Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Change is in the Air

The last month has been wonderful. I've made a big change in my life in that I've transitioned from Edelrid and Vaude across to La Sportiva, Wild Country, DMM and Roca. Outward Ventures has been very kind to me in the past, thanks to Tristan at Vertigo Gear. I'll be writing in my new blog: Full Psyche Ahead from here forth.

Tristan, I want to thank you so much for having provided me with all the opportunities that you have, if it weren't for you I don't know if I could have gotten to where I am now.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hectic Hectic

It's been ages since I've put words on a page. Since my last post I've gotten a job and been really busy, not to mention blogger is blocked at the office so I can't do any writing there. It's also been a little frustrating that I have no photos from recent times so it has been a bit of a hindrance.

I've been spread pretty thin between work and climbing so time has been extremely limited for things like writing so let me see, what has happened recently? Rodan is coming along, slow but steady. I've been struggling to find partners to allow me to be able to make trips every weekend. As a result it's taking a little longer than I thought it would, but it is really hard and the fitness levels for it are hard to reach whilst training on a bouldering wall. I'll get there.As far as hard climbing goes, I repeated Stormwatch (8b) as training, skipping the rest I usually need. I climbed Axewound (8b) at WigWam which is very fun and has an awesome heel hook. I recently did Death By Chocolate (8a+) in an afternoon, first time I'd done an 8a+ in a day. I did an eliminate version of Fossil Fuel to exclude the kneebar from the beginning of the route to make it a little more pumpy. I did the second ascent of a new bouldery 8a at Chosspile called Bio Diesel. Did three 8a's in a day at Wigwam, big personal accomplishment there!

As far as some of the easier climbing and some of the more personal things that have happened, I did some coaching down in Harrismith and Swinburne in March and managed to do a couple of the 7c and 7c+ lines in the area. Andrew has a really cool 8b+ish open project in Swinburne that is going to be insane to actually do. The crux is a massive move to a mono and then a deadpoint to a crimp afterward. Really immaculate rock for the area though, a gem of note but not inspiring enough to make me want to drive down there for consecutive weekends.

Evan Margetts shot a cool vid of me on Just Behrly (7c+) in Boven. This thing has some of the worst holds I've ever used. Fun climbing though

Work has been amazing. I've been inspired whilst there and working up to 60hrs a week or more on occasion which a really fine by me, so long as I'm having a good time and smiling. Nielsen is an awesome company and an amazing culture into which I have been able to comfortably integrate.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A couple days on the road

The past few weeks have been wicked! Blouberg, Magaliesberg, Boven. Need I say any more?
The best crag on earth: God No! Wall
Managed to wrap up a few lines in Cedarberg kloof that I had been wanting to do for ages. Cruised up Eliminator (7b+) second try, did Black Karma (7a+) and onsighted a very scary Fly On The Wall (7a+). Got super close to doing Twilight Floozy (8a) but unfortunately my skin didn't hold out and I'll have to head back for it. Dynos are usually not my thing but I'm loving the two move 8a which is Twilight Floozy.

I got back from Magaliesberg on Sunday night and started looking for the next thing to do... Alex and I were going to head to Kranskloof for two days but plans changed last second and a day later I found myself in Boven with Julian and Alex. I got down to business and put my draws up on Rodan. I have been pushing hard on it and sorted out my beta, which is completely different from anyone else. I'm really psyched. I managed to do the 8b+ link yesterday which is linking from below the crux to the chains... Seems like it is only a matter of time now till that will be done.
God No! Wall
Today I found myself back on Boa Rodeo (8a+) and found that it is indeed possible when it is dry. I fell off in the last move of the crux from the ground, got back on and did the rest of the route. Great stuff. SUPER PSYCHED... I think I need two more tries and I'll bag it.

Climbing amazing lines lines the ones in Magaliesberg and Boven make me thankful to have my DMM and Wildcountry trad gear. I have nothing but positive things to say about the Dragons, Heliums and Zeros, ESPECIALLY THE ZEROS! I have used every little cam on the market and the Zeros are phenomenal!! Thank you so much to Rob at Outward Ventures for the ongoing support. You guys have made a difference in my career. I may not be one of your official athletes but I certainly appreciate the trouble you guys went through to help make my dreams of being a successful trad climber possible...
The view from above Boa Rodeo
Check out the pics...

Getting my tape gloves on!!

Setting off on Boa Rodeo

Boa Rodeo... Steep?

Half way through the first hard move


Fiddly little nuts!

