Ich liebe das Frankenjura!

On reflection Germany was probably the best three weeks of my life. Everything I had dreamed about for a long time, about what I wanted Europe to be, seemed to come true. It came out of nowhere though –  it seems ridiculous to say it now, but I wasn’t expecting much from Germany. It was I think because I was pretty worn down after quite a few months on the road, which took its toll, physically but also mentally. Spain was just very hectic, and even though I had some great times, I could never really relax.

However the moment I arrived in the beautiful Frakenjura in Southern Germany something changed. Knocking on the door at the Gasthof Eichler guesthouse late at night, tired, cold and just wanting to sleep after the day’s travel from Barcelona, the bubbly host Marta greeted me with a kiss on each cheek, exclaiming ‘Ah ze other vun of my Australien boys iz here!’. She was the lovely mothering host at the guesthouse, and sat me down with a piece of cake whilst Grant and Ben appeared. It was so good to catch up with these guys, and I cracked a grin when I realised was relaxing next to a warm fire, enjoying talking some shite and frothing over what the next two weeks had in store.

The Frankenjura was stunningly beautiful at that time of the year. I arrived in the midst of Autumn, and the colours were so rich it seemed as if some of the trees were spray-painted red and orange at first glance. Coming from 30°C heat and a generally bland landscape in Spain, to this golden-hued, crisp, Northern climate was a stark contrast, and I much favoured the latter. It helps that the Frankenjura consists of hundreds of small outcrops spread over a large area in the forest, rather than a concentrated set of sectors. So there wasn’t too many people at any one crag, which was very preferable.

Wolfsberg

Wolfsberg

The boys!

The boys!

Ben and Grant had been there for almost five weeks already. Grant had been trying the uber-classic Slimline (8a+), one of Wolfgang Gullich’s old routes. Ben was trying its well known neighbour Action Directe (9a)! It was awe-inspiring watching him in action (pun definitely intended) on it the next day. He was on a mission to send it, having already spent a bit of time previously on other trips. It is the famous ship’s prow dotted with mono’s and two-finger pockets, and was the first 9a (Australian grade 35!) in the world. It starts with a huge deadpoint (around V11 in intself) to another hard boulder up high.

Heldbrau (7a+). Photo: Ben Cossey

Heldbrau (7a+). Photo: Ben Cossey

Our sleeping quarters!

Our sleeping quarters!

BC warming up. Photo: Grant Rowbottom

BC warming up. Photo: Grant Rowbottom

After spending two days recovering from another bout of sickness brought on by the sudden drop in temperature  and general haggardness, I  decided to give Slimline a crack. Grant was super close, having fallen off the second last hard move multiple times. It is a prow just like AD; only 10m long, but super fingery on little edges and shallow two finger pocks. I instantly fell in love with this route. Something about it was just right – it seemed as if the last months spent climbing on rock all came together and hence progress came easily, getting big links quickly and just flowing well. It’s kind of ironic all the long pumpers in France and Spain prepared me for a 10m firefight in the Frankenjura.

Grant on Slimline (8a+)

Grant on Slimline (8a+)

We got into a rhythm – day on, day off at Waldkopf. Ben was super close on Action. He had had an awesome burn on his very second day in the Jura, and it seemed so close. Sometimes Ben cut a double rest day, so Grant and I would try something else for a change. Grant did Witchcraft (8a+) which is another Jura classic; I had a few goes but found it nails ha ha! I also visited the picturesque Nuremberg on a rest day and went to the Monkee shop, who sell awesome climbing clothing. Other rest days were spent sampling the local beers, which were pretty good by all accounts!

Sampling the local brews! (Actually I have a pint of water but whatever!)

Grant looking happy to be sampling the local brews!

Grant crushing Witchcraft (8a+). Photo: BC

Grant crushing Witchcraft (8a+). Photo: BC

Nuremberg

Nuremberg

BC on AD. Photo: Grant Rowbottom

BC on AD. Photo: Grant Rowbottom

About 10 days in, it was my third day of trying Slimline. Grant had already crushed it a few mornings previously, and time was running out before I had to go to Berlin, so the pressure was on. The crux was sticking a deep two finger pocket quite low down, but I was having trouble sticking a tiny edge just below the final throw to a jug at the top. One morning I emptied my head of thoughts as best I could, had one warm up go to get the blood flowing, took 3 layers off, chalked up and sent it. Was absolutely fucking stoked. Almost dropped the undercling move at the top but held on. Thanks to the boys for the belays and photos. I was not expecting it at all, but it was a stellar way to finish of my year’s climbing in Europe.

Slimine

Slimline

 

Slimline. Photo: Ben Cossey

The actual redpoint of Slimline. Photo: Ben Cossey

There was something very special about the Frankenjura. Hanging out with two good friends, frothing over sequences for hours on end, cracking jokes all the time, enjoying the Autumn glow in the evenings, sitting by the fire with some of Marta’s exquisite cake, pulling on pockets, meeting rad locals and a feeling of being lost in the goodness of it all, made for what was probably the best two weeks’ climbing I’ve ever had.

