Punks in the Gym

birdbath

Sticking the infamous ‘birdbath’ hold. Photo (c) Jed Parkes

Just over 30 years ago something extraordinary happened at Mt Arapiles. A visiting hot-shot German climber called Wolfgang climbed a route called Punks in the Gym, it was the hardest rock-climb in the world. Ever since that day the route has continued to entrench itself deeper and deeper into folklore as Australia’s most famous and iconic hard climb.

If the stone could speak, this wall could chew your ear off for hours. The reputation for difficulty has bought many ego’s to the wall to create a somewhat bizarre and comical history. Whilst much harder climbs now exist in Australia, Punks still retains its reputation of ‘test-piece’ status.

The climb had bolts put in it by a Swiss dude, Martin Scheel. This was done in a time when chipping was considered ok. He took his chisel and improved a hold, now affectionately known as the birdbath. Unfortunately he still couldn’t climb it. Cue Wolfgang, the hotshot, coming to Arapiles on a trip and climbing it with the finest of moustaches and matching short shorts.

The challenge had been laid down, he had established the ‘ultimate examination’ in rock-climbing. You see it’s not all about big biceps and strong fingers on this one. Good footwork and body position is critical, skills only learned by climbing real rock. You can’t just be a punk training in a gym to get up it. Unfortunately there are some among us (including myself in past days) that think climbing a hard rock climb will win some kind of kudos and respect from the world. This leads to people obsessing over climbing such a climb as Punks.

The next protagonist in the story is Andy Pollitt, someone who took obsessing over a climb to dizzying new heights. After trying the route for some 60 days over many years, the crux ‘birdbath’ hold supposedly crumbled. Leading to a hold entirely made of glue to be added to the wall in its place. As the ‘birdbath’ currently exists, it’s quite a big hold; first joint, positive and room for four fingers. Ironically the glue used to replace the crumbled hold has snapped, twice. So now to look at the ‘birdbath’ you’ll see two fracture lines where the glue has snapped as people stand on the hold. Super glue runs down the wall a little from the repair job and half the inside of the hold has no texture due to the super-glues slippery finish.

Now some people get their knickers all in a knot about the fact this hold exists, that you hang off an artificial hold. Whilst I don’t think what’s been done is great, I think it’s a funny history. What’s been done has been done and any do-gooder questing to impose their ethics will just add the list of idiots doing dumb things. It still climbs well and should be enjoyed as we would any other piece of history.

The classic photo of Wolfgang on Punks.

The classic photo of Wolfgang on Punks.

Pheww what a crazy saga the story of Punks is. In my mind it has done nothing to reduce the desire of aspiring crushers to climb it. It stands out in my climbing life as the most meaningful climb I’ve ever done. That’s entirely due to all the history and the enjoyment of dancing out my own story on that incredible wall. I first made my way out to Arapiles in 2006. I had been climbing a bit over a year and was cutting my teeth on some of the easier trad routes. I was so in love with climbing but still desperately needed to trade some of my youthful enthusiasm for experience. I dreamed and hoped that if I kept at it maybe I could climb hard stuff one day. Imagine climbing something really really hard, like a 27 maybe. That seemed pretty far-fetched though. I’d only seen guys with big muscles doing that sort of stuff, my skinny composition seemed somewhat lacking.

What a journey the next decade proved to be, a veritable smorgasbord of climbing delights taking place all over the world. Always maintaining some of that youthful enthusiasm whilst I slowly acquired more experience. Unfortunately it didn’t last forever, 2013 saw me lose that spark. Putting way to much emphasis on climbing hard I just stopped having fun with climbing. It had become too much like work and all I felt like I was doing was trying to prove myself through something that’s pretty silly really. Nobody but me cares what routes we climb, and it’s a cruel irony that everybody else recognises this when we don’t. My fingers were tweaky from training and my elbows gave me no relief from chronic overuse symptoms. I was done.

