Wednesday, 5 September 2012

So Long Winter

Sometimes it is hard to write a climbing blog. I feel that a lot of them lack a bit of substance. “I ticked this and I ticked that”. I don’t know. Perhaps it is because I haven’t ticked a whole heap of late that I feel I have nothing to write about (I’ll mention names of a few meaningful things, tick list is on 8a.nu). Until I sat down tonight I wanted to write something along the lines of ‘Not much has been happening of late…..blah blah’. It is the usual way to set a readership up to not expect too much. I’ve used it before, in particular on the Captains of Crush blog and in time will use it again. The truth is, while there is no long list of ‘ticks’, a lot of stuff has been happening. I have had to look past the obvious to really appreciate what that stuff is.

Attempting 'Beefmeister' 32
As you’ve no doubt read in past posts, I spent two months living in Natimuk. A small town populated by farmers, artists and climbers 4 hours west of Melbourne. If you’ve climbed at Mt Arapiles you’ll know it. The objective of this stay was to see if liked working as Paramedic in Horsham, and try and get a whole heap of climbing done. Work was good, lots of down time to either study or in my case sleep. The new woody went up, along with a hang board and some other old school torture devices. The weather got cold, perfect for bouldering. And then it just kept getting colder and colder. Winter it turns out isn’t as much fun when you’re living in a shack. My skinny jeans and cardigans just aren’t cut out for it. I had thought being so close to quality rock and away from the distractions the city brings would transfer directly into big numbers and heaps of fitness. Alas my expectations were perhaps too grandiose. Most of my time on rock ended up being in the one area trying a couple of boulder problems without success. Other than that I bolted a new roof and attempted it a couple of times, before coming to a slow conclusion that south facing walls are no fun in winter. Eventually I decided to just train for a trip to Nowra, so while my housemates Gareth and Alister drank beer and ate pizza inside, I locked myself in the cold shed (had to be 0 degrees some nights) to get strong. I was dedicated and slowly over a couple of weeks started to feel the results. In my last week in the Wimmera, I managed to do a rather quick send of ‘Between Fear and Desire’ at the Mount. This was awesome fun because Zac and I did it in the dark after work with only a handful of torches on a bloody cold night! I also managed the 2nd Ascent (I think) of ‘Nomentum’ in the Gramps. This is a problem that Al and started working on around the time the guide was being written. There’s a photo of Al on it the guide actually. It is a 2 move problem that Simon Weill solved after I showed it to him. The name comes from the lack of momentum you have to gain the top. While these two problems were good to do, it was disappointing to not have achieved my primary goals. Not only because I didn’t do them, but because I didn’t even attempt most of them. I had expected to be crushing all winter.

Al Robertson on 'Concrete Petunias' 28
For 3 weeks in July the Shoalhaven caravan park was my home. I had travelled north with good friend Ash Hendy to escape the cold of Natimuk and to get back to where I feel the business is…..route climbing. Nowra is of course the home of powerful, accessible sport climbing. The Weather was a nice 10 degrees warmer than down south so made for perfect climbing conditions. I had been there a couple of years before for a couple of weeks, and had fallen for it. Nowra is like the ugly runt of the climbing destination litter. What it lacks in serenity, colour, size and adventure it makes up for in grunt and burl; two things that I have tried to improve on over the years to move away from the punting pumper of old. Last time I had been in Nowra, I had been close to doing ‘Dungeon Master’ before the rains came and prematurely called an end to the trip. 2 years later I felt stronger and generally better. I guess this notion stemmed from some consistency of late, something I feel that I generally lack. I was going to smash DM straight up and the move onto the list of things I had formulated. The list was about 10 routes of a similar grade and yep I was confident. I had done the time on the hang board and the woody. I had 3 weeks and I was psyched. Ash hadn’t climbed in a couple of months so the first few days were dedicated to getting used to the style again. The first few days went well. I had planned to stay of DM for at least a week to make sure I was fit. However it got the best of me and I put the gear up. All the moves felt easy. In fact when I lowered off I was sure it would go next shot. I retied and off I went, however I missed the first long move. I lowered off without working the rest of it. It had felt so easy when I put the draws on. I was going to tick this and then then all the other things on my list. Oh boy, can you see where this is going? It’s easy for me to see it now, however at the time it was rather less than obvious to me. I was so carried away by getting this one route done so that I could ‘move on’ that I was oblivious to simple mistakes in my sequence. I fell in the top section more times than I can recall. A few times, I fell with my hands on the lip. What a goose. I had expected to do it easily, because I had trained and because I was stronger, older and wiser? No, certainly not. I was frustrated to say the least. It took someone special, someone who doesn’t climb to help me break through this mental block.

