Middle Earth, Week 1

A place yonder, full of surprises and full of wonder.

IMG_4543
.
5am, we wake with excitement as make our way to Sydney airport.
12 hours, a free rental car upgrade and several thousand kilometres later we arrive at Milford Sound in New Zealand.
It has been one year since our last visit to this majestic place!
.
A little daylight remains as we enthusiastically set up camp at Milford Lodge.
Morale and psyche are high as conversation and humour flow freely into the night.
Not long after the sun is set the rain arrives drumming gently on the land below.
.
The next morning the gentleness of the rain is no more, beating heavily unto all.
We get reminded yet again as of why this is one of the most wettest places on Earth.
After a quick breakfast, short drive and mostly well prepared we set off on the half hour trek/scramble to the wall of choice.
.
Arriving at little Babylon is always one of my most fondest memories I dream of to this day.
As the canopy of thick, almost pre-historic forest lifts slowly and gives way to the first glimpse of the massive looming, smooth but featured rock face above, my pulse quickens with excitement.
.
Luke makes quick work of his previous years project “No Country for Old Men” 8a, and keeps his psyche pants on for the next.
“Hey Zeus” 8a, a magnificent variant in its own right, boasting a big wing span move for the final crux section.
Matt also jumps on the wagon dispatching this line within several efforts. A great start indeed.
Little did we know that the great divine was about to throw a spanner into the works..
.
IMG_4544
Luke Styling his way up “No Country for Old Men”
.
Apart from one (un-named) team member forgetting his sleeping bag we where battered by a storm so severe it temporarily wiped out Matt’s Tent completely. Luke’s and mine only “just” survived!!
The next morning I awoke with a sore throat and heavy head, the cold & damp seemed to have taken their toll.
As the last day climbing before a double rest day I decided to make the most of it, making progress on my project none the less…
.
Luke back on “Hey Zeus” climbed the first crux with ease making his way into the big wing span.
Hitting his elbow along the way, he grabbed the hold not quiet right but managed to re-adjust, only to be followed by a foot pop.
Unfortunately this was not the only thing that popped, as his shoulder also gave way, only to re-live an old injury.
It is always hard to see a fellow climber & good friend get injured, especially one that is so highly motivated!
Not being able to move his shoulder after it re-located, things where not looking good…
.
Kea’s!! The only Alpine Parrot in the world and one of the smartest creatures around.
Their sharp talons for claws are only matched by the ferocity of their razor like beaks.
Much like the Cockatoo of Australia their nature is that of playful destruction!
Perhaps Karma was paying me back for something I had done, something I surely was not aware of.
Allas my tent was in shreds, the outer literally torn to pieces without any chance of salvation.
.
IMG_4542
Sorry Rick :-/
.
End of Week One.
Advertisements

Maximum Effort ‘Summer’014-15

Training Blog..! IMG_7523_Fotor_Fotor

Say What?!
 .
And yes indeed it would be a pleasure to travel the world chasing Autumn.
No matter I am super lucky to have and have had so many amazing worldly trips.
Having a home base is still one of the best things to return to,
even having a pretty darn good Job with great folks is hard to come by these days.
 .
The Season is hot, the weather unpredictable, random storms leave trails of debris swirled at the roadside..
FullSizeRender_Fotor“Another Storm Cell Approaches”
.
.
Lets go climbing!?
This a term I will save for the months to come.
Apart from the one day a week to remember how to move on rock.
I do live in the Blue Mountains after all, one of the climbing meccas of Australia, be rude not to.
.
Training? YES!
A discipline I have become more familiar and experienced with in recent years.
I have continued this practice in the past two months,
pushing body & mind well beyond my previously known limits.
Starting with writing up a program to help guide me along this path was crucial for both focus & consistency.  Making adjustments along the way was key to further this development.
.
IMG_4259_FotorBLOG“Luke Campus”
.
4-5 days a week climbing specific & cross training, clean & green diet & plenty of rest!
This was to be my routine for the next 7 weeks.
.
.
IMG_4294
“Superfood Power Smoothy”
.
.
My body ached almost every day, my mind was fighting hard to stay sharp.
Week 6 was by far my hardest, having an injured Rib and Gastro did not add to the joy &
the end was not yet near.  This week was by far mentally & physically the hardest,
as training was at an all-time high, energy & mental focus was stretching thin..
How much is too much?
A mobility scooter to get around would have been great at this time…
Shuffling around and struggling with the basics was not something I was used to,
allas the week was complete & rest days upon before the final week.
.
.
LResHIT_FotorBLOG
“HIT that Thang”
.
Recovered and psyched for the last & final week I soldiered on feeling good.
Every day went well and progress was made.
The final day was here & the hardest of them all, with the last round of HIT.
Right from the word go I was at my wits end, yet progression was made through the blood, sweat & almost tears…
.
.
IMG_4407_Fotor
.
.
I was recently asked what motivates me to get out of bed at 5am and start training?
My first thought and answer was, “Because I can”.
Realising that having the means and the life to be able to do these things is a pure blessing!
My training these past months is not only for my climbing, but for my life.
So that I may tackle the challenges ahead and lend a helping hand along the way.
. . .

