekend out climbing and talking to some people, after a spur of the moment decision i found myself booking my flights to the US. I was off on a bouldering trip. 3 months in the States with Isaac Buckley,  Chase Gatland and later Elena! We were heading to one of Americas and the worlds best bouldering spots, Hueco Tanks.This was going to be only my second bouldering trip in the past few  years so i was super excited to see how it went.

Driving from El Paso out in to the desert to Hueco, i felt like we were driving in to the middle of nowhere. Endless flat deserted land with a fair bit of trash scattered around. Driving along this road you would never expect to be going climbing anywhere until you turn this one corner and a huge pile of red boulders appear on the horizon. Surrounded by sandy hills with a never-ending cliff band stretching for as far as the eye can see, my finger tips began to sweat and i was ready for a hard few months of bouldering. "Hueco Tanks here we come" came rushing through my mind.

The view from West Mountain looking back at North Mountain and beyond.

The climbing got off to a good start, with all three of us running around ticking off many Hueco classics, topping it off with a good send of Loaded With Power V10 on my first day. This gave me good confidence as i had never really bouldered this hard before so i was very excited to see what the future could hold.

I really enjoyed the style of climbing in Hueco as i have always been a big fan of crimps and there was definitely no shortage of them. Throughout the trip i would find myself wrapping that sneaky thumb on top of the index finger and really locking down hard on those sharp little crimpers. Unfortunately i did not win the battle as i would find out after a few days climbing in a row that the rock would leave a line of brused skin on every tip, which made crimping down on anything fairly painful. This was pretty easy to overcome as we found that resting was very important, not only because of skin issues but also due to the powerful style of Hueco making our bodies feel fairly tired all over. This made us quickly realize that three days on, one day off was too much so we ended up cutting it down to mostly two days on, one day off. I think some of us felt it more than others and one morning Isaac decided to prove this. After a good stretch he suddenly blacked out for a few seconds and fell face first on to the concrete floor.  The scratched face didnt faze him too much as it just blended in to his filthy climber look. :)

Isaac strapped down tight for the long ride to El Paso's Hospital.

Dont worry he was okay! After a long day-trip to the Hospital he came back to camp later that day with the diagnostis of 'Dehydration'. :) This secured a good rest day or two!
This was the first of our Hueco Tanks Dilemmas...

Close to about two weeks in to the trip we came across an awesome cave problem with big moves between beautiful edges called Diaphanous Sea graded around V12. We all im,mediately became very excited and got to work. After about an hours work puzzling the moves together we all seemed pretty thrashed and began to pack up. Chase decided to go for one last burn and managed to crush his way to the top. Making it the first of the grade for him. Watching this got me super psyched and i had to give it one last burn. I quickly put my shoes back on and crawled to the back of the cave. Chase had just started the send train, so i had to take the opportunity to jump on it. Before long, i was at the top.
I was super excited to have done the problem and also secured my spot on the 'send train'... :) This was my first V12.(?)  Check out the video a good friend of ours made.

For the rest of our trip in Hueco we would have many up and down spells. We would sometimes go weeks without sending any of our projects and would begin to wonder if we were getting weaker trying the same hard move over and over. When this did happen we would take a few days off 'hard projecting' and spend our days running around the mountain climbing many problems between the V5 to V8 range. These kind of days would sometimes turn out to be some of our best days climbing. We really enjoyed the feeling of climbing whatever you want and having no pressure to send it or not and because of this we felt like we climbed much better on these days.

 Isaac enjoying the classic high ball of Hueco Tanks. The Maiden V0 (skull and cross bones!!!)

We found that having days like this was a useful strategy as it was getting us stronger! A rest day later we would return to our projects and if not send have good links. The goal was to send 10 V10s during our time away so i spent a lot of my time scouting out the good ones including Free Willy, Mojo, Full service and many more! check out full tick list at

Wiz Fineron on Full Service V10, East Mountain, Hueco Tanks.

Hueco Tanks dilemma number two:
Since moving camp to the Rock Ranch, when walking to the park we had been taking an awesome short cut which involved jumping a fence... But one day it became a not so awesome choice. Up  until New Years Day it had worked perfectly making the every day walk to the office 30 minutes instead of an hour or more....But on New Years day there were many people lining up at the gate (we didnt think about this of course..) Me and Isaac rolled on in to the office and asked to sign in to North. But what we didnt know was that they had not started letting people in yet so the lady replied "How did you guys get in here...? there is a huge line back at the gate...? The next thing we know, the State Park Police women was on our case and told us to get in to the back of her truck. As she was driving us out of the park back to our camp we noticed a large machine gun standing proudly between the two front seats...???

My citation ticket. lucky we were from NZ.

