Week 1 – Arrival…
I arrived in Australia after 24 hours of travelling feeling pretty spaced out and absolutely knackered. My journey consisted of flying from London via Paris and Guangzhou to Sydney. It was pretty full on. Anyway, I woke up the next day feeling slightly better and got myself some breakfast before checking out one of the local climbing gyms in St Peters. I was staying in a great little hostel in Newtown called Billabong Gardens. Newtown is a brilliant spot to be as there are plenty of shops/supermarkets/bars/restaurants/cinema’s - loaaads!!!!
After a couple days I met up with some great people inlcuding Amy Wilson, Matt Adams and Bill Hatcher who were really helpful and gave me plenty of contacts for my stay.
Yesterday, I headed to the Villawood Climbing Gym to meet up with Carlie and Rob and to have a training session to loosen up. It is a fantastic wall with plenty of routes and boulder problems to go at across all grades.
I then headed back with them out of the city to their place in Falconbridge, close to the Blue Mountains. Today, I am resting as it was a pretty full on session the night before…..my body is feeling all beat up! Next stop…..Blue Mountains ;)
Week 2 - Into the Blue Mountains…
After a couple of rest days I felt ready to climb again. I hopped on the train from Carlie and Rob’s place and 30 minutes later was in Katoomba. Here I met up with a local climber, Matt Norgrove, and together we headed out to one of the newer crags in the Blue Mountains called Elphinstone. There was a large group of people at the crag that day so the psyche was high. I started with a route called ‘Tiger Snatch’ (29/8a) which climbs up an impressive orange coloured wall. There were some super gymnastic moves between good natural breaks. I managed to send this on my 2nd attempt which got the ball rolling.
Next up was a climb called ‘Green Grass’ (29/8a). This is by far one of the best lines I have ever seen. A few guys had been trying the route that day so I was encouraged to go for the flash. This went pretty well for me and before I knew it I was resting after the crux moves with another 10 metres to go on slightly easier ground. I managed to dig deep and complete the flash. It was a great feeling clipping the chains; a 5 star route ;o). Then we headed home after a great first day of climbing.
The next day Matt decided to take me to a crag called Barden’s Lookout. It was pretty hot and sweaty but in the shade, so it was still possible to climb. I got ready and went for a route called ‘The way of all flesh’ (28/7c+). After some goes at the hard boulder start, I climbed through to the top. Another fantastic route!!!
Then I had a quick go at Bloodline (8b/+) to the right, but felt pretty beasted by then to have any chance of climbing it. Next time maybe ;o)
We woke early raring to go. The previous night a friend of Matt’s called Gavin had come up for the weekend to climb in the mountains. We had planned to check out a crag called ’Red Ledge’. It’s another amazing piece of rock with a range set of routes. It has a slightly longer walk in - about 45 minutes - but pretty flat ground the whole way. We arrived early in the morning becasue the sun hits this crag in the afternoon. Matt got warmed up on a climb called ‘Andys 24’ (7a+). I then followed and Gavin gave it a few good shots although I think he had previously climbed it sometime before. Matt then told me to try ‘Bloodshot’ (30/8a+), which he had climbed already. It was well chalked up and again climbed up an amazing, bright orange wall. I had a go at the onsight, but didn’t get very far. It had three obvious cruxes which all felt pretty tough to me. However, after working out the beta I made it to the top on my second attempt which was cool. Another five star line!
We made the long walk back in full sun and 30°C and decided to finish the day with a session at the boulder gym in Blackheath. This is by far the best training gym I have ever used ;o). Totally psyched!!
After three solid days of climbing, I started to feel pretty tired, but was just too psyched and I didn’t want to rest. Matt had some work on so I got dropped off in Blackheath, met up with Rob and Carlie and headed to another crag called ‘Centennial Glen’. This sector was just unbelievable. There were so many good looking climbs that I just didn’t know where to start. I warmed up on a tough route called ‘Padington’ (25/7b) and then belayed Carlie on a route called ‘August 1914’ (29/8a). This had a very hard bouldery start with some big moves. She worked out the beta, but decided to back off and save some skin. I was next in line, and decided to try the flash. I sketched my way through the start and found myself shaking out with a dodgey knee-bar rest before finishing up even more crimpy moves to some final jugs. I was pretty happy with this flash!!! I then finished off the day by onsighting a couple of great routes ‘Trix Roughly’ (26/7b+) and ‘Madge Macdonald’ (23/7a). We all headed home feeling pretty wasted.
I woke up after a nice rest day feeling good and with a little more skin. Got the train early and met Matt again and headed back to Elphinstone. Matt wanted to finish off ‘Green Grass’ (29/8a) and I wanted to check out the moves on ‘Tiger Cat’ (33/8c). We both warmed up and I gave Matt a belay on ‘Green Grass’. He came so close to sticking the last move on the crux. He was feeling pretty psyched with his efforts as it had been about six months since he lasted climbed due to an injury! Great effort mate! He has only been climbing for four years and has managed to climb a handful of 8c’s in that time. Strong bugga!
I got on ‘Tiger Cat’ and managed to do all the moves pretty quickly. On the second redpoint I fell off high up on the last few tricky crimpy moves damn it! We then watched Quentin (a strong French climber) breeze up Tiger Cat and saw Lee succeed with another (8b+ or 8c) first ascent to the right. What a day! We finished feeling very happy with our efforts and decided to come back here the next day.
Elphinstone again. Warmed up!!! Matt totally beasted ‘Green Grass’ clipping the chains with ease. Nice job!! Meanwhile, I had a couple more goes at ‘Tiger Cat’, but kept falling from the same move high up going for a right hand slot from a tiny left hand crimp. Anyway I manage to compose myself and have one last effort and this time I stuck the move and climbed to the top. It was a bloody great feeling ticking this route. It’s one of the best climbing experiences I have ever had. Great effort to Lee Cossey for the first ascent! Another rest day calling………..