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#4 SUMMER 2013 AU/NZ

#4 SUMMER 2013 AU/NZ



Andrea Hah, Ozymandias Free , Mt Buffalo.

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SUMMER 2013 VISIT US ONLINE Instagram @verticalifemag
Rockclimbing and other activities described in this magazine can carry significant risk of injury or death. Undertake any rockclimbing or other outdoors activity only with proper instruction, supervision, equipment and training. The publisher and its servants and agents have taken all reasonable care to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication and the expertise of its writers. Any reader attempting any of the activities described in this publication does so at their own risk. Neither the publisher nor any of its servants or agents will be held liable for any loss or injury or damage resulting from any attempt to perform any of the activities described in this publication. All descriptive and visual directions are a general guide only and not to be used as a sole source of information. Happy climbing.

Vertical Life is published quarterly Winter / Spring / Summer / Autumn Editorial correspondence 2/20 Donald St, Brunswick, Victoria, 3032 Telephone 0417 295 495 Founders Simon Madden + Ross Taylor + Patrick Kinsella + Chris Ord + Terry Wogan + Heidi & Peter Hibberd Publishers Adventure Types Unit 2, 20 Donald St, Brunswick, Victoria 3032 AU Editors or Simon Madden + Ross Taylor

Design Jess van de Vlierd Chief China correspondent + Training Guru Duncan Brown Senior contributors Steve Kelly, Andrea Hah, Michael Meadows, Duncan Brown Contributing writers Doug McConnell, John Horan, Ben Buckland, Tracey Skinner, Pete ODonovan, Nic Learmonth, Chris Firth, Doctor Imovane Gonzo, Gareth Llewellin, JJObrien Coffee consultant Johan von Shag Photography Doug McConnell, Gly Hudson, Simon Madden, Tom Hoyle, Ross Taylor, Josh Grose, Simon Mentz, Mick Wells, Stuart Beekmeyer, John Horan, Adam Long, Rohan Kilham, Pete ODonovan, Rich Crowder, Brett Williams, Marek Chilinski, Viviane Monteiro, Royce Ferguson, Steve Kelly, Chris Firth, Neill Lamb, Brisbane Bushwalkers Collection, Doctor Imovane Gonzo, Adam Demmert, Lee Cossey, Gareth Llewellin, Silke Weber, Rob Taylor Video Gareth Llewellin

Cover Image In the interests of saving weight Lee Cossey climbed pitch six of his new route Free Reign (28) at Mt Buffalo in tiny, blue silk boxer shorts. Apparently they feel quite lovely too Doug McConnell Contents image Will Bartlett finding Mirage (7c+/28) is the stuff climbing dreams are made of, Ceuse, France, Glyn Hudson Credits image Rich Ham high above the boat on the stunning rock of Thailands best 6c+/22 New Speedway Boogie, Grateful Wall, Koh Yao Noi, Simon Madden Foundation Supporters Climbing Anchors Expedition Equipment Frontier Scotty Dog Resoles Sea to Summit Spelean The North Face

NZ Editor Tom Hoyle Associate Editors Pat Kinsella + Chris Ord Advertising Adrian Bortingon

10. OZ EDITORIAL Rites of Passage by Simon Madden and Ross Taylor 12. NZ EDITORIAL by Tom Hoyle

24. FEATURE Beauty and Despair in the Darran Mountains by Tom Hoyle

68. COLUMN One Move Wonder by Steve Kelly 70. FOLIO On the Road by Chris Firth 80. REPORTAGE Gonzo Does Australia by Doctor Imovane Gonzo 84 HAPPENINGS Buffalo Soldier by Doug McConnell

92. THE CAFFEINATOR Sourdough Bakery

We review the Berry

Like a Red Flag to a Bull

34. FEATURE John Horan

Bugging Out in the Bugs by Espaa en el Corazn


98. OBITUARY Eddie Rawlins by Tracey Skinner

14. FOLIO Eau Rouge


Andrea Hah on Pure Motivations

42. PHOTO FEATURE by Pete ODonovan


Reg Williams by Ross Taylor

18. PROFILE Tom Hoyle speaks to Wiz Fineron

22. INTERVIEW Vertical Life speaks to urban climbing wall designer and advocate, Stuart Beekmeyer

52. FEATURE INTERVIEW Nic Learmonth speaks to Mayan Smith-Gobat about Punks in the Gym
60. FEATURE The Magic Beyond the Wood by Ben Buckland

FOOLSCAP JJObrien 102.

88. TRAINING Get Fit to Travel, Dont Travel to Get Fit by Duncan Brown
91. SPOTLIGHT Fredericks Peak Gareth Llewellin checks out

Master Blaster (24) is a classic rite of passage for any aspiring crack masters at Ben Lomond in Tasmania; Jake Bresnehan steps up to the plate, and passes with flying colours. Ross Taylor

Editors note AU

Memory may be a fickle, unstable landscape but some monuments on its surface are so powerful they remain recognisable forever; every climber remembers their first climb that initial disorienting, fumbling journey into the vertical realm. It is our first rite of passage, an experience that is often marked, and marks us, with intense emotions, and it is an experience that unites the tribe as much as it divides society it leaves you either a climber or not a climber. The thing about the world carved out by climbers though is that it is an unstructured one. There is no team, no dictatorial central planning committee or corrupt governing body, indeed, in many ways climbing is seen as an act of rebellion against these institutions or, at least we like to think it is. Not only this, but climbers are a diverse bunch: woman and man, old and young, crusher and bumbly, hex sinker and bolt clipper, big mountain sufferer and pebble wrestler, weekend warrior and dirtbag lifestyler. This loose and eclectic confederation means there is no one gold standard rite of passage, rather there are multitude rites of passage, each tailored to meet the specific needs of the individual and their

clique. They can be formal or informal, institutional or tribal, orchestrated or serendipitous. Sometimes rites of passage are very simple mechanistic things leading your first route, taking your first whipper on the sharp end, or rigging your first belay. Some are more physical ticking your first 8a, doing the red problem in the corner of the gym or cranking out your first one-armer. Still other times they may be more psychologically complicated, such as when you take the baton from your climbing mentor by surpassing them in skill, courage or competence in a now-I-am-the-master-and-you-are-the-student moment. To us, this variety reflects the rich tapestry of climbing. Perhaps it also reflects the tectonic friction between different subsets of our sport; a boulderers rite of passage seems ridiculous to the alpinist, just as the alpinists is incomprehensible to the comfortloving sport climber. But it also begs an important question: given that climbers rites of passage are so varied, what are we being inducted into?

Well, perhaps we need to go back to that first climb, afterall it is the common thread that runs through all our climbing lives. Leaving the ground that first time, full of trepidation and uncertainty, the rock is a mystery we must meet with courage, determination and imagination, and when we do the rewards can be magnificent, transcendent even. Once we as initiates emerge through the other side, we earn the acceptance of our peers and the right to call ourselves climbers. In a way the myths and stories of climbing become ours. At its heart climbing is struggle, it never gets easier and even the best fail repeatedly (perhaps even more than the rest of us), there is always something harder, something bolder, something more meaningful, a new rite of passage waiting that we imagine as a farther frontier. When we first step foot upon the rock we become a climber but with each new rite of passage, each new milestone, we redefine what it is we see as the definitive test of ourselves, and we keep pushing ourselves and others against these barriers to see if we pass muster and maintain the right to call ourselves climbers. Simon Madden + Ross Taylor

Once again, thanks to all our contributors, featured climbers, advertisers, designers, dirtbags, videographers, advice-givers, handholders, web gurus, belayers and Adventure Types your passion and enthusiasm is humbling.

Vertical Life is a home to many voices, if you would like to be one of those voices, be it expressed in words, photography or video, send us an email at:


Editors note NZ


What value is there in a first ascent? Silly question, you might think. Its clear that gaining the top of a significant peak or even a stunning natural crack line is an inspirational achievement. The successful climber proves they have what it takes to go where others have failed and challenges future climbers to attempt to follow. The names of Hillary and Tenzing will always be associated with Everest, just as Lynn Hills is with freeing The Nose of El Capitan. Its obvious that as climbers our pride in first ascents stems from this kind of free competition and respect for the pioneering spirit. But what about sport climbs? Well, we generally take the same attitude. Consider Wolfgang Gullichs triumph with Action Directe (9a/35). The first ascent of this famous route in the Frankenjura ushered in a new level level of difficulty, while the achievement was underpinned by the specific training methods Wolfy invented in order to succeed. This route is a prime example of the victorious pioneering spirit within the difficulty-focused genre of sport climbing, not to mention a top climber laying down a challenge to others. But are all sport route FAs in the same category? What about Blue Collar Heros latest 26 at Popular Chosspile? BCH bolted this line four years ago and put a big red tag on the first bolt. After trying it

briefly he realised he wasnt good enough to do it, so he left it alone for a few years and eventually got around to doing it when he had a bit more fitness. Do we look at this achievement in the same light as Action Directe? Not really. The lack of cutting-edge difficulty on such a climb, even if it were many grades harder, makes the first ascent much less significant than the establishment of the line as a route for others to try. The pioneering spirit of the development is still laudable, but the lack of competition for the first ascent is considerably reduced. The problem is that many guidebooks dont differentiate between the two, so when people develop a new line they feel like they have to climb it first to get any credit for their hard work. The first ascent is considered the achievement of note, but how much does it really mean when nobody else has had a chance to try the route and climb it first? Is there some kind of noumenal value in being the first person to hold the final jugs on a route? Surely, once a line has been rapped, bolted, cleaned and then dogged into submission its virgin status is somewhat reduced? Being the first person to do all the moves in a row without having a bit of a rest on a bolt seems pretty arbitrary to me, especially if nobody else even had the opportunity. Its not really a first at all. Its just an ascent that

happened to come before any others. Dont get me wrong, Im not advocating going out and stealing red-tagged projects. Some people are motivated by making the first ascent of the route theyve bolted and if we undermined that opportunity well have less people developing new routes and everyone misses out. Theres no doubt developing sport routes holds considerable value. At its best its a generous pursuit establishing quality routes so that others may have the opportunity to safely climb them at their own convenience. People who spend their time developing deserve respect, including giving them the opportunity to climb the route first, even if their motivation is primarily to get their name in a guidebook. After all, it would be pretty easy to sit around and watch your mate sweat blood bolting a new line and then stroll in and climb it while they sit at the bottom in a tangle of gear trying to get some feeling back in their legs. But the way we focus so much on the first ascent leaves us in the awkward position of respectfully allowing the closure of bolted climbs, some of which sit around for years while the injured or distracted developer fails to climb said route and others mill about wondering if they can get away with climbing half of it and then linking into a neighbouring route. Perhaps if guidebooks gave as

much credit to the equipper of a route as the first ascentionist, people would be a bit more generous when it came to their projects. No more absurd requests for gentlemans falls from the anchor, no more youre not allowed to try it but my mate over there can if he wants, or I said you could try it but I didnt think youd actually be able to do it! Historically, the equipper and the first ascentionist have been the same person in the vast majority of cases, and this will probably remain the status quo. But, how much more meaningful would a first ascent be if people knew there had actually been some open competition involved? Furthermore, how many more great projects would get bolted and put up for grabs if people knew they would get some recognition for their effort? Returning to our prime example of Action Directe, how many people know that the originator of the route was not Wolfgang Gullich but Milan Sykora? Wolfy still deserves maximum credit for his achievement, but you could certainly argue that history could be very different without the vision of the Czech developer who saw and bolted the line. Tom Hoyle

Vertical Lifes own Simon Madden making pretty shapes on the ultra classic Eau Rouge (23), the Lost World, Grampians. Ross Taylor
14 14 15

pure motivations
WORDS: Andrea Hah IMAGES: Josh Grose I met my first boyfriend at my local climbing gym. I was a young 18-year-old, ex-gymnast, all-girls-school attendee from a strict Chinese family. This boy was older. Not Chinese. Not studying. And pretty damn cool. He wore socks with his climbing shoes and Dunlop Volleys in between. He went trad climbing at Mt Arapiles, had a lovely smile, a great sense of humour and was pretty much perfect in my eyes. Once I finished high school, my rock climbing boyfriend took me real trad climbing and taught me how to place gear. We went to Bushranger Bluff and I placed as many nuts into Trooper One (7) as I could possibly fit. I learnt how to equalise anchors, set up hanging belays, abseil and use a nut tool. During this transitional period from plastic to slick rock, I realised there was more to it than just what you were holding on to. I was soon enchanted by the process of the outdoors. I fell in love with packing the car with my tent, sleeping mat and bag, rope, trad rack and headtorch, ready for the weekend away at Araps. I felt so lucky, to be escaping mundane high school life by doing something so extraordinary. My whole childhood was spent surrounded by foam, bouncing around on trampolines and prancing to music in a leotard. Now, everything was new and exciting; stopping at the Giant Koala, gazing at the stars, weaving up and down hidden gullies, jamming my way up off-widths, learning how to slackline in the pines and laughing at every novel experience. My friends thought I was overly adventurous, obsessed and completely detached from girly city living. And it was true. Nothing excited me more than the idea of climbing trips that summer, and for many more seasons to come. Unfortunately but predictably, the day came when my perfect boyfriend ended up being not so perfect, and my whole world came crashing down. Not only did I feel like Id lost my best friend, but also everything he had brought into my life. It was a rude awakening to realise how reliant on him I was to take me climbing and in facilitating my fun. It was everything climbing used to be for me, and more. I had forgotten how simple and comforting being outside was and how satisfying it was to walk to the crag with good company, physically challenge myself thrashing about on rock (or just sit around in a grassy field), and then walk home only to do it all over again the next day. This trip reignited my love for climbing and gave me the encouragement and reinforcement I needed to confirm the satisfaction or frustration I felt at the end of the day, derived from my relationship with climbing. And with this realisation, came a whirlwind of life-changing decisions. I quit my jobs. I deferred university study. I started wearing gloves to wash the dishes. I went overseas. I moved interstate. All of my relationship circles changed. And what made all these theoretically big decisions simpler was the knowledge my motivations were internal. These changes were going to make me happy, regardless of whether or not my partner climbed. It has taken time, and a lot of motivation, but it has been a really important priority of mine in recent years to focus on gaining more independence with my climbing to ensure no one can take it away from me again. It can be really challenging as a female in a maledominated, intimidating extreme sport to gain the self-sufficiency and confidence to walk to the crag without a boy holding your hand. But I really like that I can. Andrea climbing the slab on the back of the Diablo boulder at Castle Hill. Following this, there was a long period where I stopped climbing. I tried heading out with other people, but I always returned disappointed. I convinced myself that maybe it wasnt the climbing that motivated me, it was the person I was climbing with. About two years later I started climbing again, but at a gym called Lapping up New Zealand sunshine. And sure, I fully acknowledge the complete climbing experience is heightened by your friends, or your partner. And it would be impossible and devastatingly lonely without such relationships. But, partners will come and go, whether it is because their interest with climbing wanes or your paths diverge. Whats important is to acknowledge and nurture the motivations behind why you are at the crag; your love for the climbing life.

the Lactic Factory. It was here that I was exposed to a whole new scene of climbing, and people. The days of socks and climbing shoes were out, and $15 toothbrushes were in. I made new friends with a few people going on a bouldering trip to Castle Hill and, after much deliberation, I was permitted to tag along. And it was amazing.



