When Alex Ling fell from the top of the cliff at Mount Piddington he thought he was going to die. He fell 28 meters — unchecked — and he slammed into the ground. This is the story of Alex’s accident and how he managed to survive it — without breaking a single bone. It comes from my conversation with Alex when I visited him at home four days after the accident.
In the last few months I’ve done photography trips to South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. Mostly working on a new coffee-tableÂ photo book of Australian climbing. I’ll have some pics from those trips soon (yes, I’ve been busy!) but first here is some breaking news…
Yesterday (18th August) 20-year-old German climber Alexander Megos capped off a productive visit to Australia by climbing the long-term open project known as The Red Project at Diamond Fall in the Blue Mountains. It took him three days of effort with at least 20 redpoint attempts. Alex has named the route Retired Extremely Dangerous. After giving it much thought, and comparing the difficulty of the route with other hard routes that he has climbed here in Australia (and of course also around the world), Alex has decided to propose the Australian grade of 35 (9a or 5.14d) for the route. Given Alex’s experience at that level (which includes being the first climber in the world to onsight a 9a graded route) I doubt there’ll be too much dispute of the grade. So this is the first grade 35 route in Australia!
The Red Project was originally bolted by Garth Miller in 1999, and since then has sat there as an open project free for anyone to try. Lee Cossey has spent some time attempting the route over the years and has made good progress on the route. Lee actually encouraged Alex to attempt the route and kindly offered some beta which may have proved useful.
On his first day of attempts Alex worked out all the moves and Read More
Well I’m now in Spain for a bit, climbing and shooting, and having a great time! Just seem to love it more and more over here. We have mostly been to Oliana again, one of the best hard crags in the world for sure. The scene and vibe here at the moment is insane and yesterday must have been one of the best days ever. I’m sure everyone at the crag was super psyched to watch Chris Sharma put in an inspiring effort to send his long-term project La Dura Dura (9b+ or 38); certainly the hardest route in the world at the moment. I spent a lot of time filming Adam Ondra and Chris Sharma attempting this route when I was here last year. Adam climbed it a few months back. And it seemed obvious that Chris was now getting super close; he just looked so strong on it in recent days. So when he tied in for his second shot yesterday I put the Nikon in video mode and managed to catch the send on film. The whole send took about 20 minutes. I’ll get that edited up and put it out there in some form shortly, so stay tuned for that. But I’ve got a few proj’s of my own to send first — thankfully nothing too hard!
Screenshot of the video footage of Chris’ send:
And after the send:
Yeah, great stuff Chris! More soon.
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 …