There was just this sense that I was no longer searching for something – I was simply enjoying the moment, pulling down on hard routes and having some good times – exactly what I wanted Europe to be. Ultimately I think climbing is something which is pointless unless we create some sort of meaning from it – whether that be sharing the good times with friends, climbing routes that stay with us forever in our memories, or simply just learning to let go from our thoughts and focus on the next move like nothing else matters. It’s about being, not wanting. I am so chronic for wanting something so so so much, then achieving or acquiring it, then not enjoying it. Europe crystallised this notion for me, and it doesn’t just apply to climbing. Life is finite – enjoy the good times.

A massive thanks to Ben and Grant for all the fun times, oh ma lawd have mercy haha! Little did I know that this awesome time was about to be backed up by an amazing week in Berlin….

Leaving Gastolf Eichler. Roadtripping! Good times

Leaving Gastolf Eichler. Roadtripping! Good times

 

Living the dream – Spain – Tequila, Pockets & Tufas

Far out, where to start. It’s now December. I last updated my blog in September; that’s well over three months ago.

In that time I have: had the best two weeks’ climbing of my life in the Frankenjura; caught up with friends in Finland; partied many nights over in Berlin; visited Auschwitz in Poland; grappled with tufas in Rodellar; been mugged in Barcelona; seen a rugby match in Edinburgh; missed a flight; had a great couple of weeks’ climbing in Margalef; seen Dani Andrada in action; had THE best night of my life in Amsterdam at Trouw; failed on another 8a+ after weeks of work; lost another passport; met many, many amazing people; seen Stockholm; got drunk with my uncle at an English pub quiz; spent ages in London; and slept most of the way back to Australia thanks to Emirates’ generous seat allocation. I’ve loved every minute of it.

A massive thank you to all the people who made the good times happen, and especially Logan and Caitlin for putting up with me for most of the year. The only way I can begin to pen all these adventures is chronologically. There is so much I would like to write that I will have to separate it into different posts. So I will begin where I left off – I was heading to Spain for a month to climb at Rodellar…

Spain

Day Una in España. After an early start from London I made it to Barcelona, which as predicted was sweltering. I met up with Logan at the hostel and we cruised around checking out the famous sights such as La Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, and the magnificent cathedral.

Barcelona's Cathedral

Barcelona’s Cathedral

Barcelona's Cathedral

Barcelona’s Cathedral

After training pretty hard in London to try and regain lost power (but feeling pretty rock-fit from Ceuse) I was keen for a couple of chilled days hanging out in Barcelona before we headed to Rodellar. As usual there was a pub-crawl organised that night at the hostel, so we cruised along not really knowing what to expect. The first port of call was a shots-only bar, and with a 1000 or so different shots on offer at only €2 each, we got amongst it! I recall going to a club then deciding to call it quits, and basically I got mugged on the way home.

Leaning against a bus-stop with my iPhone out (rookie error) at 3am, a guy came up to me and demanded my phone. I said no, another three guys walked around the corner, then shit got real when one of them pulled a knife on me. Of course I gave him my phone, and that was that. The Policia gave me a lift back to the hostel, cheers! Had another fun night with a cool crew from the hostel, the we picked up the new hire car, and I got to drive in Europe for the first time which was fun.

The landscape of Northern Spain was devoid of much vegetation, in fact some bits of the drive to Rodellar were like being in a desert. It made a stark change to the green surroundings of Southern France. Rodellar was our base for the next ten days.

Rodellar Panorama

Ali Baba Cave

Ali Baba Cave – you can just see Logan standing at the back – this thing is a monster! No wonder there are two 9b/37 routes in here!

The climbing there was steeeeeeeeeeeeep! The style shut Logan and I down for a while until we got into the groove, me especially as I was pretty ill for the first week at Rodellar. There are some outrageously epic tufas that tackle some pretty steep walls. By steep I mean horizontal for the entire route – for instance the Ali Baba cave (pictured above)

After a few days recovering from the flu in the sun at the Refugio (where we stayed), I got psyched by Logan sending a few projects. I tried to tick El Delfin (7c+/28) but didn’t manage it. It had a tricky boulder at the end of a jug haul, but I just was no where fit enough on this steep stuff, it was very different from Ceuse and Buoux. However it is an amazing natural rock formation and if you look close enough you can see why ‘El Delfin’ means ‘The Dolphin’ in English!

El Delfin 1

Trying El Delfin, I am in the left arch in the middle. Classic Rodellar

El Delfin

I only ticked a few 7b’s and easier bits and pieces before something told me that I really wanted to leave Rodellar. As Logan mentioned, we both had mixed feelings about the place. It was super busy, lots of dogs at crags (as everywhere in Spain I guess), heaps of glue and chipped holds, but for me the polish was what put me off the most. Sliding down greasy tufas in the heat is not really my cup of tea. If you are a weapon on the 3D climbing and love that steep style I have no doubt you will disagree, which is a totally fair call, but with limited time left I just wanted to climb stuff that I was having fun on. So we collaborated with Matt, another Aussie we met at Rodellar, and decided to go to Margalef, which was one of the best decisions of the trip I reckon!

