Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Back to Chocolate and Cheesland...

As always, flying is far more glamorous to those who don't do much of it. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not some high flying exec, who boards a plane for some far flung destination every second week, but when you live on the arse end of the world, flying and particularly, flying for a really long time is part and parcel of climbing at awesome venues around the world. So, it was with the usual trepidation that I boarded my longhaul flight to Milan, praying that there would be some good films and some extra space. I was awarded on my second leg with a full row to myself. Nothing to it really, two valium, an eye mask, ear plugs and whammo, I was in Milan...
Even though I had done the same drive before, I was flabbergasted by the panorama that greeted me as I passed over the border into Switzerland. Brimming with excitement, I averaged somewhere around 160kmh for the majority of the journey and I was by no means the fastest driver on the road. My friend Barti had organised an apartment for us in the town of Chironico, meaning that we could walk to most of the boulders within 15 minutes, which left extra time for coffee and sweet treat consumption. Back in the ancient past, when I was a student or just a povo bastard, climbing trips meant scrounging as best you could, tuna pasta and the occasional beer. It also meant coming home a couple of kilos lighter and falling upon whatever food you could find in the pantry. Not anymore. These days, its all Barolo, Chianti, cheese and chocolate. And not even the cheese with a greenish tinge and a special label. By the time I arrived at the crag each day, I already felt pretty full of lard and my body was already craving more sugar. By day three I was feeling like Amy Winehouse and planning my own trip to the Betty Ford Clinic upon my less than triumphant return to Australia.
Le vent nous portera, 8a
All that aside, the trip started well. I got my eye in on the first day, before we headed up to the Gotthard Pass to beat some low cloud. What an amazing venue, Possessing everything that Australia doesn't. High boulders on a mountain plateau, surrounded by high peaks and a stream running straight through it. I climbed the amazing Suworow, 7b+, a high and compressiony arete, with a sweet final slap for the lip and a beached whale mantle. Stellar start to the day. I also managed to knock off a first ascent down by the river, a big off handed dyno to a good rail and a steady top-out. Probably, around the 7c+ mark. It may have already been climbed, but was marked as a project in the guide, so I'll claim it anyways...
After that, it was back to Chironico. I had a bunch of things in mind, including a little unfinished business. I had a good lash at Le Pilier, 8a, on the last day of my last trip, peeling off the final move from exhaustion on each burn, screaming in frustration, knowing with each attempt that the opportunity was slipping away. Well, I made up for that pretty quick smart. I reacquainted myself with the moves and then waited for the sun to hide away and latched the finishing jug. Redemption. On the same day, I slunk my way up the weird and crimpy Salut a Toit,7c+, french for Salute the Twat I believe. I was feeling pretty strong, ready to unleash the fury, but then, of course, the rain arrived. We had been assured that October is the driest month in Switzerland, but I call bullshit on that, as it seemed to piss down or threaten to, almost every second day. Luckily, there are so many options for climbing, that if it was raining in Chironico we could always head to a mountain pass which had a very different weather pattern or even up to Brione. And, if worst came to worst, there was always the Arabesque cave, though I had already done all the worthwhile problems there on my last trip.
I was starting to feel pretty strong, but frustrated by the weather on most efforts. Even when it wasn't raining, it was damp in the air, making everything feel just a little damp and much harder than it actually is. That, or I'm just a complete hack and am nowhere near as strong as I thought...
I spent a lot of time running around the forrest, just trying to find some dry rock worth climbing and was happy enough to get up some 7a's on some days. I also spent time climbing with an old mate Stuey, a former prodigy and his 5 year old son, who was loving his bouldering. In-between some serious dummy spits, I got to witness him haul his little body up some very impressive lines, including some unrepeatable by adult classics. An enjoyable distraction in between attempts.
Le Pilier, 8a
I didn't really have too many projects in mind for this trip and was more than happy to just wait until I spotted something that took my fancy. One of the lines that most appealed, was Le vent nous porteŕa, 8a. A Fred Nicole classic. (As an aside, there is virtually no crag in the entirety of switzerland that doesn't contain a classic 8a and 8b by the grandmaster of bouldering. He has been so active and has done so many hard lines, it is almost unfathomable that one person could be so good for so long). I jumped on this puppy and immediately liked the moves, I had them dialed down in ten minutes, but just couldn't get it together in a oner. There is a fiddly starting match, followed by a big slap to the arête and then a weird and tricky drop in on to a small crimp and a jump round the arête to a massive jug. Game over. Usually, once the moves are dialed, I do a problem quickly and I came very close on a number of shots, but ran out of gas and had to call it a day. And then, rain!!! The amazing thing is, everything except the crux hold stayed dry in the wet, so the next day I had another lash, it all felt ok, but I was having the same issue. So, I walked away and had a play around on a few other things with the crew. We had to walk back past it to get back to the ranch, so I decided that maybe I'd just give it one more shot before calling it a day. A quick lashing off liquid chalk and I was topping it out. Sweet, a Fred classic ticked. As always, the trip flew past way too quickly and after no time at all it was home time. We had one more day of climbing and woke to.... Yep, you guessed it, rain. So, we changed our plans and decided to meet Barti and Tabea near the susstenpass so we could climb there. And it was a great choice. One of the most amazing places that I have ever been. Boulders at 2000meters, surrounded by snow covered peaks and unlimited rock. We also ran into moon athlete, Martin Keller, out to try his highlander project again before the winter set in. Was great to see him back in action after such a serious injury...
Matt, ready for the German Sparkle Party
Well, that was that really, back in oz now and back at work, ready for the crazy season in the restaurant and back to my beloved grampians next week!!!!
Thanks to everyone for such a great trip, and thanks as always to the sponsors who help make these trips possible. Was amazing to have a crash pad ready and waiting for me upon arrival, so cheers Ben.
Here's a list of some of the best problems that I did:
Le Pilier, 8a
Le vent nous poterá, 8a
Salut a toit, 7c+
Project 7c+ FA
The real shield, 7c
Quasimodo, 7b+
Auto pilot, 7b+
Suworow, 7b+
Serre moi fort stand, 7b+
Karma police, 7a+
Selection door, 7a
Number one, 7a
Home Sweet Home

