Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Access Denied

On Anzac Day, my friend Lisa and I set off on a short 5-day trip to the Grampians. Our mission was to complete our projects at Hollow Mountain Cave, Cave Man (V9) for me and Extreme Cool (V8/9) for Lisa. Last year, I fell five moves from the finish of this 20-move problem (I’m climbing the former Cave Girl version), and it’s been on my mind ever since.

So, on a cold and wet morning, we arrived at Melbourne Airport, picked up our hire car and set off in the driving rain. Four hours (a few wrong turns and one terrible coffee stop at Beaufort) later, we were greeted with sunshine and pleasant temps as we entered Grampians National Park. We headed straight to the Hollow Mountain car park, up to Loopeys for a quick warm up, and then down to business in the cave.
Starting moves on Cave Man V9.
The first session was dedicated to remembering my beta and making sure I can do all of the moves, especially the section where I came off last year. As I began inspecting the line, it seemed like something was amiss, something was not quite as I remembered it, then it hit me, one of my crucial holds near the start had broken off! I had to change my beta for the beginning, which forced me to climb it like a tall person. Instead of doing smaller moves (on equally small holds) to the pocket, I had to do a big move straight to it from the weird horn under cling thingy, essentially cutting out a move, but making it slightly harder. From there, the rest of the climbing was straight forward. After a promising few hours, I was excited to come back the next day and try it from the beginning.
Cafe @ Mt.Zero Olives.
Our favourite hangout.

Well, the following day didn’t quite go according to plan. We woke to overcast skies and rain. We hunkered down at the Mt. Zero Olive cafe (they make excellent coffee by the way) with other climbers, waiting for the weather to clear. Unfortunately, it didn’t and it was a forced rest day for us.

Thank goodness the sun decided to show its face on day three. Time to rock and roll! We got up to the cave fresh from a rest day, tried a few moves on the project to warm up, and it was all systems go. The first few attempts were pretty pathetic, but encouraging. A few more tries later and I was moving through the problem fluidly, right up until the end of the flake line, where beta amnesia set in and I promptly fell off. By mid-afternoon, we were joined by a big group of guys also keen to work Cave Man. Everyone was psyched. I was now consistently falling off going from the flake line to the incut slot before the jug. With the others shouting encouragement, I tried to push through the stopper move again and again without success. By late afternoon, it was time to call it a day. I was tired and my skin was sore.
Busting through the moves on the flake line.
With only two days left, we made the decision to have another rest day, in the hope that it will give us the edge on the final day. The last day came around all too quickly, and with only five hours left of bouldering, it was all or nothing. It was game on. Physically, I felt alright, but mentally, doubts were starting to creep in. My chances of success diminished with every fall on the same move. The last few shots got steadily worse, until it reached a point where I couldn’t even hold the beginning sequences together. It was a very clear sign that it was time to go home. It wasn’t meant to be…...not on this trip anyway.

In hindsight, while I went home disappointed, I did not leave disheartened. We had a fun few days in the Grampians enjoying the scenery, good food and coffee, and great bouldering. I can’t wait to come back in spring and do it all over again, hopefully, with good news to report.

I’m now back in Sydney training to get fitter and enjoying the local blocs.


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