Margalef

Margalef

Cliffline @ Margalef

Cliffline @ Margalef

One of the main sectors

One of the main sectors

Cruising down into the valley where Margalef it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders – the cliffs looked amazing, it was slightly cooler and the psyche returned in a big way. The El Raco del Finestra Refugio, run by Jordi Pou, is frankly stunning for the sleepy little town of Margalef. For only 10 Euros a night you get fast wifi, dorms that always seemed to be quiet at night, a great host (Jordi) and general hastle-free living. The climbing was outstanding too. Pretty much exclusively pockets, with the occasional crimp thrown in, it was steep but not like Rodellar. I loved it from the get-go. Neil and Naomi, two Irish friends from Ceuse, were there and we had a great afternoon trying the mega-classic Aeroplastica (7c+/28). Almost smashed it out 3rd go but did it 4th shot the next morning. Thanks to Naomi for the photos!

Aeroplastica (7c+/28), Margalef

Aeroplastica (7c+/28), Margalef

Matt and Logan arrived that day and we set about sampling quite a lot of routes. I fell off the very last move on the flash of a 7c (27) that I forget the name of – a gritty battle is always fun! The next two weeks we spent in Margalef were some of the best of the whole trip. Logan started sending lots of routes quickly, and I came up against the age-old climbing trip dilemma; do I try and send a bunch of easier routes, or stick with one hard project and send something at my limit. I opted for the latter, and therein began the epic on El Fustigador (8a+/30).

El Fustigador 8a+

El Fustigador 8a+. A couple of meters before the crux. Photo: Chris Firth

This route looked pretty epic from the outset. Logan crushed it third go however, so I thought ‘How hard can it be?’. Pretty hard for me as it turns out. It has 10m at the start that are just big moves to a sit down rest, then it is almost 25m of power-endurance on two and three finger pockets to the top, on a 20 degree overhanging wall. My anti-style really. It took me a few days to figure out the crux, which was a deadpoint to an awkward three finger pocket/crimp thing, then just brutal resistance to the top. For me it had all the highs and lows of trying a route at your max. Some days it felt easy, others hard. I developed a mental block at the crux, falling each time there, but then pulling on and doing it straight away, and getting big links.

Eventually at the end of the two weeks I was getting really close. Five times I managed to stick the crux, and just fell off gassed afterwards, but getting higher each time. Third last day and I almost made it to the “thank-god” jugs where you can recover and smash out the next 5m to the anchor. So on our second to last day, I gambled and took a rest day, which was a rookie error in hindsight – I lost momentum from the days before and was just not good enough to send it on the last day. It was devastating cleaning the draws off, knowing I had failed. But such is the redpointing game. Thanks Logan for all the belays. The guys behind Rocanbolt took some footage of me on the route, there’s a tiny bit in this trailer for their Margalef video, the 1080p HD looks good!

Margalef itself was an awesome time, just a much better vibe than Rodellar for some reason. Thanks heaps to both Chris and Chris (another super psyched Aussie who rocked up, cheers man!) for a great time playing way too much monopoly (well just ’cause I lost every game haha), hanging out and keeping the psyche high! We also checked out Sharma’s famous First Round First Minute (9b/37) – there are actually no holds on this thing! I also managed to lose my Aussie Passport one day on a shopping expedition to Flix, which complicated things somewhat. Margalef conditioned my fingers for pockets, which when you consider the next destination was the Frankenjura, was a pretty goof call! I had a great time and would love to head back sometime and finish business with El Fustigador. I did have a heap more photos to share but unfortunately my SD card cooked it so only the couple of good ones by Chris really. I’ll work on trying to recover the other ones.

First Round First Minute (9b/37)

First Round First Minute (9b/37)

Trying Photoshot (8b/31). Photo: Chris Firth

Trying Photoshot (8b/31) on one of the last days in Margalef. Photo: Chris Firth

I drove back to Barcelona with Logan on the 10th of October after briefly checking out Suirana for a night, and dropped him at the airport, where he flew off to China. A massive thanks to him for the good times all year. My stay in Barcelona ended up being three nights instead of one as I missed my flight early on the 11th! I just got the time completely wrong. So I stayed in Barcelona for another two nights –  we had a wicked crew at the hostel so that was fun times. 148534_10151116565402096_947440099_n

Good times!

Good times!

So I eventually made it onto my flight to Nuremberg and flew to Deutschland on the 12th of October. The adventures of the Frankenjura, Berlin and beyond are too much for this one post so I’ll leave it here…thanks again to everyone for the good times in Spain!

 

Parties and plastic in London town

How’s it going?

So I reached the end of my tether at Ceuse. I needed to get away from the heat, the crowds and the walk. I had such a great time there, but it was just too long really. Camping grinds me down after a while, to the point where there is no point trying to climb at my limit anymore. Garry came down from Switzerland for a few days and convinced me of what I was already thinking; go to the UK for a break. So I did. We drove to Geneva (cheers Gazza!) and I flew to London whilst Garry met up with Anna! 

There were a few reasons why I picked the UK. I have a base in central London (which is pretty handy), there’s some awesome clubs to party at, and some cool gyms to train in. I felt after quite a long time on the road I had definitely lost a fair amount of the power I had at the start of the trip. So partying aside I came here to train.

I found the Biscuit Factory to be the best of the bouldering gyms and spent quite a few days there training on the campus board, Beastmaker, Moon board and their rad competition wall which is set by some strong dudes, including the UK’s own Ned Feehally.

The Biscuit Factory

The Biscuit Factory

Campus & Beastmaker action

Campus & Beastmaker action

However apart from training I did want to also just chill out and party. I visited the famous Fabric and Egg nightclubs which were absolutely banging, and went to the Creamfields festival near Liverpool and saw some pretty amazing DJ’s – including one of my favourites, Avicii. Despite being knee-deep in mud, he smashed it and it was a great set.