Friday, 23 August 2013

Rocklands 1.2 or 2.0

Two weeks ago I landed back at Melbourne International airport disappointed. I didn't want to come back to Australia just yet. I didn't want to go back to work and the way of the weekend warrior. My disappointment soon faded to proper irritability as I boarded a train, then a bus back to Horsham, in the cold and rain. Oh it's hard to return home from holidays!

James Alexander tapes down for land speed record attempt
Rewind 4 weeks and I was landing in South Africa ready for round two in Rocklands. Driving up the N7 with my accomplice Marissa in a pimped out Golf 3 complete with radio and roof racks, I was hit with a strange sense of familiarity. With Table Mountain behind us, the freeway took us out of Cape Town and past shanty towns on the outskirts of the city, through peak hour hitchhiker hour, into the sprawling plains and mountains that bordered them. It was a recipe for the psyche to bubble over. The closer we got to Clanwilliam, the Pass and the bouldering areas themselves, the more I felt like I had stepped through a time warp. Two years had gone by, a lot had happened, but it felt like it was yesterday. Arriving at camp, I went about putting my tent up in the exact same spot as last trip. This was too much. I had to move it down the hill. My mind was blown. 20 mins later we were at the campground bar and tab opened, my sheet quickly filling with dashes next to Black Label and Savanna Dry. Familiar friendly faces welcomed me and I felt like I’d never left. 

Sassies from Above
Pretty much every climber reading this will know about Rocklands. Awesome sandstone much like what the Grampians has. However Rocklands has in my opinion more freestanding boulders, a higher concentration, flatter and more open landings and more consistent winter weather. The combination is basically a playground for those into this sort of thing. To top it off, the Aussie dollar buys a lot of SA Rand. And when you take off the GST and alcohol taxes, it is a very cheap holiday once you’re there. 

The Good Seed - V8 campus problem :)

Anyway to the boulders….. 

Well the first week was a shocker. After several big parties including a centurion effort at Jimmy Barnes' (SA crusher not the singer) birthday, I was a little tired and needed sleep, this proved allusive with some campground shenanigans leaving most campers, including myself bleary eyed. Pretty funny after the fact, but if I hear that Sunshine Reggae song one more time I’ll do something stupid (thanks Justin). To make it worse my skin fell off and I was literally climbing with every tip taped after only a couple days on. I was forced to take 2 rest days early just to grow skin. Ah well it was already shaping up to be a crazy fun trip even if I literally didn't get up a single problem. 

