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. 

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