Well, Dave "hea" checkin in from the "Greamps" in "Austrahhhlia," I've been in 'dowhnn unda" since this past Wednesday, August 10th, which would have been a Tuesday in the United States! The climbing is absolutely mind blowing, and the rock is potentially my favorite stone I have ever seen! A strange combination of South Africa (even though I have never been) and Fontainebleau. The stone is highly featured and splashed with magnificent colors, yet has an array of textures unlike any I have encountered on Earth. Granted, I haven't been that many places on our grand planet, but this location might be the most exciting and exotic area I have ever traveled too.
There are thousands of critters: poisonous-merciless snakes, freak deadly spiders, laughing green and purple birds, funny little parrots things, big and small kangaroos who can jump koala bears that sound like oil derricks, and and all kinds of amazing new bugs I don't know the names of. The accent is awesome, and the people have been extra friendly for some reason.
I am here traveling with Ian Dory, Jes D'Emilio, and Nalle Hukkataival, and soon enough Kieth Ladzinski and his assistant Elly will be going the crew. At the beginning of September Nathan Bancroft will join up and we will start shooting for the new film we are making at the Island. We are planning on climbing mostly in the Grampains, on the boulders, and on the ropes, between all the amazing sandstone feature found here in the state of Victoria.
We arrived in Melbourne, a very swank little ocean side city, which is particularly characterized by thousands of restaurants, and well dressed locals. Despite the long haul flight, which was suprisingly agreeably, and the bizarre jet leg, we were all incredibly syked to be on a new continent, and bound for new climbing destination. With spirits extra high, we managed to get our rental van, a pimp ass Hyundai Imax, which seats around eight humans, got a hotel room, had some dinner, and slept till check out the next day. Once unleashed upon the open roads, I managed to not kill the equipe and drive t us up to the base of Mount Zero, in the Grampians National Park. We stumbled upon a charming little vacation getaway with 7 log cabins, and were somehow lucky enough to find affordable and cozy accommodations from square one.
Thus marks the point where I realized this was the least epic, most tranquil trip I had ever taken!
Relieved everything worked pout better then any of us could have ever imagined, we slept off "the fatigue" and woke up bright and early, super jazzed up to see the Hollow Mountain Cave, and lay our eyes upon the mystical Tapian Wall, for the first time. After hiking through the sandy tracks amidst Eucalyptus and other trees and plants I can't name yet, we stood in front of the giant roof we had flown across the world to see. It was spectacular. We had studied the incredibly helpful and well composed guidebook our friend Chris Webb Parson wrote with his pal Dave, and knew mostly where to go and what to do, and immediately began to check out all 100 handholds of the Wheel of Life, an amazing endurance test piece first climbed by Dai Koyamado.
Personally, I couldn't handle the situation. The rock was too good, I had never seen such features in my life, and the quality of the sandstone superseded anything i had ever seen before. For a brief moment, I had a feeling of terror, wondering why on earth I had never been here before, why I had been unaware of this phenomenal rock, and what kind of opportunities for climbing probably existed on stone like this. I wave of relief pass over me, as I realized, that the awe I was experiences was just a product of the fact that this rock was in fact so new, that if I had seen it before, it couldn't have been so stunning, as I would have been used to by now. I realized I was jet-lagged, stopped thinking, put myself smack dab in the moment, grabbed my samples of the new Team Shoes I got in OR which i was so excited to toe hook with, and started warming up with Nalle and Ian. Jes began trying the ungraded Palm Beach, an amazing scoop problem, and we started to delve into the section of the great Wheel.
WOW! Everything was so cool on that problem, the moves where much different then I expected, and it was actually longer then it seemed in ll the videos I had seen. The ending is powerful, a strange sequence moving off a sloppy pinch, climbing into a scoop with a crazy gaston pocket. Nalle found some great beta that worked for him with a heel hook, much like the method of Dai Koyamado, where Ian and I where a bit more dumfounded, and eventually figured a method more like that of Ethan Pringles.
So lets back up a sec. Ethan Pringle! An old friend of mine, and an incredible climber, his ascent last year of this problem was really impressive. After watching him cruise it in perfect style on vimeo, I admit, I thought the boulder wasn't going to be that bad, but no no no! Its super hard for what it is, and it is really impassive he climbed this thing in about three days of work! Props buddy,you have set the bar pretty high here!
We climbed until terminal pump, working our way down, figuring out the moves as a team. It was a great session, which ended with an immaculate v4 on a ridge, overlooking the Taipan wall, and a brisk Australian Winter wind coming over the ridges on the horizon. Feeling in love with life, and inspired, and completely disoriented and decapitated by the jet lag and mass physical exertion of the climbing session, I stumbled down the trail to car with thew homies, all of us looking forward to a serious nights sleep after some food. Luckily Ian and Jes could cook, Nalle and I watched TV and stoked the awesome fireplace, and we all crashed, marking the end of our first day climbing, and third day on the Southern Hemisphere.
The next day, barely capable of walking due to the extreme sore muscles acquired in Hollow Mountain, we cruised to Mt Staplyton to check out the Taipain wall, and a vast array of boulder problems littered among its base. We warmed up on some amazing font-like problems, and there was a lizard on the top of the boulder I hung out with for a while. We took photos, and got used to the rock, I filmed the lizard, and we all had fun. After ambling up the hill a couple hours later, extra slow, we walked straight up to huge overhanging bulb on top of a slab, sitting directly in front of the surreal bright orange and blue streaked cliff, the left side of Taipain. I spotted Groove Trains extension, and Sneaky Snake, looked in the direction of the Afterglow wall, and thought of all the photos I had seen and computed. We kind freaked out, the project on the boulder in front of us, was marked in the guidebook, things seemed to good to be true, and we boot up. The boulder was harder then we thought at first, battling a hug move to some jugs from these sloping huecos, we traded five finger and worked the line into submission, fur malting a sequence as a team, and getting a feel for the special type of stone.
Knackered from everything, we attempted to find the Citadal for one more problem, a spot where the famous Ammagamma could be found, and as the sun set we walked the base of the fiery red Taiapin wall, and felt extra lucky, even if we could barely walk. Swirls of maroon, twisted like some strange solid realeased into liquid, a balsamic-meets-olive-oil type of feeling and radical honeycomb shapes towered 200 feet above. We got super lost, as we bushwhacked through the actual "Bush" and stumbled passed new rocks and a famous sector called "between the sheeps."
We finally found the trail, amidst the spider webs and font rocks, hiked 2 kilometers back to our car, made it home, and fell asleep post fajitas.
Its our second rest day today, yesterday we brushed incredible new boulders and scoped projects, Jes climbed on some incredible Font-like problems, and by the end of the day, Ian and I started feeling a little under the weather. We hoped sickness was not our fate, but sure enough, it hit hard, the typical congestion of a common cold swept over my sinus', and I was sick. This morning I woke up feeling like I had a cold, it was raining as well which was a bit of a bummer, but spirits where still high. We are lucky to be here, and every moment of the trip so far has proven majestic.
The owners of the cabins we are staying at had a family reunion over the weekend, big bonfires, and general Australian Fanfare, which we got to be a part of at our leisure. The full moon will set tonight or tomorrow, and the stars, which are supposedly extra plentiful down here, will be out when the clouds clear. This has been the most fun I have had in the last couple years, filling me with positive energy, and new found motivation, which I feel like I have never had. I can't wait to climb again, explore more of the country, see more critters and meet more people. Stay tuned for another update, whenever it may be, I am sure the stories will only get more and "moua" exciting.