Wiz looking bright-eyed. Beau Kahler Chances are youve heard the name Wiz in the climbing news lately. The way his stocks are rising, there is a good chance youll keep hearing it. Living in Tauranga in the North Island of New Zealand, this 17-year-old doesnt have a lot of local hard climbing to play on, so its no surprise all of his hardest ticks have been done on the road. What is surprising is just how well he has climbed on his overseas trips. In China last year he climbed his first 31, just a month after bagging his first 29 back in New Zealand. During his recent trip to Victoria he not only climbed Punks in the Gym (32) for the third Kiwi ascent, but flashed Serpentine (29) and then made the first ascent of the renowned Somalia (33) project at Mt Arapiles on his last day of the trip! Wiz has a tonne of talent and a natural enthusiasm for climbing that is sure to take him far. Vertical Life caught up with him just before a planned three month trip to Hueco Tanks. Is Wiz your real name? You had to ask that didnt you! Well, technically, no. My real name is Owain...its Welsh so dont even try to pronounce it! I have been called Wiz for as long as I can remember. If people try to get my attention by saying Owain, well, it generally takes me a while to realise theyre actually talking to me (and normally by this time theyre shouting).

INTERVIEW: Tom Hoyle IMAGES: Five Ten ex: Five Ten, Mick Wells and Simon Mentz




Height (cm)

Weight (kg)



Ape Index (cm)


Five Ten, Petzl, Motiv

How and when did you get started climbing? I started climbing about seven years ago when I was 10 years old. I was living in Llanberis, North Wales, at the time and climbing is very popular in this area. From what I can remember I went to the local climbing gym for my tenth birthday and from then on I just couldnt stop the usual story I guess. I was very lucky to live where I did because there were so many classic routes right on my doorstep, creating very easy access. I was also fortunate enough to get hooked up with a few of the areas local hard men, and they took me out on some of the trad classics at areas such as Gogarth and the slate quarries, giving me a scary but good first experience. I continued to trad climb and boulder as much as possible for the next two years before my family moved to New Zealand. Since living in NZ I have backed off from the trad scene and have been focused on doing hard sport climbing and bouldering. I have also competed in many of NZs indoor competitions such as the Nationals etc, but in the last two or

so years I have moved on from that and focused purely on pushing myself as hard as possible on sport climbs and boulder problems outside on rock. Youve just had a pretty successful trip to Australia, tell us about climbing in Victoria in comparison to back home. Yeah, my trip to Australia was really good and I was super stoked with how it went. Probably one of the best yet. Climbing in Victoria was absolutely amazing. I really enjoy going to different areas and learning new styles and Mt Arapiles and the Grampians were perfect places for it! Its a bit unfair to even try and compare it to New Zealand climbing as we have none. No, sorry thats a lie, New Zealand has some very good climbing but compared to where I am from (Tauranga, North Island) the climbing in Victoria is ten times better. I really enjoy the long, sustained climbing in Victoria (Taipan Wall), whereas back home we have a lot of very short, sharp and

Wiz climbing Somalia (33), Mt Arapiles. Mentz


painful climbs, making it not so pleasant. But dont get me wrong, climbing in the North Island is good as it has been my training ground for the last however-many years, and has provided me with many challenging routes, but when I go on trips to places such as Australia it really is a whole new level. Tell us a bit about your flash of Serpentine. The day after I had sent Punks In The Gym we went over to the Grampians for a few days. A good friend, Crazy John, was always talking about Taipan Wall and how amazing it is. I had heard a lot about Serpentine before and I just couldnt wait to get on it. I had heard that a lot of people tend to skip the first pitch for safety reasons, I think. But I thought to myself, If Im going to do it, Im going to do it properly. I soon found out why not many people do that pitch, after desperately reaching the anchors scared out of my mind. But hey, I had done it and was halfway to completing my goal to flash Serpentine ground-up. I knew the next pitch was the business end of the deal, and it looked absolutely amazing, I couldnt wait to get on it. About 30 minutes later I mantled the lip thanks to all the people shouting out beta to me, and was standing on top of the tallest part of Taipan Wall absolutely pumped out of my mind! I was super excited to have flashed this as it was my first flash of a 29. The excitement was short lived as I looked over the edge and saw a massive loop of slack coming from my belayer, next I was to jump off and take one massive fall! Apparently about 35m. An awesome finish to an awesome climb! The Somalia project has been a project for a long time, what was the key to your success where others have tried and failed? I was very lucky to climb with Zac Vertrees, who had also been trying the route. He was very good with the endless belays and awesome beta. I really enjoyed climbing with him as he was always very psyched and has a lot more experience than me meaning I learned a lot from him. I also believe that my small fingers may have helped me slightly as I could get a bit more purchase in the pockets. Nevertheless it was still a big pull off of a one-pad, one-finger pocket. What is it about climbing that motivates you? I have been climbing non-stop for about seven years now and I have had no thoughts of slowing down or stopping. If anything, I am getting more and more psyched everyday. Why that is, I just dont know.... climbing is a very good excuse to travel to many amazing places and meet many amazing people, and I really enjoy that side of things. I really enjoy the physical side of things also. Setting a goal and training really hard and then going away and succeeding its a really good feeling. When Im back at home I stay motivated by always trying to plan my next trip and coming up with crazy ideas on places to go and things to do. This keeps me psyched to train hard until the time comes.

Proudest send? I think my proudest send would have to be Somalia. This is because it was my first first ascent and also my first route at the grade 33/8c, and yet to be repeated so I believe. It was a huge learning experience for me as I quickly found out I couldnt just work it endlessly day after day due to skin and the danger of doing an injury, I learnt that patience was very important. It was also a huge mental battle as some days I would do really good well, and others I wouldnt be able to do half the moves, creating doubt in my mind, especially as my time was getting shorter very quickly. As my trip was coming to an end a forced rest day was required due to my skin, leaving it down to the very last day. I had to stay positive and completely focused to make sure everything went perfect. I was very proud to have handled the nerves and executed the climb exactly when I needed to. Third shot of my final day it was done. Are there any climbers that inspire you or you look up to? There are so many good climbers out there but if I had to name one of them I would probably say Adam Ondra. Because I like how focused and determined he is. He knows exactly what he wants to achieve and he works as hard as he can in order to do so. Its inspiring! What are your goals in climbing? What is next for Wiz Fineron? In the following years I hope to travel the world and climb at all the amazing spots and continue to push my physical limits in climbing. At the moment I am really psyched to focus on hard sport climbing and bouldering, but in the future big walls in the Yosemite Valley are definitely on the list. My next big trip is three months bouldering in Hueco Tanks, so Im super excited to get some hard bouldering done. What other interests do you have outside of climbing? On my rest days I tend to do a lot of slacklining and go for the odd surf. But to be fair there are not that many days that I am not climbing or doing some sort of training. I also like to have a good game of table tennis with everyone. Great fun. Do they influence your climbing at all? I dont think so. Slacklining Im more likely to injure myself ,and with surfing I will probably get eaten by a shark one of these days. Table tennis on the other hand is awesome, good hand-eye coordination practice and will probably be the key to my future sends! You originally hail from Wales, do you consider yourself a Kiwi or do the Valleys, Dragons and Leeks sing to you still? Wiz climbing another Arapiles classic, Punks in the Gym (32). Mick Wells This is a tricky one. I cant decide, so how about we let the Dragons and the Kiwis battle it out and let them decide!

Urban Climbing:
An example of a potential outdoor climbing wall, the Flemington Cube.

IMAGES: A Designers Guide to Urban Bouldering


Another perspective of the Flemington Cube.

Why do you think it is important that urban environments have spaces for people to climb? Australia spends $130 billion a year on health, much of which goes to fighting health problems that are a result of sedentary lifestyles, poor lifestyle choices and social isolation. As a result, preventative health and promoting activity is a major priority to reduce the cost of the health burden. As someone with an urban design/landscape architecture background who is interested in this problem, I personally see public spaces as the frontline of preventative health. Many active measures are already in place, like bike paths, sporting ovals, dog parks, community gardens, skateboard bowls etc, but I think its time climbing is included in the mix. I think one of the biggest causes of health problems is the disconnection from self and the fact many people rarely see the potential within themselves to be strong and to improve their position. Climbing promotes holistic strength and rewards people for focus and hard work. It is about achieving things once thought improbable. Its an amazing tool, and ideal for public spaces. Climbing is also intergenerational, so its not just for young guys like skateboarding. Its self-scheduled, which suits our busy, expensive lives. Climbing walls are also relatively inexpensive to build, as theres no shortage of structural planes in the city to work with.

You are really interested in making sure that people who are climbers are involved in the process of creating these community walls why? Bouldering is already being sold to councils by multinational playground companies. Im worried that if climbers dont get involved as a group then these companies will sell the image of bouldering to people who dont know anything about the sport, and money that could have been spent on well-considered facilities will be spent on expensive playtoys not fit for climbing. Skateboarders have had their say all through the development of skateparks in the urban environment and thats why skateparks work. Even the parkour association is lobbying successfully for facilities. Climbers should do the same. You are keen to see these walls built not only in Melbourne, but also in other capital cities, however, we would have thought that somewhere like Sydney, for instance, would have so many natural areas to climb in that it is unnecessary? Melbourne has great potential as we are a long way from good crags but also because it has an artistic bent which could be skewed towards climbing. One per cent of the Docklands budget was spent on sculpture which has failed to invigorate the public realm, imagine if it was climbable sculpture? For those who are into it, it could be an interesting place to spend the weekend maybe and create familyfriendly bouldering opportunities outdoors.

I also think regional centres and outer suburban areas could use facilities as much as inner city suburbs to give people an alternative to team sports the way skateparks did for a certain demographic. People who live closer to the cultural centres probably forget how options decrease as you move further out. I think regional centres should have facilities whether or not there are many existing climbers. This thinking also applies to places like Sydney. Sure, in parts of Sydney you have a smorgasbord of bouldering, but for many Sydneysiders bouldering is not that accessible. There are large centres throughout Sydney where the average resident does not have easy access to any climbing, including gyms. A few people seem to believe that building free climbing walls will damage local climbing gym businesses, do you think this will be the case? Id argue that gyms should be paid to organise the route-setting and have some sort of advertising that sends people from the walls straight to them. But apart from that, there are limitations as to what you can build in public spaces, which private walls dont have. In Melbourne you find people alternate between the gyms and Burnley depending on mood and weather. As much as I advocate more places like Burnley I still pay to go to gyms so I can push myself in safety. People are also complaining that the gyms are often too full but expanding them is a calculated risk for those who

invest in them. I think rising rents will do much more damage to climbing gyms than free walls ever will, but once again if climbers are involved in the discussion its a starting point in making sure the entire thing is integrated and everyones interests are met. There must sure be a case to make that walls like Burnley which is next to probably the busiest bike path in Melbourne actually bring more people into climbing, who then go on to use more professional walls and buy gear? Totally, a chalk bag and climbing shoes is a $200ish investment that alone would support the industry before the other spin offs like gear and gym memberships are brought into the equation. Is there an overall strategy for getting these climbing facilities built? Yes and no. Councils are weird places and there is a lot of competition for budgets, getting money involves a lot of negotiation, lobbying and luck. The best thing climbers can do is make their presence known so that councils realise there is a need for climbing walls. This is where I think petitions are useful and if climbers everywhere supported petitions whether they live near the proposed site or not, then councils and developers will listen. and sign a petition HERE

You can read more about Stuarts projects at



Sybille Baldenhofer finds the meaning of Solitude (24) high up on Little Babylon



Beauty & DESPAIR



The natural beauty of Fiordland National Park has earned it a global reputation as one of the must-see places to visit in New Zealand, a country people travel to primarily for its natural attractions. Every day during the peak summer months thousands of tourists travel by bus along the Milford Road into Milford Sound and out again. When they first get on the bus they wonder why there are windows in the roof, but as they enter the mountains the reason is revealed; these are some of the steepest-sided valleys in the world. Trying to appreciate the full view through only a side window is a futile exercise. Over millennia intense glaciation has gouged a labyrinth of U-shaped valleys out of this astounding mass of rock that sticks straight out of the Tasman Sea. What the peaks in the area lack in terms of pure altitude, they make up for in sheer steepness and sea-level obstinacy. This sea-level obstinacy is the key to the other astounding feature of the Fiordland area: vast quantities of rainfall. To the west there is nought but water until you get to Argentina (the long way around). The predominant westerly flows and evaporation over this great expanse of ocean grant Fiordland between six to eight metres of rainfall annually. Rain falls on as many as 200 days out of every year, and total measurements are much-contested, as rain gauges constantly overflow and are swept away by flooding. Statistics arent really needed to prove the point then, the place is wet. Indeed, the area is so wet and so steep that, standing in the valleys, youd be forgiven for thinking you had found your way to the bottom of some titanic well. The valley walls appear to overhang, impossibly steep and constantly threatening to block out the sky completely. The steep terrain sheds water constantly; it cascades down walls as if there were a faucet on each summit; it oozes from rocks creating impromptu puddles and pools; it drips from thick moss and lichen hanging on the branches and trunks of the tenuous southern beech forest. Even more impressively, when the skies truly open the valley floors turn to rivers in minutes and the jumbled, enigmatic strews of clean and rounded boulders suddenly reveal their true nature, becoming riverbeds and hosts to raging waters. Meanwhile, mist clings to black valley walls and portentous clouds, corpulent with moisture, are skewered by jagged peaks and shredded by sharp ridges, bleeding more rain down the valleys. This, then, is a wild place. But it is also why people visit: the sense of wilderness is inseparable from the beauty. As tourists stop at the entrance to the one-way Homer Tunnel, waiting for the lights to change and allow passage, they trundle off the bus and hold their cameras up to the glaciers, cirques and peaks around them. Dressed in their jeans and anoraks and with small electronic devices in hand, the tourist is revealed to be puny. Their small human forms cannot match the power of nature on display here. They belong in cities and cafes, where rooves protect from the rain and all that towers above are man-made monuments to engineering rather than the colossal memorials to the chaos of nature found here, far from the hubris of human industry. Here people are

Moses (27) is one of the must dos in the area. Steep and with big holds it still manages to be a route more technical than burly and the process of finding a workable sequence is route climbing at its best. Here Jean Tompkins demonstrates her method for the why do all the holds face left?! section.

Troy Mattingley calmly dispatches any notion of Contact Neurosis (28). This steep second pitch route at The Chasm climbs through steep terrain on perfectly angular granite edges after an initial section tackles a dike intrusion sporting a multitude of pockets. Mark Watson/Highlux Photography



awestruck by natures epic scale, often sought but so rarely revealed in modern civilisation; and so they take their pictures, which can never communicate the weight of that which confronts them, they get back on the bus and continue their journey, eventually reaching a warm and dry bed where they sigh a secret little sigh of relief-for they escaped with their lives. At this point it should be abundantly clear to the reader as to the attraction of the area for the climber. The challenges are myriad: the seemingly impenetrable wilderness; the quality of the terrain both in terms of steep angles and solid granitic stability; the atrocious weather; the demands of simple access; and the sheer volume and scale of the area. It is, simply put, a climbers playground of mythic proportions.

