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Friday, June 01, 2007

A re-introduction to the Blue Moutains and a stray doggie

Back in the Blue Mtns. Oh yeahhhhh :)

O.k., so the first night back wasn't ideal (it rained and gale force winds) but the wet weather cleared as quickly as our car drove (slowly but it got there) and the wind, well we could deal with that.

The climbing here? Once again, it's sandstone, but here it's mostly bolted and it's crimpy (type of hold involving having to have a joint on fingers bent at 90 degrees). It's also very bouldery (meaning pretty straight-forward, easy, climbing intersperced with sections of really small, really hard, holds that absolutely destroys skin). Meaning I'm going to get my ass kicked due to my lack of training recently :) excellent!
The Blue Mountains is about an hour and a half from Sydney, and is essentially the sports climbing capital of Australia. It's essentially a long ridge at about 1100metres with all the climbing areas down either side of the ridge line. This place is a hugely popular destination for tourists, walkers, bikers, paragliders, you name it.
In relation to climbing, ethics are emmmm, different, here (and I'll write more on those later)!

The first day was a brief re-introduction to the style of the location so some climbing on the infamous carrot bolts (bizarre) and completing some of the more historic, easy, climbs. They're hard as always, something about the older=style routes that they always feel harder than they should. Respect to the people who climbed these back in the 70's. Due to our jet-laggedness after 14 hours in the car the day before, we were all a little sluggish so not a lot was done. The alpine-temperature wind didn't help of course!

After this, the hard work was to begin however. I hitched up with Ryan, our old sidekick from the climbing trail, and we were off to one of the newer locations, known as The Egg. God knows why it's called that, but what a location! A 25 minute walk out along a ridge and dropping off the cliff left us standing on a 5 metre deep ledge and about 100 metres above the cliff floor. As the sun spun around onto our location it left us drooling on a perfect-orange, pristine bank of rock. In front of us, a cloud inversion that slowly lifted to reveal miles and miles of forestry. Pretty spectacular, and in usual bad luck, I forgot my camera. Doh!

anyway, some 7a and 7a+ warm-ups (there's nothing easier here) meant that we were straight onto the hard work. Ryan had some business to complete on a route he'd tried previously. My aim was a some more routes to get me into the style here. amusingly, Ryan got his route pretty quickly, I fell off the 3rd last hold on my first attempt, and then never got the route :) My power levels aren't sustained for very long these days. Grade of about 7b+, I'll have to go back again........
We also bumped into some locals, one of whom had completed a famous route in Australia. It's called “Welcome to Barbados”, and it's a 50 metre horizontal roof on traditional gear (meaning no bolts)! awesome!!!!

Of course, I should mention that this was the same day we ended up adopting Shiver, the dog. After leaving the campsite that morning, and returning that evening to find him waiting for us, we felt obliged to look after him :)

On an ethics note, in the words of one of the active locals: “anything goes except chipping!”. That means you can rip off blocks, drill, and 'comfortise' holds. To everyone who's never heard this word before (probably 99.9% of the world), this means smoothing off holds to make them more comfortable to hold! The rock here destroys skin so they modify the sharper ones...... In my eyes, the jury is out a little on this one. I'm all for not destroying natural environments, but that's just me.