Avicii bringing the house down!

Avicii bringing the house down!

Some more Avicii loving

Some more Avicii loving

Sunset @ Creamfields

Sunset @ Creamfields

I have met some great people here in the UK which has been pretty sweet. Now that I’ve been here almost exactly three weeks it’s time to move on, so tomorrow I’m flying to Barcelona to meet up with Logan again (who has been crushing in the Gorge du Tarn the last little while). We will hire a car and then roll on up to Rodellar, and stay there for a fair while. Spain will be awesome I’m sure – in a way it’s been the part of the trip I’ve most been looking forward to, so I’m pretty psyched!  Bring on some more tufas. Catchya later, take it easy.

Adventures at La Cascade, Switzerland and back again

Wow. So it has been well over a month since I have updated my blog. There is so much to talk about that I hardly know where to start. Life has been amazing here in Europe, and I am loving it. To be able to synthesise the huge amount of stories, experiences and thoughts currently flowing through my head into something readable might be tricky, but I’ll give it a crack. I’ll begin where I left off, at Ceuse.

Ceuse, Face de Rat Sector.

After being in Ceuse for about a month, I wasn’t having much fun. I hadn’t ticked much apart from a few 7c’s and a 7c+. The weather was a bit shit at times, and I was not climbing very well, which I think was due to being tired in general from the trip. However I then rented one of the little caravans here at the camping – it made a massive difference to my psyche and general wellbeing. It was the caravan that Dave Graham made the famous “wizard” video in which is kinda funny!

"The Wizard" Caravan

“The Wizard” Caravan

La Cascade

Early morning starts
Early morning starts

I then also discovered how fun it was to climb at the La Cascade sector. This sector is different to the rest of Ceuse, being quite a lot steeper, having bigger moves, and more pockets. I think it suits my style much better. You have to get up early though to avoid the sun, 6.30am starts are necessary which is a bit of a battle sometimes. I did Le Privelege du Serpent (7c+/28) in four shots which was awesome, and it was a great route. But the highlight of climbing at Cascade was sending Mirage (7c+/28) in three goes. It is a 25m route that weaves its way up the middle of the wall, culminating in a slopey crux on some amazing quality rock. After falling once at this crux, I held it together on the next go and went to the top. I was stoked, it’s by far the best route I’ve climbed at Ceuse thus far.

Here are some pictures on it, thanks heaps to David “Davo” Fitzgerald and Logan for them.

Mirage (7c+/28)

Mirage (7c+/28)

Mirage (7c+/28)
Mirage (7c+/28)

Mirage (7c+/28)
Mirage (7c+/28)

Around the same time, Logan climbed really well, ticking Encore and Face de Rat (both 8a+). We also went on a day trip to Volx, one of the ‘it’ crags of the 80′s which is now so polished it’s like climbing on glass, for real. Our friends Mark and Juan came with us, and it was a cool day out and a nice break. We all sent Spinoza (7b+) and the direct at 8a which Logan sent. I also came off worse in a fight with a tree (epic rope swing cleaning a route) so I have nice scar on my leg as a reminder now haha.

On the way home from Volx

On the way home from Volx

The caravan helped to keep the levels of psyche up, so I jumped on the steep Bourinator (8a) and surprised by sending it in three shots which was sweet. It has a bouldery crux to start then a bit of a throw in the upper section. An English guy called Glyn snapped some awesome shots of myself on the send which was radical, check them out below.

Bourinator (8a). Photo: Glyn Hudson

Bourinator (8a)

Bourinator (8a). Photo: Glyn Hudson
Bourinator (8a). Photo: Glyn Hudson

After ticking that it was about time to head to Switzerland. My good friend Garry Phillips came over on the 15th of July and we spent 10 days sport climbing in Switzerland and France. I had a mini epic getting to Geneva on the train, but once there we met up with Ben Buckland, a friend of Garry’s from back in the day. Massive thanks to Ben for letting us crash at his place in Geneva!

We went to Chamonix to check it out, and it was stunningly beautiful!

Chamonix

Chamonix

From there we headed to the area around Interlaken, and a crag called Gimmelwald. This was a nails sector!!! The warm up was 7c+ and that was no giveaway. We both tried to send that and Gaz ticked on his third shot. The routes here are about 20m long and pretty desperate! It was rad to have a change from Ceuse though.

Gimmelwald

Gimmelwald

An Austrian working Femme Rouge (8a), Gimmelwald
An Austrian working Femme Rouge (8a), Gimmelwald

Some more stunning Swiss scenery
Some more stunning Swiss scenery

Not long after we headed back to Geneva to chill out and climb at a crag near Annecy in France called La Balme. It had looooong routes, up to 40m on tufas. Hard grades too! We did an awesome 7b second and I fell on the last moves of a stiff 7b+ called Catherdral. Garry ticked a 7c as well which was cool. A thirty second walk in was nice for a change!

Garry’s friend Kevin came over from the UK and we all met up in Chamonix. I decided to head back to Ceuse because I wasn’t super keen on alpine stuff. So after wishing the guys luck on their objectives I made the trek back to Geneva and then to Ceuse, where it felt good to chill out and not do so much driving around (thanks Gazza for driving haha).