Tent made half water proof. Pass under clouds in distance
The second and third weeks were awesome and 95% of my top outs were in the 9 or so days of climbing in this period. Unfortunately the weather was up and down. I mean literally high 20's broken up by 3 days of rain, then back up again and then rain. It started to be frustrating not only because we sat around a lot, but the tent I’d borrowed wasn't water proof. So my stuff was pretty wet for a few days at time. That all said, when it wasn't raining the rock was dry. None of this residual dampness to ruin one’s spirit, that can be the case back in Oz. With a few big days, and some night sessions I was hitting some form and loving it.
The Ghost and the Darkness V10
Meeting and climbing with Damien Alexander and Sheila Binegas from Sydney was awesome. Damo in particular had had a very productive trip and had told me he’d only allowed 2 sessions for a problem. If it wasn't done in that time he’d walk away. Having been bogged down on things in the past of trips I decided to give this a go. It meant that I could try hard things but I wouldn't sacrifice the entire trip to a couple of problems. In the end I didn't have to return to too many things, and it was a shit load of fun to consistently do problems, albeit not super high numbers. Just great lines and awesome times.

Caroline V10 - photo Viola Sommer
The final week was a little bit of a write off. We had the Rockstock party which was outrageously fun. This included a spit braai put on by the landowner and the International Airstar World Titles. Two years ago it was won by Cameltosis, a band representing Australia that I was fortunate enough to be a part of. This time round, I was coordinating the bands and was the M.C. for the comp which I wasn't totally prepared for and I can now advise against doing when smashing Rum and Ginger beers. The C-Bomb used in general conversation on the microphone didn't seem to come across well with the Austrian and Swiss German crowd. Anyway at the last minute I put together a strong band and we rocked out to Just a Girl by No Doubt. We totally should have won, being the only group to stick to rules. Yet as the M.C. I found it morally challenging to rev the crowd in our favour for the 'Applaud-o-meter'. Following this frivolity, Elmar Jerg, an absolute legend who a lot of you will know from the Blue Mountains, led us through a night of debauchery very much like the Pied Piper of our childhoods. Needless to say the next few days were very very slow, painful and unproductive.

 Some of the notable ticks: 

Lisa’s Arete
Cannon Fodder with 'Just a Girl' (I'm front and center) - photo S. Bradshaw
Ghost and the Darkness
Poison Dwarf Direct
Stretched and Pressed
The SharkDay of the Jackel – Flash 

Golden Virginia
Shallow Cave
Witness the Sickness 

Awesome Rock Art. The Hunter has a boner haha
In all a bloody awesome time away from everything back in Australia, I met some of the most amazing people, locals, Swiss, Austrians, South Africans, and everywhere in between. Some are absolute crushers and others just punters like me, but all great people who will meet again. This trip has also strengthened my resolve to leave the workforce for a while next winter and do some extended traveling. At the moment I think I’ll be heading to Switzerland and Austria then who knows, but I’m excited about it already. 

Right so, I tried to film some of the things I was doing. It turns out it is difficult to get good footage when the camera is stationary and its usually looking up from the ground. After a few lame attempts, and a few misses of the sends I pretty much gave up and went climbing. The fail clips are probably the best and will feature in a 'Fail Compliation' one day on YouTube. Here is a link though to a little clip I put together. Also a link to photos I took from the previous trip, as this time I just took happy snaps. 

Since being back I've been sick as a dog with flu like symptoms. Could be that I have the syphilis again I’m not sure. It’s also been wet on the days that I haven’t been working. I've been about to get out on rock for one after noon and managed to get up American Pie V10 in the most Baltic conditions I've tried to climb in. I ended up sick in bed for the next two days. That will teach me. Righteo. 

Sorry if that reads like a Postcards segment or something. Lame.

 -         Grosey

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Committing to the move

 Its been a long time since I’ve logged on and updated my blog, its not because I haven’t been out and about at the crags and its not because I don’t like telling a good yarn about a great day out at the cliff. To tell the truth I’ve been a little scared.

Rewind April 1st 2012 and I was under the knife of a surgeon, having the long head of the bicep re-attached to the bone and the supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendons having an inch long tear across them sewn back together. It was 3 months with my arm in a sling with passive movement only. My physio had done an awesome job at getting my shoulder back to a full range of movement. I was then able to get into the strengthening exercises, all going well I was allowed to start back to climbing in another 3 months.