It was about then that I found a new game to play, I got into skydiving. Pushing climbing to the side for the first time ever since I discovered it. I’d forgotten how good it is to be a beginner again. To see everything as being so sparkly and new and exciting felt invigorating. After a while I started climbing a bit again. Happy to just be out at the crag pottering about on routes I’d climbed before. It was just a good way to hang out with my mates. Not to mention how ridiculously awesome it was to be making new friends, flinging ourselves out of a plane together time and time again.

Long story short, I quit the skydiving job I had in February 2015. It felt so exciting to leave, realising how much of a toxic cess-pool the work environment had become. I had regained my psyche for climbing. I set out to the nearest climbing gym and went hard. I didn’t have any special training nonsense going on, I just tried really hard and often as I could. All my niggling injuries were gone, time had healed the me both physically and mentally. Time away had proven the best possible thing for my climbing.

The next few months saw me continually surprise myself whilst climbing. I went to Flinders Island with a bunch of folks, climbing some of the harder established routes. I went to the Star Factory and led the trad test-piece ‘The Grand Adjudicator’ (27) on my third burn(only just!!). For a laugh a bunch of us entered the Tasmanian State Titles, that’s right an indoor climbing competition! I told myself it would be awesome just to make the finals. Somehow I qualified equal first, and might have even won but for a dodgy judging decision. I was shocked. Still not ready to start working again, I thought heading to Arapiles to hang out with a pretty girl seemed like the most appropriate life choice.

So that’s exactly what I did. Again it felt so good to be back climbing, just cruising along at the crag in the company of people I like was enough for me. I had an idea in the back of my head that I should go try Punks, again just for a laugh with nothing to lose. I’d had a couple of goes on a top rope a few years prior so had a rough idea about what I was getting myself into. Sure enough I surprised myself by feeling strong on the moves. After a short time working out the moves I was falling off going to the birdbath, what most people consider the crux. Then on my next shot I stuck it, stood up onto it and promptly fell off. D’oh! Next shot saw the same thing happen. Many people have fallen off the top, but not many do twice! A quick tweak of my beta found me on the upper slab once again, desperately urging my shoes to stick to the footers. They’d been resoled twice and left a lot to be desired. Still better than what Wolfgang had on his feet I’m sure.

I rested on some shitty holds above the crux for what seemed like and eternity, not wanting to blow the very last move to a good hold. A move I found very tricky for some reason. With some bellowing and carry-on I made it through, a look of disbelief on my face as I pulled onto the top ledge. It seemed I entered a dream state, it couldn’t possibly be real, that didn’t just happen. The emotions felt were as complex as the climbing below. Jed lowered me off, a hootin’ and a hollerin’. It was done.

Obviously its an experience I’ll never forget, but for different reasons to other climbs. Finally the redpointing process had been nothing but awesome fun. I was genuinely stoked just to be climbing the fabled stone, trying to be present and just enjoy the movement. Whilst it represents the culmination of a decade of studying the art of climbing movement, the experience also stands out in my mind as a culmination of the mental process of rock-climbing. Now hopefully thats a lesson that stays with me for life.

Even more importantly than a silly climb; things went swimmingly with that very special, very pretty girl…

If you want to see a video of the route, check out my friend Robbie’s video below:

(disclaimer: now I talk about boring stuff like grades, yawn…)

Q. How did I jump so many grades?

A. Prior to Punks my hardest redpoint grade was 29. However I had come within a whisker of climbing a handful of routes graded 30/31. So people keep asking me how I jumped so many grades at the upper end of the spectrum. The truth is Punks is suited to taller people. I’m six foot tall with a plus 7cm ape index. I also seem to have a talent for the technical stuff. I was never strong so had to faff my way through the hard moves. So I guess the style of Punks is right up my alley, I love the crimpy stuff. So I think that’s how I did it relatively quickly, 12 tries this trip over 7 or 8 days? So my answer is I only skipped grade 30, even though I’ve top-roped a trad route that grade. What I really think about all the grade nonsense however all that is who cares, we only worry about it to compare ourselves to someone else which seems dumb.