Geneva

Geneva

We got an awesome crew going at Ceuse, with Mark, Logan, Maddy, Sasha, Andy, Juan, Miki and others all chilling out and having a good time. Rest days were spent at the huge lake on that’s on the way to Briancon, hanging out on paddleboats and generally just enjoying life. Andy, Miki, Logan and myself also played a ridiculous amount of table tennis. It wasn’t uncommon for us to be playing until 2am several nights in a row. Good times!

Half the crew!

Half the crew!

In between all this I managed to send Encore (8a+), a long and pumpy route on the Demi Lune sector. It has a bouldery crux to start followed by classic Ceuse climbing on little incut pockets and slopers to the top. I think it took me about 8 tries all up. Petit Tom (8a) on Berlin also got done. So to the present – I’m still at Ceuse, enjoying life and trying hard routes. Sasha and Andy headed off to an Adidas comp in Germany a few days ago andLogan has gone to Chamonix to do some alpine stuff for a bit. Garry has come down from Chamonix for a few days which is rad. The plan is to stay here until about the 20th then head to the Gorge du Tarn for some long routes! Psyched.

I’ll try and keep this more updated from now on! ‘Till next time, have a good one!

Céüse Round II

It’s now two and half weeks that Logan and I have been climbing at Céüse here in the French Haute Provence. The climbing has been amazing, and the crag itself has been quite an experience.

In the first week we pottered about trying quite a few routes, and then my attention focused on the Berlin sector. This is a beautiful water streaked sector to the left Biographie wall. All the routes on Berlin are absolutely nails for the grade – most are just crimpy, resistance (power endurance) monsters about 20-30m long. I did Galaxy (7c) as it was the only free route on the wall at the time, then tried Makach Walou (7c+). I did it after about 6 shots, and it was a great route. Here are some photos on it, thanks heaps to Logan for the pics!

Makach Walou 7c+

Makach Walou 7c+

After that I began trying Queue de Rat (7b+) which I think is harder than Makach Walou! I have fallen off the end about three times now. Hopefully I will do it next go!!

I also spent a morning at Cascade, which is a much steeper sector which suits me a bit more. The climbing here is pretty mindblowing. There are a lot of pockets, and it’s pumpy climbing. After getting the beta off Mark I flashed Vagabond (7c/27) which was heaps of fun. I also tried Violent Illusion (8b/31) which I am really psyched on so I will spend a fair bit of time on that this trip I think.

Apart from the actual climbing, it is great fun up at the crag. Queuing for routes is a totally foreign concept to me, but an obvious necessity at busy crags. Berlin sector is crazy busy at about 6pm when conditions are good, every route will be occupied and queues for the popular ones. There is an eclectic mix of nationalities at the crag, with Spaniards, Belgians, Czech’s, British, Chinese, Americans and lots of Irish, all of which make for quite a scene. The walk is also good for getting fit, and the campground has a cool atmospheres well. It is a demanding crag but well worth it, and I’m psyched on heaps of hard routes while I’m here.

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St Leger, Buoux and the start of Ceuse

So I made it to Europe! I’ve been climbing here for exactly a month now and loving it. There is a lot to talk about, I’ll begin at St. Leger…

After a night in Nice recovering from the long haul flights I met up with Logan in Avignon and we drove out to the camping near St. Leger. This crag is amazing, consisting of bulging  limestone walls streaked with tufas either side of a gorge. The sheer amount of hard routes is pretty unbelievable – sector after sector of routes 8a+ (30) and above.

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Not far away!

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Walking into St. Leger

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One of the main steep sectors at St. Leger


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Looking down at the cliffs at St. Leger from the top of Mt. Ventoux

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Hanging out on the top of Mt. Ventoux looking toward the Alps

Having never climbed on tufas before I spent a couple of days getting used to the style and managed to send a cool (7c/27) called L’Assiette C+. Our attention soon focused on a steep wall about 15m high that had some awesome resistance routes on it. Logan sent Spit Bouse (8a/29) pretty quickly and I tried it as well.

After about a week getting used to the style and trying routes on this shorter wall I managed to send Slip Bouse (8a/29) after quite a bit of work. Just prior to this it had poured down for a couple of days, so everything at the crag was now seeping and would take days to dry, so after Logan sent Slip Bouse as well, we decided to head to the classic pocket-pulling destination – Buoux.

Heading south to Buoux meant it was quite a lot warmer so we could only climb in the late afternoons and evenings. Buoux is an amazing crag – very vertical with some steep bits, and peppered with thousands of pockets! It is completely different from anything I’ve climbed on before, because it is almost exclusively pockets.

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One of the most impressive looking walls at Buoux - this sector is home to the famous Agincourt 8c

It is old-school climbing, with solid grades to match. We jumped on the absolute classic Reve de Papillion (8a/29) which is a hard bouldery start to a much easier slabby finish. Logan crushed it second shot and I had a screaming epic on it, just managing to send after five days of work and falling off the last throw move of the boulder a lot. Whilst I was working that Logan ticked the world’s first 8a+(30), the classic Chouca which was rad, and we ticked some Buoux classics like TCF and Rose des Sables (both 7a/23). 