Between months 5 and 6 I embarked on some "Vertical therapy" 
This was the first time back on the rope and discovering the arete that would become Star Gazer

A day under 6months I had a day off, the weather was awesome and my shoulder was feeling strong so I headed out to the crag. I had no plans, I was still unsure if I should pull on but I thought I would just see who was out. I walked into Centennial Glen and then onto Wave Wall. Luckily enough some friends were there. Mark and Sam Berry were out for an afternoon climb and had their gear on a route called Rubber Lover, perfect! It’s a great route and knew it like the back of my hand. I took it slow, carefully loaded my shoulder through each move and made it cleanly to the chains. I was FROTHING! On one hand I wanted to log straight on and scream out “I’m back”, but on the other hand I couldn’t. I didn’t want to jinx myself just yet.

 A day out on the walls high above the Grose Valley is always a great way to spend a day. Dave Brailey joined me on the classic Rutger Hauer 23 

My mind was racing with climbing. But what was keeping me up at night was the moves of some new routes that I had bolted on the walls of Castle Head, high above the trees of the Jamison Valley. I rapped and prepared these routes just before I was allowed to start climbing again, I thought it sounded like a good form of rehab, I could picture every hold in my head, I just needed to get out and try them but was I ready? On a brisk October afternoon, insanely pumped but having heaps of fun I did the first 3 routes, starting with a 22 "Vertical Therapy" then a 25 "I Wish I Was A Multi Pitch" and finishing with a 20. I was barely able to clip the crux draw on the final route, I had to use every trick in the book to keep myself attached to the wall, it was really to much fun J

The views of the Blue Mountains are always a good distraction from the pump in your arms "I wish I was a multi pitch" grade 25

Next was what I was really excited about. A route I named Star Gazer, a 40 meter long, and slightly run out rising traverse takes you to rappel, down and across a steep wall to a semi hanging belay were the fun really begins. A stellar 50-meter grade 26 pitch up a steep arête, with a thin hard crux and plenty of air under your feet.

As December rolled around I was pushing myself more than I knew I should. There was another climb in my head, a project at Diamond Falls that I had bolted almost a year ago. It was unusually cold and windy, and it was my birthday, I had to give it a shot! After re-working the moves and a couple of redpoint shots I was lacking skin but not the motivation. I gave it everything on the next go, I got my hand onto the jug at the end of the first crux but I just couldn’t hold on. It wasn’t to be that day, but I was psyched to be pulling down hard.

So close yet so far, my skin was in need of a few days of recovery after just a few shots on my project "Mr Meangoo" at Diamond Falls

By the time Christmas came around it was apparent that I was pulling down to hard, but it wasn’t the shoulder that I had had the operation on. It was time to take time out. I hung up my rope and hoped onto my bike. After having months and months of last year a few more weeks weren’t going to hurt.

Luck would have it that a friend of a friend was out from England, so no better way to get back onto the rock this time than showing him around some of the classic routes we have to offer here in the Blue Mountains. Classic arêtes, long multi pitches, the shoulder was feeling good and I was back again.

The awesome "Guillotine" a 2 pitch 25 at Sublime Point

By April the weather throwing up some excellent sending conditions I couldn’t help myself, I had to get back out to Diamond Falls and give my project another go. I had a few days with no luck; the crux is hard and thin. Really thin with sharp little holds that just tear at your skin. But then the perfect storm, the conditions were great, my skin was good and I was psyched. I rapped into the crag with the sound track from the Real Thing playing at full noise. Every move went perfectly and I was at the chains, project done, Mr Meangoo grade 31. The end to a perfect day was beer and pizza in Katoomba. 

We didn’t actually go out for beer and pizza after climbing; rather, going out for beer and pizza was part of climbing.

In June I spent 2 weeks in the Grampians and at Mt Arapiles, I sent a few hard routes, that was cool. However I think I had more fun running up Arapiles classics such as Piccolo 11, Horn piece 15, Voodoo 18 and many more.

Back in the mountains the weather had turned foul, I was super busy with work and climbing was the farthest thing from my mind, that was until having dinner with good friends Rob and Carly Lebreton. They were busy organizing the National lead championships with Sports Climbing Australia. I had to work on the Saturday of the comp but said I would come down after work to watch the finals. Secretly I was thinking of the comp all week, and as luck would have it again the weather would be my friend once more. The rains had cancelled a local mountain bike race that meant I get someone to work for me, as he no longer needed the day off. I made sure I could still enter, I was in. What time do I need to be there in the morning, 7.30am, shit that’s only 12 hours away, I still need to go home have dinner and get to bed.