After this, no other place will seem as beautiful, no other place as wild, no other place as epic, no other place as challenging. All other climbing is now just training for the Darrans.

The Darran Mountains in particular have long been a bastion for the hardcore of New Zealand alpine climbing. The ice climbing and technical alpine rock routes to the summits here are generally accepted to be beyond compare domestically, both in terms of the quality of the climbing and the challenges presented. But, beyond this, the Darrans is a special place to climbers. It slips into the consciousness as soon as you first enter the Hollyford Valley, nestling there and planting a dark seed of despair. After this, no other place will seem as beautiful, no other place as wild, no other place as epic, no other place as challenging. All other climbing is now just training for the Darrans. Furthermore, cities are revealed to be beehives kept by the rich; billboards are intrusive, vulgar and nihilistic; footpaths are homogenous and sterile; streetlights are the gluttonous torches by which we fail to fend off the dark; and culture becomes the security blanket in which we conspiratorially cower. Going home again is hard. It is in the Darrans that we are most directly confronted with the reality of our limits. Climbing in the Darrans is so bound to failure that the idea of it is undeniable. Success here, when it comes, is not hollow, but it is certainly temporary as there is always a more difficult, less tenable and yet more alluring challenge waiting nearby. Spend time in the Darrans and ultimately the idea of our final failure becomes resonant, these mountains will always beat us and we cannot be amongst them without knowledge of our own

Zac Orme on Xena (33), one of the hardest routes in the area. It begins by climbing Hercules (29), a short but very powerful route in itself, then after a rest continues on and on up the headwall above to a bouldery crux through very steep ground.

Homer Hut.


inexorably approaching deaths. They are impassive in their response to our attempted passage, successful or not. At the same time, they allow us to identify with them as they are wet and heavy, as our own bodies are wet and heavy, and like us they are ever-changing, being constantly pushed up and worn-down. Yet ultimately, with these insights in mind, they still dwarf us with their sense of permanence. Compared to them we are but scattered snowflakes, formed of beautiful complexity and fated to rest awhile before melting away to blend with the totality of brute matter. As the risk-averse society we live in views ice climbing and alpine climbing more and more as anachronistic, the uncomfortable truths immanent in Darrans climbing seemed like they may be lost. But in the last decade sport climbing in the Darrans has vaulted forward, introducing a new generation to the aesthetic poles of beauty and despair that it offers in abundance. It is an unlikely match; far from the beaten track and with persistently damp conditions, the Darrans rock would need to be spectacular to lure vapid sport climbers into its inhospitable atmosphere. It is, and so an unlikely romance is born. The steep crags of the Cleddau Valley, quickly accessible from the Milford Road, offer climbing on superb glacially polished granite. The scale and quality of the cliffs is simply irresistible, the best of them stay dry from rain in all but the worst weather and allow sport climbing unlike anything else in New Zealand. In recent years the best rock climbers in the country have spent their summers developing routes in the Darrans. Their work has yielded a collection of quality hard routes that now surpasses the rest of the country. But it is a trying place to develop. When it rains heavily developers rest in the ark that is the New Zealand Alpine Clubowned Homer Hut, where they interact awkwardly with the rarely passing alpine climbers, eventually learning to mimic the alpinists angularity and thousand-yard stares. The sport climbers lose urban pinnings of pockets perpetually anchored with necessities of keys, phones and wallets. When it is sunny, they sometimes leave their shady projects and attempt alpine rock routes, occasionally they stare at the jagged peaks and consider trying to stand atop one. It rains again and they nazel-gaze morbidly. Perhaps, some of them at least, come to understand the weight of the beauty and despair sleeping in the rock below, around and above them, and perhaps, like the tourists, when they return home they sigh a secret little sigh of relief that they escaped with their lives. Get the beta on climbing in the Darrans


Fish Eye (8c/33) at Oliana, Spain.

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James Morris tackles the desperate final slaps on the top arete of Prowess (30).

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Photo: Simon Carter


in the


WORDS: John Horan IMAGES: John Horan, Adam Long, Rohan Kilham


Last light on (from left to right) Bugaboo Spire, Snowpatch Spire and Pigeon Spire. Adam Long
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In broad daylight, the intruder crept across the rock outcrop, snuck into our tent and began to rummage through the gear in our vestibule. It wasnt the first time, and though wed once been surprised and outraged, now we were ready and waiting. I looked to Rohan and our eyes met in silent agreement. With a swift pull of the cord we sprang our trap and caught the intruder. Unfortunately, by the time Rohan had pulled on his gloves and retrieved the chipmunk from the pot, it had resolved to give nothing away. After a brief altercation in which neither side gained the upper hand, the spy was released without harm. Some people would say its immoral, or at the very least unwise, to catch a chipmunk in a pot. But in the mountains, right and wrong, wise and foolish, these are petty distinctions best left in the car park. Every moment is a battle, and in battle there are casualties. Some of the strongest and most determined of our species have died in the mountains. Others, perhaps not as strong or determined, have caught chipmunks in pots. This is the story of our journey into the hills and into ourselves. A story of struggle, of madness and of moderately graded rock climbs. Rohan and I had been exchanging emails for months fleshing out a plan to travel east through British Columbia (BC), Canada, climbing long trad routes before spending two weeks amongst the alpine rock of Bugaboo Provincial Park. After a long absence from climbing I had done some sport cragging to try to get into shape, but our attempts at longer routes had been almost completely rained into submission. I still didnt know what to expect. I had heard of the Bugaboos: huge spires of perfect granite, classic climbs at moderate grades, and world-renowned routes like the BeckyChouinard (18), the North East Ridge of Bugaboo Spire (16), All Along the Watchtower (22 C2) and Young Men on Fire (22 A4). Supposedly, it was a place with epic climbing for the very hard and the very average alike. But I had heard more: of harrowing retreats from towering walls, of scrambling across glaciers as the mountains above shrugged off rocks and boulders that crashed into the valleys below, of ropes and bootlaces chewed to pieces by packrats, afternoon storms brewing suddenly in valleys and boiling unannounced into the hills, fatal lightning strikes, exposed descents, avalanches. Tales rich with exultant climbing and the bitter, cloying taste of fear. Even the sheer scale of the place was intimidating. The routes on our tick list ranged from seven pitches to 34, all with long, technical descents and limited opportunities for escape if things went sour. From the moment we arrived in the car park, it was clear that this was no crag of convenience. The first order of business was to fence off our car with chicken wire to protect its sensitive rubber bits from porcupines. This complete, we each helped the other lift their

ridiculously heavy pack and strained through the three-hour hike up the valley to the campsite above the treeline. Of course, it rained the whole time. And after an epic BC winter the path was frequently lost under avalanche debris. The sight of Conrad Kain Hut at the end of the hike was more than welcome. The hut was occupied by a work party from the Alpine Club of Canada who assured us that the higher of the two campsites was buried under roughly four metres of snow, so we headed to the lower campsite. The weather stayed grim throughout that day and the next, but the third day showed what the Bugaboos was capable of calm winds and bluebird skies. We had an introductory route in mind the three starred, six pitch McTech Arete (18). I disgraced myself on my first pitch, placing all my small gear too early and losing my mind with terror at the purportedly grade-18 crux that, at the time, felt like death on a stick. Convinced I was going to rip my gear and land on Rohan, I lowered off three quarters of a cam, praying it wouldnt pop out of its shallow, flaring placement. No one but Rohan heard my squeals of terror we were the only climbers in the whole park. But that aside, the climbing was unbelievable: varied, steep, sustained and of excellent quality. With our appetites whetted, we returned to camp in time for the weather to crap out. Over the next five days it remained thus, always managing to rain just the right amount. The skies would clear and wed tumble breathlessly out of the tent to stare up at the spires, still wrapped in cloud. But before we could get even a single sock dry the clouds would slam shut across the sun and the rain set back in. Softly at first, then hard and driving with lashing winds, and wed be back inside hurriedly pulling off boots and closing zips. Someone would monopolise the guide book. The other would play solitaire, or idly wrap duct tape around things. Both of us would cast loving glances at our stash of junk food and ponder, How many more days up here? How many of those jubes do we have? But, just as our patience was waning and we were wondering if we should cut our losses, the sun would return and wed be outside staring once more at the spires. It was a perfect tease. Not good enough to climb, but never so bad that we lost hope completely. It is difficult to explain from comfortable suburban Australia, but at some point it became clear that the weather was too precisely orchestrated, too finely tuned, to be mere meteorology. As the days of camp confinement trickled past we reached the conclusion the weather, the snow conditions, even the animals around us were being remotely controlled by a cunning, omniscient and supremely powerful packrat with a terrible German accent. He was The Snafflehound, Lord of the Spires, and from his home atop nearby Snafflehound Spire he ruled his domain via a large and infernal

I believe that the desire to travel enormous distances and climb moderately graded rock climbs at great personal inconvenience speaks to a fundamental truth within the human condition

Descending off the Kraus-McCarthy (17), Snowpatch Spire. John Horan


The author and Kilham on the Bugaboo Spire. Rohan Kilham

Kilham decending the Kraus-McCarthy (17). Horan

Abe the Rent-a-Wreck porcupine-proofed. Horan

The author in a soloing-gonewrong moment on BugabooCrescent Col. Kilham

The Den of Stink: Kilham and the author. Horan

weather machine. And though our daily battle with Herr Hound was pretty one sided, we never gave up. Just once we managed to poach a climb from under his nose. The eponymous snowfield halfway up the famous Snowpatch (16) route was avalanching every time the weather looked even remotely decent, so we abandoned that objective and climbed the KrausMcCarthy (17) on the far side of the spire. With the sky dark and the wind bitterly cold we shivered our way to the top, surrounded by amazing unclimbed walls just waiting for visionaries. We were happy to get down and out of the wind. But The Snafflehound did not take kindly to us sneaking about. The next time we tried to climb he was back to his usual tricks the warm and sunny campsite belied the cloud churning behind Bugaboo Spire. In a decision that didnt seem obviously stupid at the time, we figured anything was better than staying in the tent. Hoping to avoid the fate of two Montanan lads who were stuck overnight near the summit just before our arrival, we set off on a reconnaissance mission up the Kain Route (14) on the southwest

ridge, which doubles as the descent. As we moved from snow to rock the heavens gleefully opened, first with rain, then with wet, heavy snow. Every step got us higher, wetter and sadder until we beat a retreat just before the start of the roped climbing. Again, the timing was perfect. If the precipitation had started any sooner we might never have set off, but if it had come any later we might have had something approximating fun. As our window of opportunity narrowed our optimism slowly fermented into desperation. We shifted our camp from the sheltered tent platforms at the tree line to the exposed, snow covered campsite higher up. In response, it nuked with snow. The wind raged and we sealed up the tent to stop it from filling with spindrift, giving us a chance to stew gently in our advanced body odour. Across two nights and the intervening day, Rohan and I between us left the tent for a total of 15 minutes. What did manage to escape from the tent was our sanity, leaving us reading the guidebook like a holy scroll and clinging to our meagre supply of jubes, hoping against hope we could still climb the North East Ridge. As the snow piled up around the tent in spite of the gale

force winds we cursed The Snafflehound, the conductor of our symphony of misery. But sometimes, opportunity knocks with the smallest and cutest of hands. And so, in the heart of the storm, we saw the chipmunk. It tried hard to appear interested in rummaging through our food, but it was clearly an agent of Herr Hound. We set our cooking pot upside down upon its lid and propped it open with a bit of camp stove. Baited with a hazelnut, the trap seemed too simple to work. But work it did, and soon we had a hostage. Its easy to criticise from your comfortable armchair, there on the opposite side of the world. Easy to call us stupid, or cruel, or mad. But until you have placed yourself at the mercy of the mountains and stood before them, awesome and terrible in their majesty and fury, you will never understand what drove us. I believe that the desire to travel enormous distances and climb moderately graded rock climbs at great personal inconvenience speaks to a fundamental truth within the human condition, that the invention of complex rodent-based mythologies exposes the bestial heart of civilised humanity. In the spirit of Mallory, we climbed these spires

because they were there, and also because they were within our modest capabilities. Remarkably, detaining and interrogating a chipmunk heralded an amazing improvement in the weather. The next morning the storm was gone and the snow melted fast. By days end the rock had dried completely. We had one day left. This was as good as it was going to get. The next morning we rolled out of camp before 5am, scrambled up the first rock step, soloed the crisp snow slope at the bottom of the ridge as the sun rose, and were roping up at the bottom of the pitched climbing at 7.30am the sky blue like it had never been sullied by rain. The North East Ridge is all class and the best pitches are right at the start: steep juggy face climbing on amazing features in a spectacular position. The usually reserved Rohan led until the last pitch (my brain was still toast after McTech Arete affair) and even he couldnt resist a few whoops of joy. After the initial pitches, the angle kicks back a little to a series of clean hand cracks on a rounded arte. Higher still, the angle lays back further, and even

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Snowpatch and Pigeon spires, from the Kraus-McCarthy. Kilham

though the infamous upper chimneys were clogged with snow we made good time. All the while we were on the edge of a fin of rock, surrounded by jagged ridges, clean faces, summits with impossible geometry, snarling icefalls and cobalt blue glacial lakes. Two ants adrift among the spires, all thrusting up and tumbling down indifferent to our journey. We topped out around noon, exhilarated by 12 pitches of stellar climbing. The traverse across the summit was easy climbing with the occasional patch of snow, but any mistake would mean a 1000m fall, so I was nervous enough to stay roped up. We found the rap stations and six abseils later reached the bottom of the technical ground. The rest was an easy, although occasionally exposed scramble back to the snow slopes above the glacier. Straddling a knife-edge of rock with an unprotected 500m drop on either side quickly makes your world a small and delicate place, but we were safely back to camp before darkness engulfed the land. At 16, the North East Ridge isnt going to impress anyone at the local gym, but the quality of movement, the exceptional rock and the sheer intensity of climbing on that scale make it easy to understand

why its rated among the 50 best rock climbs in North America. Eight days stuck in a tent were redeemed in 16 hours of climbing so good itll make you wonder if the rest of your climbing career was really worthwhile. Perhaps Herr Hound had shown mercy and given us a day out of fairness. Perhaps he just wanted to make sure wed come back. Either way, our last climbing day marked the start of a big highpressure system and perfect climbing conditions. We carried our now feather-light packs down the valley to find the car safe behind its chicken-wire barrier. There were too many bugs to waste time getting sentimental in the parking lot and in seconds we were on our way home. Australia is blessed with a wealth of excellent cragging, though alpine rock is not part of our national climbing psyche. But there is something about climbing high really high that changes the way you think about rock. The Bugaboos is, in every respect, a long way from a convenient day out at your local crag. But amongst the packrats and the storms and the general hugeness there is climbing that will change your life. Do yourself a favour, visit the Hound.

WORDS & IMAGES: Pete ODonovan

El Rac de la Coma Closa in Margalef. This sector, only recently developed, boasts some of the most amazing tufa climbs anywhere in Spain. Here US climber Ben Spannuth wrestles with Chris Sharmas La Perla (8b+).