Time to fly

Ok I’m back. This years been one of my best to date. Through a range of amazing experiences I’m back on board with this whole writing/uploading shenanigans. But where to start…

Most of you already know that I’ve been chasing the skydiving dream pretty hard out this year. I’ve been able to take the years of experience as a climbing dirtbag and apply that in my new skydiving dirtbag lifestyle.

After an epic year of climbing I was ready for a break. Time in the Grampians, a rock-searching trip to China and a three month trip to France and Spain had left me burnt out for climbing. Having been climbing for a decade I needed some time away. I had been convinced to do some skydiving in France last year, talk about an idea getting under my skin.

So right now im sitting in a café in the Blue Mountains. The last few days saw me getting super motivated listening to tall tales of adventures at the Australian Climbing Festival. I can honestly say I’m as keen for climbing as I’ve ever been and am currently planning some cool trips. Alongside that is my burning ambition for many things to be done in my new-found element of air. For now let me share with you an article that I wrote, published in Australian Skydive Magazine. It’s a summary of my experience this year doing a 3-month intensive skydiving course. I paid lot’s of money and learnt heaps about the sport through this Jumpstart Course.

JumpstArticle:

          2:38pm, 12th December 2013, High Rise Window Cleaning (16 Jumps)

The wind catches the water spilling off from the window, pushing it downwards in a mesmerizing dance towards the pavement 1 5 storeys below. I gaze across the newly cleaned window pane and focus in on the memories my friend, Morgen, is recounting. This guy had revved me up 3 months prior to do my first jump. With eighty jumps to his name I wanted all his crazy knowledge I could handle.

“Ahhh, So thats how you go forward and back, this way and that.” I thought to myself, having never even thought about flying relative to a mate.

We froth on about all things skydiving while we swing from side to side on our rope, cleaning seemingly endless amount of windows. Both planning how we’re gonna blow all this hard earned cash. If only I could work out a way to go hard with it, really commit and see where skydiving can take me.

Exiting the plane in my red student jumpsuit

Exiting the plane in my red student jumpsuit

         11:45am, 14th February 2014, First Day of School (16 Jumps)

I can’t believe I’m late on the very first day. Driving out past the endless gum’s and wrong turns I cheerfully watch the endless flocks of cockatoo’s and corella’s. It seems like only yesterday I had paid up big my deposit for this Jump Start course through Skydive Nagambie. To call it a spur of the moment decision would be unfair, but it was definitely not one I had to think too much about. Two hundred jumps in three months, earning D license, Star Crest, Camera Skills, Packer B and more, whats not to like. I met Smeds, the course director. Shortly after he started his very first briefing we knew that we were in good hands. Brent Woodmansee had also made the trek over from Hobart, though we didn’t know each other prior to the course. Previously a gymnastics coach we knew he’d take to the sky well. Grant Hansen had journeyed all the way from Canada, already bursting at the seams and eager to get up in the sky. The lovable Dan Douglass had also traveled far and wide, across the English Channel and beyond. The goofy, fun-loving nature of the young man from Brighton had him winning friends in moments.

JumpstArticle Stills 4

Sharing the beauty of the sky

         12:37pm, 28th February 2014, B-Rel Training (24 Jumps)

Man I hope I can pass this next B-Rel jump, Ryan makes leg turns sound so easy on the ground but why won’t it work? I still can’t relax enough to feel what my body really is doing I guess. My first B-Rel felt easy! Lucky I got the next little while to practice this stuff but geez, I don’t think i’ll ever be able to fly a slot in a 2-way let alone a big-way!

         9:47am, 19th March 2014, Grunter’s 100th Jump (72 Jumps)

We built a 7-way, holy shit! We had to try something cool for Grunter’s 100th jump so our first big-way was planned. Eight people plus camera, gonna be crazy out there. Really just hoped we could prove the doubters wrong and boy we showed them. Shame not everyone got in, but what an awesome way to celebrate our good mate’s 100th jump. That seems like so many!