RRG USA

The Red River George in Kentucky, oh yeah!

IMG_4138_Fotor

“Did you hear that”?!!
“Sounds like trees falling”…
We soon where surrounded by fridge size Icicles crashing only metres from where we where climbing!
.
The middle of our trip saw temperatures plummeting well below -15 degrees Celcius.
.
“Yet we endured, so the sun could once again thaw our icy limbs”.
.Untitled
.
How could this not be a good time?
Coffee $1, Camping $2, Pizza $4..!!
Thanks to everyone at Miguel’s for the warmth, the wifi & the timeless originality of this historic and timeless campground.
.
“Every day I valued this new & exhilarating place, cherishing each and every experience in its own”.
.
.Blo
.
“Rain, Sun, Wind & Snow.
We saw it through & had it all”
.
12.
“Praise those for the journey shared,
those who laughed & those who cared”
.
IMG_4139
.
“Moments in time which we all had,
trying our hardest for that I am glad”
.
Solar Collector_Fotor
.
“Disregard none, worthy as the next one”
.
IMG_4142_Fotor
.
“Still the single effort remains.
The one that truly matters & cannot be explained”
.
Golden Touch_Fotor
.
Many Big Thanks to ALL the Amigos, especially Willis, Masel, Barber, Nat & Amanda.
To those & more that made this experience truly unique & lent a helping hand along the way.
To all the amazing places & friendly faces, that blessed us with their graces.

Autumn/Winter ‘014

{dedicated to Aunty Angelica 1953-2014}
xy

Let me start off this post by giving “thanks” to being healthy, fit and blessed with the opportunities at hand.  Having support all the way, from friends to family & some of the best brands that drive this outrageous and so very happening sport!

