A blog about climbing full time on the road.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Castle Hill Update

We've been climbing at Castle Hill for 3 weeks now and might finally be starting to get the hang of this smeary limestone thing. We've also been meeting up with friends we made earlier on the trip and making some new ones which has been a lot of fun! Castle Hill is a popular destination, so we've been meeting a lot of other climbers which has been great, but it's also big enough that it always feels quite quiet and peaceful.

Shaun sticking it on Thrust v6

Ben reaching with everything on Outcast v8

Luke holding the swing on The Air Below v6

Shaun and Lauren who we met in Australia came out for a couple weeks. We had a great time hanging out with them and their kids and getting to know some other friends of theirs, Luke, Brett, and Joseph, who they met out here last year. As an added bonus, they were staying in a house in Castle Hill Village (between the campsite and the boulders) and they've all let us take advantage of some of their house conveniences. Thanks for all the showers!! Everyone we were with has had very successful trips with many projects going down so it has been incredibly fun to spend the day watching others climb and send.

jake and annie
Annie and Jake

Matt and Shaun climb really well together so they both were able to get some great climbs done. They both have different styles and come up with beta for each other. Matt has climbed a few of his projects. He was most excited about a v8 at Flock Hill called Mobius. He stumbled upon this problem the first day we went up and tried it each time. Flock Hill is privately owned and closes for lambing season on the 1st of November. We went up on the last day of the season with Matt getting over a cold he'd had for a few days, so he didn't have very high expectations. We had a great day showing a bunch of other traveling climbers we'd met around the area and some of the climbs we liked. At the end of the day, Matt and Ben (a really strong Kiwi climber we met here) who was also really sick at the time, tried Mobius with some important new beta. After a few tries, both of them climbed it in great style. It was Ben's last day of a month long trip at Castle Hill (ending a full year trip of buldering) and Matt's last chance at that climb, so was a great way to end the season! Matt has also gotten a bunch of other problems finished such as Thrust v6, Tuppi Master v6, One move Boulder v6, and The Remedy v6. Cassie has gotten Supernatural v5 and Snatch v5. She's been sick for almost a week and is finally feeling better so more is sure to go down soon.

Mobius - The Sequence

Bumping to the left hand sloping mono

hitting the sloping mono
matching on the slopers using a heel-toe cam
bumping the left hand back under the roof to allow the heeltoe cam to come out and control the swing

controlling the swing
trying to match

campusing to the sloper
campusing to the jug

hitting the jug, now just throw a heel up and mantle

We have a couple more weeks of climbing, then plan to travel around the south island for a bit. The weather quickly changed from snow storms every few days to really hot, so we're trying to find things in the shade and have taken to lazing about in the afternoons waiting for things to cool off. Both of us have a number of projects we'd like to get done before we leave, so hopefully we'll have a bit of luck and good conditions.

orifice fish
Cassie cruising Orifice Fish v3 

Joseph coming super close to sticking the dyno on Lock and Load v4
Lock and Load v4 - photo note: wrong beta, must be both hands leading with the right. going with the left is a good way to scrape your right arm.

Lauren on The Tonic v3

Monday, October 15, 2012

It hurts to laugh: Our first week at Castle Hill New Zealand.

Kaikoura coastline
Kaikoura coastline

We've been in New Zealand two weeks now. The first week we drove from Auckland down to Christchurch. The weather was quite rainy mixed with some sun. Every time we decided to just drive because the weather was bad it would clear up and every time we tried to do something touristy it started raining. This culminated with us waiting in Christchurch for two days in the rain while it snowed at our destination: Castle Hill. We still saw some magnificent scenery such as the famous Mt Doom from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. We also enjoyed a nice hike around Kaikoura and saw baby seals. We hiked in a redwood (not native) forest that was small potatoes compared to Muir Woods, but was very pretty nonetheless.

thermal pool
hotsprings in a redwood forest

waiting for a ride
unusual hitchhiker

Mt Ngauruhoe
Mt Doom. Stupid electrical lines. i'll be removing you in photoshop later...

Read here if you want to know why we bought $2000 plane tickets to Singapore with no intention of going there....
While in Christchurch we took care of getting our plane tickets to Singapore refunded. This little story goes like this: We arrived at the Melbourne airport with every intention of going to New Zealand. As we checked in the front desk clerk asked us for our flight information showing our flight leaving New Zealand (nothing unexpected so far most countries want to see your itinerary). She looks it over and says "ah I see you have a 12 hour lay over in Sydney Australia on the flight from Auckland-Sydney-Bangkok Thailand. This is over the maximum 8 hour layover. You need a transit visa" We agree that this is true. She asks us for our transit visa that will allow us to stay in Sydney for this time period. Now, we knew we needed a transit visa for this leg of the trip, but we couldn't get a transit visa while in Australia (dont ask me why, you just cant) and assumed we could do it in Auckland NZ. She says "well I can't let you leave for new Zealand unless you have a visa for this layover in Australia" and so we say "we need to be in new Zealand to get a transit visa for Australia" and she says "well we can't let you go without one". Obviously we are freaked that we can't get to new Zealand and we can't leave Australia. True example of a catch 22. So she offers a solution: "if you buy two fully refundable tickets out of new Zealand to a country you don't need a visa for we can let you into new Zealand. can you put $2000 on your credit cards right now? we say "sure, we can do that" and so we get two one-way tickets to Singapore. And so they let us into New Zealand where we spend $50 get our transit visas for Australia and cancel our tickets to Singapore. All told we spend about $200. We didn't intend to, but at least we made it. Phew that was a close one. Crazy bureaucracy.

