Thursday, 17 January 2013

Summer Lovin'

For the first time in many years I have been at home for a summer. Usually I would prefer to be hanging out in cooler climes, such as Switzerland, Spain or England at this time of year. Mostly to climb on primo rock with my Northern Hemisphere peeps, but also to avoid the hideous heat that Australia is capable of producing at this time of year. For an example of this, I need only cast my mind back to yesterday when it was 40degrees. For anyone who hasn't experienced that kind of heat, it is brutal. Stinging sweat, plagues of flies and burn-in-five minutes sun rays. Not much to be achieved when it comes. I rode up Mt William at 8am, a solid 10km hill climb, was home by 10.30 and then got in situ on the couch for the day. A waste of holidays really, but it's not all bad, there are a heap of days when the temperatures are not as high and some of the evenings are actually pretty good. Now I need to clarify this a little. When I say that it's good, I mean for route climbing. As you may know, if you have followed this for a while, I am mostly a boulderer and I love the cold weather. I love the feeling of my fingers crushing cold stone, knowing that any error is going to on my part and not a mere slip from a greasy or hot grip. That's not to say that I'm not a route climber, I grew up climbing trad at Arapiles and have climbed trad and sport in a lot of different places around the globe. It's just that I have really been focusing on putting up new problems and just trying to crush as hard as I can. But, when in Rome... So this summer I promised myself I would take a little break from pebble wrestling and tie in again like the old days... There are a few routes that I have had my eye on for some time and a couple in particular that I have tried before. I had a little early success on Contra Arms Pump, an old school mixed trad and sport route, 30 and decided the time was now to have a lash at Samosa, a 35 move 32. Not exactly cutting edge, but harder than anything I had done and a really interesting mix of power and power endurance. It breaks down to a V9 boulder at the start, followed by a second insecure problem of about 6/7. No problems right? But, there is no shake in between, I could chalk one hand once and the climbing from one to the next is tenuous and tension dependent. So, by the time I was exiting the second problem I was taxed and would fall from the final press before a good rest leading in to the final section. Did I mention the slab? Oh yeah, and there is a final slab section, where you go from a 25degree overhang on first and second joint holds to an under vertical bit with micro crimps and a weird and insecure finger lock that only takes the first half joint of your index finger. But, I couldn't fall from there if I made it, could I? Course I bloody could. I managed to fall from just about every conceivable point on the route. The only part that I really had nailed was the bottom crux. I could hike the power crux every time, but just had to take the time to gain the necessary resistance to do the rest. It was trying. I like the process, I enjoy the mental battle, but I gotta tell ya, falling from the slab was heart breaking. But, as they say, every cloud and all that... The day I finally sent, there was no pressure. It was just me and my friend Emma at the crag. I was warm and ready. I had no expectations, just an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that I was out on the rock on a lovely afternoon. Our conversation was relaxed and full of friendly banter and I realised that this is what climbing is really about to me. Being with friends in amazing places. I tied in, not even thinking about the end game, I climbed smoothly and confidently and before I even realised I was standing on the top of the slab, not knowing what had happened. I bathed in the glow of satisfaction... for five minutes, then I tied in and started up my next project...
Thanks as always to all the belayers who were goaded, beaten and cajoled into holding my ropes. I do appreciate it... Really, I do!

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