Sunday, September 1, 2013

Winter Escape

I’ve been told that to become a true Blue Mountains local you need to spend a certain amount of winters there. I’m not sure how many but it’s a fair few. Renting a room in the coldest house in Blackheath I think I am going to have to delay becoming a true local and escape a few winters to warmer climes. I’ve done well this winter escaping to China, Perth for work, and most recently Queensland.  I only had a short time off work so the trip was just a week and I managed to convince Sophie Prior from the crazier side of Toon Town to join me.  Apart from climbing Sophie keeps herself busy by baking tasty chocolate brownies and giving Shiatsu massages. The perfect travel companion!

I had arrived at Coolum the day after a NSW bouldering competition and a short nights sleep so I was wrecked.  My excitement from finally making it to the crag and meeting JJ Obrien again gave me a bit of energy though and I set about dispatching the mid grade classics. There are a lot although a flash of Wholly Calamity (26) was definitely the highlight of the first day and a monstrous fight! I think Sophie may have been a bit shocked with how different the climbing is to the Blue Mountains but got stuck into working out the moves on Chevy Motor (24), which she managed to dispatch the following day. Ever since I had seen photos of it I had wanted to try a route called Evil Wears No Pants (30). On our second day JJ gave me great beta, which allowed me to work the moves out quickly. I was tiring very fast though so an easier day was in order.
Contemplating the final crux on Evil Wears No Pants (30) Photo: JJ Obrien.

Looking through the guidebook I saw a photo of a cool long route at an area called Mt Tinbeerwah. It turned out this was right next to JJ’s house where we were staying and the first route JJ had ever bolted. It was called The Ricoh Destruction Test (23M1) and I thought it would be a nice rest day objective. It turned out I probably needed a serious lie on the couch all day type rest day but the fun we had on this route was worth it. JJ rapped in and got some amazing shots of Sophie.
Sophie following pitch 3 of Ricoh Destruction Test. JJ captures the moment.
Styling it on an awesome sunshine coast day.
How good is this shot! Cheers JJ. Sophie on fire on the last pitch of The Ricoh Destruction Test. 
Fun day out :)
In the next two days at Mt. Coolum Sophie and I jumped on more classics and I continued to try Evil Wears No Pants but I was way too tired.  Sophie headed back home and I tried to charge up for yet another day on at another new crag. I met Neil Monteith in the car park at the base of Mt Tibrogargan. He had been bolting some new lines in the summit caves and was keen to try and send them. We simul-climbed a 4 or 5 pitch grade 17 in our approach shoes (Neil in Dunlop Volleys!), which was reasonably exciting and found ourselves at the summit caves.

I was too tired to try anything hard even though some classic grade 30’s really appealed to me there. Neil sent his first route, a bouldery grade 24, although couldn’t quite link the moves on his second route. Considering he was going to be back for another year I was psyched when he said it was ok for me to do the FA. Knowing the effort and money that goes into bolting I really appreciated this.  I still struggled and only just got it on my second go. High Definition (25) was born (named by Neil). JJ had arrived while we were both working it and took some great shots.
Neil charging up for the crux snatch. High Definition (25). Photo: JJ Obrien.
Cave 5 on Mt Tibrogargan with the mountains shadow over the fields. Photo: JJ Obrien.
After 7 days on rest was going to have to wait. Lee Cujes had invited me to a new crag he is developing and there was no way I could say no. I drove straight from Mt. Tibrogargan to the new area and met a cool crew of psyched climbers.  The first day I climbed a few of the classic easier routes and then passed out on my rope bag for the afternoon.  Luckily a crazy night with the crew in the local pub and Lee’s coffee machine managed to charge me up for my final and 9th day on in which I sent my equal hardest route of the trip (28) and onsighted my hardest route of the trip (27). The new area is cool with steep climbing on incut crimps. With a bit more development it’s going to be a great weekend destination.
Epoxy Doxy (28). Lee has found a gem in this route! Photo: Lee Cujes.
A big thank you to JJ for the great shots and being an incredible host during the week. He is seriously one of the nicest guys in the Australian climbing scene.  Also to Lee who it was great to finally have a climb with, Neil for a great day out and a FA, and of course Sophie especially for the Shiatsu massages!