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 www.8a.nu .
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.
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)
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…
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…
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.
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!
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... ;)
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. :)
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.
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.
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. :)