Much more than a sport it is indeed as the term “discipline” would be more correct.
An ongoing dedication to learning and evolving, patience & practice over its many years.
“The Master must forever remain the Student”
 .
The Past
Having returned from NZ at the beginning of Autumn, I took a week’s rest and settled back into the life in the Blue Mountains.
Full of motivation and psyche I hit the crags of the surrounding Valleys.
One crag in particular which is fresh out of the oven (well, maybe a few million years out of the oven), but only bolted in recent year’s is the Mega-Cliff of “Elphinstone“.
As this is only a personal encounter so far I asked for ease of judgement for those who have their own experiences in such a spectacular & stunning place.
First off, “top job” to all those who have given their time and effort into putting up many of these incredible lines on offer!
Second, leave the kids at home, this place is an epic all round.
A 20 metre via ferrata marks the end of each day and the total annihilation of energy reserves.
I don’t think I ever left this cliff feeling any other way.
Rad!!
Indeed Monique & I had plenty of fun out there over several months of this years Autumn.
I say this only once, compared to last years Autumn, “this year’s conditions sucked!!”
Making climbing a lot harder with very consistent humid days.
Dedicated to the cause we both Soldiered on, getting ridiculously close to our projects on a very few rare days, when a cool & dry breeze did enlighten our efforts.
As winter sneaked in only to numb our extremities,
We called it a Season!
Good times had and to be had once more, when we re-convien as the cold of winter fades into the horizon far.
 .
Blog1Logan Barber enjoying the winter Sun
.
The Now’ra
Yes thats right, for those who have not had the pleasure of experiencing this solid & compact sandstone near the southern coast of Sydney, hosting some of the countries hardest, steepest & oh so many routes in between.
Perhaps the word for this place to be used is “Nowra Strong”.
Generally short, steep & bouldery on a unique array of holds, slopers, pockets & crimps, one is sure to find a climb to suit.
A fine destination to escape the wintery chill from the Mountains, you can find this unique area just three hours drive away.
A contrast in more ways than one, Nowra has plenty of new experiences to offer.
Ignore the town & make for the suburban cliffs, coke bottles and chocolate wrappers make up a part of the scenery as you hear the kookaburra’s call at the crags overlooking bush reserves, just a stones throw away from the nearby houses.
Not to worry, most of the cliffs are overhanging so the TV’s & Fridges won’t fall directly on your head.
Plenty of free and paid Camping will suit all pockets.
Give it a go sometime, and if you get a chance check out the Berry Sourdough-Bakery for a darn tasty treat to reward or charge up for your efforts.
Really happy to be spending some time down here during the winter months, climbing lots of new routes with friends who are equally psyched.
 .
Blog3
Trying hard at Nowra
.
Future Hits
As Winter winds down Spring is just around the corner.
What will be will be & we will all have to wait and see.
Very excited indeed of the opportunities on the horizon.
One of which will be the Red River George in the US at the end of the year.
I have dreamt about this place for many a year & and super happy to be finally going there.
Many thanks to Ablaze Printing for helping to get me there and back.
 .
Blog2
Cairo Hazell having fun in the sun @ Nowra
.
Training
Due to most people not having ample time in their lives to climb outdoors five days per week, training is a good solution for those wanting to subsidise their climbing.
 .
“Training is good and will make those who are dedicated stronger.
As long as those who train find a good balance of rest to remain injury free.”
 .
This recent round of training I just completed is called HIT and was developed by the famous climbing training author Eric Hörst.  For this training and much more you can find on his website Nicros.
Thanks to Monique and Simon who have the setup for this, I was able to try this unique principle.
I recommend extreme caution and an easing into it.
This training is very intense on the whole body & requires instructions to be followed precisely.
In my final week feeling close to breaking point, I was very happy and glad to have completed it, followed by a minimum of one weeks rest.
“Constant revision and adjustment was a necessary and vital part of this undertaking”
 . 
.
Rest & Recovery
One of the most important aspects in life and climbing is rest & downtime.
It is also the number one most important aspect of getting stronger.
If not undertaken regularly injury may be a realistic end result.
Loosing psyche and motivation are also a real danger.
After my A2 pulley injury this time last year my main goal for this winter was to remain injury free, while gaining strength’s in other areas.
This I am doing through pushing my onsight climbing, here many challenges can be found & overcome through digging deep and finding out what you are truly capable of.
Training ones biggest muscle, the Brain is always a worth while undertaking.
I also subsidised my climbing though specific training such as HIT, followed by targeted recovery.
To stay on top of all this, undertaking daily stretching and active recovery i.e. cross training is essential.
Thanks to Alex Pigott-Acupunture, any arising sprains & strains where quickly taken care of.
 .
Practice, Patience & Persistence.
 .
Thanks for reading.
 .
IMG_3334-2

NZ Trip ‘014

IMG_2320_Fotor

Back to the Land down under, the land of the long white cloud, New Zealand, Aotearoa.

Being on the road again back in good old NZ with my comrades Luke & Matt. Six weeks ahead and a whole lotta adventure.

Starting in Christchurch we made our way south through some iconic and unique places, climbing, camping & exploring.
To our final destination at Milford Sound, which host some of the best rock, scenery and atmosphere anywhere on earth!!
This time mind you, I did not stay in my tent in the wild enduring many nights of the weathers rage and possum abuse.
Instead we camped in comfort at the Milford Lodge only a couple of kilometres from the crag.