In the northeast corner of Spain a range of gentle, rolling hills and deep, forested valleys in the Catalan province of Tarragona has become one of the foremost sport climbing areas in Europe. Covering little more than 300 sq km the Serra de Prades and Montsant mountain ranges together offer hundreds of sectors and thousands of routes, attracting a veritable army of travelling climbers from around the world. Tarragonas climbing history is short. In the 60s, 70s and early 80s the then tiny population of Catalan activists largely directed their

energies to the more alpine-like challenges of the neighbouring Pyrenees. It wasnt until the 80s sportclimbing boom took hold across the border in southern France that local climbers realised the extent of Tarragonas potential. In those early years the refugis a network of mountain huts owned by the Catalan Outdoor Federation, offering basic food and accommodation played an extremely important role in the areas development. Previously the reserve of passing walkers and travellers, and generally only open during weekends and holidays,

the late 80s saw an influx of climber-guardians who ran them full time, happy to have a home in the hills and earn a small living besides. In between keeping the refugis clean and tidy, and cooking simple meals for their guests, these early pioneers established thousands of routes on the nearby crags, which in turn attracted an ever-growing clientele to the huts. In a wonderful symbiosis the coffees, beers and omelette sandwiches climbers consumed in the refugis actually paid for the bolts and lower-offs they used on the cliffs.

This was Tarragonas golden era, a time when fantastic new routes were there for the taking, but it wasnt long before foreign climbers began visiting the area in increasing numbers, lured there by magazine articles featuring pictures of gorgeous limestone walls beneath azure skies. Today, Tarragonas cliffs are more popular than ever, and the names of its major sectors Siurana, Montsant and Margalef have become synonymous with excellence on rock, fuelling dreams, ambitions and training programmes from Barcelona to the Back of Bourke.

Els Cogullons: an enchanting and remote group of sectors situated amongst the pine forests of the Serra de Prades mountains. Superb routes on superb rock, far from the madding crowd. Some very tough grading!

Ali Kennedy on Roella Blanca (7c), sector Mola Roquerola, Els Cogullons.

Arbol: not many 8s here but some stunning pitches slightly further down the scale. Several of its sectors face due north a very useful attribute in warmer conditions. Alexandra Schweikart on Mr. Krec (7b), a superb and unusual crack-pitch on sector El Dard, Arbol.

Vilanova de Prades: this long line of 15-20m high limestone tufa cliffs above the village of the same name is more reminiscent of a Derbyshire edge than a Spanish sport-resort, but the quality of the climbing is undeniable. Tough grades!

Oscar Alcaraz on Equinoxe (6c) Vilanova de Prades. This zone was once infamous for serious undergrading.


La Riba: this excellent and friendly zone was in fact the first of Tarragonas climbing areas to have its own dedicated guidebook, way back in the late 1980s. Probably busier then than now, which is actually no bad thing.

A typical mid-winter scenario in La Riba, a T-shirted Albert Corts on the excellent Directssima (6a)

La Mussara: one the areas original musts for winter migrants from the frozen north (of Europe). These days La Mussara plays second fiddle to the regions current major attractions a situation entirely unwarranted given the variety and quality of the climbing on offer here.

Young Swiss climber Noemi Langankamp gets psyched up for the crux moves of Obiang (7b) one of the many superb routes in La Mussara.



Margalef: second only to Siurana in terms of popularity, and currently the areas major forcing ground. Some of the harder routes here almost redefine the word steep.

Dani Andrada on the monstruous roof of 403 (8c-+)

Dani Andrada on Chris Sharmas desperate tufa-route La Perla (8b+), El Rac de la Coma Closa, Margalef



Climbing With a few exceptions Tarragona is predominantly a single-pitch sport climbing area, offering upwards of 5000 routes from grade III/11 to 9b/37. Except for a handful of sandstone crags in Siurana and some obscure granite pinnacles in Els Cogullons, the rock is either limestone or conglomerate of excellent quality, and the insitu protection parabolts and glue-ins is modern and generally very reliable. Although situated quite closely together, each zone seems to offer distinctly different climbing from its neighbours: for example, crimps and sidepulls in Siurana, pockets in Montsant and Margalef, and cracks, corners and slopers at La Mussara and Arbol. For the most part a 70m rope and 15 quickdraws will suffice, as routes in excess of 35m are invariably equipped with mid-point lower-offs. The exception to this is Margalef, where some of the modern super-pitches reach 50m, and are so steep as to make regaining the rock to pull and rethread the rope impractical. Season October-April is the best time to visit Tarragona, when cold nights and dry, sunny days provide optimum climbing conditions. However, it has to be pointed out that many of the cliffs in the Prades and Montsant region are situated around a thousand metres above sea level, and heavy Easter snowfalls have surprised more than a few migratory northern visitors in search of early-spring sunshine. Summers are generally uncomfortably hot but even then it is often possible to find reasonable conditions, particularly in the shady canyons of Margalef, and on some of the north-facing sectors of Arbol and Siurana. Accommodation There are campsites offering bungalow accommodation in Siurana, Vilanova de Prades and Ulldemolins (midway between the first two places) and refugis in La Mussara, La Riba, Mont-ral, Siurana and Margalef. Add to this numerous hostels and hotels, together with an ever-growing network of rural houses and apartments for rent, and the possibilities become endless, with something to suit most tastes and pockets. Pete ODonovan is long-time hardman and photographer who lives in Catalunya and is married to Angels. He is also the author of a new guide, which he co-wrote with some unknown punter by the name of D. Andrada. Tarragona Climbs covers selected sectors from all the aforementioned areas, plus a few more.

Siurana: world-famous zone offering nearly 1500 routes up to 9b, attracting the good and great (not to mention downright average) from all corners of the globe. Crimpy and sustained climbing means consecutive days on can be very tough on the fingers!

Montsant: Incredibly impressive conglomerate cliffs offering some of the best pocket-pulling on the planet. Pitches often reach 50m (even if you dont).

A typical Montsant scenario acres of rock, thousands of two-finger pockets. Purolitic (7a), Rac de Missa. Last burn of the day. Greek climber Argyro Papathanasiou on LArdilla Roja (7c-+), El Pati


WORDS: Nic Learmonth IMAGES: all uncredited images by Rich Crowder //


Mayan bearing down on the infamous 'birdbath' hold on Punks in the Gym (32), Mt Arapiles.
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The route hardly needs an introduction. Dubbed Australias most infamous piece of extreme real estate by Arapiles guidebook authors Glenn Tempest and Simon Mentz, it was bolted and augmented by Swiss visionary Martin Scheel, who travelled from Europe for three summers straight, trying to unlock the puzzle. In April 1985 Wolfgang Gullich arrived at the Pines and, after just less than a week of caressing those famous apricot-coloured babybottom holds, hed earned naming rights. Wolfgang dubbed it Punks in the Gym and graded it 32. It was the hardest grade in the world at that time. Kiwi Nick Sutter got the first Antipodean tick in 1992, and Australia finally flew the flag over Punks when Stuart Wyithe topped out in 1993. On 28 October 2012, after making regular forays to Mt Arapiles over the last couple of years, Kiwi Mayan Smith-Gobat bagged the first female ascent of Punks. Mayan, what attracted you to Punks in the Gym? Punks is the most famous route in the Southern Hemisphere. Its a super-historical route it was the first 8B+ (32) in the world and was first climbed by Wolfgang Gullich, the master of sport climbing. My first climbing trip ever was to Arapiles. I remember walking past Punks and noticing its beauty. Its the only real line on a smooth, steep, orange face on a stand-alone tower there are a few variations, but its the true line. Once I got on it, the intricacies of the route the combination of technical climbing and powerful moves really inspired me. How many days would you estimate youve spent on Punks? I dont know and I dont want to know. I first tried it in April 2010. Since then Ive put a lot of time and effort into it the number of days doesnt matter anymore. There was a lot of renewed interest in Punks and some ascents by male climbers while you were working it how did that impact your focus? It made me see Punks as a personal challenge. I learned to see the route as I was doing as a different climb to what they were doing. It was hard sometimes, but it was also inspiring to see people walk up and do really well. The first female ascent has been a much-coveted prize. How did you handle that additional pressure? At first it definitely stressed me out, but I realised that climbing Punks meant more to me. I wanted to climb the route for myself, and I didnt really care if I was the first woman or not. Coming to that conclusion was a really important step in my progress on the route. It released me from that internal pressure.

I climbed with Jarmila Tyrril a lot. She lives at Arapiles now, and we often worked on the route together. We got on really well, and it was great to share our experiences. Occasionally, though, there was still an underlying competitive edge we are both very driven climbers. Where was the crux for you? The true crux for me was standing up on the birdbath. Even though I fell off hitting the birdbath more times than I fell above it, that move to handfoot match on to the birdbath and then stand up has always been the most difficult for me. In the first week of trying Punks, I almost gave up on it because of that move! Tell me about the ascent. It was about two and a half weeks into my trip and I had come really close, falling twice as I was putting my foot onto the birdbath. The next day ended in frustration I didnt come close. I took a rest day and returned with high hopes. Things werent really happening. I didnt even get to the birdbath. In frustration, I stopped and didnt intend to try it again that day. Conditions werent perfect: it was warm, it was the end of the day and my skin was sweating and destroyed. So I belayed my friend Ben Rueck on the route for quite a while. Ben made some pretty good linkage. That got me psyched again and I decided to have another go, just for the hell of it. I felt tired from the moment I pulled on. I was climbing pretty well, but was definitely working harder than I had other times. Then I hit the birdbath and, just, just latched it. My body was kicking out from the wall so hard it totally juiced my left arm. I caught the birdbath on the far right of the hold, which made it hard to match on it. But I thought, Well, Ive been here before. Just give it everything. I stayed on by the skin of my teeth, desperately slapping holds until I was standing on the birdbath. Id done the top many times because I knew Id be a bit nervous. But I was more nervous than I thought I would be. I had to work hard to keep it together. I spent a long time standing on the birdbath, trying to pull myself together. I was solid up there the top section felt in control in the end. Clipping the chains was an amazing feeling much more powerful than I had expected. Having worked it for so long, I almost expected it to be an anticlimax. But it was incredible because I had to fight for it. Why do you think it came together? Id put the work into it this time. Id actually trained for it before going down there, so I was a lot stronger than I have been, ever. Almost every time I pulled on from the jug that launches you into the setup for the crux sequence, I could climb from there to the top. (On previous trips I was getting it sometimes, but I wasnt consistent.)

Mayan climbing into the crux of Punks. Brett Williams

Mayan moving into what was the crux of Punks for her, getting her foot up into the birdbath hold in her right hand. So I knew I was capable of doing it. I think it happened when it did because I was a bit tired. I had given up, so I wasnt putting a lot of pressure on myself anymore. I managed to stay relaxed while still giving it everything. It sounds like it came down to headspace. I think it did. Its been a really interesting route for me to work on in that sense, and Ive learnt a lot. Ive always been at Arapiles on a time frame. So Ive always got some form of time pressure at the back of my mind. And everyone knew what I was doing, and that created a feeling of external pressure. Then Punks is such a famous route, one that I never thought Id do, and that was something I struggled with for a while. I had to break through that barrier and convince myself Im a good enough climber to climb this route.

What are your thoughts on the reconstructed birdbath hold? Why do you think it has taken so long for this first female ascent to happen? A lot of its got to do with location. There are not many females climbing that grade in Australasia. And the three crux moves are reach problems. The taller you are, the easier they get. If youre short, this route requires serious power. From a European point of view, for the last five to 10 years, climbing 8B+ (32) is really good, but its not ground-breaking. And travelling to Australia to climb an old-school 8B+ that is probably way harder than anything youre going to get on in Europe, well, there are not many female climbers psyched to put that much effort in. Especially because Punks doesnt mean as much in Europe as it does in the Southern Hemisphere. I wish there was a good photo of it before it was reconstructed. I wouldnt be surprised if the hold had been made marginally better it is hard to believe that the chipped hold had that nice little lip the birdbath has now. But Im sure it is only a marginal improvement on the original. Wolfgang would never have graded Punks at 32 had the hold been much worse than it is now because the crux moves are getting onto and off of that hold. How do you think you have developed as a climber while working Punks? It gave me big lessons in patience. I had to learn how to deal with the frustration of not achieving goals, of dealing with failure. I spent a lot of time debating why I was falling off, because on previous trips I fell off going to the birdbath a lot. And I think I spent

Image: Clare Langmore: James Kassay on Ulan Bator 7bt, Rocklands, South Africa

I had to break through that barrier and convince myself Im a good enough climber to climb this route.

Do you agree with Punks being graded 32? If you take into account the amount of effort and time Ive put into it, Punks is the hardest thing Ive climbed, which would put it at 33 for me. But I totally agree with 32. It shouldnt be graded anything else. Many taller climbers have said they found it easy for the grade. But they were still good technical climbers you cant just be strong and pull hard to get up this route.




a lot of time over-thinking the route. One of the biggest lessons was realising that if Punks really meant something to me, I needed to just show up and try redpointing it. I had wanted to go to the Valley for a month as well, but I realised that it was one or the other: I could focus on Punks or I could do something else and forget about Punks for this year. Going through that thought process was a big shift for me. I dedicated almost a month to training specifically for this trip. I ended up in Grand Junction, Colorado, where I trained with Rob Pizem. I followed Robs regimes, focusing mainly on core and power training, with a lot of weighted hangs on a fingerboard. I worked on my weaknesses and tried to simulate the type of movement I knew Id need. Its something I have always wanted to experiment with, and it was a lot of fun. Having it work and work really well has made me realise how much I can achieve with focused training in addition to going climbing. Where do you see yourself going from here? Is there a comparable route you want to turn your focus to? Im looking for something to sink my teeth into. Realising I can achieve harder things in sport climbing through training has inspired me to try taking it to the next level maybe 34? Im up at Smith Rocks right now because I wanted to check out Just Do It. Im definitely attracted to repeats of the historic routes I find they have additional meaning. Just Do It was the first 14C (34) in America, and it hasnt seen a female ascent yet. Its on the Monkey Face, so it has that aesthetic, proud nature. Ive spent the last couple of days looking at the route and trying the moves. I dont know if I will be able to do it at this stage. I have a lot of work to do first. But right now Im not sure it might not be the first one I get on. Conditions here in Smith have been far from optimal it has been snowing and its absolutely freezing. Just Do It feels hard, but 34s are meant to be hard, right? I am looking forward returning to it in April next year, after a block of training. The traditional crux: hitting the birdbath hold.




WIZ FINERON Somalia (33)


Mayan thanks her sponsors, Adidas and Five Ten, Petzl, Sterling Rope, Ems Power Cookies, Nemo and Joshua Tree.

