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- In the Messner Museum
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- The Grapiles
- World Climbing Calendar 2013
- Mayan does Punks
- Whistling Kite
- Queensland – Frog
- Queensland – Sunshine
- Klettern calendar
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Category Archives: New photographs
After a few months sweating it out in the office it’s good to be on the road again, this time to The Grapiles (The Grampians and Arapiles – you heard it here first?) for a few weeks – which is flying by all to quickly. We’ve been climbing of course but there is no such thing as a holiday for us really, we have been very busy with photography and a couple of different projects that I’m currently working on (more on those later).
Mount Arapiles feels like home in a way, I spent nearly eight months camped here just prior to starting my photography business nearly 19 years ago. The place still feels magic…
Over in the Grampians Coco has been getting her bush walking game on…
And Monique has been doing her thing too…
Congratulations to Mayan Gobat-Smith from New Zealand who yesterday climbed her long-term project Punks in the Gym (32) at Mount Arapiles, Australia. A superb personal achievement, hers also happens to be the first female ascent of the route.
“Punks” is a famous Australian test-piece with a colourful history. The beautiful line was first climbed by Wolfgang Gullich in 1985 and originally graded 31/32 by Wolfgang. The second ascent was by Stefan Glowacz and the third by Jerry Moffat who confirmed the 8b+ (32) grade. Despite that, for a while there the route was graded 31 whilst it was the subject of the NSW/Victoria grading wars in the early 1990s. Since then the route has seen numerous ascents and some years ago the grade firmly settled back at 32. So the route is not only the first 32 in Australia but it is often said may well be the first 32 (5.14a/8b+) climbed anywhere in the world. When Andy Pollitt was attempting the route in the early 1990′s a key crux hold disintergrated and so Andy recreated the hold out of sika. Some claimed that the recreated hold, since dubbed “the birdbath” (a harsh term given it’s only a 15mm incut edge), was bigger than the original but I think there are few people, if anyone, apart from Andy who actually know the truth of the matter. Andy eventually suceeded on the route in 1992 after three trips to Australia from the UK and a total 70 days on the route. If you think 70 days is a lot of time to spend on the route then spare a thought for Australian woman Jarmila Tyrril who moved to the area in part to be close to Punks; the route has been the main focus of her climbing for the last three years. With Jarmila spending a lot of time on the route and with Mayan making four trips to Australia with the route the main focus of those, there has been a lot of speculation who would snag the first female ascent. Recently someone was putting up posters around town hamming it up as a competition — “who will be first”? And so Mayan’s send has at last put an end to all the speculation. Successful punters are advised to make their way to the nearest TAB office to collect their winnings ASAP.
Last year I took some photos of Mayan on Punks when she was out here trying it for a few weeks. No doubt largely because of the reach factor Mayan’s sequence into the crux is entirely different to everyone elses. She links directly from the lower hard climbing straight up into the crux, entirely avoiding a really good rest just before the crux — the only good rest on the route. I’ve no doubt whatsoever that Mayan’s sequence is a really hard way to do the route but obviously sticking to her sequence has finally paid off for her. Congratulations again!
Here’s one of my shots of Mayan on Punks that I will show you now. I hate to have to mention this but I ask that people respect my work and my copyright. I say this because recently someone who runs a very popular and somewhat commercial site on Facebook recently took one of my photos from my site without permission and sprayed it widely around the internet. If people like to help support my work by purchasing a calendar or book then I really appreciate the support. If businesses want to help promote my work and my publications then I am very open to proposals and I certainly like to support people who are doing good and valuable work where I can. But Apparently I need to point out to some that I do retain the rights to my work and say in where and when my photos are used. In short, you need my written permission before taking my photographs from this web site and using them anywhere else. Thanks to everyone for your support and understanding!
Monique has been on a bit of a roll with her climbing for the last 12 months or so. It has been great to watch her enjoy the process as well as do some really cool things with her climbing lately. In the last year Monique has climbed several “routes of her dreams” including Fish Eye (her first 33) and recently she won the both the Lead and Boulder Australian Nationals. You probably wouldn’t know it but she has worked hard to overcome several injuries over the years, no woe-is-me sob stories, she was patient and just got back on the horse. Success in climbing can be fleeting and only gets harder as you get older so I think you’ve just got enjoy the good times when you can.
