Kitten Mittens Project

Kitten Mittens Project

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pop Hogs

First family climbing trip and where else to go but the family friendly town of Nowra. Amanda and I booked the trip before Audrey was born, figuring it would be a great little get away. It was. I’d never spent too much time in Nowra before this trip, four days over four years I think. Not due to any lack of desire to climb there, some routes I have always wanted to do, but it has always just been a little too far away. When I was living in Brisbane, you’d have to drive straight passed the Blue Mountains to get there, you can’t do that. Since living in the Blue Mountains, well, I guess I’ve been too lazy. I can walk to some of the best climbing in the country from my house! Anyway, yeah, Nowra! It’s awesome, as are the donuts from The Berry Donut Van.

My experience of Nowra climbing has been, perhaps on the slipperiest days every recorded. It’s been hot, sweaty and filled with more mosquitoes than stars in the sky. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and as time slips away I forgot about the Nowra ‘charm.’ Reading through the guide you can’t help but get psyched. Super classics put up in the 90’s by some of the best climbers in Australia at the time. I love the history side of climbing and after years and years of pouring over old Rock Magazines and the guide book I couldn’t wait to finally have a go on the routes I had read so much about.

I feel like I could write a day by day, shot by shot recount of the trip. However, I will get needlessly bogged down in details, frothing about the radicalness of the Sperm Bitches sequence and the attempt that ended quickly when my fingers slipped out of the first left hand pocket with a direct course set for my tackle junk. Or how good the rest of South Central is and Cheesedale and Thompsons Point and Rosies and The Grotto. In an effort to keep things briefer than this I thought I’d just talk about one route in particular. The first ascent I did at Thompsons Point in the Grease Cave on my last day.

At the beach near Point Perp
To start off with, it’s totally awesome and radical in every way. It’s a link between White Trash, 27, and the mega roof of Tramp Stamp, 32, via a truly cool rib feature. Zac Vertrees sunk the bolts in it forever ago and some attempts were thrown at it but in the end it became just another route lost in dust and cobwebs. I thought I’d have a look at it.

From the ground it looked good. The route starts up the first 10m of White Trash before heading out left following the rib feature, which wouldn't look out of place in Hollow Mtn Cave, on holds which look less than good. Weird pinches, a tiny edge, hands flicking from sidepull to undercling, while your feet pincer for all they are worth before busting big to meaty underclings.  The sequence was there and I could do it. We only had one day left of the trip and I thought I might just be able to sneak it in.

To break it down I think it looks a little something like this. Consistent 26 to a poor rest where you’re really just chalking up rather than resting. This leads straight into the rib boulder problem that probably sits around V8/9. All this leads you into the mega 10m roof of Tramp Stamp, about 7m of 26 to a tricky tensiony V7 acting as the gate (chain) keeper.

My first go was just a recon mission, see how it looked and if it was worthwhile. It was. Second go that day I fell off at the rib boulder, working out a little more beta. By then the sun was getting sleepy and it was time to go. It was my birthday the next day, and our last day in Nowra. First time up for the day was a warm up. Suss the moves a bit more and try to get the meat of the route, the rib boulder sequence and the final gate keeper moves at the end as dialled as possible. After a little rest I felt ready; perhaps not as ready as I thought.  Everything was feeling good until I was feeling far more pumped than I should have. I was on the last few moves of the rib boulder, getting close to the Tramp Stamp rest, and was absolutely boxed outta my brain. Squeezing fairy floss, at that stage, would’ve been a formidable challenge. There was the familiar feeling of air and a rope pulling up tight. I came down and wondered if I’d gotten too pumped. Perhaps it wasn’t to be. Was the ‘last day, last try,’ birthday present going to be there for me? I had a big rest, no chances taken, I wanted to do it. Soon I strapped up my boots, tied in and had one last go. I was feeling good. Up in the rib boulder and staring down the last few big undercling slaps, I felt the pump hit. Keep moving keep moving keeping moving. I got out to the Tramp Stamp rest and could see the final little boulder at the lip in front of me. Ball up, and don’t bloody let go. Squeeze your hands, squeeze your toes and don’t bloody let go. Oh sweet Glory. Blessed it be. Clip the chains and it was done, a new route in the Grease Cave, and a classic of all classics at that. Happy happy happy.