At the Nationals 2012, I had just got my arm out of its sling and was psyched to one of the judges for the competition, while looking rad hanging with my good mate Rob LeBreton 

After climbing great on the first qualifier I chocked on the second route. I felt good, but hesitated and stuffed up. I can be run out on insecure rock and stay composed, why do I get nervous in a comp, was it nerves of excitement or nerves of expectation. I thought for sure that I would be watching the finals. Luck was on my side again and I scrapped into the finals in last place.

I climbed well in the finals, falling on a tricky sequence in a roof just over half way up the route. It had been tough up to there and I was sure a few would fall below that point. As each climber fell I started to get excited, the podium was getting closer. It had been years and years since I had gone in a comp and it was the first time I had entered the Nationals and by the end of the night I was standing on the podium with the silver medal. It’s fair to say I was pretty stoked.

Getting to stand on the podium was a nice surprise

And I’ve finally committed to writing this blog.



Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Guess who's back?

So, as one or two of you may have noticed, I have had a bit of a sabbatical from blogging and obviously by extension, climbing... I haven't sustained any life threatening injuries, nor have I completely lost interest in bouldering and taken up competitive crocheting, but I have, for a change, been busy working.
 My brother, Dave and our friend Nathan and I have just opened a new restaurant in the delightful sea side village of Mt Martha. We have been renovating and rebuilding for about two months and operating for the last two weeks. Thankfully, we have been almost run off our feet, which has been both gratifying and exhausting in equal measure.
I have managed to sneak a couple of days in with some of my favourite peeps, but have missed out on the lion's share of the fun and games that have been taking place over the last few months. I have started training again, which has been a bit of a shock to the system, and have also been back into Jiu Jitsu and the mma stuff, which has reminded me just how much I enjoy the brutal cardio that they provide.
Anyhoo, the last two days were my first back to back days off in a while, so I decided to head home and catch up with Chook and Nat, Earl and Sarah and anyone else who was out and about on a perfect Monday and Tuesday. Even though I haven't climbed on rock in a bit, I am feeling pretty good. I've lost some weight, just from being busy and not eating all that much, which is a strange phenomenon, especially since I am now around food all the time...
So, we ventured to another new area, called the Chook Pen, discovered recently by the man himself and even though the photos that he had sent me didn't inspire a lot of confidence, it appears much better upon arrival. We warmed up on a fun little traverse and then started setting our sights on the bigger and more impressive lines. Chook had spied a cracker of a line and was eager for the FA. Knowing how much I covet an FA, I promised to leave it be while he worked the moves. I did, however, spy a rightward exit from the same start that looked quite a bit harder and with a slightly shittier landing. Chook was happy for me to have a blast, so I set about working out the moves. 
Another classic highball, weird underclinging stand start, to a sweet dyno that takes a lot of tension to pull back in, followed by some classic Weill style compression and a slappy finish. Primo. Fox in the Henhouse, about V10 I guess. Made really enjoyable by the weather and the company. Thanks to Chook for the tour, Earl, Kelly and Simon for the company and the spotting!!! It's back to the restaurant now and time to make some fresh gnocchi and Portuguese Tarts...

Monday, 17 June 2013

Tassie Time (insert MC Hammer tunage)

So I’ll start this little blog with a typical opener…. ‘Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted, I have been sooooo busy’.

Well I guess I have been, but more accurately I was just finding other things to be busy with.
The last few months have flown by and we are now half way through the year, and this one has been bloody quick. So quick that Game of Thrones is almost over for another season!!!

So climbing hey……well that’s the name of the game right. I've been getting out a bit and it’s been a lot of fun. This update will quickly cover my Tassie and Blue Mountains trips earlier in the year, State Titles, and recent Wimmera action.

Tasmania – well this was my second trip in as many years and with bad weather at the Star Factory in the past I was really keen to get to some new areas and hang out with old friends – 'Crazy' John Fischer, Anna, Simon, Grug and Co. I had a couple of weeks up my sleeve, and jumped on the ferry with a few goals in mind.

1)      learn some crack skills (open ended goal setting at its finest)
2)      climb the Totem Pole
3)      climb something at Mt Brown
4)      climb White Powder (Fingal)
5)      climb Deeper Water (Lake Huntley, Tyndall Range)

Here is an extract from my travel diary…..

Day 1

Dear Diary,

I tried a 18 fist crack today. I had one cam that was flaring with I frog leaped to halfway. I got scared. I frog leaped cam down and got off. Jugged out of area to drink beer at C.J.'s.

Day 2

Dear Diary,

Backed of a 21. Jugged 50m out of Organ pipes. Drank more beer and ate curry.