Whist we were up in Queensland Monique found herself a really cool project, the classic Whistling Kite (32) which tackles a beautiful proud buttress at Frog Buttress. I believe this was the second 32 established in Australia. Monique managed to make the sixth ascent of this route which had not seen a repeat in five years. It really is the most incredibly technical route I’ve ever seen. A big shout out of thanks to Duncan Steel for his inspiration, I’m sure his encouragement was instrumental in getting Monique so psyched about the route. Monique blogged about it here and now belatedly here are a few more photos from me …
When we were up in Queensland we split our time between all the Sunshine Coast crags, which I covered in the previous post, and Frog Buttress, which I will quickly cover here.
Best known for the incredible concentration of high-quality crack routes, Frog also has a lot of high-quality face climbing.
Sorry I can’t show you more of my photos from here at the moment, they will be appearing in a feature article soon…
At Frog I employed my Photo Pole apparatus, Photo pole 2.0, for the first time. A few modifications have made it a lot faster and better to work with, compared to the previous design. Here I set it up to shoot Duncan Steel on Whistling Kite. The results were awesome, stay tuned for when my new Australia book comes out to see those.
Frog Buttress, not the only one but another great reason to visit Queensland for climbing!
A few months ago I mentioned that we were up in Queensland shooting and climbing. A lot of the shooting that I was doing on that trip is for a new coffee-table book on Australian climbing, among other things, but the other big project I was working on was a guidebook to several crags in South East Queensland. There were so many times when we were travelling around up there that I wished there was already a guidebook like this, so I’m sure this new guidebook will be a handy thing for many climbers. The guidebook is a collaborative effort with several local climbers but more on the guidebook later. The result for me was that as soon as we returned from Queensland I basically locked myself in the office and spent the last two months in full-on guidebook production mode. For a while it was a nice change to spend some time at home and have a bit of break from travel for while. Producing guidebooks is really satisfying but it’s not my main business and so when I work on one I don’t have the luxury to spend years pottering away at it; I need to fit guidebook production in between trips. The upshot has been that I’ve had my head down and been focused, neglected blogging and even emails, but because I was working with a great team we got the job done and the book should be in the shops before Christmas. Psyched!
So anyway, here is then a little photo essay on our trip up to Queensland. It really is an awesome winter climbing destination.
We arrived in time to compete in the Queensland Bouldering Competition, it was a really fun event run by Urban Climb. Somehow I managed to snake my way into second place in the mens Masters category. Don’t know how I managed that but it’s good to know this carcass still has a little crank left in it even if you wouldn’t know it judging by my performance on rock of late… But of course we were up there for real rock. We split our time between Frog Buttress and the crags up on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane. Frog Buttress is famous for its amazing crack lines of course; there were photos that I wanted to do there and Monique found a project but more on that later. The great surprise for me this trip was just how much great climbing there is up on the Sunshine Coast so I’ll start there… Just an hour north of Brisbane you have the amazing Glass House Mountains:
John J O’Brien got this shot of me abseiling into position for a shoot on Clemency Wall, Mount Tibrogargan.
And the result from the shoot…
And some antics up in the Summit Caves…
And Mount Coolum is a well-known sport climbing crag super close to the beautiful Sunshine Coast beaches. The climbing is funky and requires a lot of knee-bars. People seem to either love it or hate it, Monique loved it.
And close to Noosa there is the generally, but not entirely, slabby Mount Tinbeerwah with a swag of good routes.
Nearby we jigged and poked our way two pitches up Mount Cooroora to get some shots of a stunning arête which John O’Brien (JJ) had established.
And if you head a bit further north there’s a popular bunch of sandstone crags at Brooyar.
So much great climbing! But you know, one of the things I really loved about the Sunshine Coast was that there was more than just the climbing. It’s a beautiful place to visit and hang out. I’m already looking forward to escaping next winter and heading north again, putting the new guidebook to use, and gosh, hopefully having a holiday!