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Photo: Simon Mentz


WORDS: Ben Buckland IMAGES: Marek Chilinski, Viviane Monteiro, Royce Ferguson



Nils Favre on the first ascent of Ragot FM (8A+/V12) at Fionnay. Viviane Monteiro
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We are somewhere in Val Ferret and its snowing. It is not the dry, fluffy snow that brushes neatly off holds, leaving them cold and crisp. Nor the kind Jerry Moffat could sweep away with a broom. Its the kind of snow youd expect to find in Sheffield, not Switzerland. Almost immediately on contact with something the flakes disintegrate into slush and the snow underfoot is broken up with pools of freezing water. It is also increasingly foggy. Luckily, the path we are following doubles as a cross-country skiing trail and thin blue posts, leaning drunkenly in their disintegrating holes, mark the way. Through the fog, various boulders can be seen in what must, in summer, be a delightful meadow. Unfortunately, reaching any of them involves veering off the path and into much deeper snow and all those we have approached so far seem too small to be what we are looking for. A man slithers past on cross-country skis. He doesnt look like he is having fun, but in comparison, lugging a damp crashpad through the fog is starting to feel silly. He doesnt look at us as he goes past. He probably thinks we are homeless. We do all have beards. And Royce is wearing flip-flops. After he passes, we stand for a while peering at the German directions in our online guidebook. The problem we are looking for sounds amazing. Google Translate suggests the beta will involve very pure climbing with two very heavy trains. Unfortunately, however, the directions are less enlightening: follow small house, left large field. We might be lost. You only have to glance at the Magic Wood car park to know Swiss bouldering has hit the big time. All summer long the place is packed solid as cars from Russia, Germany, Sweden, the UK and the rest of Europe ferry loads of beanie-wearing wads to tick the classics, draw thousands of oversized tick marks, yell allez in a variety of accents, lie on your crash pads, steal your chalk and generally burn you off while wearing fluorescent E9 trousers. Made famous by the pioneering efforts of Fred Nicole, Bernd Zangerl and Dave Graham (amongst many notable others), Magic Wood and the big Ticino areas Cresciano, Chironico and Brione are considered by many to be among the best bouldering areas in the world. Indeed, a ridiculous concentration of hard problems (Magic Wood has five 8C/V15 boulders within a 10 minute walk of each other), a variety of elevations and climates, bullet-hard rock and spectacular surroundings, make it hard to disagree. Not to mention the fact that Ticino is also Italian-speaking, which means after-climbing booze, pizza and ice cream among castles and tanned locals on the shores of Lake Lugano. Nils Favre climbs Prlude (8A/V11) at Massongex. Marek Chilinski Swiss bouldering, however, is way more than just the big-name areas and those willing to head off the beaten track are rewarded by completely deserted crags, alpine meadows, first ascents and thousands of high quality problems.


A huge concentration of the other Swiss bouldering is found in the canton of Valais, a French-German bilingual state in the south of the country that includes a lot of big name ski resorts (think Verbier and Zermatt) and very few people. Most famously, Valais is home to the village of Branson where Fred Nicole established the worlds first V13/8B (Danse des Balrogs) and the first V14/8B+ (Radja). The town also has some decent vineyards, which is good, because, apart from these two problems, there isnt any climbing there.

Favre again, this time climbing Comme qui Kidet (8B/V13), Massongex. Marek Chilinski

The regions pearl, however, is the high-altitude area of Plex, home to 800+ problems throughout a beautiful forest, with views to Mt Blanc and Les Dents du Midi.

Most famously, Valais is home to the village of Branson where Fred Nicole established the worlds first V13/8B (Danse des Balrogs) and the first V14/8B+ (Radja).
latter cutting a astounding line through a massive roof on the banks of a white-water river. The regions pearl, however, is the high-altitude area of Plex, home to 800+ problems throughout a beautiful forest, with views to Mt Blanc and Les Dents du Midi. Inaccessible in winter (unless youre nuts enough to do the walk in with an ice axe - and people have), this summer-Mecca is the perfect spot for send-tanning and enjoying the view while your tips recover from burns on the often very steep and crimpy lines. There is no guidebook as yet, but generally the locals are happy to show you what is good, including the perfect prow of the Sting (8A+) and a contender for the regions best 7B/V7 (Effervescence) and 7B+/V8 (Cassiopea). Just dont climb on the boulders near the farmhouses at the bottom of the hill - the local dairy farmer thinks that powerscreams spoil the milk. Back in the snow, our search for the climbing at Val Ferret continues. It is one of those rare days where even the many valleys, peaks and ridges of the Valais fail to produce a pocket of good weather. After bailing on Les Trappistes when a storm soaked the (already scary) top-outs, this is our last hope of getting a climb in. Eventually, we abandon our trek through the snow and follow the tracks of the lone skier back towards the car park. A bit of Google translating of the guidebook later, we drive further down the road to park speculatively in a lumberyard. Here the path is easier to find and we eventually find the boulder we are looking for. Three awesome lines - 7A, 7C+, and 8B - on cool steep rock. The faces are dry but the top-outs are soaking wet. Maybe we should have gone to Magic Wood for the weekend. We bail to a bar to drink beer and look hopefully at the weather map. The ten old dudes who are already there are tight as owls and completely silent. They turn slowly from watching football and eye our beanies and crashpads. One gives us a look that says youre not from around here, are you? We are not. But, from what Ive seen, well definitely be back.

In winter, climbing mostly takes place in the Rhne valley at low elevations. Of these low areas, the best are Massongex, Dorenaz and Vernayaz. None of these areas are huge but the granite climbing at Vernayaz in particular includes a big concentration of cool lines at all grades (up to 8B+/V14), including the beautiful Age de Pierre (6B+/V3), a terrifying Dave Graham highball arte (6A/ V0), and the Nicole brothers overhanging power problems Les Yeux Rouges (7C+/V10) and Petite Arvine (8A/V11). Dorenaz, across on the sunny side of the valley, is a tiny area but includes one of the regions best 7A/V6 problems, (an atmospheric highball roof that tops out into a cemetery) and Kheops, a classic shoulderdestroying 7C/V9 on golden gneiss. A landslide made access to Massongex a bit sketchy a few years ago but the fallen trees have mostly been cleared now and this slow-drying sector has some gems. Carnet de Roots (7B+/V8) involves brilliant toe-hooking and compression moves up a steep wall, while Montebello (7C+/V10) climbs a series of system-board pinches up a golden, 45 bloc of gneiss. Higher up the valley is Fionnay - location of Dave Grahams world class Permanent Midnight (8B/V13) - and Les Trappistes, another small area, which is nevertheless home to a lot of high-quality problems, including the regions best 8A+/V12 (The Orphe) and contenders for its best 7C/V9 (Baruka) and 7C+ (Deep Tera), the


Favre emerging out of the gloom into the brilliance of Vernayaz. Marek Chilinski


Favre sends Permanent Midnight (8B/V13) at Fionnay. Viviane Monteiro

Favre on Orphe (8A/V11) at Les Trappistes. Viviane Monteiro

Toby Wright on an unnamed 7C/V9 at Les Trappistes. Royce Ferguson

Best of the grade:

Angels and Thorns (6A/V0), Vernayaz L'Eden (6A+/V1), Dorenaz Tl La Source (6B/V2), Massongex Age de Pierre (6B+/V3),Vernayaz Monkey Business (6C/V4), Massongex Interstellar Overdrive (6C+/V5), Vernayaz Bloc Veuthey (7A/V6), Doreneaz Tl Caran d'Ache (7A+/V67), Vernayaz Carnet de Roots (7B/V7), Massongex Cassiopea, (7B+/V8), Plex Baruka, (7C/V9), Les Trappistes Les Yeux Rouges (7C+/V10), Vernayaz The Arte, (8A/V11), Les Trappistes The Sting (8A+/V12), Plex Permanent Midnight (8B/V13), Fionnay Radja (8B+/V14), Branson

One of the best things about climbing in the Valais is that intersecting valleys create a multitude of microclimates. As well as helping the local wine growers make decent booze, the different weather regions mean it is almost always possible to find an area that is in condition, no matter what time of year it is, or how much it is hammering with rain somewhere else. The satellite maps on are useful in this regard.

Where to stay
If youre quiet and discreet, camping is possible at Plex and Les Trappistes. Otherwise there are many good B&Bs and apartments to rent around the region. Try for good options.

Where to climb when it rains

In the rain, head to St Georges in the neighbouring canton of Vaud. This steep limestone crag doesnt seep, stays dry in all weather and has bouldering up to 8B/V13 and routes up to 8c+/34. Locals have also kitted the crag out with nice pine bark landings, garden furniture and a BBQ.

Most of these areas are accessible by public transport. The Swiss rail website ( gives details of the very frequent trains. Les Trappistes, Fionnay and Plex, unfortunately, require a car, unless you really like walking (although hitch-hiking is also relatively easy in the Swiss countryside). Fly into Geneva airport and either rent a car ( or take the train from there.

Swiss Bouldering covers some areas. More reliable is the (German only) website which includes almost all of the areas mentioned here. Google translate and decent photos of the problems make it a good solution.

When to go
Climbing in Valais is good all year round, although Spring and Autumn are best.

WORDS: Steve Kelly IMAGES: Ross Taylor There are moves and there are moves. Take for instance One Move. One Move isnt everyones cup of tea, particularly for those of a lesser stature. This is because some regard One Moves other name as Big Move, which many people find disconcerting. Big Move is responsible for numerous failures and a large amount of skin loss. He has even been blamed for the odd broken ankle, although personally he thinks that has nothing to do with him and a lot to do with whats called a Badly Executed Move. Big Move travels around a lot and appears frequently around the world. Some of his more famous incarnations are the likes of the crux jump on Air Star (V13) Rocklands, the crux of El Pontas (9b/37) in Mallorca and the incredibly big move of Rainbow Rocket (V11) in Fontainebleau. Of course, not all big moves are simply big. Some rely on coordination, trickery, speed and flexibility. Come to think of it, most do, but dont tell short people that. Big Move is often mistaken for Dyno Move and rather confusingly some people even call Dyno Move Deadpoint Move. Deadpoint Move hates being mistaken for Dyno Move as hes far more intellectual than that. Deadpoint prides himself on being a controlled thing of beauty, not some haphazard unrefined slap that anyone and their dog can perform (even if youre short). He is constantly tormented by the confusion created by that lifelong question of what is a dyno compared to a deadpoint? and refuses to enter into such debates unless its with a particularly goodlooking person of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, this brings us to the subject of what is regarded as an Efficient Move and what is just a Hollywood Move. A Hollywood Move is largely performed in front of girlfriends or large gatherings


Simon Weill and One, Big, Dyno Move.

of innocent looking people at well-known climbing areas. These people have nothing better to do than lose a lot of saliva watching their Favourite Move performed by someone that has done a lot of them with their shirt off. These include the irrepressible Heel Hook Move, the Egyptian Move and the mother of them all the La Rose Move. By no coincidence these moves were mainly invented in France back in the mid-1980s by a bunch of thin and suntanned people looking for recognition from the French Ballet Society. Back then climbers wore a lot of skin-hugging pink lycra and were constantly on the hunt for The Ultimate Move. This led to the invention of new moves, notably the aforementioned La Rose Move and the strange phenomenon of the Egyptian Move, but it didnt stop there. In what is now considered to be one of the darkest days in the history of Mr Dyno Move, the legendary crux of Chouca (8b/31 at the time) was transformed into no less than a new-age Figure Four Move by someone with an American accent. France s top route turned into a static pathway through the use of some very flexible hips. Dyno Move wasnt happy and neither were his mates, for suddenly all forms of trickery were used in an effort to bypass what had previously been considered Nails Hard Moves and in some instances Virtually Impossible Moves. Maginot Lines (8c/33) crux for instance, previously a Very Hard Dyno Move, transformed into a mere Toe-Hook Move. Evolutions (8c+/34) crux turned from a Bloody Hard Crimp Move into a simple Egyptian Move. Punks in the Gyms (32) crux turned into a Slab Rockover Move. The Crews (8c/33) crux turned into a Kneebar Move. When the dust settled routes were downgraded, reputations

shredded, guidebooks adjusted and pilates class numbers increased the world over. Some even enrolled in the French Ballet Society, while others threw in the towel and went in search of something that had fewer moves. Egyptians were one thing. Performing one after 46 moves was another Consequently around this time a revolution began, although to be fair it had been brewing for a while. Moves that had previously been considered Party Trick Moves suddenly came out of the closet to be recognised as totally valid moves. Moves such as Campus Move and One-Arm Move came from all walks of life (even dark, dank cellars in Britain) and revelled in the simplicity of what truly was The Real Thing. Suddenly entire families as little as One to Ten Moves announced their right to reside in the country of their birth, and take up residence in places long thought to be the sole territory of vastly numerous moves. Even areas full of easier moves such as Yosemite Valley gave way to the invasion of the sub-Ten Mover, culminating in a specimen that was (quite deliberately) known as The Dominator. The Dominator (V12) in Yosemites Camp 4 was a prime example of Three Moves, introduced to the world by someone that had nurtured relationships with just about nearly every other move. It helped usher in a new respect for as few moves as possible, especially considering that it lay beneath something that had so many moves; no one had bothered to count them. This new movement to become friends with as little as One to Ten Moves increased in such popularity that the nirvana of Hueco (which had long been a haven for anything between One to Twenty Moves) was closed to the public, which many thought was one of the worst moves ever.

However, with the closure of Hueco came the creation of other areas whose sole intent was to cultivate relationships with the same types of moves. Cresciano, Ticino, Branson, Squamish and even Joes Valley became sanctuaries for anything that didnt require a rope or a calculator to work out. At last Three Moves, Four Moves and Five Moves began getting the recognition they so rightly deserved This rampage went so unharnessed that it wasnt long before the opposers of too many moves took it one step further and brought out a book, which strangely enough was called One Move Too Many. The book suggested that too many days spent playing with a Hard Move, Dyno Move, Drop Knee Move, Mono Move and Campus Move could lead to an injury, in which case you wouldnt be doing any other moves, least of all an Egyptian. This brings us back to the move in question. Since his public embarrassment at the hands of the Figure Four Move in the mid-1980s, One Move had gone on to become notorious, notably via highly televised World Cup Competition circuits. Hed also travelled the world and deposited himself in the midst of large expanses of limestone in an effort to promote his status as A Truly Incredible Move and win the hearts of climbers everywhere, even in Scotland. His reputation had exceeded itself from that of a mere One Move Wonder to something much greater. He had evolved into any move you wanted him to be on a boulder problem or a route, whether it was a Heel-Toe Move, a Lock-Off Move, a Back-Step Move, a High-Step Move or a Damned Hard Cut Loose Move. Most importantly, however, he was the key to reaching that position in space that you had been trying to get to all along. No More Moves.


On The

Tasmanian Will Bartlett coming tantalisingly close to sending El Fustigador ( 8a+/30) at Margalef, Spain.
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Jack Kerouac once wrote, All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road. For climbers it isnt much more complicated; in the boot a tangle of ropes and tent poles, stoves, salami and some stale sandwiches, on our laps a map and, stretching out ahead, plans and adventure. This is the dream. Its silly really, but many of us aspire to spend significant tracts of time as itinerant travellers in far flung corners of our little blue world, living in relative poverty and climbing rocks. Sometimes there are goals: a particular summit or route or grade, but more often than not, its simply a rambling journey strung between piles of stone that ordinary citizens have never heard of, but we revere as holier than Mecca. Earlier this year a friend and I did exactly that, visiting such well known pilgrimage sites as Ceuse, Catalunya, Kalymnos, the Dolomites and Llanberis Pass. On the way we got attacked by cows, fattened ourselves on gelato, visited ancient temples, drove dizzying distances on the wrong side of the road and even managed to squeeze in the odd bit of rock climbing. We met all manner of people: Glaswegian larrikins and a Welsh anarchist, fun-loving Spaniards and sour-faced Slovaks, a duo of ever-smiling North Americans and a couple of merry South Americans. Oh, and quite a few Australians, and a lone Kiwi dirtbag too. For all of them, climbing was the impetus, but not necessarily the end goal. While it is nice to tick off a suite of hard routes, the experiences, the friends and adventures to be had on the way are often far more memorable than a list of numbers. With that in mind, view these photos as a record of roaming vagabonds living the dream, not simply climbers sending routes.

