Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Climbing and Walking Blue mnts

0: Gil the Quebecois, Marie, Me (not a very good shot of me!)
1: Rowan on the slackline
2,3,4 : Views of bridal Falls and track

Monday 8 dec

Walk down to foot of Bridal Veil Falls, from Govett’s leap parking.
Awesome fall, lots of moss on the cliff walls, very nicely built track down the cliff.

I do a bit of scrambling on boulders at thee base of the falls. Then Run/walk back up.
Shop at Katoomba, meet up with S&R and do “slacklining” with them in a park (see photo above). Rowan has awesome balance. I can only hold on 2 seconds or so.

Camp at the top of Shipley’s cliffs, and see S&R’s campsite just along a track.

Tue 9 Dec

At 730am, do Yoga, stretching and pushups with S&R. These guys are only just out of high school and are truly dedicated climbers. I’m impressed. Later I watch them climb like insects on hard overhanging routes.
Rowan explains how he learnt about “supermarket dumpster diving” at Arapiles. Climbers from all over the world camp for 2$ per nite at Arapiles, and climb for up to a month, with expensive gear (where their money goes). This is the Australian equivalent of “Camp 5” at Yosemite, USA – where climbers in the 60s and 70s pioneered “big wall” climbs where one uses etriers and such on mirror –like cliffs.
Several of these climbers went on to manufacture climbing equipment, which is now used worldwide.

So Rowan and others in the Katoomba area go to the Coles supermarket dumpsters and pull out intact packages of spaghetti, bread etc, which are past thier due-by dates.
They can thus climb for weeks on very little money.
It’s funny to see his state-of the art tent and headtorch etc. Reminds me of what was said of the famous French sailor Eric Tabarly - that he used the same old piece of soap for months, that he would pick up a discarded pair of shorts at the marina and re-use it. This was a man who was one of the best sailors in the world, winning world cup races with his uranium-keeled yacht “Pen Duick IV” . He had the money to have the best yacht because he was so thrifty in other areas….

A lesson for us all – find out what you really want to do and focus on that. Don't waste energy keeping up with the Jones... The social pressure to keep up appearances is there, but is it really worth the effort in trying to please others ?

Is authenticity not a better option for all - authentic climbing hobos ; authentic white collar yuppies who value luxury above all; authentic businessmen who provide products, make money and create jobs (give me a break with "corporate responsibility" ahhhhg ), authentic tough cops (not nanny-state PC enforcers) etc.

I climb my first Blue mnts climbs with Gil. I lead an “18” , then Gil does a “19”, which I top-rope, with difficulty. The edges of the rock are sharp, and I’m out of practice at climbing at this level.

We stop at lunch. Evening: I run along the track overlooking the Grose Valley – sun setting on red cliff-faces.

Wed 10 Dec. 08

Climb with Ricky, whom I met thru Marie. At Bordsen’s lookout. Short climbs which get my forearms pumped. I take a fall towards the top of one – about 5m. the rope and belay device does it’s job and I come to a stop. Scary, but as Ricky says – it gets it out of your system. Fear of falling makes one climb less well, and in sports climbing, falls are usually anodyne (except when there is a ledge underneath).

On another I almost fall and get quite uncomfortable desperately hanging on in a difficult overhung posn. , trying to clip onto the anchor at the top of the climb. I finally manage to secure myself. A lot of mind games in sports climbing. Prefer mountaineering with it’s easier routes , resting places , great views and mixed ice/rock terrain. But sports rock climbing is fun in itself , not just training for “trad” routes or mountaineering. It’s just that you get scared when you are pushing the envelope of your skills (even though you are usually safe). Even Pros get scared when at the limit of their abilities.

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