Day 3

Gave up on Goal 1 – and diary writing.

PS, above extract never put to paper. If it had been, it would have read that way.

Jack seconding Pitch 1 & 2
So onward and upwards -  Met up with a toothless pirate going by the name Capt Jack Jane. We ended up having a right old adventure down on the Tasman Peninsula. First day out, we climbed Talk Is Cheap a 210m grade 24, a fun outing up the main face of Mt Brown. For me this was the first ‘little big wall’ I’d been on. Not big by world standards but more pitches from start to finish than I've done. The rap in down the face towards a churning top-loading washing machine first thing in the morning was exhilarating to say the least. Jack and I managed to do it pretty quickly without to many hiccups except for one factor two fall I took when a large flat sloper I was using to avoid some manky flake broke off, two body lengths from the anchor. Classic.

My Selfie (on a remote timer) topping out on the Tote
Next day out, my arthritic ankle was suffering from the cruisey walk the day before. Never mind, nothing a 90 odd min hike to the Totem Pole to loosen it up before some sea stack action. The Tote was challenge that first came into my consciousness when I first starting mucking around at the Nunawading gym some 11 years ago. I was watching a Gillette Sports (channel 9 I think) on a Sunday afternoon. Featured was the first female ascent of the Totem Pole by Roxanne Wells. This was so cool. Grade 25 seemed miles off at the time, and I don’t think I knew where Tasmania was…..jokes. To go have a great day out with Jack on this route was one of the best days climbing I've had. We went up the obvious route, not the original spiral staircase of Monks & Mentz. Although the route was (11 years later for me) not that technically difficult, I felt a little pressure to do it first go because I was tired and it was a little involved to red-point plus road trip blah blah. So being able to on-sight both pitches was a great feeling, and one I’ll remember for a long time. Especially having to fight of cramping hands near the top of 2nd pitch – so good!

For me these were two big days of walking and climbing…..I was stuffed. Hats off to Simon Young and Alex Lewis for doing the Triple; both routes mentioned above AND Cape Raoul mission in 24 hrs. Shhhaaaaiitttt.

Right onto other things; Goal 4 - White Powder 31 at Fingal. Garry Phillips put up this masterpiece at a crag you would have to say as being a Winter Crag. Facing north and surrounded by black cliffs, this orange wall gets hot and climbs like Spurt Wall in the Grampians. I like this style, positive slopey holds on gently overhanging terrain. I saw a video of Garry cruising this ‘pumper’ and was pretty psyched to get on it. C.J. and I went there with Grug, Anabel and Young-Gun. It was way too hot really resulting in a draining wait until the last two hours of daylight before attempting. I managed to get my high-point on last attempt by head torch, only a few moves from the tick. My problem ended up being a simple one, I was rushed. I thought I had it dialled only to fall off then try another sequence from the ground. Anyway, the route is a classic bit of climbing, very fun, and I gave it a good crack – including a last min attempt a week later by head torch. It was hotter still and no wind. No dice.

Victorians ain't fit climbers
Onto the Tyndall mission, well it certainly felt like a mission. The Lake Huntley Cliffs is as remote a place I've been to go climbing. It’s not often I think about letting people know where I am in case I don’t return in three days. It’s a 3 and a bit hour drive north-northwest of Hobart through arse rape and banjo territory. It’s a 2 hour walk up hill. It’s a 305m abseil in and it’s a 305m vertical-going-on-slab conglomerate cliff face to get back to top. It also happens to be the wettest area in Tasmania, with 3m of rainfall annually. The cliffs surround a massive lake that resembles a meteor crater filled with glass like water. There has to be some crazy creatures living in this prehistoric pond. So cool to imagine what could be cruising its depths…….maybe a diving mission one day. 

Lake Huntley Cliffs
My words don’t really do it justice and unfortunately nether do my version of point and shoot photos. Anyway, C.J. had been frothing as he does for about a week before we got there, making plans, checking the weather every 14.3 mins and planning the attack. CJ has lots of experience on the big stuff and I had one route from the week before. We had come up with a game plan to do a route called Deeper Water, 27 - 305m (mixed) in a day in a team red-point style, at least one of us leading each pitch clean. The route was established by Adam Donoghue and Gareth Llewellin, back in 2005. Since then it had only seen a couple of ascents (Alex and Simon?), but none in a single push or single day. Previous attempts had seen groups leave fixed lines, or take a portaledge. We decided that to go for it in a day we would pull the ropes and literally face a shit night and walk the next day if we failed. This ‘walk’ I speak of had only been made possible in less than 3 days of bush bashing, thanks to some enterprising B.A.S.E. jumpers jacked on speed (rumoir) and some chainsaws a year earlier. We had meticulous planning including photo copied topos, heaps of water and energy bars to be stashed on the wall. Our pack was light with only the bare necessities, only one down jacket, first aid kit and a camera. We had a 3 day weather window so all looked good.

