Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mount Arapiles round 2

The trip got off to a good start as I arrived at the airport, handed in my itinerary and the lady says, "Im sorry sir but this ticket is for yesterdays flight"..... Yes thats right, I arrived at the airport a day later than I should have. Great.
After a good hard training cycle on the home woody my body felt ready to return to Mount Arapiles and face its unique funkiness that had beaten me, the last time. Feeling stronger than ever and super psyched I arrived back at the campground of 'The Gums', where I was to live for at least the next three weeks. I had given myself just over three weeks to achieve only one major goal. It was to climb 'Punks In The Gym' (32/8b+). A major classic put up by legendary Wolfgang G├╝llich in 1985. The worlds first 32/8b+. I had tried this climb a few times on my previous trip in the winter but was forced to leave with it unfinished. It was hard to handle at the time but I guess it was a good thing in a way as it got me super psyched to train extra hard and return as soon as possible. I must have done something right because this time, on my second day climbing and second or third (can't remember) shot of the day it was over. I had done Punks In the Gym. Becoming the youngest person and third kiwi or first Welsh to do so :) This was me first 32/8B+!

                         Wiz Fineron on Punks In The Gym 32/8b+     Photo: Mick Wells

After this I didn't quite know what to do with myself. I had done it and still had 3 weeks left. Luckily enough I was among some of the best climbing in Australia so I was definitely not limited with climbs. Thousands of classic routes just out of my tent in Arapiles and just a 45 miniute drive away was the Grampians. Taipan wall!! A huge 70m tall bright orange wall in the Northern Grampians. The first time that I saw it, I just knew that this was the place for me and it was. Throughout the whole trip i spent a lot of time climbing here and absolutely loved it. One of my major highlights there was the day after climbing Punks. Everyone had talked about a climb called Serpentine. A major classic route taking a beautiful line straight up the tallest section of the cliff, I couldn't wait to get on it. The day after sending Punks I arrived at the bottom of the cliff feeling strong and super psyched and jumped straight on it. Starting with the first pitch (not many people climb this one apparently) winding its way up to the first belay point. A desparate funky introduction to Taipan Wall, so I was stoked with the Flash. An interesting pitch but fun never the less. The next pitch was the business end of the climb and probably one of the coolest looking lines I've seen. Half an hour later and all my gas drained I found myself sitting on top of Taipan wall after flashing my first 29/8a. The exciting bit was yet to come. The famous victory jump. I looked over the edge of the cliff and saw whopping loop of slack coming from my belayer. Without thinking about it too much I launched myself off the cliff and fell for way longer than I expected. I think I took an estimated fall of around 35m long and still barely touched the wall. Bloody awesome!!! :)

    Taipan Wall, Northern Grampians.
Wiz Fineron Flashing serpentine 29/8a Taipan Wall, Grampians. Photo: Chris Flowers

                     Wiz Fineron Taking the victory jump off Serpentine Photo: Chris Flowers

Another awesome place I really enjoyed was Muline. A steep overhanging cliff in the southern Grampians, home to many amazing climbs. One climb in particular stood out called Eye Of The Tiger (29/8a). I heard that it was really good by many people and a few had mentioned that it would be a good one for me to on-sight. I only climbed hear the one time but really enjoyed it.  After arriving at the base of the crag tired and sweaty as hell (after crawling up the access track) I glanced up and was excited to see some holds that I could actually pull down on. It was a good change from the featureless slabs of Arapiles. The main goal of the day was Eye Of The Tiger and after a few laps on the warm up climb I was all geared up and ready to go. I had decided to go for the on-sight, so I was up first. The hardest thing about doing this was planning on where to place the long quickdraws. This was important as it goes through a steep roof and then out on to a head wall and who likes rope drag! I reached the halfway point of the climb and my arms were feeling good but god dam my right leg was tired. The climb follows a slopey left curving rail forcing many right heel hooks in a row. After a few leg shakes I was ready to attack what I had thought was the crux, a long reach to a slopey gaston with some crazy toe hooks but I did not know about this method and swung my feet across using a really wide left pinch (defintely not the right way). From here I hoped the hardest bit was over and I just kept my head together tick-tacking my way up the head wall (almost falling off the last move) fighting the pump. Before long i found my self clipping the chains of my first on-sight of a 29/8a 'Eye Of The Tiger'.

Wiz Fineron on-sighting Eye Of The Tiger (29/8a)

After this my three weeks were coming to an end and I was having far too much fun living in the dirt, bin diving, and meeting many awesome people to go back so I contacted home. " Hey dad can i stay for longer..... ?" After lots of emailing i exended my flights for two weeks longer and it was definitely a good idea. This extra two weeks allowed me to finish off some projects and get lots of really good climbing done. I had been working on a climb called Snakes On A Train (32/8b+) on Taipan Wall. A new addition to the wall and was still awaiting a second ascent. After falling off at the last clip on my second go I really had to get it done (expecting to get it next shot). A few weekends later and many massive whippers (typical taipan style) it was done. I had done the second ascent and also my second 32/8b+.