After a long wait, while the officer wrote our tickets we finally heard our consequence. The officer said that luckily for us, since we were young and from NZ she was not going to arrest us and take us to court but instead she banned us from the park for three days. Apparently they take trespassing very serious in America. I guess this was better than going to court etc but three whole days of sitting around camp in the middle of the desert and no climbing was going to turn us insane! Lucky we had the foosball table. Unfortunately three days rest turned in to 5 as the following two days after the ban was over it snowed.  By this time we were fairly good at foosball.

Mine and Isaacs home... :)

I hate to say it but the long rest was pretty damn good for us as we returned with way more psyche and feeling much stronger than before.  I had been trying an awesome problem called Barefoot On Sacred Ground. An awesome arete problem topping out fairly high up the classic Sea Spot Run. I had been having trouble with the last hard move to the hueco, not being able to hold the swing so i managed to find another high sneaky heel hook locking me in making the move completely static. I fond that this was pretty damn hard to do from the bottom as i was almost completely out of power by that stage but after a good rest day i came back fresh and climbed to the top. Completing this problem felt great as it felt like my hardest yet. This was my second problem graded V12.

Wiz Fineron on Crimping Christ On The Cross (V10)  East mountain, Hueco Tanks.

Whilst staying at the rock ranch we had met many awesome people and made lots of friends and they helped us out a lot so we are hugely grateful for that. Especially our good friend Kwang. The man with the brains and also a car. He became our taxi driver and also a good climbing partner which was awesome but of course, who ever hangs out with us normally got in trouble.
This leads us to our third and final Hueco Tanks dilemma before we decided to scarper off to Bishop.

From the office to the main parking lot is not far and is about a 30 second drive. After signing in to North Mountain me and Isaac decided to jump on to the back of Kwangs truck as the back was packed full of our pads. We drove to the parking lot and parked up ready for a good days climbing and BOOOM she was there "Who is the driver of this car!!??" We all looked at each other... "where the hell did she come from?" After a long discussion Kwang was given a fine of $560 for reckless driving and almost arrested for 'child endangerment' ! WOW! A few weeks later he went to court and managed to reduce the fine to $100 with no reckless driving  offence. All this effort all because of two rat bag kiwis...  Soon after we received an amazing offer to go to Bishop in about a weeks time so we thought we better get away from all the rules before we end up in jail... :)

My dream problem!!! Wiz fineron working on Slashface V13 (the crux move) East Mountain, Hueco Tanks.

Knowing that we were leaving soon meant that we did not have long to try and achieve our goals and for me it came down to my final three days. We had decided to splash out a bit and pay for more guided tours as we had unfinished business on the other mountains. Three days to go and three problems to do.  First up was Full Service V10. It was my second day working and went fairly quickly after making some minor adjustments to my betta. Later that day i had the chance to finally have a play on my dream problem Slashface. A beautiful line through some really small crimpers following a thin horizontal crack. I had the opportunity to play on it with really nice guy called Alex Megos (He has now just done the worlds first 9a onsight...) This got me really psyched as i was trying one of the coolest looking problems in Hueco and to be climbing it with some one so strong. After about 45 minitues of work i had managed to pull all the moves and even linking a few. I was super happy and really thought that it could be possible. I had to leave it for that day as it was getting dark but was super excited to return ASAP.
The next day we were back on north mountain and there was one problem i really wanted to return to. One called Tequila Sunrise (V12). I had done the problem earlier on in the trip but from a higher start (There is multiple starts to this problem) but it just didnt feel right to claim as i knew that there was a lower and more logical start. I returned and managed to pull it off first time that day and was super excited. The extra move at the start definitely made it feel harder. This was my third and final V12 of the trip. :)

Chase sending Sunshine (v11) on mine and Isaacs last day in Hueco.

One Day left and one to go. It was our last day and i really wanted to go back to Slashface for one more chance. Unfortunately it was not the happy ending i wanted as three days on in Hueco is not the best and i was thrashed. I still gave it a few really good goes but had to make the decision to leave it till next time. It was hard to accept that i had run out of time on it but it was good in a way as it meant that i definitely had something to look forward to when i return.

My Overall ticklist of my time in Hueco Tanks!: (V10 and above)

>Loaded With Power V10 (first day)
>Free Willy V10
>Theater Of The Absurd V10
>Flower Power V10 (first go after sending Purple Flowers)
>Mojo V10
>The Hand V10
>Fuzzy Turkey V10
>Crimping Christ On The Cross V10
>Full Service V10
> Diaphanous Sea V12
>Barefoot On Sacred Ground V12
>Tequila Sunrise V12

Just like to say another huge thanks to all those who helped us during our time in Hueco! It really made our trip. :)

We are currently working on putting together a little film of our sends so stay tuned for that and part 2
(Bishop) will be up soon.