Morning Rappel In 
We woke in the bivvy cave at the top of the cliffs around 5:30 am and after a large coffee cooled with milk powder we headed off, arriving at the top of the route at around 6 am. The usual abseil route (double bolt belays) would have got us to the bottom quickly, however our plan was to check out the route on the way down, leave some water and quick-draws to lighten our gear for the first half. It took a couple of hours to get down the route – never knew an abseil could be so awe inspiring and daunting at the same time. As the sun came up, we were welcomed by a golden wall that looked epic. It was also about the time that the coffee and milk powder kicked it. My guts were in agony as I held onto a massive cliff poo while rapping the last 3 pitches (cruxes), C.J. who was going first, would have been off the rope for barely a second and I was running down the wall to meet him. In my haste to find a bush at the bottom I wasn't able to check to route out as planned. On the ground however I was treated to a most satisfying poo with a view – funny how being out in the bush allows you to appreciate the little things.

9 am Pitch 1, the “Gate Keeper” grade 27. C.J. went up first, probably cause I was busy shitting myself. He was able to work out the intricacies without ever making it look easy, an awesome effort for the first crack. Our plan had been to work out the moves and red-point it around 2 pm once the sun had left the wall (baked and glaring). At around 10 or a bit after I decided I’d go for it. C.J. had the draws on, but I couldn't see any holds from the ground. The wall is like looking at white and grey magic eye picture. I set off, nervous beyond comfort. No pressure – yeah right!! Flash it and we are in the box seat. Go for it, but blow it at the top and I could be toasted or open up a tip. C.J. had advised against going for it and sticking to the plan of 2 pm red-point. I still hadn't decided when I was approaching the first hard section. It involved some techy foot moves and a long move to an invisible pebble. John was yelling out some beta here, but it didn't help, the wall became two dimensional, with sunlight from above and reflected from the lake below. The infinitely featured wall became featureless. I hung around for what felt like eternity before committing to the move. I think my feet were starting to get sore, so had to go for it. I stuck it and the next move and so on. The more moves I got through the more I had decided I had to go all the way in this go or not at all. If I blew it, C.J. would still have a chance of red-pointing it, and keeping the team RP goal alive. The last few meters were all that remained, and I got the sequence a little muddled. The last move became a slightly nerve racking lunge to the belay ledge. This was without a doubt my proudest flash; no warm up, difficult to read, bottom of a 305m route, crux of said route. I yelled out to the hills, it was an amazing feeling, yet it was only the beginning. 

Lunch Ledge
Because of the time we now had up our sleeve, C.J. would have an attempt and come agonisingly close, coming off past the crux of the pitch. We were out of time and I jugged back up. The rest of the climb started of well, we got to the second crux pitch, a bouldering 26, just after lunch. I set off and fell a couple of times when two holds broke. This was the first time where I wasn't sure we’d succeed. After a 15 min break while CJ had go, I had another crack. This time I was able to crimp through the crux, splitting a tip, and continue through. We were home and hosed or so I thought. It was now dark and we had 5 pitches or so to go. Long story short, we were tired and the whole world in a one square metre of head torch light sucked. More than I thought it would. We carried on, however in a daze of fatigue I was reading the topo wrong. Where we should have gone up and left, I was reading up and right……or something. C.J. who was on lead asked me to get the topo out one too many times and I bloody well dropped it. Following some bolts found us in a weird spot; thought we were off route, couldn't work out how we had gotten off route, worried about failing the one day push etc. After an hour or so in the above state, including aiding through what we thought was an aid pitch (off to the right somewhere) and seeing some karabiners and not realising that they were the ones we left on an anchor that morning, we decided to bail. This was a horrible choice to make. We had come so far, had the weather window we needed, I’d flashed the crux, and we’d gotten past the last of the 2 hard pitches with what we thought to be 3 or 4 left. It was agony, and the decent sucked balls harder than a Godfrey’s ad. A bunch of abseils down and 2 hours later we were on the ground again. Still smiling, disappointed but glad to be off the wall, it was now 1:00 am. We knew of the base jumpers track, but had no chance of finding it in the dark, let alone safely get up to the top. A shit house bivvy was to follow. We had one down jacket (C.J's, which of course was more for show than warmth – I think he stole it from a homeless dude in the states), 3 ropes, a backpack and one small emergency blanket from my first aid kit. I can’t remember feeling so vulnerable yet having a great time all the same. We were at the mercy of the elements, totally fucked mind and body yet we could still see the funny side of it all.