Monday, January 7, 2013

101 Days of Rock

The last 6 weeks have been brilliant. I've managed to split my time between sport climbing and trad climbing. A portion of my time has been spent staying semi-local climbing at Bronkies, Chosspile, Fern, Narrow and Mhalabatini and then of course there have been trips to Boven and Blouberg.

From the onset of the year I had the goal of doing 100 days on rock and on December 26 I accomplished my objective. In total I did 101 days on rock this year while working a full-time job. I'm really happy about this. Particularly since I lost a full 20 days this year to injury between my fall and my snake bite

The best parts of the last 6 weeks, hmmm, so many things happened. Let's start at the beginning and work forward. 

Over the weekend of the 25th of November we were in Boven. I wanted to try something different so I put the draws up on Welcome to Ovamboland. Andrew initially opened it at 8a+ but upgraded it to 8b after Flex's battle with it. I found some slightly improved beta on Andrew's original sequence and sent the line in 6 tries over the weekend. I probably would have done it sooner but I was fighting my own battle with the weather on the Saturday which resulted in very slimy slopers. This is the fastest I've ever done a 31 and the fact that it was a bouldery 31 was even more amazing to me. I was up on a cloud the whole trip home.

My next weekend was also a fight with the weather but this time it was in Mhalabatini. I quickly wrapped up Glory Road (7a+) when we got there and then tried Rivers of Rain (7b+) but got spat off. I need to get back there with a little more confidence (which I have now). I easily onsighted The Final Cut (7a+) which was my first 25 trad onsight. Another reason to be on a high.

The next weekend found me at Narrow on the Saturday trying my project again. It could be as hard as 8b+ due to the bouldery nature of the start and the extremely thin slab after the boulder problem. All I can say is it is F(*&^@*% hard. The traverse afterward is not trivial either but at least Andrew found some beta to help it ease off at the end.

8 days of Boven followed... I split my time between Boa Rodeo (8a+) which is a beautiful five star trad climb down at the Junkyard. Evan Margetts was kind enough to spend a few days belaying me on the line. It was wet though so I eventually had to make a plan to dry it. With enough tampons in the cracks I was able to dry it out and link the crux moves together. Then, the night before I should have sent, it rained for three hours. And that was all she wrote.
Above the Junkyard

Boa Rodeo!!! WOOOOHOOOO!!!!

Do I look tired? I think so!

Pulling the rope for another attempt

Packing up after a hard week

The gear for Boa Rodeo

At the base of Boa Rodeo

I also repeated Snapdragon first try and tried out Frazzle (33+-) I couldn't do one of the moves on Frazzle but I linked the rest of the route. I'm really hoping to be able to do it with some focused training. I need to build up my lock off strength and grow an inch but I can make it happen. I have no idea how Paul opened that beast of a climb at 31 :-P He too is a beast.

I spent some more time on Rodan too. Found some new beta that is a variation of Andrew's original beta. It involves hiking my feet up really high from the double undercling to reach through the crux with my right hand. I fell off of this move on red point on my last day on Boven. In fact, every try I had on Rodan this trip was a new high point... 5 tries, 5 high points. Pretty cool. I don't think I'm going to send it next try or even trip but I definitely think I'm getting close.

After I got back from Boven my mom came to visit. I had a few days that I had to wrap up to get my 100 days so I climbed at Chosspile (repeated Fossil Fuel easily), then at Bronkies (did the second ascent of Black Pearl which had to be downgraded to 26), then Bronkies again (onsighted Silence of the Lambs, 25, and tried David's project Red Dragon, should be 30) and finally Chosspile again (Violent Streak but had bad conditions so not much progress).

Here is a present from Vertigo Gear!! New biners and trad ropes!!! Woohoo!!!

And that was 101 days on rock....

Kicking off the new year was a trip to Blouberg with Andrew Porter... He and I had been talking about heading up there for a while and I'd had my fingers crossed to do some of the hardest pitches on the wall. We drove through on the Thursday afternoon and started the hike just before dark. Two and a half hours later found us up at the cave, tired but not taxed.

4am and we were awake. We were on the wall 1.5hrs later where Andrew gardened his way up the first pitch of Wow Fuck which we both thought to be a 17 but somehow misread the route guide. It was actually a 17m long 21. Oh well. I tried to onsight the crux pitch next which is about 27. I dorked it when I stepped my wrong foot on the big hold and barn-doored off. Oh well. I worked out the beta after that and clipped the two bolts. I figured out the crux dyno in the next few minutes, finished the pitch, lowered off and tried it again. I caught the hold but when I re-adjusted I fell. Lowered again, tied back in and sent a minute or two later. Fun times. Perhaps the first free ascent of the pitch but I am still looking for confirmation of this.