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Chouca (8a+) follows the white streak - psyched to go back to this route

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Name at the base of Chouca's iconic neighbour

We also had our car broken into; Logan had his nice laptop, iPhone and kindle stolen, and my uk passport got nicked as well. Very much less than ideal. It caused a huge shitfight getting the car fixed, so we ended up staying in Buoux for a lot longer than initially planned. This wasn’t a bad thing though, as the climbing there was stunning and Reve de Papillion was by far the best route I’ve done this trip.

After the car was fixed the weather was way too hot to stay at Buoux, so we headed back to St. Leger to finish off some projects before Ceuse. Logan kept on trying Abregenief (8b/31) which he had previously been on, but it was still too hot at St Leger for hard routes. After another mini-epic I finally ticked Spit Bouse (8a/29), which is wicked resistance on classic St. Leger mini tufas and crimps. It was the hardest route I’ve sent for a long time and i think is pretty nails for 8a, so it felt good to get something done.

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Sending Spit Bouse (8a)

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Sending Spit Bouse (8a)

To the present – we are currently at Ceuse, the “best crag in the world”. And it certainly hasn’t disappointed – with stunning views of the alps, immaculate rock and great climbing it is certainly living up to the hype. I have spent the first few days trying to get used to the style and thus far have managed to tick a few easier routes, fall off the world’s best 6c called Zagreb and tick Lapinerie (7b/25). I also managed to tick Galaxy (7c/27) on the magnificent Berlin sector.

Adam Ondra is here and is absolutely crushing. For a warm up he onsighted Logan’s 8b/31 project then later that day sent the Jungle Boogie project to the left of Realisation, and word on the street is that it’s 9a+ or 36. He is on another planet in terms of climbing ability – very humbling to watch! Two days after he sent Jungle Boogie he went for a flash of Realization (36/9a+). It was amazing to see him flash Biographie (8c+) which is the first part of Realization, then attempt the boulder. He got a couple of moves in and fell – a mighty fine effort!

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Ondra on his flash attempt of Realization

And that’s about it so far. Aside from climbing France is an awesome country with some beautiful countryside and villages. The plan now is to try and get fit by ticking lots of things here at Ceuse, and aim to try some harder things soon too. Till next time, have a good one!

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Not a bad view from Ceuse campsite!


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Orpierre is a very scenic village we visited on a rest day

Europe 2012

So today I’m jetting off to Europe until December. It is going to be the climbing trip of a lifetime and I’m so psyched to try awesome routes all across France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, the UK and Germany as well. First up is St Leger in France with Logan Barber, where I’m going to try and get fit with a large volume of routes, but also try some hard projects as well. Just would like to say thanks to everyone who has helped me get to this point! Anyway I’ll try and keep this updated as much as I can with photos etc. Take care, and have a good one! Cheers

Tyndalls Mania! – Witchcraft

What’s going on?

Thought I’d put a little post up about goings on of late. Things have been hectic between working, getting sick, trying to train and a trip to the Tyndalls. Garry and I recently made the trip out again where we established a new route called Witchcraft 150m 27/28. It is the route we equipped a back in November, and finally work/weather aligned for both of us to take four days off and go and climb it. Turned out to be an awesome route, that we climbed over two days, both redpointing every pitch. Here’s how we went:

Fagus near the cave

Fagus near the cave

Setting up camp
Setting up camp

Basking in the sunshine!!
Basking in the sunshine!!

After an early start on Monday morning we made the long drive out to the carpark. Pretty light packs made the walk up the hill it not too bad, and with Garry’s new Mission Ledge in our arms we were super psyched so made good time. To our surprise it was perfect weather – 20 degrees, sunny and a tiny bit of breeze.  The colours and atmosphere up there at this time of year was unreal – all the Fagus was out in Autumn colours, and the lower angle of the sun in the sky meant long shadows were cast everywhere. Having never been up at this time of year before, it made it pretty special. After sorting out our gear, we cruised down to the top of the route. Fixing ropes, we warmed up by trying the ‘Metolius Pitch’ up high which was awesome climbing and good to get into the zone. We then rapped to the top of the crux pitch where we set up the ledge, talked tactics, and decided to lower in and try this pitch as it was the big unknown.

Garry hanging out on his new Mission Ledge

Garry hanging out on his new Mission Ledge

I lowered Gazza in and he had a play. He came up to the belay smiling, saying it would probably go but it was definitely pretty goey. I lowered in and tried the pitch – and it was awesome!! A cruisy few meters off the belay, followed by a strenuous layback flake just left of the arête, then into the crux section. A powerful undercling arch leads you out right to the arête, where there is a boulder and you have to lay it on straight up the arête to get to a rest. From there it is about 20m of wall climbing, with a few tricky boulders thrown in to keep you on your toes. Psyched that I managed to do quite a lot of it, I lowered Gaz in for one more try. It got late so we jugged out and watched an amazing sunset, then spent hours talking over the sequence psyched for Tuesday’s assault.

Rad sunset

Rad sunset

The next day it was on. After a bit of chill out in the morning we rapped in to Eagle Ledge. This is the second to last big ledge, and has a great grade 19 above it.