Successfully building a fun formation on a sunset load

Successfully building a fun formation on a sunset load

1:46pm, 31st March, Canopy Course with Michael Vaughn (93 Jumps)

Never would have thought I’d enjoy the classroom so much, but boy Michael Vaughn shows how awesome all this canopy flying jibber jabber is! It’s great to learn how to fly well, no longer is it just a landing tool, it’s total freedom. Tomorrow’s my 100th jump, the big one. Im sure Michael will do something amazing with me. Maybe I will buy that rig off Smeds, I’m totally ready to downsize. I can’t believe how much we can learn about flying parachutes in a few days! Might even try my first landing off front-risers.

11:24am, 12th April, Display Jump training (124 Jumps)

Feeling the pressure I toss the drifter down towards the ground, holding the dancing pink and white in our gaze. I signal the pilot to keep banking, no point throwing it if i cant keep my eyes on it. Okay we’re on jump run now, this is it.

“5 right”, I shout to the pilot.

I have to battle to be heard over the wind howling in the door. A mile short we enter cloud, shit that’s uncool. I know we’re slightly offset on the intended run-in but it should work, if only i could see the ground. As I’m about to tell the pilot to do an orbit I catch glimpse of the ground below. Point 4 short, ok let’s go. I give the thumbs up and watch everyone leave with picture perfect presentation. Winking at Dan the pilot, I leap, into perfect conditions for a nice accurate landing.

10:37am, 24th April, 4-Way Training with Steph Vaughn (160 Jumps)

We’ve been working solidly on four ways for a week now. Lucky for us Don lent us some of his expertise, geez he knows his shit! That frustrating brain-lock period is behind us. That part of your flat flying career where u know what to do but it still isn’t click. Well we had a deafening click sound on that last jump with Steph, 16 points from full height! Smashing our first blocks I guess with a bunch of excellent coaching and a heap of creepering we can learn the joy of turning mean points with mates!

Our awesome 16-point skydive, thanks Steph!

Our awesome 16-point skydive, thanks Steph!

9:45am, 26th April, Star Crest 10-Ways (163 Jumps)

God help us all if i hear the words ‘stadium’ or ‘radial’ one more time. We smashed our Star Crest! I was last diver out on two loads, the best slot in the plane! Such a great thing to share, space in the sky with a big load of cool cats. A massive thanks to all that helped participate to make it possible. Cant wait to fly base for someone else to get theirs one day. Maybe it would be cool to build a proper big way sometime in the future, I’m sure we can hold our own now.

JumpstArticle Stills 8

Formation load time, two planes delivering all the fun

11:34pm, 30th May, First Wingsuit Jump (235 Jumps)

Im peaking. How long I have been waiting to have a play in a wingsuit, and now my time has finally arrived. Jai takes his time, briefing me on what to expect. Hammering home the drills to try and overcome my now instinctual reflexes that just wont work in a wingsuit. I’ve already started as the new packer, but the unpacked rigs can wait, this opportunity must be seized with both hands. The whole ride to height I’m rehearsing whats going to happen. Green flashes on and people start getting airborne. We make our way to the back of the plane and I take up position in the door. Check In, Eyes on the prize, Out, In and we’re away. I arch like a bastard before opening my wings as practiced. My mind fights to stay in control, what a different feeling this is. My practice pulls are shocking, where is that damn hacky. Im barely using my arms so I’m diving faster than I’d like. Another practice pull, only marginally better. Shit this is scary yet insanely cool all in the same instant. Time to deploy, I close up, throw then pray. Thank god I only spun myself 180 when closing. I’ve got a good canopy, I survived. Not at all displeased with my poor performance I cant wait to try it again. Knowing I’m no natural is not at all any kind of reason to not try! I ration that at least i can get a most improved trophy or something someday. At the very least my Mum will think I’m cool…

As an adult learner, coming from a climbing background I had high expectations of what I would learn on the Jump Start course. Having only had a taste of jumping in the way of completing my AFF, it was a big gamble. I was convinced that working in the skydiving industry would be a fantastic lifestyle choice. With the course now done and everyone having gone their separate ways i couldn’t be more content with what the last 15 weeks has offered. I have a job, can get by living on a dropzone jumping heaps, feel like i can fly my slot solidly and start to give back by helping the new guys. There’s a reason why we’re bombarded with so many corny, kitsch clichè’s about ‘living the dream’ or ‘doing what you love’. It’s because thats what we all want. It’s possible to do more about it than share a meme on Facebook, so what are we waiting for! Thanks again to all the staff at Skydive Nagambie that have helped us out along the way and made a better way of living possible for us all.