Christiaan Diemont enjoying rare sunshine while climbing Bella Lugosi is Dead (E1 5b/19) near Rainbow Slab, Llanberis, Wales.

Christiaan Diemont soaking up the exposure on Biscotte Margarine (6b+/21), a singlepitch, rap-in and climb out route at Gorge du Verdon, France.

West Australias Logan Barber caressing little pockets while casually sending Cubata + Chupita 3 Euros (8b) at Margalef, Spain.



WORDS: Michael Meadows IMAGES: Neill Lamb and Brisbane Bushwalkers Collection The idea that a leader can fall on a climb and do so safely is a relatively recent one. It gained momentum in the early to mid1980s with a concerted movement to push the difficulty of climbs higher and higher, paralleled, or propelled, by the advent of more reliable forms of protection. The approach accelerated with the emergence in Australia of sport climbing in the early 1990s. Since then, the sight of a leader falling on a route either in the gym or out on a crag has become commonplace. But it was not always so. Before modern gear it was generally accepted that if a leader did fall, he or she would inevitably either be killed, badly injured and, as a added bonus, probably pull the other climbers tied into the rope off the cliff in the process. So from the time rockclimbing was invented in the Lake District in the UK around the late 1890s, the rule was simple: the leader never falls. The bold leaders of the day who, in most cases, virtually soloed new routes, were known as Tigers. And the adage that they followed the leader never falls became known as the Tigers Rule. UK Gritstone pioneers like Dean Frankland and Fergus Graham were renowned for their practice of soloing climbs throughout the 1920s, and knowledge of this through various publications undoubtedly influenced the first climbing movements in Australia in southeast Queensland and the Blue Mountains. Interestingly, each area took a different path: in Queensland Bert Salmons approach, following the gritstone model, was to shun the use of a rope because of the dangers it represented. His counterpart in New South Wales, Eric Dark, used rope in certain circumstances to safeguard climbers, adopting the philosophy of British climber Albert Mummery that a rope was solely a precautionary measure. Regardless, the ethics of rope use in both states was questionable: Salmons climbing parties sometimes hauled themselves up a difficult pitch (following Salmons soloing lead) on a knotted rope, while Dark used what he described as an unethical instrument a two-metre long ice axe with a deeply curved pick and a notch to hold the rope where the shaft entered the head, which was used to provide protection to a lead climber by placing a rope around a tree or protuberance above them. Despite their differences, both Salmon and Dark adhered to the Tigers Rule. This basic philosophy remained a central element of rockclimbing in Australia as it emerged in various locations around the country almost simultaneously following World War II. The standard of new climbs was dependent almost entirely on the ability of a confident and strong leader who was prepared to solo a route. There were other good reasons for this: the only ropes easily available in Australia were made from hemp and were deemed unreliable in

Graham Baines in classic 1950s climbing gear. Brisbane Bush Walkers collection Bill Peascod at Kangaroo Point cliffs in 1955. Neill Lamb collection Friction boots a la 1955. The trusty Volley OCs were the best available options before the introduction of European friction boots in the 1960s. Brisbane Bush Walkers collection



terms of holding a lead fall. In addition, very little in the way of other climbing gear carabiners, pitons etc was readily available. A trickle of army surplus equipment found its way onto Australian crags, but, by and large, the Tigers Rule remained unchallenged. In 1952 the emigration to Australia by pioneering Lakeland Tiger and guide Bill Peascod both reinforced the dangers of relying on existing equipment to safeguard a falling leader and pushed the standard of climbing in Australia to new heights. His approach to climbing upheld the status quo: The rule was simple. Never fall off and I never did; well, hardly ever did, Peascod recalled. He began climbing in 1938, aged 16, and is widely regarded along with Jim Birkett as the first of the English working class climbers, preceding his more well-known compatriots like Joe Brown and Don Whillans. Unable to make a living from his passion for climbing, he retired to take up a post as a lecturer in mining engineering at Wollongong. Within two years of his arrival, the retired climber had started a rockclimbing group at Bulli and linked up with the newly-formed Sydney Rockclimbing Club through co-founder Russ Kippax. The pair soon found themselves trying a new route on Tonduron in the Warrumbungles, a climb which Kippax recalls had absolutely no protection at all. They encountered a similar problem on what later became the classic Cornerstone Rib (14), as Kippax remembers: We tried to get up this rib but we couldnt get any pro; we couldnt make a belay so we came down and went up what is now called Vintage Rib (15). Fairly early in the piece, Bill said, Im a crack and chimney man and by looking at you, youre a wall man, which I was, so he took all the cracks and chimneys in some of them you could just lift out the handholds and I took the walls. A few months later they made the first ascent of South Arete on The Breadknife (11). Peascod always climbed with his own makeshift harness a single strand of rope around his waist linked by a carabiner to a shoulder loop and a trademark white floppy washing hat. He climbed in a pair of Pierre Allain friction boots, better known as PAs a rarity in Australia at that time. Following his retirement in New South Wales, in 1955 he was invited to conduct a rockclimbing training session at Kangaroo Point in the centre of Brisbane. His visit came in the wake of the second climbing fatality in Queensland. A large group of local climbers and bushwalkers assembled at the riverside quarry to hear him speak. Although some were unimpressed, others warmed to his philosophy of seeing climbing as an experience, shared with a mountain or cliff: he dismissed the idea of conquering anything. In retrospect, this may have been the most significant influence he had on local climbing culture: instilling in the next generation of climbers an attitude that underlined the importance of a strong relationship with

Brisbane Bush Walkers president Julie Henry tests belaying techniques in 1955. Brisbane Bush Walkers collection

Experimenting with a new fangled piton in 1955 following Bill Peascods training session at Kangaroo Point. Brisbane Bush Walkers collection.

Bill Peascod training session at Kangaroo Point in 1955. Neill Lamb collection

Bill Peascod (foreground) takes some gear from Julie henry on the first ascent of Faith on Tibrogargan in 1955. Neill Lamb collection

the landscape and environment. This approach was particularly evident in a new generation of climbers who emerged around 1950 from the newly-formed University of Queensland Bushwalking Club (UQBWC). Alan Frost was one of the new generation of local Queensland Tigers at that time and recalls the feeling of the day in the wake of Bill Peascods visit: It was more: If nobodys done it, lets have a go at it; I wonder what its like? rather than Lets do the first ascent. There was no thought of that. Nobody wrote it down, for a start, or not usually it was exploring rather than, Well, lets do the first ascent of this, which is the sort of thing that people would be doing now.

Another of Peascods impacts on the Brisbane climbing scene and elsewhere was to make climbers aware of the inadequacies of their rudimentary belaying techniques. Another local Tiger, Peter Barnes, recalls the strange-looking equipment Peascod demonstrated that day in Brisbane pitons, a piton hammer, and carabiners: So then we bought some crabs and we made our own piton hammers out of bricklayers hammers. And then, because Geoff Goadby [a sailor] could splice a rope together so well, we made ourselves a sling out of climbing rope But the basic principle was: The leader doesnt fall, The second is protected, and we didnt climb anything above about Grade 10.

During his brief Brisbane interlude, Bill Peascod joined with local climbers to put up several new routes in the Glass House Mountains and on the steep rhyolite walls of The Steamers, near Killarney. He lived in Australia until 1972 when he suffered a massive heart attack and returned to England to recuperate. When he recovered, he resumed climbing in his beloved Lake District. In 1985, climbing on the Welsh crag Clogwyn dur Arddu (Cloggy) with Don Whillans and Jim Birketts son, Bill, he died on the first pitch. He was 65 years old. Ironically, at the same time that he took the philosophy of the Tigers Rule with him to his grave, a new wave of climbers had emerged, hellbent on rewriting the rulebook again.




August 19th, ensnared betwixt couch and encrusted carpet, some damnable living room (any Living Room). It was early enough for the pigeons to be cooing their deranged alarm clock, resonating in my skull, as if overnight while I lay sprawled and prone with a mistreated vodka bottle further sprawled from a limp hand these awful birds had managed to flutter their ragged avian carcasses through the window and nest behind my eyes. Its a leap year of the Water Dragon, evidently leaping into the uterine-waters of social media, a fuzzy super-imposed year, 2012. A year that England started Olympics torch-lit-bonfires to the vanities while their swarthy cousins, Greece, went into catatonic financial free fall. The same year Kim Jong Un petulantly launched more missiles to prove hes his grandfathers sons son, Julian Assange cropped his platinum mane and prepared for war, the year a resinously-seminal climbing digest Vertical Life was brought kicking and squealing into our doomed world. My iPhone rings. Lets say for verisimilitudes sake, Sunday, 10.01 am, Melbourne, Fitzroy (ouch). We want you to go and check out The Scene in Spain, were sending you a photographer, the incessant buzz came from my unexpectedly slippery phone-case. Well Im flattered, all that skin and sun, mmmm, Id have to wax my arms. I dont do full frontal nudity unless I have a disguise of sorts, a unicorn say, or a or a huge cheque to serve the same purpose. But I hardly see how prowling gay bars in Spain has anything to do with a climbing magazine. The Climbing Scene.. Siurana, Lleida, maybe some colour from Barcelona, speak to some legends. I warrant that makes more sense, but I dont see why I need to get nude. You dont. Let me be the judge of that. Now, whats the lowdown? The angle; the bescumbered heart of this deceptive animal in the swamp reeds? Ill need a character, do it old school and edgy, get right in there, oiled up and engorged. Ill do it Gonzo style, tussle with this beast head on, hand to hand. Like the puppet from The Muppets? Or, uh, the commando journalism style where subjective is treated as the only authentic objectivity? Sure, sure, Muppets. Now, whats the score Mr. Boss Man? The iPhone broadcasted its distant fizzle, such audacious clichs as ground-up, constantly cranking, a muerte, test pieces at newly developed areas and bomb-proof gear reviews in extreme

conditions teetered from the receiver. It was clear this was some kind of master plan, a conspiracy, no one really talked like this did they? They wished me well, which was obviously a code that dangled tauntingly at the outer reaches of decipherability. The Mole snuck into the Garden last night, I whispered hoarsely into iPhone static just to check. The baffled silence was most likely an affirmation. Yeah right, whatever you say, just dont get loaded and locked up again. A cab will swing past in an hour, your flights this afternoon. You fascist bully-boys. I sniffed back spools of mucus and tears as the room whirled or my head whirled, I closed my eyes and wished the centrifugal forces would cancel each other out, but either the darkness or the wishing only made it worse. Im sorry? Uh, I said, bully for you old boy, I have necrotising fasciitis. Its a skin condition. I clicked off and stared at the inside of my swirly eye lids. Spain; the next frontier. What would I climb, what treasure was waiting at new and old crags, who would I meet along the way? I wondered if Id even make it to France for Fontainebleau to bask in the spectral resplendence of that ancient chateau and rocks. I decided to slate these questions for when they presented themselves in their full horrific incarnations, or I was sober. 12.44 pm Tullamarine airport Melbourne, interminable terminals. Meet photographer next to baggage check, a grinning man with breasts who looks like a golden retriever in track-pants. My names Tix, with an X. Tix offered as if it might be an unwritten colloquial joke people in the know knew, though I had no idea. This will be my climbing partner, my confidant, my crutch, and he was an asthmatic. His puffer was worn to a sheen. We stood in profoundly awkward silence before he said. I heard through the Tweet-vine that you redpointed a 32 last weekend. It was more paisley point. I ate a porridge bowl of dimethylamylamine that morning. Whats a paisley point? he wheezed Its a form of aided down-climbing. Here take this, I said and handed him my luggage Our Samsonite bag, chocked full of draws, cams, nuts, NavahoIndian warpaint (made in Mumbai), six hip flasks and grappling hook, clinks sulkily and vanishes along a conveyer to be stowed. In the claustrophobic flight I wanted to be sick, to vomit technicolour


WORDS: Doctor Imovane Gonzo. IMAGES: Doctor Imovane Gonzo, Adam Demmert



plastic cup in the air. Was the plane trembling? Hold on tight, tendons of steel, heart of the... the panther? Wolf? Eagle? Heart of Pharlap. 10.11 am Barcelona airport, (spearing Time in the chest with an A330 Airbus , scolding a retreat before Time redoubled its onslaught) El Prat del Llobregat. Cab ride, bowel distress causing double-ended squints. The back seat smelt of tobacco and egg What would Hunter do? What would he say? I mused, dusty bespectacled, hunch-backed like I had flown in the overhead luggage compartment, and I answered myself in the same breath Hed take blotter acid and swim with the fishes, upstream. No such luck, Tix wrote on a scrap of paper on the pad at his lap and put in frowny face, although by that stage of sleep deprivation the ledger might not have been real, or not really real, since the 25 hour flight there seemed to be previously unseen degrees. The highway splashed about at the fore of the SEAT hatchback like a child in a bathtub of cold water, or a manic windsock inflated doll, the colours crimson and yellow outside an electrical appliance store that dealt primarily in dangerously faulty goods. The end of the world would be sold with psychopath-like shop clerks running from the blazing horizon, I was pretty sure my travel agent would be amongst them. Buy a membership get one free - round trip - its steal - travel club Cruise Lines Global pty ltd! The man would wail with night terrors haranguing him even by day, straight from the void where wraiths and Sirens of Mercedes Benz, Tag Heuer, rhinoplasty and that faceless apparition demarked by calf-skin Luis Vuitton, all tormenting in tag-teams, demanding fresh pounds of flesh and hopelessly perverted souls. Through Cordunella we grazed down narrow stone streets, overhead a sign (alluding to falling detritus, plates, scraps, children, from the old buildings) hung, reading Peril Indeterminant. I nodded and moaned quietly to myself as my eyes flickered on the headrest. What better place was there to watch the greenhouse world combust like a house of incendiary cards, than from the top of a 7a that would splinter and swallow him like the worms mouth in Dune. I knew Id have to master the spice before the end of the week or the sun swans dives in an ecstatic grand mal into the well at my feet. Asomate al balcon, Con tu cara de sardina frita, the driver said, his ape hands hirsute with a scraggly thick pelt. This leather skinned protuberance of belly around man, whod be pushed to waddle from bar to lavatory in a days work, held a cigar in one hand that was sheathed in a sporty aquamarine sweatband. He was clearly cracking under the weight of personal devils, possibly a yearning for fried foods served by effeminate shemale hands. If this was the guide, then the trip would have to crash before anyone even began fighting for survival. Que eres capaz de asustar, a todas las almas benditas, he