For the rest of the trip i decided to stay at Arapiles (no more trips to the Grampians) and set my targets on an unclimbed project called Somalia. The climb is situated on the front face of the Uncle Charlies pinnacle at Mount Arapiles (Just around the corner from 'Punks In The Gym') and takes an unlikely looking line through a steep bulge before finishing up another amazing line called Ethiopia (30). The hardest thing about doing this climb was keeping my skin at a bearable level to hold the crystally crimps (the usual story I guess) not to mention pulling down on the one pad one finger pocket! It was the first time that I had been on a climb that included a mono and was very careful on all of my attempts making sure that my fingers were still all in one piece. A good friend of mine, Zac Vertrees, who had been working it at the time told me to give it a go just to see how I went. So I did. Surprising my self and Zac, thanks to all the Beta from him, I managed to do all the individual moves fairly quickly (linking them was a total different story) and that was it, I was hooked. It became a bit nerve-racking towards the final few days of the trip as it still had not been done. After a few crucial rest days it was down to the final day and good god was I nervous. I managed to keep my calm and on the third and probably final shot of the day (due to fingers reaching the point of no repair) it was done. Somalia (33/5.14b/8c) One of, if not the, hardest route in the park.

Overall tick list:
>Groovy 28/7c+
>Tyranny 29/8a (2nd go)
>Wagalak 29/8a (flash)
>Serpentine 29/8a (flash)
>Eye Of The Tiger 29/8a (on-sight)
>Snakes on A train 32/8b+ (second ascent)
>Punks In The gym 32/8b+ (first 8b+)
>Somalia 33/8c (First Ascent)

After a few weeks back home, exams done and school is finally over, I'm off to Hueco Tanks! Peace out! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mount Arapiles - Australia

After another boring ten week term of school i found myself on the road again psyched to go climbing. This time it was different, i wasn't heading to the Blueys or the Hill, this time  i was flying to Melbourne! The trad climbing mecca , Mount Arapiles was meant to be just a train ride away but after almost a day of travel full of  trains, buses and shuttles, i found myself stroaming around the campground surrounded by the beautiful long featured orange walls of the Arapiles. 'The Pines', this was going to be our home for the next two and a half weeks! I shared this with my fellow kiwi friends Mel and Irmak, and kangaroos!

    photo: Irmak Thompson

The climbing here was yet a completely different and new style for us and it definitely took us a couple of days to get the hang of. The most challenging part was trusting the feet, and learning how to crack climb! I was totally not expecting to have to learn how to fist jam but almost every climb had some sort of crack involved and it had to be used. This was a very frustrating process for me but it was a good feeling when it did work. It was important for me to learn this as later in the trip i came across a climb called Ethiopia 30/8a+. After a couple of goes and getting thrown off on the last moves in the final roof trying to climb it without the crack, i had to knuckle down and learn how to jam my hands in and climb it properly. After resting my scratched and bruised hands i returned and managed to jam my way to the top!

                            Wiz Fineron on Ethiopia 30/8a+                              Photo: Irmak Thompson

Unfortunately we did not have the best luck with the weather but we still got some good climbing in. One of the areas called 'The Flight Deck' stayed dry most of the time so we spent a lot of time up there. We enjoyed this area as we didn't have to worry about all the trad placements etc and could get some good climbing in. The climbing in this area was completely different as it actually had holds which was a good change from all the smeering. I managed to tick off a climb called Jet Lag 29/8a pretty quickly on my fourth go which i was pretty stoked with. I liked climbing at this crag as it was really my style with lots of crimps on a flat facy wall.

                            Sendage food: Nutella

Every time the weather cleared and we were able to climb, i was addicted to climbing at the Pharos. The main reason for this was a climb called Punks In The Gym 32/8b+. This famous climb was a goal from the start and to finally jump on it at the start of the final week i was buzzing! I tried this every day i could from then on and was loving it. Each day went by, i was getting closer and time left was getting shorter! On the final day of the trip i found myself sitting at the bottom of the climb sulking after falling off after sticking the crux moves. I had one more awkward move to go then i just had to hold it together to the top! but no, it didnt happen and i was thrashed. My fingers were about to bleed and i had to walk away and leave it for next time. I learnt a very important lesson from this tho, not to have a sulk and throw your harness at the wall as you will end up leaving it there. Yes! i left my Harness in Australia! lucky i have connections ae.... thanks Zac.

