was successfully added to your cart.

Category

Climbing News

un-BEERWAH-lievable!

By | Climbing News, Photographs | One Comment

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.

Lee Cujes and John J O'Brien attempting to free climb pitch two of the Beerwah Bolt Route.

Lee Cujes and John J O’Brien attempting to free climb pitch two of the Beerwah Bolt Route.

The first two pitches, now free. From there the aid route traverses right a ways before blasting straight through the big overhangs.

 

Dave, Ian & Nalle

By | Climbing News, Photographs | No Comments

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.

Dave Graham on Flower Power (33 or 8c), which he sent second shot, at Muline Crag, Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Dave on Flower Power (33) at Muline Crag.

Ian Dory sending Daemon Flower (31), Muline Crag, The Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Ian sending Daemon Flower (31), Muline Crag.

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.

Nalle Hukkataival, first ascent of Rootarted (V12), Buandik boulders, Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Nalle making the first ascent of Rootarted (V12), Buandik boulders.

Ian Dory attempting an unclimbed V14ish problem, Buandick boulders.

Ian attempting an unclimbed V14ish problem, Buandik boulders.

Nalle Hukkataival, first ascent of Knowing is Half The Battle (V11 highball), Buandik boulders, Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Nalle making the first ascent of the high-ball Knowing is Half The Battle (V11), Buandik boulders.

Dave Graham making the most of good conditions after dark(!), attempting, Right Thurr (V13) Buandik boulders, Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Dave keeping the motivation going long after dark to attempt Right Thurr (V13), Buandik boulders.

And we had a beautiful afternoon up on the glorious orange rock of Millennium Caves, over-looking the Victoria Range.

Ian Dory onsighting Nomads, Saints and Indians (29), Millennium Caves, Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Ian onsighting the heroically (badly) bolted Nomads, Saints and Indians (29), Millennium Caves.

Nalle Hukkataival working What's an Aging Gigolo to Do (32), Millennium Caves, Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Nalle climbing the boulder start to What’s an Aging Gigolo to Do (32), Millennium Caves.

Dave Graham working What's an Aging Gigolo to Do (32), Millennium Caves, Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Dave working What’s an Aging Gigolo to Do (32), Millennium Caves.

Dave Graham flashing Breathing Gasoline (30), Millennium Caves, Grampians, Victoria, Australia.

Dave flashing Breathing Gasoline (30), Millennium Caves.

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!

Fish Eye!

By | Climbing News, Photographs | 2 Comments

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!

Monique Forestier, Fish Eye (8c), Oliana, Catalunya, Spain.

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.

Monique Forestier, Fish Eye (8c), Oliana, Catalunya, Spain.

Oliana II

By | Climbing News, General News, Photographs | 2 Comments

So yes, we are back in Catalunya, Spain, for a bit. We had such a good time here last year, we thought, well, why not? And wow, what an amazing time it is to be here. The climbing is great and there has been so much going on, it’s a really fun place to be. The weather has been superb, primo, but last night a storm brought the first rain in weeks and so – thankfully — at last we are having a much-needed rest. It’s a chance for Monique to grow some skin back, and for me to finally write about some of the things that have been going on…

This area is surely the world’s epicentre of hard sport climbing. More than a few of the world’s best sport climbers have been here recently, escaping the colder parts of Europe and North America to enjoy the early spring time conditions at awesome crags – such as Santa Linya, Siurana, Margalef and Oliana. Lots of ultra-hard sends by men and women at these crags have constantly been making the climbing news of late.

Colette McInerney, Mon Dieu (8a+). Oliana.

In fact, if you look at the news coming out of these parts, it’s the women who have dominated it. And rightly so. There is undoubtedly something going on here. Maybe it’s because “resistance” and “endurance” count for so much here. Or because there are some routes which don’t have stopper height-dependant cruxes. Or maybe it’s because the routes are so damn good, long, and inspiring. But whatever it is, the women have stepped it up.