sing-songed. What does that even mean you goblin? I snarled through twitchtaut jaws, I was caked in an acrid sweat. The driver looked with a scrutiny and burst blood vessels into the rearview mirror, a single eye rubbed raw by vice, a scarlet letter O, his oversized hands trembling trigger-fevered on the wheel Come out on the balcony, with your face like a fried sardine, you would be able to frighten, all the souls in purgatory. He replied merrily and informed us it was a couplet from some kind of Hallmark valentines day competition in the city. The house of cards were evidently sick valentines day greetings all soaked in petrol. Clearly this was a city in the grip of a suicides thrill kill. The only kind of climbing I could imagine at that point was away from a snakes nest of mad European men with bared teeth, foetid pit-stench, waiting below to mug and eviscerate me (the Euro had just dipped to half parity), copulating with slippery machismo in a surly orgy, never once looking each other in the face, just killing time. The sign flashed once more in the swimming peripheral of my retinas; Peril Indeterminant. 13 Hundred hours (hundreds and thousands, all strewn over the cobbled pavement), Siurana camping refugio. We sojourned at the hostel to stow bags and I coyly hobbled through the bar, trying to look nonchalant, I obtained through a series of grunts and Neanderthal gestures, a putrescent bottle of liquor that had a name that sounded to his untrained ears, like a dog in pain. I made broad Tourette-like thanks, sweating profusely and flapping about like a freshly landed mackerel, gasping and gulping with vacant double-glazed eyes in my new waterless realm. After a nightmarish walk to the top of a pinnacle and a ruined castle (more ruin than castle) which might have been a thorn in the crown on the industrial revolutions martyr, genial ol Tix informed me we would be rapping in off a set of chains that looked like theyd been fished from the salt-eroded Titanic. My hands formed a gnarled rictus of chalky perpendicular angles, the speckled green valley dipped down below and receded away into orange and grey rock before verged up in stone outlines of old farmhouses with steeples. Desperate times, I slurred at his uncapped Nalgene waterbottle, pouring the moonshine into it, ineptly attempting to size up half the bottles volume but eventually transposing the entire contents. Desperate measures, I said. Then I alternated swigs from the bottle and tying myself in, by now fitted out with flannelette hat and aviator sunglasses, I tottered back and forth before leaning towards the precipices. I swore under my breath and said, The rocks here are all wrong, someones against us, theyve filled half the hand holds with polyurethane! clanking the bottle still snared in one hands death grip against the grey rock. I slipped and slapped at the surfaces

oil paint through Munchs Scream right there over the make-up sodden stewardess. Make that double a double post-haste, I gnashed and groaned after her. A large American couple sat next to me. She had iPod headphones wedged into her jubbly pink ears, a spray-hardened bonnet of bleached hair, and she gripped her purse in both sow hands and gurgled to her equally pig-like husband over the top of her music. Even from a seat away I could smell the portentous musk of her perfume-dank pits, a slough of troubled stink that spoke only of a harrowed self-denial bitterly crafted into militant xenophobia. Husband and Wife were so gluttonous that I imagined even their excretions, as they hunched double with greed in the planes 2X4 cubicle, were a reverse form of gobbling; watching their own slop spill as they licked their lips and said, mmm. I lamented once more to now vacant stewardess, jiggling the empty

the way a compromised new-born goat might on an icy road. (I reasoned I would have to learn the hard way, and the quicker I did it, the better, thus I had slipped only one leg into the harness, after crumbling a handful of spiny nettles into my Miuras and, ala a 1980s wet-t-shirt advertisement, upended an entire bottle of greasy SPF 30 over my now unrestrainable limbs). This I decided would be the lubrication towards enlightenment which would otherwise inhibit those of weaker or flinching personal integrity. I think youre taking the Gonzo thing a little too literally, big sallow Tix suggested, for a second I imagined his tongue out in the heat, panting. Ill write that down, I mused, before concluding Scratch that, Ill have to draw it. And I slung my bottle to a shiny carabineer and without looking, began to lower off.
Does he even climb at all? Read the second part of Gonzos Spanish sojourn ONLINE

Andrea Hah finds Lees new career as a hair model amusing on the belay of pitch six of his new route Free Reign (28).

Since returning to climbing after reconstructive shoulder surgery in 2011 I have been ridiculously motivated to climb. The constraints of holding down a 50-hour a week office job while also studying part time have meant that this energy is focused into a fiercely burning ball of desire, often overriding the need to sleep, eat or socialise normally. Every spare moment I either climb, train for climbing or froth incessantly about climbing to anyone unfortunate enough to be listening. To use the somewhat painful clich, Ive never been so psyched! This NEED to climb along with a three-weeklong enforced holiday over Christmas led my partner, Andrea Hah, and I to plan a trip to Mt Buffalo reputed to have the best summer conditions in Australia outside of Tassie (but whod want to go there?). The obvious challenge for anyone potentially capable is to attempt to free the legendary Australian classic Ozymandias (28), which ascends the imposing 270m-high North Wall of the gorge. The route has a long history with an attempt by John Ewbank and Chris Baxter before the first (aided) ascent by Baxter and Chris Dewhirst in the late 60s. Steve Monks freeing of the route in 1989 was a fine effort for the time, and to this day it has only been climbed five times from the ground to the top in a single push*. This is partly because it has hard, committing and insecure climbing, but it is still remarkable that a route of its status has had so few serious attempts as far as I know it has never had a free ascent by a Victorian! To say I was keen for Ozy was the understatement of the decade. Knowing that I wanted to attempt the route ground-up I figured that to aim for anything less than onsighting the whole route would be a cop out. After all, why go for second best? So, after returning from the Grampians in October, I set my sights firmly on this goal. With little time available I intensified my training. I tied 45kgs to my harness and tried to pull the hangboard off the wall. Yep, you told me so I hurt my finger. Still frothing my socks off, I made a splint out of my Engineers Australia membership card and taped my finger straight. Andrea and I would go out at 6am on Saturday mornings to beat the summer heat and try to climb 20 pitches before it got hot, always talking about how far up Ozy wed be in that many pitches. Finally the holidays came and we squeezed a rack and about 500m of rope in the car next to all my froth and zipped down the Hume to Buffalo. We spent a couple of days sussing the place out: top roping classic single-pitch routes in the gorge and getting a feel for the texture and friction of the stone. We also gazed across the gorge at the object of our desire, and ran around to the top of the route to peer over the edge and absorb the exposure. Since the North Wall is in the sun until midday we decided the way to approach a groundup one-day ascent would be to be to start the crux second pitch at first light, before sunrise. This would give us the full benefit of the long summer days and hopefully allow the crux pitch to be done in the cool of the early morning. Andrea was refreshingly honest about being intimidated by the route so her plan was to jumar behind me as I climbed and get a feel for the exposure before she attempted it.

WORDS: Doug McConnell IMAGES: All uncredited photos Doug McConnell




Andrea basking in the first rays of morning light having just flashed the crux pitch of Ozymandias (28).

Lee barn-dooring wildly on pitch two of Free Reign.

Andrea finding the upper half of pitch two of Ozymandias a breeze.

Lee on the last hard moves of pitch five (27) of Free Reign.

The weather looked good for Christmas Day, so plans to see family in Melbourne were ditched and we set the alarm for 4am. Wed be up before kids were looking for their presents! The culmination of the last few months of preparation meant I lay awake all night equally nervous and excited. Before 7am my onsight attempt was over after a frustrating foot slip at the crux, so I climbed to the end of the pitch to check it out and place the remaining gear (mostly clipping aid bolts and pitons). There was no time to rue lost opportunities. The 50m of climbing on the second pitch, which involves technical stemming, smearing, sneaking and oozing up an immaculate granite corner, has to be as good as any pitch on the planet. Unfortunately, my hopes of freeing it and continuing up the wall that day were dashed when my right shoulder ruptured with a tearing noise not unlike that of twisting the leg off a Christmas turkey! Clearly I couldnt finish the pitch to recover the gear. Gutted, I lowered back to the belay and then to the

ground. We would have to slog for 1.5 hours up the south side of the gorge in the full heat of the midday sun to escape. Sections of the scramble are tricky, especially with one arm in a sling. To top off what was a pretty ordinary Christmas I found a decaying corpse in the scrub at the base of the cliff. I was so surprised I had to go back twice to make sure someone hadnt dropped a pair of overalls on a dead kangaroo. Couscous and chick peas were Christmas dinner. A pretty shit day all round. Luckily for Andrea, the world famous rock star, Lee Cossey, had arrived on Boxing day, and he said he could belay for her attempt on the 27th. It could not have gone smoother. She was at Big Grassy (a small, surprisingly barren ledge just below half height) at 8am having free climbed the first three pitches with no falls. The unlikely, somewhat botanical, crux of the next pitch (60m, 24) was the scene of her first and only fall on the route. She redpointed that pitch first go and continued up via ever widening cracks to top out before 5pm.

Her ascent was remarkable for a number of reasons, most obviously because it was the first time the crux second pitch (28) has been flashed. It was also the first time anyone has climbed from the ground to the top of Ozy inside a day on their first attempt, as well as the first female ascent. Perhaps more amazing is that previously her best trad lead was Janicepts (21) at Mt Piddington (a few weeks previously) and on that same day she was seen looking very unconvincing, Elvis-legging her way up Amen Corner (18). For each of the next four days Lee (the frothing ball of perma-psych that he is) ran off to rap, clean and equip a new line hed spied on the North Wall. By the time hed climbed it he had descended and ascended the wall six days in a row! His line, called Free Reign, frees large parts of the aid route Clouded Queen (M8), but also breaks left into new terrain for a number of pitches. Having forgotten pitons, a quick trip to the hardware store produced a

knifeblade (purlin cleat) and a cam hook (shelving bracket) to protect the crux sixth pitch without retro bolting Clouded Queen. Lee is adamant that they are bomber! The remainder of the route is protected by new and existing bolts, and a smattering of small wires and cams. Lee freed all pitches in an afternoon with Andrea jugging. Ozymandias Original (270 m, pitches in order are 23 flash, 28 flash, 25 onsight, 24 second go, 22 onsight, 19 onsight, 16 onsight): first groundup in a day ascent, first female ascent, first flash ascent of the crux second pitch.) Free Reign (250 m, pitches in order are 22, 28, 23, 28, 27, 28, 22, 20) FFA Lee Cossey, 1/1/2013.) *Lee and Ben Cossey have both climbed Ozymandias Direct in a one day push which includes all the difficulty of the original route plus another 28 and 24 pitch.

Verdon Dreaming; Steve Barratt belayed by Matt Golovanoff on Dingomaniaque (6c+/22).

WORDS: Duncan Brown IMAGE: Chris Firth

Chained to the desk at work you daydream about exotic destinations, wasting company time on flights of fancy about dancing up impeccable stone in some as-yet-unseen foreign land. But when it comes to the crunch and we click purchase on the ticket that will whisk us away to promise of ultra-classic lines under perfect blue skies, most of us sit back, relax and keep daydreaming. Fall into that trap and you wont arrive in perfect shape, instead youll seek solace in the classic line, Ill get fit while Im here. Fast forward to the end of the trip and you will inevitably trot out another old classic, Its always the way, you hit your stride just as its time to leave. Youll get on the plane home wishing youd been in better condition when you arrived so you could have ticked those last stellar routes you were so close to bagging before time ran out. But with a little foresight, planning and commitment you can ditch those classic cliches so that as the plane bears you homeward, rather than lamenting the ones that got away like some grizzled fisherman, youll be reminiscing about the routes you did send.

To make the most of your trip you first need to ask a few questions. How long until you go? What is the general climbing style of the area you are going to? What are your goals for the trip?

Lets say you booked on a whim and have six weeks until you fly out. Thats six weeks to whip yourself into shape to do your climbing adventure justice. Destination is critical because, obviously, not all climbing is the same. Sounds obvious but it bears reiteration. Being able to crush five-move blocs isnt necessarily going to help when youre pumped out of your mind 5m above a bolt in Verdon. Equally, having endless endurance isnt going to get any closer to sticking the technical mantle top-outs in the Font forests specific styles require specific preparation.

The Forest is about volume. Running around following the famous circuits and climbing unprecedented numbers of problems requires a type of volume fitness that most of us do not have. But you will want it. So, how to train for these requirements? You need the usual gamut of bouldering skills power, core strength, finger strength, good shoulders and triceps for pressing out those slopey mantles, add great technique, supreme balance, flawless footwork and the stamina to run around all day. With only six weeks in hand, time is pressed so focus on those exact needs, increasing difficulty and intensity as you go. Heres an example of a weekly program to get you Font-astic: Monday Rest Tuesday Circuit training on bouldering wall + Core training Wednesday Light core training + Stretching + Rest Thursday Hangboard + Technique circuit training on bouldering wall

Armed with answers to these questions you can put together a pretrip training strategy that will see you land at your dream crag with your condition tweaked for the specific rigors the local climbing will demand. Lets look at three globally well-known climbing destinations with very different physical requirements; Fontainebleau, France; Tonsai, Thailand; and Verdon Gorge, France.

Fontainebleau, France As one of the most well-known and storied climbing destinations in the world, most of us are aware of what The Forest is all about; bouldering, most of it not overly steep, lots of slopers, some crimping and pocket pulling, often so delicate and subtle the footwork baffles even the most technical climbers, and volume.


Friday Rest Saturday Circuit training outdoors on the blocs or on bouldering wall + Stretching Saturday Circuit training outdoors on the blocs or at the bouldering wall + Core training In only six weeks youre not realistically going to improve your maximum grade level that much, so training focuses on consolidating existing abilities and increasing your capacity to handle volume. With your bouldering circuits, either at the gym or crag, select as many different problems that are a few grades below your max, stuff you can flash or get second try. Spend 2 3 hours doing a single problem, resting for five to 10 minutes, then hitting the next problem. As your departure date draws near reduce the rest periods to progressively increase the volume of climbing. Dont just train your strengths, make sure to do as many relevant style-specific problems as you can find. For Fontainebleau thats plenty of technical slab and face problems, being able to crush roofs isnt going to help. On the day you focus on technical problems, knock back the grades but work the most delicate and technical stuff you can, youre going to need all the tricks and cat-like balance you can muster. For your hangboard sessions, train hanging and pulling strength on a variety of hold types but focus on some specifics like slopers. For core training look at the last issue of Vertical Life for some great ideas on busting guts. With a program like this, increasing intensity and volume incrementally, you will be able to consolidate your skills and land in Paris much better prepared for the delights that lay in store.

You also want to focus your hangboard session on pulling and lock off exercises while continuing core training the same as always, youll need that core tight as a drum to keep your feet on the wall on the steep routes Thailand will throw at you.

Verdon Gorge, France Now this one is a different kettle of fish. The long, intimidating, all-day multipitches of Verdon will ask of you a level of stamina that will surprise even the most experienced multipitch climbers. Realistically youre not going to be climbing anywhere near your normal maximum grade, more like a grade or two below your onsight level. What you need is endurance, and lots of it. And not just climbing endurance, general fitness for the long walk ins and the rigours of being on the wall all day. You can again broadly stick to the Font program but replace circuits with endless mileage. Knock the level back a couple of grades below your maximum onsight and start lapping. Do lap after lap after lap, resting between sets and repeat for 2 3 hours. Over the six weeks progressively increase the volume of climbing and the level of difficulty but never going so difficult you cant maintain the mileage. Remember, you are going to need to be fit here, the routes are long and often bold so you want to be able to remain comfortable and not get pumped on long pitches, one after another after another. Adding in some long, steep hikes or running a few days a week will help you on the walks to some sectors. Verdon is all-day stamina so tailor your training specifically towards becoming a machine!

