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…

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