For the full edit of the experience, watch this:

Waiting for the bus…

Well the time has come once more to fly off over the horizon to go have some fun. I’ve been back in ol’ Hobart for the last month doing some work before heading to the Euro summer. The last few moths have been pretty hectic, living in the Grampians whilst squeezing in a trip to China seeking out and equipping virgin limestone. Right now however i sit on a friends couch munching delicious scones, ready to jump aboard a plane. I’ll meet up with my gal, Liz, in Marseille in a few days before heading to Ceuse for a bit. After a month or so there we’ll head across to sunny Spain!
As someone whose head firmly resides in the clouds, I’ve always found the concept of waiting at a bus stop intriguing. More importantly the endless possibilities awaiting you. In those moments before the bus pulls over the horizon into view, the whole world is your oyster whilst you imagine the path ahead. You can imagine the future ahead any way you want. Play out the scene’s we’re everyones super happy, on the same wave-length and enjoying life as much as you are. This mindset is a really important aspect of being a happy person.
When people travel often their mind is open for business. Ready to meet new people, ideas and experiences and wrestle with them. Usually these are straight up type one* fun, sometimes the type two** fun creeps in but all the experiences ultimately end up combine into a life-affirming hoot! It seems strange to me though that often as people integrate back into what they know as ‘daily life’ they lose this open-minded engagement with their surroundings. I guess humans are creatures of habit but i still find it interesting that so many people allow their preconceived ideas to somehow impact on their happiness. Then again it amazes me how many people are unaware that all happiness comes from the choice to be so!
I used to live in a house in Hobart many people will remember very fondly, 11 Fitzroy Place. While i was never on the lease(like most residents) i still feel a resident of the place that was Fitzroy. We were the worst house on a good street. Fancy neighbours looked down at our dirtbag antics such as slack lining, hanging out and generally just having a good time. The best bit of my time there was having the many travellers that the open-minded travellers mindset penetrated everyones psyche. Being able to view the world that usually is just the mundane ‘daily life’ was a bit of a personal revelation for me. Realising the simple truth that viewing all the possibilities that await and reasons why somethings going to be so fun will make it exactly that. On the flip side negative nelly’s get exactly what they think and expect.
So let your mind wait at the proverbial bus-stop. Get lost in what could be just around the bend, and where the bus could take you in all aspects of your life. Open that mind and let the possibilities and people in. That’s what this monkeys gonna do, bus my way through Europe having a blast with the raddest person i can imagine doing it with!
Life aint too bad…

Will Bartlett on Bourinator. Picture Glyn Hudson

Will Bartlett on Bourinator. Picture Glyn Hudson

* Type one fun:
Actual fun, enjoyable whilst it’s taking place.

** Type Two fun:
Fun in retrospect, horrible at the time. Generally not appreciated till beer is in hand after the fact.

On the Road

“We all have dreams, but they don’t mean much if we don’t act on them. If we put them in a drawer we label ‘someday’, for when we think we’ll have more time.”

Life seems so sweet when it’s possible to sit back and enjoy profound changes that have been too long in the making. I’ve quit my job, kitted out my van into a plush abode and set off with my amazing girlfriend Liz. Vince the van is home for our heads this evening, with the immediate plan being no plan, just climbing.

I could write endlessly about the complications of quitting jobs, changing your scenarios and all that rubbish. It seems every other day there’s a feel good picture up on your facebook feed, inspiring you to live your dream. Imagine if  instead of wishfully looking out the window dreamily for a few moments before returning to the spreadsheets we could capture those few seconds of ultimate freedom felt before our cynical minds dismiss the possibilities those clichéd little pictures arouse. Turn those seconds into a lifetime.