Warming up on pitch five (19) off Eage Ledge

Warming up on pitch five (19) off Eage Ledge

We both sent that pitch first shot as a warm-up, then headed down to try the crux. One more lower-in each and we had it sorted – Gaz seemed more certain than I; I thought that I would blow it after the crux if I managed to get through, as it was pretty sequency and pumpy. However we shifted the ledge down to the start of the crux pitch and it was all go. Gaz tied in and without further ado simply crushed it – it was pretty rad to watch him cruising the crux boulder. Psyched!! Then it was my turn – as usual I had a few pre-redpoint nerves but I just had to silence them and try my best – managing to just hold on through the crux, I got some back at the rest then blasted up the wall, almost blowing it on the final tricky traverse but held it together and clipped the chains! Stoked.

Putting on the boots before redpointing the crux!

Putting on the boots before redpointing the crux!

We then both redpointed the first traverse pitch which went at about 21 and was rad as well.

Garry on pitch 1 (21)

Garry on pitch 1 (21)

After that it got dark so we shifted the ledge up to the top of the crux and went and chilled out, psyched to finish it the next day. In the morning we took it pretty easy, and both tried pitch 3 (24) once before both doing it first redpoint. It’s great – an easy traverse past the Gills (slanting fins of rock) before a cruxy section to get to the Witch’s Eye Pocket and then a pumpy finish.

Getting ready for pitch 4 - having heaps of fun!

Getting ready for pitch 4 – having heaps of fun!

Starting on pitch 3 (24)
Starting on pitch 3 (24)

Making the move to the witches eye pitch 3 (24)
Making the move to the witches eye pitch 3 (24)

After that the sun came out again which was nice. We both redpointed pitch 5 (21) first go – it is a cool traverse to an exposed position on the arête that goes around a tricky bulge up high.

Garry at the bottom of pitch 5 (21) - The Metolius Pitch

Garry at the bottom of pitch 5 (21) – The Metolius Pitch

Tyndalls Mania - Gazza living the dream!
Tyndalls Mania – Gazza living the dream!

With the end in sight we pulled all our gear up and redpointed the last pitch (19) – and finally every pitch had been done, we’d both led every pitch first go, and we were super psyched with the quality of the climbing. It’s a bit of a classic – not as long and involved as the longer routes like Deeper Water, so a little more accessible in that regard and awesome climbing as well! Big thanks to Gaz for an awesome trip, we both had heaps of fun.

At the top celebrating the send! An awesome trip

At the top celebrating the send! An awesome trip

Mindblowing sunrise on the last morning
Mindblowing sunrise on the last morning

So that was the last trip of the season and what a trip it was. Everything went smoothly, we both ticked the route and it is awesome climbing. The Tyndalls were pretty breathtaking at this time of year with Autumn in full swing – highly recommend a trip at this time next year. More highly recommended is our route! Get amongst it. We would like to see what people think of the grade, mainly on the crux – we thought 27/28 so it’s somewhere around there but not 100% sure. Either way it is great climbing and you will enjoy it. The other pitches are great if you’re not after something so hard. A rad day out would be starting at pitch 3 and going to the top. Pitches for the whole route are 21, 27/28, 24, 21, 19, scramble, 19. Here’s pretty rad topo courtesy of Gazman – thanks for reading!

Witchcraft 150m 27/28

Witchcraft 150m 27/28

Holeproof Explorer Sponsorship

So whilst cruising around on Facebook one day, an ad flashed up for for a Holeproof Explorer competition. Intrigued, I surfed over to it and discovered Holeproof Explorer’s Ready to Go competition, which is awarding monthly $2000 sponsorships to people going on cool adventures! With my Europe trip coming up really soon I made a profile, explaining a bit about myself and climbing for the chance to to win one of these rad monthly sponsorships. Previous winners have included a kayaker, wildlife conservationist, survivalist and long-distance cyclist amongst others.

Having added a few climbing pictures and a little bio, I kept an eye on the site to see what was going on. There were heaps of awesome entries for the January sponsorship so I didn’t really think there was any chance of winning it. Until an email in my inbox told me otherwise: I won the January Sponsorship! This cash prize is a massive help for my trip and I’m stoked that I have such an opportunity to put it to good use. Huge thanks to Holeproof for their support; they are an innovative Australian manufacturer who make great gear, some of which I’ll be putting to the test on the road in Europe, so check their range out at http://www.holeproof.com.au/

Sponsorship logo

The plan in Europe is to meet up with Logan Barber, a crusher from WA who’s over there at the moment taking down multiple hard routes in Suirana. We’re going to head straight to St. Leger du Ventoux, a sport sector in Southern France with hundreds good, hard routes. Can’t wait to pull on some pockets and tufas! After a few weeks there climbing on there we’re going to head to Ceuse to meet up with an awesome crew to settle in for the Summer and get heaps of climbing done. Planning to head to Switzerland with the Gaz man (Garry Phillips) in late July for some alpine rock and long sport routes. Then the UK for a bit of a break and maybe some partying, then it’s the three/four month sport climbing attack on Spain again with Logan. Ahhh I’m beyond psyched just thinking about it! There have been many Aussies crushing in Spain lately (nice on the 8c Monique!!) so will be rad to get amongst the action.

Sorry for so much writing and so little pictures, next update I’ll have some good ones and maybe a video too!  A week ago I was up at Fingal trying Too Fast Too Furious (28) again, but after about 6 shots over 2 days I had to admit defeat. It’s one gnarly move where you have to bone down!! Here’s a shot of me on it last July:

 

2 Fast 2 Furious (28)

2 Fast 2 Furious (28)

Garry, Andy, Mark and I had a few rad days’ climbing in the North which was good to get away from work for a few days and just climb. I’ll post some more pictures and hopefully a video soon. Once again massive thanks to Holeproof, cheers!

