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 www.nickfletcherphotography.com
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 www.climbmedia.com.au
And I’ve finally committed to writing this blog.