I’m psyched, keen as mustard and chomping at the bit. I have the rest of the year to just go climbing rocks and try to get stronger fitter and have more fun than I ever have before. I received a copy of the new Grampians guidebook a few weeks ago, boy did that put a smile on my dial. It stoked the fire of a naïve bumbly once more, a feeling that anything’s possible, its all out there and all I need to do is try. It might be a little bit more complex than that, but I’m just psyched to go try!

We’ve been heading up to Taipan lately with the rest of the psyched hordes. I’ve never seen it so busy, and rarely is the vibe so friendly and inclusive. It seems to me more and more people are venturing off the beaten path. Open Projects have been going down and some might fall any day now.

So Liz and I will be out that way for a little while, climbing, slacklining and generally having a good time. There’s always a place by the fire and an extra plate of food so come say hi!

Marin crushing the beautiful stone of the Sentinel

Marin crushing the beautiful stone of the Sentinel

Limbo

The summer feels like its slowly fading away. Many of the fun idea’s concocted through the distant winter months were not given the chance of life they deserved. Things change, situations arise forcing decisions to be made that aren’t always what you envisaged.

Sometimes that’s the most beautiful thing. Sometime just before that magical date of christmas that makes life so busy and intense, I added to that somewhat by quitting my job. I’ve been working full-time for a while now, and enjoyed it immensely. Learning heaps along the way it has most definitely been a time i can already look back on with a sense of gratitude. An understanding of the stepping stone along the road of life that it was. The next step is the one i really look forward to. The one where i climb rocks, lots of rocks. All. The. Time….

It does mean I’m stuck in limbo right now tho. It’s only a few months to go before Liz and I cast of together in the lovely VW transporter known as Vince. That means work. Lots of work to earn the cash needed for fun times on the road. The rough plan is to head to Natimuk sometime around Easter, from there we’ll follow our noses about the country climbing on the many different pebbles about the place. Hope to see you there!

Sometime in the new year I was chatting to a mate, who told me about an awesome thing happening. A ‘trip of a lifetime’ if you will. A chance to get flown to Nepal, paid to hang out on the Khumbu icefall with some sherpa’s. I invested some time and effort to make it onto the shortlist for this trip, only to be left in the lurch waiting for an answer. I was supposed to hear last tuesday, yet still no word. Waiting, waiting everything has time to roll around my little skull. Was it all a cruel joke? Is it happening at all? I guess time will tell, for now i get to enjoy limbo…

And what is a lad in limbo to do i ask! Well given the impending winter months, I’d say sport climbing sounds like a good option! Yesterday saw an awesome day up at the Boneyard ledge of Fingal. Plenty of psyche with lots of routes going down, and some very near misses! I’m waiting for this pesky flu that has been hanging around to bugger off, so I can get on with the task at hand! Having had Ross River Virus slow me down also I just can’t wait to feel healthy again so I can make the most of my time left in Tassie!

JoshWP

Josh Grose coming agonisingly close to a quick repeat of White Powder(31). Belayed by CJ, also getting close!

The CCT, Get amongst it!

I’d be lying if I said I loved, clubs, formalities and red tape. Its a cruel twist of irony in this world however that the people in charge of making the decisions that affect us are greedy for it. With this in mind, a few of us resurrected the Climbers Club of Tasmania to give all climbers a voice for all things bureaucratic.

Recently we had our Climbers Club of Tasmania Inc AGM. While nothing ground-breaking happened, we maintained existence. That really is a great thing. It may seem that from time to time the CCT can be relatively quiet, but I can assure you there are often murmurings happening in the background that are building good friendships and foundations within the community. We are engaging with stakeholders, and we are giving climbers a voice.

I stumbled across this the other day, climbers in strife for unsavory development in Joshua Tree.

What I can mostly gather is that because a relationship existed with the Joshua Tree Parks and climbers in various formats, the climbers were able to preserve the ability to climb at all in J-Tree. This is exactly the kind of relationships the CCT is trying to form, and is doing quite well in that. So rather than having climbing tossed to the side in the ‘too-hard basket’, its great that we can liaise with Councils, Parks and other stakeholders to preserve our privilege to do the things we do.