Summer 2012

How’s it going?

A fair amount of time has elasped since my last post, during which quite a few things have happened.

First and foremost Alex and I recently had a wicked trip out at the Tyndalls where he repeated Deeper Water, and we both just hung out and had heaps of fun talking shite and enjoying ourselves.

Apart from this I’ve hardly set foot on real rock, instead mainly training inside. However there has not been a high volume of this plastic pulling by any means. Working full-time between two different jobs has meant I’ve had limited energy and time to train properly, and combined with a slump in motivation at the lack of a gym in Hobart, meant February was a fairly climb-free zone apart from the Tyndalls trip. However with Alex’s new wall going up, the countdown to the Euro trip on, and hence the need to kick myself into shape, the psyche is much higher and I’ve started training quite a bit more.

Training with the Gaz man

I went out to the Tote with the German couple Manu and Hannah in late January which was a rad day out. Huge thanks to Hannah for the photos she took of Manu and I climbing it. Here’s a couple:

Heading up the first pitch (24)

Heading up the first pitch (24)

Manu trying the 2nd pitch

Manu trying the 2nd pitch

After the crux on the second pitch (25)

After the crux on the second pitch (25)

Second pitch of the Tote (25)

Second pitch of the Tote (25)

Tyndalls – Deeper Water

Alex covered most of our trip on his blog post here: http://alexlewisclimb.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/deeper-water/ . Have a read, it’s well worth it!

The short version: we headed up to the Tyndalls for 5 days, fixed ropes to the base of Deeper Water (310m, 28), worked the first pitch, sat in a tent in the mist for 36 hours, rapped in, Alex sent the first pitch, he redpointed a few other pitches and generally had a ball. It is one of the best routes in Tassie, not only for the length but the technical and demanding nature of the conglomerate pebble-pulling and the simply good, hard climbing! Here’s the long version…

Getting psyched to walk up the hill

Getting psyched to walk up the hill

Alex working the first pitch

Alex working the first pitch

Alex getting the crux dialed

Alex getting the crux dialed

Good times at the first belay

Good times at the first belay

Psyched!

Psyched!

See if you can spot the Lewis sloth, a very rare species who is known to imitate Tommy Caldwell and randomly scream "I don't know why but I love this shit!"

See if you can spot the Lewis sloth, a very rare species who is known to imitate Tommy Caldwell and randomly scream “I don’t know why but I love this shit!”

After spending a night/day/night in the tent, we woke up to a pretty special sunrise. It was on. We rapped into the mist, a crazy feeling knowing that there’s a few hundred meters of air below your feet but not being able to see it. We also discovered flying down wet ropes tends to make gri-gris overheat and hiss quite a lot, which led to a couple of ‘What-the-fuck-am-I-doing’  moments sliding uncontrollably downwards. However we got there in the end. Alex tried the pitch once, without any expectations, as it seemed too wet to give it a proper go. But he managed a huge link, climbing the pitch clean! He got to the belay and was very psyched, so I had a go to warm up, then we rapped to the base and chilled out for a couple of hours while we waited for the sun to get off the wall. He then got his serious face on, tied in and stepped up for perhaps the most impressive lead I’ve witnessed – the pitch is so totally absorbing, with many intricate and powerful cruxes in its 45m length. Half the battle is mentally holding it together on the sharp end for about half an hour. When I heard his victory yell I cracked a massive grin, jugged the pitch and a big high-five was had at the belay. Awesome job man! Alex then led the ‘Crazy Sexy Pitch’ (24) which I followed, and it was a great piece of climbing.

A beautiful sunrise

A beautiful sunrise

Rapping into the mist, with 200m of air below. Photo: Alex Lewis
Rapping into the mist, with 200m of air below. Photo: Alex Lewis
It's a long way up!

It’s a long way up!

Me following the Crazy Sexy Pitch (24). Photo: Lewis

Rad pitch!

3rd pitch (24)

Sunset

The last day was cooking! It was forecast for 34 degrees so we made an early start and got to the bottom of the ‘Balls in a Juicer’ (26) pitch by 7am. Another amazing sunrise greeted us. In a couple of goes Alex crushed that pitch, which was super thin and techo. He finished off the other 23 and easier ones quickly and by midday we were back on solid ground. A slog to sort the gear and get back to the car in the full sun ensued which was mildly epic but hey the Tyndalls doesn’t let you off the hook too easily, ever. A beer at the pub in Queenstown, followed by the long drive home marked the end of an awesome trip for both of us, a fitting finale to Summer 2012. A massive thanks to Alex for a great trip where we both had heaps of fun and just went climbing. I’m really psyched on Deeper Water for next Summer, so I’m sure we’ll both be back on it before long!

Sunrise of the final day

Sunrise on the last morning with the Reactor cranking

Down the wall on the last morning

Celebratory beer at the Empire in Queenstown

So it’s now about 6 weeks until I board a 747 bound for Nice. I’m very psyched about this. I’ve been looking forward to Europe for a long, long time and 7 months on the road will be amazing. Until then I’m just going to train as much as I can, hopefully get up to Fingal and the Factory. Take it easy!

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