So, I’ve been back for over two… er, no sorry, three weeks now. What the heck have I been doing all this time except updating my blog and tweeting and facebooking and emailing!?! Well, I actually have been doing a lot of emailing, but I’ve also made two trip to the sierras to go sportclimbing- one day at the Column of the Giants and two days in Tuolumne. It’s sooo beautiful up there right now! And the valley will just keep getting better and better… but more on that later.
K so, I went to OZ with two serious projects in mind, the first being Dia Koyomada’s endurance roof The Wheel of Life. I managed to send this problem after about three days (and one really shotty humid day where I made reverse progress). No doubt I was psyched to have climbed this spectacular piece of rock, but I was almost a little dissapointed that it wasn’t harder for me… I mean, If I wouldn’t have sent it the day I did, then I probably wouldn’t have sent it before Mark and Mike (M&M) left, and I probably wouldn’t have had time to do a bunch of other problems I wanted to do, so yeah, I was psyched that it came together quick… I guess I could have made it a lot harder on myself? The two major things that made the climb easy for me were tricky, feet fisrt/tall person beta that I found for the crux the second V9, Cave Man, and more crucially on the RP crux of the entire problem that comes at the end of roof on Dead Can’t Dance where I kicked my foot out right- a sequence that made that peoblem feel more like tenuous V9 after I had done it a couple times, instead of V11. Also, I found this slammer kneebar halfway through Cave Man, only like ten easier moves from the start of DCD that I could basically get it all back on… it was almost like starting over there… almost like cheating… We got video of the send so hopefully I’ll have that edited and online at some point.
The other climb I really wanted to do in the Grampians was, well, the hardest established route on the Taipan wall- The Groove Train. At first, all I knew about the Groove Train was that it was meant to be 33 (5.14B) and that the Taipan wall looked amazing, so how could it not be good?!? But after Jake Besnehan sent me these pics of one of his RP attmepts on the route, then I was REALLY keen to get on it!
That first day on the Tiapan wall, while a little humid, was one of my best days of the trip and probably the best day of sport cragging I’d had since my shoulder surgery. I think I did my favorive all time 26(12c)- The Invisible Fist of Professor Hiddich Smiddich.
Pretty good day, nah? I mean, the favorite all ways seems like that last one… there are a lot of classic 12cs and ds out there, but take my word that these ones are really good. I also tried to go up up the extension of Groovy…. yep, the Groove Train, and got past the first cux, and one of two twenty foot runouts, but I almost broke what I thought at the time was a crucial hold at the redpoint crux and had to take a huge fall (a fall I would take a coupe more tomes before the red point), so I left my draws on it and vowed to return after my bouldering-only accompliaces left me.
It was an easy vow to make considering how good the route was… I’ve only done two, maybe three other 5.14s that are as good, in my opinion, as the Groove Train- one is The Bleeding at Mill Creek, and the other is The All Around Routine at Ibex. What makes these three climbs special? Location and setting of the climb, asthetics and beauty of the line, funess of the moves and the cruxes, and no fucking chipped holds! Obviously, like I said before, there are lots of really classic 5.14s in the world, but these are the three that I’ve actually done that stick out the most in my mind… and like the previous two climbs that fall into this category for me, I was in love again, and I wanted to send.
After M&M left on the 27th of June, I had one good day on the Groove Train which I used to pracitce sequences and refine beta. My tips were trashed from the day of bouldering before and I needed a rest day… unfortunately two days later the rain came. It rained for 24 hours straight that first day, and after sitting under the shelter all day, freezing my arse off while reading my book, I came down with a cold… lameness. I was seriously considering just leaving my gear on the GT and bailing back home early. In the end I stuck it out though, through almost ten days of rainy and humid, basically unclimbable conditoins, and sent the groove train! I even tried to repeat it the next day wearing a friend’s headcam. I didn’t manage the repeat but I did get some pretty cool POV footage that I’ve never really seen of climbing, especially on this type of rock, before. Below are a coupe pics that Simon Carter took of my second serious RP attempt on the Groove Train, two days before the send. Before this go I had pretty much given up on actually doing the route because I wanted to go to the Bluies and I thought the GT would take more time (and skin) to send then I had, but after falling on the LAST hard move (the move is about V3, I was just too pumped…), I decided to stay and do this route no matter if I made it to the Bluies or not. Fortunately I sent after one rest day and got a ride to NSW the day after that, but it was such a killer route I would have stayed until the end of my trip to complete it.
I was realy happy to leave the grampians having sent both of the climbs I most wanted to do. I did however spend 5 out of the six total weeks of my trip there, pretty much confined withing the 30KM section of Australia between the Bogan town of Horsham and the Mt Stapylton campground. It would have been nice to travel around a bit more, see more of the country, and maybe even go for a surf… but I guess that’s the sacrifice one has to make if you want to send your projects, and to me, it’s a worthy sacrifice.
I spent my last week down under in the Blue Mountains which is a couple hours drive Northwest of Sydney. The Blueies as they are called, is a beautiful place. While the rock there isn’t quite what it is in the Grampians, the scenery and more importantly the community there is amazing. I felt like I was family to the lovely people that I had the pleasure of spending time with there. It was great not to be wrapped up in projects on the rock and just enjoy my time there… although I was roped into doing an impromptu slideshow at the local gym-in-construction that turned into a huge technical ordeal (Aido!?!). But quite a few people showed up, my show seemed relatively entertaining and well received, and it was great to just be accepted into the community with such hospitality.
The last couple days of trip my were spent hanging with an old friend, Carlie LeBreton (formerly Carlie Happ) and her husband Rob LeBreton just down the hill from the Bluies in a nice little town called Penrith. Carlie came to the US twelve years ago and stayed at my house and traveled with my family and I to youth comps in Cali and Utah. I remember having a blast with her when she visited and it was great to reconnect with her, hang out with her and her husband (and their awesome dog Spice) and share some laughs. We even spent a fun day climbing at Nawra.
On my very last day in OZ, Chris Webb who had just returned from the states, took me to a little bouldering wall near his house in Sydney, and after he showed me some pics and video from a few other areas around sydney, I realized how much freaken awesome bouldering is in and around that city! It must be one of the best cities to live in if you’re a boulderer. There really is a lot to do there.
There were quite a lot of boulders and routes in the Gramps and the Arapiles (pronounced affectionately Ara-piles) that I just didn’t have time to get on or send, that I’m psyched to return for… ya know, unless you’re the strongest climber in the world and you spend months in a place, there’s almost always more to return for.
So, I’m skipping school (again…) this fall to road trip around the states. My plan is to buy a camper rig of some sort and spend a good amount of time between as many good areas as I can mangae to visit… a few areas that are definitely on the list are Yosemite, Tuolumne, and pretty much all of the high Sierras, Mt Clark and the St George area, the Horn in Utah and the Red and the New… I have a lot on my plate. I was originally planning on spending all of the fall season in Spain, sport climbing at the newer limestone areas, but I have so many routes I want to do closer to home that that will have to wait until the spring… I’m pretty lucky I have these kind of options.
I’d like to take a few minutes to thank everyone that helped me out on my trip, including Mark and Mike, Kent, Ruben, Simon and Monique, JT and Britnay, Andy, Aido, Claire and Archie, Julian and Lee, and Carlie, Rob and Spice… And thanks for the ride to the airport Chris! To those I forgot, just go ahead and curse me!
Thanks for reading. Here is the flickr set with all my pics from my camera. Sorry, there are almost 300 pics in the set, but there are some really good ones in there. Anyway, stay tuned and hopefully I’ll have lots more to post on this web page in the near future. Ciao for now.
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