 

IMG_2215-2_FotorSouthward Bound

And so, we climbed, hiked, hauled and screamed as we scaled, jumped and got air, on, in and around some of the best and most impressive sceneries imaginable.

This trip would not have been possible without the positive attitude from the team, to which morale was high and much was achieved.

 

Luke who had to leave the trip early due to starting his UNI life, most notably onsighted his first, second & third 26/7b+, some with pretty decent exposure!
Showing immense dedication he also got finger licking close so such classics as “Protoplasm” 29/8a & “No country for old Men” 29/8a.
Only to be frothing with motivation to return to these gems and much more!

Protoplasm NM 01_Fotor_FotorLuke, Stylin “Protoplasm”

 

Matt managed some ultra classics including “No country for Old Men” 29/8a, Second go send’s on both “She Devil” 28/7c+ & “Boss Combo” 28/7c+.  On our departure from Milford we stopped at Homer Tunnel where he sneaked in a morning ascent of “The Dark Arena” 29/8a on his third attempt.
Working his body and mind to the limit, he got fiercely close to the majestic line “The Giving Tree” 31/8b. This climb, once in two parts, had an anchor before the final prow crux at grade 30/8a+, which he casually frolicked his way up. None the less it is and always will be, one of many unexplainably amazing routes to return to in this region.

NoCountry_FotorLRMatt, tickling the crux on “No Country for Old Men”

 

I myself managed a couple of nice onsights of the routes  “Let there be Bolts” 28/7c+ & “Boss Combo” 28/7c+.
On my long awaited return to Little Babylon, I learned a lesson or two on the incredible “Cyrus the Great” 30/8a+.
Another line which I had good progress on and that I tried on my previous trip to NZ in 2011, one of my main goals for this trip was “Blood Meridian” 32/8b+. A super amazing climb with much variety, for sure my favourite at the grade in NZ. Taking this psyche for this particular climb, my body and mind remembered the movements like I have not experienced before and pushed me to clip the chains on my third try this trip.

Blog_FotorThe Ultra Amazing “Blood Meridian”

 

On my first ever visit that I approached the crag I witnessed the first ascent of Xena, by German young gun, Christian Muench.
The sheer epicness of this 30+ metre monster with its ever rising angle and smooth bulges has been etched in my mind since & I had hoped one day to be able to attempt it…
After competing Blood Meridian and having some time to spare, I started trying this beautiful line.

Noting that Xena is the extension from the half way anchor to Hercules 8a, here also three other routes end and carry on in a weave of awesomeness.
I tried Xena from a much easier start of ITP to get a feel for the moves and understanding of the line.
Pulling the Xena roof, you’re confronted by a sudden decrease of holds that get worse with each move, a right foot smear at hand height is followed by moving your right hand into a tiny undercling pinch above your head whilst grappling with a rather laughable left hand sloper. All this whilst maintaining tension and twisting upwards to try and get back into a standing stance on the final head wall.
Each time I attempted this sequence my body was screaming “NOOOOOO” and I could only have one attempt per session due to its intensity. A serious undertaking just to figure out these moves with still the rest of the crux to go.

“WOW”…. Now putting it all together I threw all my eggs into one basket & just to add my own touch to this majestic place I started Xena up its neighbour route “No Country for Old Men” at the same grade, as this is one of my all time favourite climbs in the world, perhaps this was a large contributor to finding success.
Having to put all my climbing strategies to good use for this line, rests, attempts, motivation, understanding and no expectations, just being thankful to be in such an incredible place and being able to try such a stunning route.

Second day on & feeling a little weary from the previous day.
First attempt in average conditions my heel almost popped mid crux followed by a hand slip, I somehow managed to hold on, re-adjust, squeeze just a little harder.  Keeping my head cool for the final slab-alicious finish I clipped the chains on the 04/03/2014.

The first ascent-alternate start & to my knowledge the second ascent of Xena, calling it within the Little Babylon fashion I named this line “Spartacus” 33/8c.

SpartacusHR2_FotorSpartacus is Born

 

I have been deeply humbled by my time here and I give thanks to all that I was able to experience throughout the highs and the lows.