Cold AS!
 To stay warm we half spooned (back to back, not that cold yet), took it in turns to half the jacket for an hour, and flaked the ropes back and forth while waiting for daylight. It was the coldest I've even been. Proper uncontrolled shaking for almost 5 hours. At the first hint of a light purple sky we were up and about looking for the cutting and track up to the bivvy. It took almost 45 mins even in growing daylight to find the track. From there it was almost 3 hours or so of walking up and muddy hill and through the forest. 

Once at the bivvy it was quick lunch/breakfast/dinner and an attempt at sleep, nice idea except for the march flies.
I think John killed about 150 while reading the bible. 
Too shit to sleep we hiked down to the car and drove back to Hobart. I was only during the drive back, and about the 39th hour of being awake that I realised that we had been on track and not off route. FUCK! When preparing we had it in our minds that once we got up the 26 there would be a 24, 25 and two 20s. In actual fact there was a 23 first. We’d forgotten about the 23 pitch. When I read the topo I was reading the description for the grade 24 pitch which explains why we seemed to be off route. FUCK! We’d been in the box seat to do it in a day. At least we didn't get wet.

View from top - bivvy cave to the right
Wow, that is a fair bit to digest. Sorry if that got a bit like a romance novel or something. Don’t know how else to give you an insight into a really fun adventure. Different to the normal climbing I've done. Anyway, what’s happened since Tasmania – in a nutshell.
I went up the Blue Mountains for almost 2 weeks to hangout with Old Mates and check out the latest craze, Elphinstone. The crag was awesome, but involved and I managed to fall off high on lots but not send anything. I did however get up Some Kind of Bliss, 30/31 at Diamond Falls. Great fun, and something I’d wanted to do for a long time since my first trip there in 2004.
As always it was great to hang out with the Blue Mtns crew; Elmar, Kat, Rowan, Tom, Amanda, Lee, Julian, Gay Dave, Norry and Nigel. It was inspiring to see how strong and psyched everyone is up there. I do feel its about time I move up for a bit .........few people (Mel Shields) will think this is a running joke as I always say that.

Since then it has been back to weekend warrior thing in the Grampians, even if my weekends are midweek. Since Easter I focused on a few things that have been on my To-Do list for years and it was great to get up them.

Tourniquet (30) on Taipan
Who’s a Naughty Boy? (31) On Spurt Wall and
Somoza (32) on Sandinista Wall.

With some concentrated effort on the red point process it was most enjoyable, especially Somoza because I didn't try and red-point it until it was ready, then it was first (lets go for it) go.

I also went down to Melbourne to have a crack at the State Titles. Competitions are not my thing. A couple of years ago I won the title down at Bayside gym. The whole day I felt shaky, weak and fatigued. I even fell asleep in isolation for the final. The win was close and surprising. It was the first time that I had become aware of some real anxiety issues when it came to performing in front of a crowd. Not sure if it was there as kid swimming competitively or playing football, yet it was here and real now. I didn't compete at the nationals, or go onto compete last year. It was a horrible feeling. I started working on it, and spoke to a few people and now have a better understanding of my symptoms. This year was a test to see if I could push through it. I went into the competition expecting to feel sick and shaky and a little weak. Knowing this before hand made it easier to climb while it was happening. Although I felt crap, the qualifications went quite smoothly. In the final I came out last, and still felt like I had a handle on the nerves, which is a shame because I rattled a pocket move and fell off half way. Really disappointing to say the least, I’d worked pretty hard, and didn't fall from being pumped or misreading the sequence, just rattled out of a pocket. Anyway, it wasn't the most enjoyable day at the office. Congratulations to Campbell Harrison who took the win, most deserved. On the day I wasn't happy with 2nd Place, but that’s only because I wanted to win haha. 2nd is still good hey.

Apart from that, I've been playing on some projects on Sandinista and getting ready for a trip to Rocklands in a couple of weeks time.

Sorry that was a long winded blog entry.

- Grosey