I did a few other repoints on the trip and managed a few onsights as well. It's great having the opportunity to try and onsight or flash things, it's a style of climbing I really enjoy. One attempt and if you fail than that's it. It's a fun pressure.

There are so many more routes I want to do down there. Perhaps we might make it an annual pilgrimage, to Australia’s Mecca of power!
Home made with love
The U bolts in action down at Perry's Lookdown.
I'm bolting a multi pitch down there that'll be 7+ pitches of awesome.
After getting back home Amanda and I bounced around on the cliffs a bit. Amanda has a post Audrey training plan for how to get back into tip top shape. 10-15 routes at each grade, starting at routes under 20, and keep on truckin until everything feels great and super again. She’s whizzed through the first 25 now and smashing out plenty of problems at the BBC. I don’t think it’ll take long before she’s back!

A bit of rock climbing has been on the cards lately, between three weeks of travelling down to Sydney six days a week for some courses for work. Brecon and I headed out to Bell for some fathers day climbing. While we were out there I did a new link up I called Sock n Jocks, 30. It’s a link up of La Realite and House of Suns on the Sunny Side wall. It’s very very good. Have a go.

Ben and I did head down to Villawood on the weekend for the NSW Bouldering Championships. It was really fun, once I got over my nerves. It was great to see all the old familiar faces and all the new ones as well. It reminded me how much fun comps can be. Get involved. They are good. In the end I was able to top out one extra problem, making it 7 tops out of 8 problems, with 3 minutes to go and came first. And as you all know, winners get McDonalds. So Ben and I had McDonalds for dinner.
Coming out the roof on the green problem at the NSW bouldering state titles.

Turning the lip on the green problem
As winter comes to an end, the Elphinstone season begins. I have been giving my Kitten Mittens project a go recently. It was the first route I ever bolted and it’s definitely the hardest. On my first goes a few years ago I could hardly do any of the moves, it felt so far away. Since then I have tinkered around on it but never giving it too much effort. In the last few weeks however, I have given it some proper days of work. Every day a new sequence has unlocked itself and after about 8 days I had finally done all the moves. The other day I was finally able to link together more than 5 moves! Linking sequences together is now the aim of the game. A send is still many many days away, but I know it’s there and gosh it’ll be a satisfying one. I think it’ll end up weighing in at 35 or 36. Pretty exciting.

Plus there are the other projects I have out there. They’ll be good summer ones I hope, for when conditions aren’t ideal for Kitten Mittens. There’s The Milkbar, which climbs up the very tallest part of the wall and finishes with a body length double dyno through a roof, 80m off the ground! It will probably come in at about 33/4. And there is also the Milk Steak project on the Gay Paris wall, also down at Elphinstone. The Milk Steak project climbs some balancey vertical wall into some steeper terrain where you are met with big wompy moves followed by even more vertical and balancey climbing to finish you off up a four meter 40° overhung pocketfest. In total you get thirty meters of classic Blue Mountains rock climbing. All this will probably give you a bit more Ewbank than the only other current resident of the Gay Paris wall, hurry up and get yours done Nory, a route I did the FA of last year, Shame at the Anvil, 32.

Bolting the 'Baker's Dozen' project at The Pit. I tried it the other day, it felt brick hard.

Bridge inspection work in Brisbane.
Inspect every bit of steel on the bridge in 2 days. Epic!
Last but not least, there’s our old friend, the Low Down Dirty Dawg project, something Ben and I bolted a year ago. After staying clear of it during the cold winter, I reacquainted myself with her the other day. I had forgotten how truly marvellous she was. I have wrung my rag about this one before, so I don’t need to go on about it again. We will keep chipping away, and I mean that in the ‘trying’ sense of the word, not the ‘fiddling with the natural’ sense. A little pre summer-stink send would be nice.

Ben moving faster than the speed of the iphone shutter on Sniffles, V8
On a final note, I have put together a little video of some of the new bouldering Ben and I have been doing in the mountains lately. Just a few of the moderately graded ones, not stitched together with any degree of artistic flair, but you get a taste of what’s about. I want to make some better attempts at taking some nice footage of the bouldering and climbing we have been doing. There is so much fun stuff we get to do and it would be cool to share it.

Click the link here to watch the video. Check out my other videos while you're there if you want too.

Checking the beta for Spectre in Bishop

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