A club is only as good as its members. While I probably won’t ask you directly for help, I will ask that climbers sign up, and help add to the numbers that give us clout in all these matters. Ask your friends too, it’s free and there’s zero commitment unless you decide you’d like to volunteer to contribute more. I realise that the CCT has been reasonably quiet up the northern end of the state. I’d love every climber to feel welcome sign up, regardless of whether your from north south east or west, whether your out there every day or once in a blue moon. Get involved with the community, stay abreast of what’s going on. I also realise there are plenty of ‘mainlanders’ that frequent our shores, again we welcome you to add your voice to the quorum!

In the last 12 months some good things have been coming out of the relationships the CCT is forging. There is extensive track work plans to be carried out across the organ pipes, hardening many before too much damage is done. The CCT has also been involved in the Hobart City Councils purchase of the land beneath Fruehoff. There is talk of creating a proper track to the base of the cliff. But what is even greater is that HCC members came out to meet with climbers, and are all for us using the space as we always have. Again proving that if we can engage, bureaucracy doesn’t always end badly for climbers.

We have also formed an ‘Anchor Replacement Committee’ consisting of myself, Stu Scott, Alex Lewis and Dean Rollins. We plan on taking on some responsibility for the replacement of un-safe fixed anchors. We can organise to raise funds for various projects, and can be contacted here with any ideas, if you’d like us to hold ‘bolting’ workshops, or know of an area that could benefit from having anchors (bolts) replaced you can send an email to cctanchors(at)thesarvo.com and we’ll all get it.

Daylight savings just around the bend, with summer on its heels. Things will be happening this summer, so get involved. In December there will be some search and rescue workshops going on. I’m keen to hold some informal ‘self rescue/learn to multi-pitch climb’ sessions as well if there’s interested people.

So click on this link and sign up to the CCT, that’ll just be the starting point!

Simon Young

CCT President

 

Artist’s impression of recent CCT AGM….

Death of Winter

Well what a quiet boy I’ve been lately. I’d like to think that’s because I’ve been doing my usual cram-all-I-can-in styley thing. It has been a rad few months in the life of Simon.

SPORT CLIMBING:

On the last weekend the Boneyard was open, I managed one of my best failures to date. I’d been putting heaps of time and effort into the route White Powder (31/8b) after climbing a bunch of the other routes. It was a re-incarnation of that awesome process so many have experienced before me. The desire to find something hard and inspiring, then finding that awesome line to throw yourself at. It became that all consuming desire. The reason to train, my reason to dream, a reason to smile. I think life is just better when you’re psyched.

The clock had unfortunately ticked is way down to the very last tock. Warm weather and general weakness meant I had gotten agonisingly close. One last shot before the doors of possibility closed for the time being as the falcons re-claimed the crag for nesting. Without knowing what to expect I fired off initial easy moves I knew so well by now. Through the first boulder I desperately tried to shake some life back into my flailing forearms. Battling my way into the final crux I felt a pang of hope. With two moves left before the next jug my chicken-winging arms could take no more and off I went. With no send under my belt I solemnly shuffled my way home that afternoon. I couldn’t be too upset, it was still the hardest piece of climbing I’d probably ever done.

Having that focus was a great training tool, and boy did I feel like something was going right with my climbing. With Fingal closed so the falcons could get their freak on, it was time for Freycinet, namely the Star Factory.

On my return from Europe I’d had a quick play on the classic route, Backyard Surgery (29/8a). A classic power-endurance test-piece, on immaculate water-washed granite. On my return from what was essentially a mountain-climbing trip I was pretty weak. A bouldery start on Backyard Surgery shut me down pretty quick. However after a few months of training and climbing a bunch I was back and feeling fighting fit. I wasn’t finding the start too bad, but kept bungling the top section. To break it down I would say a V6-7 into a 27, all of it awesome! I came back the next day, and after some more bumbliness on easy ground I got my sorry arse up there!