Porter and I were starting to be a little concerned about time so we decided to follow WF to the top. This plan lasted another two pitches till the grassy ledge where Andrew pointed out that WF breaks right, under the roof. I wasn't impressed. He suggested was try to blast straight up. The result was a first ascent of the Insanity Roof (7a) which I onsighted. Certainly is interesting to do a first ascent on Blouberg; you never know quite what is coming next. Fortunately only small rocks came down and none of the loose-looking blocks were actually loose. Andrew opened a 22 pitch after my roof pitch. There is still room to go straight up instead of moving into the corner though so that is a project for next time.

Andrew onsighted the Knife-blade pitch (23) of Hector's Blue Moon route and then we topped out shortly after 6pm. The hike through the maze wasn't too bad and dinner was fantastic! Pasta and meatballs! Yummy! When the alarm went off at 4, neither of us wanted to get up. Plus it was really foggy so we were worried the rock was wet. We were very grateful for the rest day. It stayed foggy all day but around 3 we headed over to Avalon (26) and I went for the onsight. Didn't get it though due to a lichen infestation but once I sorted it out it went down effortlessly second try. I wasn't aware of the 28 variation till we had already cleaned it so that will have to be for another trip.

2am and we were up. 4am Andrew set off up the first pitch of Moonshadow. We were on the ledge before 6 and moved into Blue Moon. Andrew led the corner and I led the next three pitches. The wandering 20 pitch was a journey, the Legoland pitch (25) was easy without a heavy pack on my back (brilliant fun) and the knife-blade pitch was fun and games. Andrew did the 21 pitch above and we summited at 13:20. A great day out. We were back at the car around 5 and home by 10. What a trip!

Staring up at the crux of Wow Fuck (27)

Going for the onsight FA of Insanity Roof... Note the two micro cams I've placed in the roof!

The crux of the Insanity Roof

Finishing off the corner pitch on Blue Moon

The wandering 20 on Blue Moon

Setting off on the Legoland Pitch (25)

The knife-blade pitch (23)

Next time I'm there I need to chop the bolts on WF... It will use a purple Dragon to protect the dyno and will be perfectly safe. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Full speed ahead

I've been really busy recently. For some reason that seems to be the ultimate excuse to not write something. It's between that excuse and the lack of photos. Fortunately I actually have some pics this time around.

I'm happy to report that my hand is back to normal, in fact the 10 days of rest may have been good for the system. Can't think of the last time I took that many rest days, maybe back when I had that horrific fall. In fact that was also exactly 10 days off.

The first weekend back from my snake bite I spent at the Narrow and Fernkloof. I whipped out the drill and put up a sick new line that starts off the first three bolts of the Bass Hunter project and then traverses to the chains of the Wide Games project.

While I was up there I snapped these pics...
Andrew on the Wide Games project (8b+?)

Illona having quite a laugh

Hey, look, it's me! 

The next weekend found me in Boven... I wasn't feeling great so I did Tokolosie (8a). It took me a go or two to figure out the beta. Really cool climb. Right as I was about to send an inch-long grasshopper flew into my ear and decided to make itself at home. CREEPY!!! Nothing like a bug scratching on your eardrum to ruin your day. After 15 minutes we figured we should fill up my ear with water and drown the bug. Luckily we were able to scrounge up a pair of tweezers and viola! Cured!

The culprit, legless after we pulled them off while it was still in my ear!

What a horrible sensation. BUT WAIT... The day was not over yet. Not even 30 minutes later I'm walking from Jack of all Trade over to Beast and I nearly step on a snake, the thing tried to bite me and I shrieked like a girl at the top of my lungs! I think I freaked out half the people at the crag. Nature is out to get me!!

Sent Tokolosie pretty easily, the next day, after I recovered from the events of Saturday.

This past weekend was better at least :) Got back to the Narrow with Andrew on Saturday and went up my project a few times!! Awesome!! Seems to be 7C boulder into a tricky traverse where you get a bit of a shake. Then there is a tough problem on small holds, wouldn't like to speculate the grade of this three bolt boulder problem. After that are three bolts of really good jugs with really bad feet which brings you to the last boulder problem which I could not figure out. If I'd have to guess, the route should be 8a+/b somewhere around there.

Coming up this weekend: BOVEN!!!