Friday, February 4, 2011

Punks in the Gym, Arapiles

Over the past year i have done several trips to Arapiles in Victoria with the aim of climbing Punks in the Gym (32). It was a bit of a goal of mine last year to push my grades a bit and finally redpoint a grade 32. I didnt achieve this although i got very close.
I was attracted to the route due to its history, the fact that its technically, physically and mentally hard, and becuase whenever i am overseas its the first route people ask me if i have done it when i tell them i am from oz.
Punks was first done by Wolfgang Gullich in 1985 and at the time was regarded as the hardest route in the world. Despite recently having many ascents it is still one of the testpieces of Australia. There is a bit of contention regarding a hold made from glue that was added and altered (the 'birdbath'). From what i can gather the glue reinforced a tiny crumbling edge or made a tiny edge holdable. Wolfgang used this for the first ascent and then later when the glue started to crumble away in the 90s the hold was re-glued slightly better. Despite this the route climbs amazingly well and is technically brilliant.
I spent all up about 7 weeks over 4 visits last year during one of the wettest winters and struggled to find good conditions. For me to climb the route i need cool temps and low humidity as a bunch of the holds are flat and polished. I also spent a week sick in the pines sitting under a tarp! During the start of November i had a small window of good conditions and gave it my best shots. There are 2 percentage moves (cruxes) for me. The hardest is the low down crux which only exists if your short and the second is the stab at the birdbath hold. I linked to catching the birdbath on several occasions but psyched myself out every time i thought i might send the route. The closest i got was falling off at the top of the final slab bit at the top (heartbreakingly close). I would have stayed to finish off the route then but i had to leave for a job interview in Perth and had to drive back across the nullabor.
The first crux:
Traverse to the rest:
Leading into the 'birdbath' move:
The 'birdbath' move:

A couple of weeks ago during a break from work i went back for 4 days of climbing to try and finally send the route packing. Despite training hard, feeling stronger and fitter i couldnt catch the birdbath from the ground. I need a bit of time there to develop the muscle memory for the move. I felt stronger on the rest of the route though so its not too far away for whenever i get back there for a reasonable amount of time. Thanks to Jarmilla, Mick, Zac and most recently Rob for belaying!