                      Punks In The Gym 32/8b+                                       photo: Melanie Jackson

     Grampians!                                                                                                    photo: Irmak Thompson

 All in all it was a super fun trip and i will definitely be returning in the near future as i have some unfinished business. Hopefully the weather will be better next time! The faint view of the Grampians in the horizon has got me super- psyched so i will definitely spend a lot of time there!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Castle Hill 2012

After ten weeks of good old school, i found my self back on the road again! But this time it was different. I left my rope, harness, quick-draws etc back at home and me, Pnut and Isaac were on the road heading to one of the most spectacular bouldering spots in the world, Castle Hill.
The trip started with a quick flight down to Christchurch then a shuttle to our home for the next two weeks, good old Cragiburn Camp site. As we heard later on in the trip, the drive through  Arthurs Pass was meant to be one of the best drives in the country, this was not the case for us as we all ended sprawled out across the back seat sleeping for most of the way. I guess the old age is getting to us….
anyway we arrived at the camp site expecting to walk in to a whole bunch of climbers that we were hoping could give us a lift to the Hill later…This was also not the case for pretty much the whole trip. Lucky for Hitchhiking ae.

We decided to live with the food that we got from a Christchurch dairy, thanks to Easter making all the super markets being closed for the next few days because we just wanted to go climbing. The first few days were super fun as we just climbed everything and anything.The style of climbing here is totally different again so it was very fun to learn as some times you find your self falling of everything due to the insanely polished foot holds. Another super interesting factor was the grassy hills. You think climbing here was fun…. sliding down the hills on your pads was a whole other story. You would even get a bit of sliding action when you fall off the problems. You think the action is over as soon as you hit the pads but no, brace your self for a fun slide down the hill.

Wiz Fineron on Snake Eyes V8

We woke up every morning, ate our breakfast and were out on the road as quickly as possible with our thumbs out. We relied on hitchhiking everyday to get to the Hill and back  and to be fair we had a lot of luck with that. The longest we probably had to wait was almost three hours on a quiet saturday. The only down side of this was probably the fact that we would have to stop climbing by four or five to get back on the road to get back home. This meant we would miss out on the prime climbing conditions but to be fair we were pretty thrashed by that time of the day. So it wasn't that bad.

    Isaac and Pnut sad about Hitching in the nice cold conditions....

The climbing was amazing! Endless days of getting lost in the maze of boulders searching for that problem supposedly just just around the corner, but sometimes that corner never came. The good thing about this place was if you couldn't find the problem you're looking for you could just jump on anything around you and it is just as fun! we did a lot of out climbing mostly in Spittle Hill and Quantum field.This was mainly because we had no idea where any problems were at Flock Hill apart from the ones we remembered from the film 'Big Game'. (Sun Set Arete and Limestone Orgasm) This meant we only managed to make it up up there twice during the trip because we were too hooked on getting our projects at Spittle and Quantum. We really regretted this as on our last day we were taken up there by Jason Whitaker, who used to climb here all the time and knew a lot of the problems meaning we had our own personal guide showing us all the awesome problems. Our last day was super fun running around trying to send all these problems before having to go home, ripping our fingers to shreds in meantime.

                      Isaac on Pandemonium V7

My overall tick list:

 FLOCK HILL                         
   Sunset arete V8
   psychic tea lady V8
   Captain Contact V7
   Limestone Orgasm V7
   Grand Master Flash V7
   Fierce Crimpy V9
   Pandemonium V7
   Quake sit start V7

   Snake Eyes V8
   Pythagorus V8

That last day at Flock Hill showed me how amazing this place was, i will definitely be spending more time there in the future.

    Wiz Fineron on Pendemonium V7

    Wiz Fineron on Pythagoras V8

    Pnut on Che Guevara v8 (flash)

    Wiz Fineron on Fierce Crimpy V9

    Pnut on Psychic Tea Lady V8 Flock Hill

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My six week Blue Mountain Climbing Trip

Six weeks in the Blue Mountains..... what a prospect! Where do i camp? what do i eat? what climbs do i try? What about the weather? I know..... Who cares, lets just get out there and do it! Everyone else's parents wanted them to stay home for christmas back here in NZ so i booked my flight and began my journey alone 2 days later! I arrived and was handed some camping gear and got pointed in the direction of the aussie bush! I set up camp and got straight in to it the next day.