A big thanks to all who where a part of this trip and made it happen.
Those who helped with accommodation, gear, psyche, filming and so much more.

Footage of all our climbs & more will be released in the coming months.
Stay tuned..

IMG_2508_Fotor

 


Spring ‘013

DCIM100MEDIA
.
.
.
The season of fire, and yet we remain in this vast wilderness to endure what is to come!
 .
AnnaliseW1
.
An intense time for many who have fought, survived and lost almost all they had.
Many thanks to those who braved the flames so we could sleep at night.
 …
.
For my previous A2 pulley injury which is healing exceptionally well, I give a big thanks to Alex Piggot for providing excellent Acupuncture Therapy and expert advice.
.
1
 Pinky Training
.
I continue to marvel at the sheer beauty and wonder of this majestic place.
Spending time over the last months sharing many great days out on the crags with great company both local and international.
.
4
Luke Hansen rocking his way up “Don’t Believe the Tripe” 8a
.
.
2
Visiting Climber Alex Megos snatches the first ascent of Australia’s hardest sport route,
“Retired Extremely Dangerous” 9a
.
.
I managed to do some great recovery climbing during spring which also include several repeats of some of my hardest routes.
A new Link at Wave Wall which I envisioned came true following a super stellar line, “The 50 Year Storm”, video coming soon…
.
3
“The 50 Year Storm”
.
Also heading out to crags I have not been to before & enjoying some great onsight’s.
.
Spring Tick List
Repeats:
8b+ Search & Destroy, repeat x 2
8a+  Microwave, repeat x 4
8a     Don’t Believe the Tripe
 .
New Routes:
8b+ The 50 Year Storm
8a+ Tripe
7c+ Touch and Go, onsight
7c+ Gushing Gargoyles, onsight
7c+ Bumbalong Road, onsight
7c    Autophagocytosis, onsight
7c    Event Horizon, onsight
 .5
Matt Burnett warming up on the “5 minute Vunder-board” at Elfinstein
.
.
Summer is here…

IMG_1774_Fotor

Winter ‘013

Blue Mountains.

SHB

.
And what a season it has been.
Autumn was pretty surreal with days on end of great conditions!
The start of winter not quite the same, but no complaints either way.
As the temps kept dropping the conditions only got better….
To the point where one had to dedicate extra efforts at maintaining warmth.
Puffer Jackets, snowgloves, thermals, hot cups of tea and more.
Only the dedicated would venture out into the winter freeze of the mountains.
.
Taking also several trips to the much warmer lowlands of the city,
we would frequently venture out into the suburbs to sample some fine sandstone boulders.
It just so happened to be rather warm and often humid, which made it far from ideal.
None the less it gave a great perspective on the many possibilities & more ventures will be undertaken!
.
As winter cracked on in the mountains, climbing in the sun (usually an unspeakable act) was not only absolutely pleasant,
but also totally the best thing ever!!
Like a kid discovering ice cream we lapped it up!
One of the highlights was to send the uber awesome classic, short & bouldery  “Alpha Leather” 32/8b+.
.
Alpha Blog
“Alpha Leather”
.
After Wiz’es rained out return from the grampians he also made short work of another super classic “Better Than Life” 32/8b+.
In anything but ideal conditions he clawed his way up this little 10 metre pocketed beast. Top effort!!
BetterThanLifeHighRes_Fotor-2
“Better Than Life”
.
Now spending more time at Shipley soaking up the rays in brutally good conditions, in one day I finally managed to send as a warm up  “Equaliser” 29/8a, “Fabricator” 29/8a 2nd go & topping the day of with another fine line “Cagney & Lacey” 30/8a+ second go. Super day out!
.
The very next day I awoke with a slightly sore middle finger.
Never mind as this was not the first time, upwards and onwards…..
Another week past and end of the day lap in the sun once more, now tired and sore.
When suddenly out of nowhere “POP” loud and clear as Wiz asked “What de hell was dat”….
 A2
The famous “A2”
.
After 6 weeks of slab climbing, alternate home training, acupuncture & much more, the partial tear in my A2 pulley is well on the road to recovery & feeling better once more!
 .Pinky Lever!
.
Spring is here…