SAREX:

For a little while now I’ve been the President of the CCT. While that in itself is actually entirely unremarkable, it has meant I’ve become the point of contact between climbers and the Police Marine and Rescue guys. They’re basically in charge of most of the search and rescue (SAR) stuff. Combined with my rope access stuff, I’ve actually become reasonably involved helping facilitate some kind of integration, in the way of training and rescues etc.

Every year they hold a big Search and Rescue EXercise (SAREX). This year it was held at Lake St Clare, involving all the volunteer organisations that work with the police. They also had the Westpac chopper flying about. The rough plan was to test communications in the area, while also familiarising various groups with using the chopper. Alex Wilson, Alex Lewis and Emlyn Jones and I would be part of a group that were tasked to head up to somewhere on the base of the Acropolis and stage some kind of rescue that could be filmed for the cameras.

We packed warm knowing there would be a bunch of snow, and made our way down to the lakeshore. They threw some life jackets on us and stuck us in the Fast Response Vessel, their speedboat that could get us there quickly! The chopper soon greeted us on arrival, and the first of us loaded on board.

The Westpac Chopper comes in to give us a lift.

Hurry up and wait…

They couldn’t land due to the snow, so as they hovered as we made the jump to the ground. From there we trudged off in search of a good cliff. Pretty soon we were joined by the second load of crew, and had a bit of a plan. With some ropes rigged it was time for a game of ‘Hurry up and Wait’, a favourite at these events it seems. Finally the chopper came back with a film crew and we carried out a basic mock rescue, all the giving our best ‘Blue Steel’ for the cameras.

Carrying out our mock rescue in trying conditions.

Unfortunately we had to walk out. Before the chopper took off we did manage to throw the wet ropes and gear in (also the officers), making for light loads to carry out. It was a great chance to hang out with the SAR types, and get some integration with climbers to help expand their rescue capabilities. If you are interested in becoming involved, head over the thesarvo.com and sign up to the Climbers Club of Tasmania, especially you northerners!

ARAPS:

I was about due to do a rope access course, so as I was booking that, I organised myself for a quick trip to Arapiles. The plan was to go over and try a few specific tricky routes, but it came pretty apparent to me red-pointing on a trip like this was not what I was after. Liz and I set about climbing a bunch of cool stuff at every grade. We even made a quick trip out to the Grampians. Oh me oh my how rad is Muline! I’d never been and was itching in me jocks to go try kranking and dangling up in that awesome cave. I put some draws up on Path of Yin (30/8a+) and fiddled around with some moves. While it felt kinda close there was in no way any cigar. The motivation gained was pretty rad though! If you ever wanted a reason to climb grade 30, that cliff is it!!

What a cliff! Climber on Eye of the Tiger (29/8a)

The following weekend saw me getting out for a climb with HB. He’d been telling me all about his latest project and I was keen to check it out. Boy can that guy crush! There exists a gnarly crack, about 10m long, super steep and only accepts flaring fingers. He made some good progress, while I repeated some of the established classics. Will surely be one of the harder trad rigs in the country!

MERSEY:

On my first weekend back home I was missing that amazing stone, so a plan was made to head off and check out the newly developed Mersey Cliffs. Rumours of rock identical to Araps were getting round, and I had to see for myself. We weren’t disappointed. It’s like Araps, but with bolts and no dodgy claims of purity while shoving hypocrisy in your face. Mark Polinski has done a sweet job equipping the crag. There are routes from 20-31, so it makes a sweet edition to Northern Tasmania (not that there was any doubts as to the quality of climbs in the north. Or any doubt as to how far superior northern climbers is in general; you should have seen ‘em….)

Check out this video of Mark Polinski on his classic-to-be Get What You Need (31/8b)

So that’s where I’ve been, and where to now? Well with summer a-banging away on the door I’m super psyched to keep climbing like a loon! Might go check out this amazing sounding bouldering at Hillwood I’m hearing rumours about, “best bouldering in the state” and the like. Need to build up some of the power for all the routes I plan to talk about this summer…