 For the first couple of weeks i was climbing with my good old friend and a local Blue Mountain climber Matt Norgrove! This was really good for me because he took me around to all the best spots and chucked me straight on to the best and hardest climbs there! The first things that i realised that were different from the year before when i was here was that i could reach all the moves. There was no more getting shut down on some ridiculous reachy move half way up the wall. This gave me a huge confidence boost and i was buzzing from then on!
Since i had been here before i had been to many of the spots and i had a faint idea of the climbs and craggs that i would like to spend most of my time at this time. It didnt take me to long to get used to the powerfull goey style of climbing and then i was straight in to scouting out my projects and shredding my fingers on the sharp cristaly crimps of the beautiful red blue mountain sand stone.
                       Wiz Fineron on Equaliser 28/7c+/5.13a

During this trip i ticked off:

>Equaliser 28/7c+/5.13a

>Hairline 2000 28/7c+/5.13a (2nd go)

>Green Eggs And Ham 28/7c+/5.13a (2nd go)

>Onion Extended 28/7c+/5.13a (flash)

>Dont Believe The Tripe 29/8a/5.13b

>Levitation 29/8a/5.13b

>Big Wednesday 31/8b/5.13d (second 8b)

Some time after christmas my good friend Jesse Offner came over and joined me in the bush to do this supposedly fun thing called "rock climbing", a bit unknown of in jesses world in the last year since he has been hard at work at university but of course it didnt take him long to gain the strength and power necessary and he  began ticking some impressive climbs up to 28/7c+/5.13a.

   Jesse Offner on Equaliser 28/7c+/5.13a
Not to long later another good friend Adam steens known as Pnut came over and joined us. As expected it didnt take him long to adapt to the style and he also began getting an impressive ticklist with climbs up to 27/7c/5.12d. this was impressive because he only ended up having about a week of climbing due to consistant poor weather for the last week!

During the trip we had many exciting adventures but the one that stands out would definitely be Dumpster Diving! With about 2 weeks to go in the trip we were shown this verry handy and awesome way of living/eating cheap. Its called help-your-self shopping. You start off helping yourself to a supermarket trolley then dive in to their main food bins and get what eva you can! Dont worry its not illegal (i think) just embarrassing, but who cares - we never going to see them again!... This made every shopping really cheap because after this we would go in to the super market and get what we didnt get out of the bin. Some of the best things that we got out of the bins were unlimited bread and some awesome chocolates called Gu.... soo good! On the way back to our bush camp we'd stop by the local backpackers and, using the security code given to us by a mate, we'd grab a quick shower. All made for a pretty cheap trip!
                             Wiz Fineron on Dont believe the tripe 29/8a/5.13b    Photo: Harry Larkins

    Thanks heaps to Five Ten and Spelean for getting these awesome new blackwings sent to me. Thanks Matt Norgrove for delivering them to the cragg.
      Wiz Fineron on the crux move of Dont Believe The Tripe 29/8a/5.13b    PHOTO:Harry Larkins

Saturday, January 7, 2012

since last time..... Blue Mountains, Australia

hello everyone!!!! still having an awesome time at the bluies, dont want to come home! (sorry dad).
 Over the last week or so the weather has been pretty good apart from the odd thunder storm at night!
I have taken advantage of the good conditions and sent a few of my projects and found a few more of my own. One of the projects that i have sent was a really cool climb at Shipley called Equaliser, a super classic grade 28/7c+/5.13a. I remember trying this last year and finding it pretty damn hard so i was super stoked about getting it 3rd pop this time! I found another awesome project about 20 minutes walk away called Self Portrait. A really cool crimpy line that goes straight up a dark steep face!
this picture is from the walk out after trying self portrait until we ran out of light (after untangling Jesses new rope)

Since Jesse arrived from NZ we have been climbing loads at the Glen and Boronia point. He has been ticking off a lot of 25s really quickly! and a few 26s. We also both jumped on this climb called Wrong movements in the Glen getting it pretty quickly giving jesse his first blue mountains 27/7c/5.12d. I returned to Boronia point and quickly sent Green Eggs And Ham on my second go and immediately found my next project called Dont Believe The Tripe 29/8a/5.13b. After a few working sessions we returned to the crag on a really freezing cold day with really low clouds. Surprisingly the rock was dry so conditions were perfect and i jumped straight on it, climbing away in to the clouds and sent it first pop that day! Jesse jumped back on Green Eggs And Ham feeling more rested than last time but didnt quite have the gas for the last move, coming off the jugs at the anchors. I know how he feels.....

                      Here's a picture of Jesse trying Equaliser just after I mashed my knuckles ripping a hold off Decodifier a 29/8a/5.13b just to the right.

We have also been climbing at a crag called Logan Brae, a short steep wall with lots of 23s-25s, so perfect for training. Jesse ticking off another 25 called Doctor Stein, the crag classic. I jumped on a 28/7c+/5.13a called E.I.E.I.O but got shut down on a single move.

                       Here's a picture of me getting some training in on the short but pumpy routes at Logan Brae.

Since Jesses arrival we have moved up in the world with our camping setup, but even combined, our cooking skills are minimal (basically living off nutella). Our campsite now boasts two tents and a tarp for a roof but still doesn't protect us from the bastard magpies!

Peace out peeps! Off to a par-tay with glenda!