So until next year, a big shout of thanks to John J O’Brien, Sandra Phoenix, Rob and Donna Saunders, and everyone else who helped make our trip up there so awesome!
Busy times indeed, hence why things have been quiet on the blog here. My apologies for that. We recently did a trip up to Queensland and absolutely loved it — but were working our little arses off however. I was mainly shooting for a new coffee-table book on Australian climbing and also a new guidebook project we have in the works. I’m delighted with my photos and satisfied that after all these years I now have some good coverage of Queensland’s awesome, varied and really interesting climbing. Between all the work Monique managed to squeeze in a send of the iconic Whistling Kite (32) at Frog Buttress. More on all those things soon but now I wanted to quickly fire of a quick news report because today I heard some very cool news…
One of the things I photographed up in Queensland was Lee Cujes and John J O’Brien (“JJ”) attempting to free climb the first two pitches of the Beerwah Bolt Route on Mount Beerwah in the Glasshouse Mountains. For those not familiar with it, the Beerwah Bolt Route (aka Stainless Anticlimb) is a famous, no, THE famous, four pitch aid bolt ladder blasting up to – and through – the massive overhangs on the mountain’s north face. It is so popular it’s pretty much a rite-of-passage for Queensland rock climbers. Photographing Lee trying to free climb the second pitch (it was his first time trying the moves) was a laugh actually — the moves looked absolutely ridiculous! I thought “good luck with that”. Lee did all the moves that day but it looked to me like he was settling in for a long-term project – and a very cool one at that. But not so! I just got news that Lee and JJ returned to the route today and fired the first and second pitches at around grade 26 and 27 respectively. Well done guys, absolutely awesome job. I think Queensland just got a couple more mega-classic hard free pitches. And I’d just like to add that I had a look at the massive overhangs and I’m pretty sure they will also go free, just at grade 40 or thereabouts, so maybe we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that.
Here a few pics of the route from the distance. My best work from the shoot might soon be appearing in a magazine, book, or as a limited edition print, so stay tuned for that.
Oh dear, where did the last few months go? While this blog has been quiet I’ve been busy with travel, photos, climbing, and lots of different work projects going on. Clearly, I’ve got some catching up to do, so here is a quick start.
Back in June I did a quick (maybe 10 day) trip down to Victoria. First stop Melbourne to present my show at the Annual General Meeting of the New Zealand Alpine Club; it was a small but appreciative audience and I really enjoyed the night. Next I blasted over to “The Garapiles” (The Grampians and Arapiles) – one of my favourites parts of the world — for six days of shooting. Always too long between drinks, there never seems to be an end to all the things that I want to shoot — let alone climb — down there. I spent a couple of days working on a photo project at Arapiles (more on that later) but the highlight for me was catching up with Dave Graham, Ian Dory (both from the USA) and Nalle Hukkataival (Finland) for a few days shooting in the Grampians. This was their second visit to Australia after a long trip out here last year. I always like hearing when foreign climbers get really psyched on Oz climbing and so I was keen to meet them and see what they were up to. Uber-strong climbers of course, no surprises there from what I knew, but also genuinely friendly, positive, open and down to earth, which I really appreciated. I really enjoyed my time with them and their friends Madeleine and Remy from Melbourne. And yep, on the rock they were crushing!
Here are a few pics that I can show at this time. We started with a day at Muline Crag where Dave had sent Flower Power (33) second shot. The route has been around for nine years yet I think Dave may have made only the second ascent.
Then we spent a long day (and some of the night!) on the boulders at Buandik and they sent several new problems that day. Nalle’s Knowing is Half the Battle (V11) is an insane high-ball — about 12-metres high! Both Dave and Ian stepped up and climbed it too.
And we had a beautiful afternoon up on the glorious orange rock of Millennium Caves, over-looking the Victoria Range.
