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

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