WORDS + IMAGES + VIDEO: Gareth Llewellin Evolution in a bubble can go either way and northern Queensland is definitely its own special bubble but so far the latest wave of development in Townsville hasn't sprouted any genetic abnormalities. Last winter I migrated north to check it out and found that though the scene is small and the season short, the psych is high.

BRING IT HOME So, while you may not have that long between clicking buy and actually touching down in that far-flung locale, with a little forethought and the appropriate planning you can arrive better prepared. You dont need to arrive hoping for a miracle to get you fit enough to send the classic lines. You dont need to board the plane home disappointed by too many routes still in the project column. You can arrive fit, strong, focused and armed with the skills that will make your climbing holiday more productive and fulfilling. So do it, book the ticket, get your train on and then come out here and crush some rigs!

Tonsai, Thailand This place is a prime example of short- to middle-distance power endurance on steep, thuggy terrain. Pack your strong arms and sunscreen. Stick to the same general training plan as for the Font preparation, only this time instead of boulder circuits do long (20 30 move) power endurance circuits on a steep boulder wall on Tuesday and steep power endurance routes on Thursday. Repeat this pattern again on the weekend either out on rock or at the gym.


Lee Cujes on White Gold (27). 9 1

New Gear


Wolfgang Gullich

Aint Nothn Sour Bout Berry Sourdough Cafe

Captain Von Shag finds that whilst some things change (like waistlines and hairlines), others never do, cue any Nowra roadtrips mandatory pit stop the Berry Sourdough Cafe
WORDS: Johan Von Shag When climbers talk of Nowra, the superlatives are generally applied to the physicality of the routes, the beautiful surrounds of such crags as South Central and Cheesedale and the eloquent choice of route names. Routes like Murdoch the Horse Fucker, Blue Vein Custard Chucker and Sperm Bitches deserve the same level of respect as the likes of Serpentine, Lamplighter and Eternity. But I digress. Whenever I think of Nowra, my thoughts first come to the little village of Berry, which climbers pass through to fuel up before a day of crushing. It is that 10 years ago brothers Jelle and Joost Hilkemeijer opened one of the greatest bakeries known to humanity. I must confess, it had been four long years since my last visit to the Berry Sourdough Cafe. Perhaps for any gourmand this is an even greater sin than using a knee bar or claiming the higher grade for a soft tick on On entering this sacred church of baked goods, the owner Jelle welcomed me like a long lost brother. Weekly visits over many winter seasons helped develop our brotherly bond and gave me


In a world like climbing, which can often pit hard objects against vulnerable brains sheltered by only millimetres of easily fractured bone, wearing a helmet is a wise choice. And having chosen to choose a helmet it is nice to have choice of helmets. Enter Black Diamonds all new brain bucket, the Vapor. Though it is clearly missing a U, the Vapor is chock full of nice features: it offers ultralight, low-profile protection and plenty of ventilation. The helmet is constructed using a sheet of Kevlar and carbon rods sandwiched between EPS foam and the polycarbonate shell. It has a ratcheting suspension system that provides a comfortable fit, and also comes in a number of different colours, including fire red (incidentally, Vertical Lifes second favourite colour after cash green), blizzard (white) and steel grey. It has removable headtorch clips and is available in two sizes: small brain (small to medium) and a larger, superior brain size (medium to large). Distributed by Sea to Summit 1800 787 677 Black Diamond Vapor Helmet RRP $169.95

much time to work my way through the menu of European-style pastries, cakes and savoury treats. Their brioche loaf is truly out of this world. For a lifetimes supply, Id be willing to sell my first born (luckily, he cant read yet). For a regional town, this place does a pretty decent coffee. Beans for their blend come from legendary Surry Hills specialty coffee roasters, Single Origin Roasters. They may not offer the single origin espressos or intricate filter-roasted brew methods that the hipster climber has become accustomed to, but that said be it black or milkbased espresso coffee, its definitely the best in town. If Wolfgang Gullich and Kurt Albert were still alive and residing in Australia, there is no doubt this is where theyd be having their morning coffee and brioche.

Web: Address: 23 Prince Alfred Street, Berry NSW 2535 Hours: Open Wed Sun



If bigger is better then the biggest must be the best, right? But then supposedly good things come in small packages? These competing axioms can be very confusing. But if the former celebration of larger sizes is correct then the Metolius Contact hangboard is surely a winner. Its Metolius biggest and most featured hangboard, and when we say big, we mean big. The Contact has a smorgasbord of holds to choose from: 11 different sized pockets (ranging from mild to spicy), four double-handed edges (big to small), top mounted jugs, both flat and rounded slopers, not to mention several different sized pinches a feature many fingerboards lack. Of course, the Contact may just be too much of a good thing all this choice could be a nightmare if you have a problem with making decisions. However, if youre into a plethora of holds this board has you covered. The Contacts dimensions are 826 mm x 279 mm x 67 mm, and it ships with a training guide to get you underway as well as mounting hardware and instructions. Metolius Contact hangboard RRP $149.95


Here at VL we love a good acronym, it makes us feel warm and fuzzy and safe and superior. Enter the new Tendon Hattrick with a sheath made from PA in SBS construction, we have NFI what either of these mean, but aside from the acronym making us feel good the attributes themselves apparently increase the handling, flexibility and mechanical resistance of the rope. Best of all when you find yourself in a SNAFU, the Hattrick will save you from becoming FUBAR because its patented SECURE technology means the rope remains safe even when the sheath is heavily damaged. Finally, at $279.95 it is a steal for any NINJA* climbers out there (and lets face it, thats nearly all climbers). Tendon Hattrick 10.2mm 60m rope RRP$279.95
Visit to find out more to find out more

*No income, no job or assets




While we at Vertical Life are mad about nachos indeed, we are huge fans of all things Mexican and edible we must admit it seems an odd name for Red Chilis new climbing slipper. Maybe it is the symbolic act of combining something you eat and something you put your foot in, two things that as a general rule should remain mutually exclusive, and all the more so when you are talking about the putrid feet of climbers. But we digress... The Nacho is Red Chilis first climbing slipper for some time, a full-blooded slipper that is a super-flexible, super-sensitive little number specifically designed with indoor climbing in mind. The Nachos are made from a low-stretch, lightweight synthetic material, have a sharp precise toe, thin midsole, toe patch, a perfect heel fit (for those with perfect heels) and are shod in 4.5mm Red Chili RX - 2 super friction rubber. They come in a big size range, from a UK3 to 12. Sounds tasty.


Red Chili Nacho RRP $149.95 Contact Expedition Equipment on (02) 9417 5755 or

His life, and indeed his contributions as a climber were not about grades or pushing the limits. I suspect that much of what Eddy loved about climbing and encouraged was the social interaction it afforded.

Eddy Rawlins
1941 2012
WORDS: Tracey Skinner IMAGE: Silke Weber them. Jack Lewis recounts that Eddys consideration extended to novices and experienced climbers alike, helping all with sensible advice regarding routes and safety. As Iain Sedgeman noted, his hospitality was legendary and the tarp played host to many an animated conversation. An all night climbing charades event became a popular activity under the tarp on cold Arapiles nights, and a number of healthy, long-lasting climbing liaisons, both romantic and platonic came to exist because of the welcoming protection it offered. (And I should know.) Tarpology was an Eddy passion, and while he would always accept help to assemble and dissemble, there was a method that needed to be followed and he was more than happy to be left to his own devices to do it just so. It was an art that kept his tarp loved and cared for and in excellent condition, ensuring his tarp bag never bulged with unwelcome protrusions because of hasty, careless packing. Eddys life as a climber started late with a rockclimbing course at Holmesglen TAFE around 1995. Shortly after he joined the VCC, with his first outdoor trip being to Black Hill in August 1995. However, one could say that he had climbed and loved heights all his life. Working in the rail industry and moving into infrastructure inspection, his skills at climbing were already established by the time he decided to tie into a rope. And his admiration and love of bridges and structures (again, legendary) transposed beautifully into his admiration and love of natures structures. Whenever you drag out a VCC comprehensive guide, take note. Interspersed amongst the pages, are numerous sightings of Eddys name, credited to the photos. He was rarely caught on the other side of

Working in the rail industry and moving into infrastructure inspection, his skills at climbing were already established by the time he decided to tie into a rope. And his admiration and love of bridges and structures (again, legendary), transposed beautifully into his admiration and love of natures structures.

A gentleman. These words seem to crop up time and time again whenever I ask anyone for a few memories of Eddy Rawlins. It seems they are defining words for who Eddy really was, and not just as a climber, but in all of the aspects of his life. Even those who werent quite sure of his name and knew him only from the description given, used the same term. It says it all really. Eddy Rawlins passed away on the 1 November 2012. One week shy of his 71st birthday. His life, and indeed his contributions as a climber were not about grades or pushing the limits. I suspect that much of what Eddy loved about climbing and encouraged was the social interaction it afforded. An interaction with people of all ages and leanings, who also had the common interest and love of climbing. On first meeting Eddy you probably wouldnt have labelled him a social butterfly. He was a quiet and thoughtful man who preferred his social interactions on a smaller scale, one on one, or one to two, were his preferred ratios. More often than not in group situations he would sit and listen and then, at an opportune time, throw in a well-thought comment and, if he felt strongly enough about it, his personal opinion. Over the years when camping in the Pines at Mt Arapiles, many a climber would wander over to the brightly-lit large tarpaulin that Eddy would set up for every Victorian Climbing Club (VCC) trip that he would either lead or attend. Along with light and shelter, the large table would also play host to his stove and culinary attachments, and anyone was always welcome to use

the lens though, as this author soon came to discover. Never one to throw himself in front of a camera was Eddy. Aaron Campbell, Allison Hodge and their daughter Hannah, whom he had met on his first VCC trip, shared a special friendship with Eddy. They went on many climbing trips together, where Eddy who was like a surrogate grandfather to Hannah would often spend time with her while Aaron and Allison climbed. A favourite pastime was building miniature houses from rocks, sticks and leaves at the base of crags. They were often masterpieces, reecting Eddys engineering skills and Hannahs creativity. At Eddys funeral someone mentioned that one of the houses had recently been dismantled and rebuilt as a cairn to help someone get the start of the climb. There are so many special friendships and so many too many special stories to recount. My memories of Eddy? My first trip to Arapiles was with him in his Landcruiser. Climbing my first route, Conifer Crack, there with him. A solo ascent of Tiptoe Ridge alongside my boys. Eddy sharing his kangaroo steak with my youngest son as he tried it for the first time and then shared it with him forever after. My enduring image of Eddy though, is as he walked off with my two sons on a bug hunt and rifle range expedition at Arapiles. All three of them bent over in conversation, Eddy hands in pocket as he shared and taught them the other joys of a climbing trip: the people and the environment around them. Yes. A true gentleman.



As climbers we often judge our fellows by their first ascents, and by that measure Reg stands equal with anyone of the era.

Reg Williams
1935 - 2012
WORDS: Ross Taylor IMAGE: Rob Taylor


To Reg the outdoors was vital to his life and wellbeing. Anytime there was any stress in his life he was off. He couldnt stand being confined for great lengths of time, he hated crowds out in the bush he was at his happiest.

I only ever met Reg Williams twice once as a child at his house in Collinsvale in Tasmania, and once as an adult at the funeral for Chris Baxter, by which time Reg was suffering from dementia but growing up he was a vivid presence in my dads oft-repeated stories. My imagination conjured Reg as a powerful figure, a strong, safe and accomplished climber and, so my father said, the best bushman he had ever known. And the two of them had done some fine adventures together, climbing the first ascent of the Bluffs at Mt Arapiles by Blockbuster in 1964, and the first ascent of the NorthEast Face of Federation, which in 1965 was even more remote than it is now. But despite those stories I never really knew Reg, so it is better to leave the description of him to others who did. On, Lyle Closs, who climbed with Reg many times in the early 1970s, describes him thus: He has a fine beard, a cheeky smile, a stutter, and is a strong as an ox. He can crush a bottle top between his thumb and finger, carry a 60 pound H-frame rucksack all day long without losing his smile, and is utterly reliable and resourceful. In the mythology of Australian climbing, particularly in that Golden Era of exploration during the 1960s and early 1970s, Reg was one of the most active climbers of the time. As climbers we often judge our fellows by their first ascents, and by that measure Reg stands equal with anyone of the era. One of his best routes is Missing Link (17) at Arapiles, which in the 1960s would have been largely unprotectable. At Buffalo Reg was on the first ascent of the mighty Emperor, which ascended the huge granite face of the North Wall of the Gorge. After moving to Tasmania in 1966 he was equally active, climbing, among many things, the first recorded route at Ben Lomond, the first sea

level traverse at Coles Bay, the first ascent of the Candlestick, single and double traverses of the peaks of Mt Geryon, as well as routes like Ozymandias (16) and Moonraker (16) on the buttressed walls of Mt Wellington. But climbing was only ever one aspect of Regs life, a life that was in many regards thoroughly modern. Reg was born in Brunswick into a working class family, he left school early, doing the equivalent of Year 10 before starting an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner. Regs wife, Margaret, says that fitting and turning mustnt have satisfied him because he later finished his Year 12 equivalent at night school and what followed was a remarkable number of career changes. Among many jobs, he cut pulp wood in the Baw Baw Ranges, built houses during the post-WW2 housing boom in Melbourne and worked for the Mines Department in Victoria, while in Tasmania he worked for the Hydro Electric Commission as a hydrographer. Remarkably, for someone who started out as a fitter and turner, Reg taught himself to program on early computers using a language called ALGOL. In 1977 Reg and Margaret started a family, after which Reg never climbed again. Instead, Reg was one of the original househusbands, looking after his daughter Erica and son Alan a fine climber in his own right from the age of six months while Margaret continued her work as an entomologist. But his urge to be outside remained powerful. Margaret says, When the children were small quite often we would play tag. Id get home, wed have a couple of minutes handover, then Reg was off and hed climb Collins Bonnet. According to Margaret the bush was his release valve, To Reg the outdoors was vital to his life and well-being. Anytime there was any stress in his life he was off. He couldnt stand being confined

for great lengths of time, he hated crowds out in the bush he was at his happiest. Despite quitting climbing Reg continued to be an active bushwalker he is equally as renowned in that community as in ours while cycle touring and mountain biking were great passions in the last 20 years of his life. As Erica and Alan grew older and more independent, Reg started an engineering business from home many of the stoves you find in huts scattered through Tassie were fabricated by Reg which he ran up until the depredations of dementia became too much. He also had many hobbies, from building a scale model of a tank locomotive, making parts to restore antique sewing machines (which he collected), to an abiding interest in literature, poetry and mathematics (including a fascination with fractals and especially the Mandelbrot set and the computer visualisation of this complex mathematics). My dad tells me Reg possessed a very keen and curious intelligence, and Margaret says that in another era Reg could have been a scientist or mathematician. Reg was also a fine writer (he taught himself to touch-type), and in researching this article I came across his piece describing the first traverse of the Prince of Wales Range in South-west Tasmania with the legendary conservationist and photographer Olegas Truchanas. In it he reflects on the area, illustrating better than any words from me the wonder and beauty the outdoors held for him: There, the eternal drama of night and day, with its cast of sunlight, stars and storm, is played through the changing seasons to a silent audience of rugged peaks, into whose solitude the bushwalker may briefly venture. He will surely be richer for the experience. Vale Reg.