I headed home but the guys continued to have a productive trip. Both Dave and Ian climbed The Wheel of Life, the famously long boulder problem in the Hollow Mountain Cave. Dave said a route grade (of 9a+), rather than a boulder grade, was a more appropriate way to grade it given the style and length of the problem, errr, route. When finally the rain held off for long enough Dave sent the run-out Groove Train (33) classic on Taipan Wall. And at nearby Arapiles, Nalle established Never Say Never (V14), perhaps the hardest boulder problem at Arapiles. Still lots to do though, so I hope we’ll see them again next year.
Busy times for Dave Graham, because in other news his new website project The Island has also just launched. With support from a lot of climbers and photographers it is going to be home to lot of really interesting climbing media. Be sure to check it out! Dave has a lot of really good ideas to build a positive online climbing community. I wish him well!
We are back home now from Spain. I’ll miss the climbing there but being home is not at all bad with the wealth of things to do around here — in Australia. In fact, I’m psyched to do a lot more local climbing and shooting and have several projects I’m excited to be getting stuck into soon. With one of those projects in mind I got out this morning and found it was a beautiful dawn over the Jamison Valley (near Katoomba in the Blue Mountains), with Mount Solitary in the background. You gotta be psyched when a new day — or a new chapter in life — begins like that. Have a great day everyone!
The good times have kept on rolling here in Spain. Here’s a shot I did of Monique on La Marroncita, a really beautiful and long 8b (31) which she did a few weeks ago at Oliana.
At last I’m really stoked to announce some good news of our own from Oliana, Spain. On Monday Monique sent Chris Sharma’s uber-classic Fish Eye. It’s her first 8c, or Australian 33, graded route. It proved to be a hard and frustrating process, but I think that just has made it all the more satisfying in the end. Yep – we’re celebrating!
Fish Eye is a very cool looking route blasting straight up the guts of Oliana. It has hard resistance climbing between crux’s and a red-point crux 45-metre’s up the 50-metre route. Monique first tried it on our trip out here last year. She spent enough time on it then to work out the moves start linking long sections. On the second last day of that trip she got really high on the route (on redpoint); it was enough for her to get super-psyched and confident that she could do it.
When we returned this year Monique was fitter than ever but the route did not submit as easily as we had both expected. After two weeks she was getting good linkage. Monique started getting through the main crux about, 28-metres up, and a tricky section above that, more often, and started making it through to the top redpoint crux. It was looking good. I bought some champagne and it waited, chilled, in the fridge. The first few times she fell from the top crux we thought, fine, maybe she doesn’t have the route fitness yet, or maybe she needs to refine the moves there a bit more, but after she came screaming off from there a few more times we really started to wonder “would she ever do it”? Oh no. It was frustrating. Maybe I jinxed it – buying the champas too soon? Getting that high on the route would mean she’d be too gassed for a second shot the same day.
Then the weather intervened, it rained, well flooded, and she had three days enforced rest. It was probably what was needed though — at least for the splits in her fingers to heal. So this time, eh? Errr, no, not to be again. So she took a break for a day and tried Mon Dieu (8a+), which she’d dogged earlier, and ended up sending that. So this time she came back to Fish Eye refreshed. She was looking stronger than ever and made it up to the final rest – below the top crux – again. It was her eighth time up there… but this time she darn well nailed it to perfection. Such a sweet send!
Monique has written about it all too, on her blog here — check it out!
So I lowered Monique off the climb, she got down to the ground and after a few minutes celebrating says “right, what next?”. She was chomping to get on some of the other routes she’d been putting off. “Um, not so fast babe” I say, and sent her back up there for some photos… here’s a few of those – taken right after the send!
It’s awesome watching — and being able to help — someone’s dreams come true. I know that beyond anything else, Monique was really inspired by this route and she wanted to push her climbing to a new level. Personally, I think it’s also great to see the standards of Australian climbing being raised too. I don’t doubt that Monique has the potential to climb harder too. Will she? Who knows. She’s 39, a mother, does not have any financial sponsors. We are both really grateful that she has at least had this opportunity. Many thanks indeed to everyone who has supported Monique and her climbing! The support she’s received from family, friends, and some gear companies, has really made a huge difference.