Now on to the climbing. We arrived to see snow all over the boulders our first day. In fact, they had only opened Porters Pass 5 minutes before we went up. So, with no hope of climbing we went and camped at craigeburn (the climbers camp) the next day we went to the boulders and proceeded to get schooled on every possible grade. We fell off of v0s and found impossible v2s. It was humbling and even though we knew it was coming it still stung our egos. I was wondering if my ambition to do a v6 here might be a bit optimistic.

Ocean v6
Cassie palms and smears trying to get up Ocean v6

Cassie on a v3 at Spittle Hill
a pockety v3 at Spittle Hill
Snail v4
after 20 minutes of confusion Matthew finally figures out how to get up Snail v4

Our second day went a bit better than the first and a few v3s fell though they still felt really really hard. I was so sore that it hurt to sit up, and even walk. We were sore in places we didn't realize we had muscles. Now that might not seem surprising, but remember we're been bouldering for 4 months now. You'd think we were in shape? Not for this style apparently.
Castle Hill is world renewed limestone bouldering. In fact, its one of the few limestone bouldering areas in the world and is by far the most famous. It gets much notoriety for being quite slick rock with very technical climbing. Small feet and slopey hands are common making for many falls from simply slipping rather than from fatigue. So far, we definitely see how people consider this area difficult, but maybe thanks to this area being such a late entry into our trip we've got more outdoor climbing skills to help out our technique. Many of the climbs we have done at first seem impossible with basically no hands or feet to get off the ground with, but once your start learning how to press and smear they go from impossible to possible in a few minutes. Much laughter is often present with the first few tries as well as saying things like "this is impossible", "there's no holds", "i don't understand this thing". Usually that gives way to sending, but sometime we can't find the beta and frustration occurs with much swearing. For example Cassie did a heinous v4 mantle that I still haven't done. It's just one move, throw your leg up on the rock and press it out but wow does it feel hard.

reflection on water
Quantum field

Terms that need explaining
(from Wikipedia)

Mantel: A move used to surmount a ledge or feature in the rock in the absence of any useful holds directly above. It involves pushing down on a ledge or feature instead of pulling down.

 Beached Whale: A not very graceful way to Mantle up onto a ledge involving flopping your belly onto it and squirming up onto the ledge. Example: Matthew's Technique. Pictures coming shortly...

 Our third day things actually started to go well and even more climbs around v3 were completed such as the at first confounding "left buttock" v3 and "snail" v4 also Matthew sent "Misfit" v6 which is so far the hardest climb we've done. Yesterday we spent our first day at Flock Hill. Flock Hill is a 45min walk each way up hill (feels like each way) given the long approach many of the climbs are much less polished from climber traffic and are therefore more fun to climb. We did a bunch of good things there and found some projects to go back to such as "Mobius" v8 and "Captain Nemo" v8 as well as many others. It's a beautiful location and we had a wonderful day. Well that about wraps it up from here. As usual we'll post more when some climbs go down which will hopefully be soon.

the view from flock hill
the view from Flock Hill

flock hill
Flock Hill - Cassie enjoys superb limestone huecos

i'll take a jug please
i'll take a jug please. Matt highstepping on a slab at Flock Hill.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Final Australia Post

the grampians sends us off with a cool storm
Lauren working a v4 with Shaun spotting
Our last two weeks in the Grampians were not as productive as we hoped, but that didn't stop us from having a good time. A few final problems fell to our efforts, but our bodies began rebelling against the long run we have bent them to. The math indicates we've bouldered (on average) every other day for the last 4 months. When I see those numbers I'm surprised that we've escaped most repetitive motion injuries and have accomplished as much as we have. It seems that this kind of aggressive schedule is arguably more than we should be doing to climb the hardest problems, but we certainly have gotten in a lot of mileage on the rock.
A rainbow over the Grampians

Technology is an Enabler v4
Cassie warming up
Currently we are recuperating in Melbourne at our friend's Hannah and Seamus's place after our a few days off traveling down the Great Ocean Road.   Those of you who are paying close attention will probably realize this means the only things we managed to see in australia were the ocean rd, arapiles, the grampians, and melbourne. Obviously we've missed a bunch of things that would have been great to see, such as the Sydney climbing scene, the Great Barrier and a host of other things, but we're happy with our time here.
inch worm

We've made new friends whom we will see in New Zealand and we are looking forward to seeing one of the worlds most scenic bouldering areas shortly. Our psych is recharging and we figure in a week or so when we hit the boulder fields we'll be properly amped to be ready to fall off of just about everything we try.

Cassie exploring the Great Ocean Road

falls on the Great Ocean Road