Elmar Jerg on 'Dude Food' 29
One late evening phone call opened my eyes to the real problem, something I’ve already mentioned it in this post. An outsider to the climbing game could see that I while I set achievable goals, I was expecting them to be achieved merely because I had set them. There was a step missing. I had set goals, I had trained for them, but how do I put all that together to achieve them. I had to really think about it. The mental side of climbing is a tough one. I don’t think it is spoken about enough or at least well enough. Everyone has a campus board routine or whatever, but what do you do when the physical side of things is all good but you are still falling off. I haven’t found the answer, yet I feel I have found ways to deal with not knowing it (another post of two’s worth). During the process of looking for it, I had to decide if I really wanted to do DM because it is a fun climb. Or was it just because it something to tell people about. In the end I decided I wanted it. I took a step back and worked on some other routes, then came back with the new objective of linking DM with overlapping sections. Something I should have done from the start. Yep some of you will say that that’s the red-pointing process, and I say you’re probably right, but I am a slow learner. A few goes after this new mindset was implemented, I pulled over the lip and clipped the last bolt. It was a strange feeling. I was happy to have achieved it, but even happier to have battled through. I had learned a true lesson.

Attempting 'Meet the G that Killed Me' 31
 I had a bit of time left in the trip and some of the Victorian Boys had come up – Alister, Chris and Omar. Apart from hanging out with my best mates, the last few climbing days were spent trying ‘Beefmeister’. My strategy improved, and I only tried it a handful of times in a session. This route is a burl fest. I feel that I was pretty close, linking it in 2 overlapped sections a couple of times. I just need to get a bit stronger on under clings, because I would just fade on them at the start of the crux. Although I didn’t do it, I did go about it in the right way. Saved some skin, made sure I had enough time in the day, and worked it systematically. Perhaps another couple of sessions and I would have done it, perhaps it may take longer. Either way I am happy with my effort and really psyched on it and will attempt to get back up there soon. Not only was the trip north good for climbing it also allowed me to catch up with a bunch of awesome friends from Sydney and the Blue Mountains and of course ring-ins from Tassie and Austria.

New arete I Brushed up
Back in Victoria and I am working in Melbourne again for a couple of months. I needed a bit of break from climbing and it has definitely taken a back seat. I needed some time to sort out life stuff. You know all those bills and stuff with girls and coffee machines that get put on the back burner. Things that you think will make you more content only to find out that they don’t. Maybe it’s just me. Certainly seems those pesky expectations are rearing their ugly heads again. While I haven’t trained, I have headed out to the Grampians a couple of times. I spent an afternoon trying a project of mine at Little Hands Cave. This is a steep rising traverse that I bolted a couple of years ago. It’s very similar in nature to some of the Nowra routes I did. I was able to figure out a new sequence at the crux so stay tuned for its send. I have also been cleaning up few boulder problems in a new area in the Southern Gramps. These are going to be super sick, slopey and high. Stay tuned again.

After falling off a boulder. 3 busted ribs
No blog is complete without something not so great happening. Hmm maybe I need to re phrase that because I bet you’re thinking all that whinging above wasn’t so great. In fact, I suggest that the mental issue I was facing was a good thing. Climbing for me is an ever evolving entity. If I wasn’t able to get something out of it then I’d be bored and probably doing something else, but it does frustrate the crap out of me too. I feel I have been enlightened a little by getting through the mental block and this is great. My trip to Nowra, although a semi local crag was time well spent with mates, having a great laugh and doing something awesome. Climbing! So, the not so good bit: Again I was out at Mt Arapiles just 2 days ago. I stumbled up the track in the northern group to encourage Alister who was bolting a new project up there. I found a boulder that looks awesome. I grabbed the brushes from my pack and went about cleaning the top out. Somehow during this process I lost both my feet and fell off the boulder. I landed heavily on the slab below then was flipped upside down and somersaulted maybe 2 times, 3.5 meters to the ground. Luckily not landing on my head, but landed heavily on a rock. After a very few scary moments for Al, who had heard the crash landing from about 50 meters away, he was able to help me to walk to the car. X-rays at hospital showed no damage to my spine but revealed what I had diagnosed already a rib slightly askew. So the boulder is going to be sweet, it had better be for 3 broken ribs!







Wicked - I hope Spring brings on the sendage for everyone.

- Grosey

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