We’ve mostly been climbing at Oliana where, before we arrived, Daila Ojeda succeeded on Mind Control, her first 8c+ (Aus grade 34). This route is the awesome 50-metre resistance crag classic, which I first mentioned here. Soon after I arrived here I did a photo shoot on this route with Daila; here is just one photo from that –  some are going to appear in print soon so I’ll hold off from putting them all on the internet, for now.

Daila Ojeda, Mind Control (8c+), Oliana, Catalunya, Spain.

Daila Ojeda, Mind Control (8c+), Oliana.

Daila has a really smooth climbing style, it was great to see. Brett and Josh Lovell from Big Up Productions are here and have captured some fantastic footage of Daila using an elaborate camera trolley system courtesy of Matt Madaloni and his Sea to Sky Cable Cam, definitely look out for that footage (probably at the Reel Rock Tour).

Daila Ojeda, En Gran Blau (8b+/c), Oliana, Catalunya, Spain.

Daila Ojeda sending En Gran Blau (8b+/c), Oliana.

Dalia achievements have undoubtedly been inspiring to other women. The video of her on Fish Eye drew Monique’s attention to that route, and she’s not the only one. It’s no surprise to me that once one of these classic hard routes receives a female ascent, other women are more likely to have a crack at it. And that’s what has happened on Mind Control. Nina Caprez also climbed Mind Control a few days after Daila and now the floodgates have indeed opened. Since I’ve been here I’ve seen Caroline Ciavaldini and, more recently, Sascha Digiulian also send it — with Sascha smashing it in just two days! Far out brussel sprout! (Has Sascha got a nick-name yet? What about Sascha the Dispatcher?). Eva Lopez was also trying it and will be returning soon. And the uber-strong Russian woman Evgeniya Malamid was making good progress on it before her time here ran out. I’ve seen a few men send it in the meantime too.

Coco, Daila and Sascha sharing beta for Mind Control.

Coco, Daila and Sascha sharing Mind Control beta.

So we have one of the world’s premier crags for ultra-hard sport climbing, in peak season, with some of the best sport climbers in the world coming here — in peak form. The sending spree might surprise some armchair critics, but considering those factors the spree certainly doesn’t surprise me — and it sure has been great to see!


On another note though, I have also noticed something a bit odd here, which could easily give the impression that some of these routes are easier than they are. And that is the way some of these ascents have ended up reported in the climbing media. I first noticed something strange when a climber sent a route second time that they were on the route that day, and their ascent was reported in the media as “second go”, yet the detail about them having been on the route the previous year didn’t make it through to the news report. Another time, a send was reported as “3rd repoint attempt” with no mention of the days spent working the route – of which I’d seen several. Now, I don’t think there is anything deliberately dodgy going on. I asked around and it seems that it’s just a way of reporting accents used by some climbers (probably very much a minority) from some European countries. Fair enough, people will report things in the way they are familiar with, and perhaps some of the detail hasn’t been picked up by the media.

There are a few problems with this though. Firstly, no matter how well intended, if climbers are just highlighting the “shots”, “go’s” or “redpoint attempts”, without the time also spent working the route, and that’s all that gets picked up by the media, then it hardly gives a complete picture. Secondly, it’s not consistent with the way many climbers do report their ascents. And thirdly, and perhaps this one is just me, you know — an old fart, grasping to keep up with the latest lingo jingo, but the different terminology is a little confusing at times. Like, just when is a “try” or a “go” a “shot” – or not? I think I’ve got that a “dog” is a “try” and not a “shot” nor a “go”, let alone an “attempt”. Er what!? Yeah, um maybe I’m a bit confused. Where did I put the Panadol? Anyway, if climbers want to report this stuff then whatever happened to good old-fashioned reporting of “days”, i.e., any day you got on the route – no matter how long or for whatever reason – got counted as a day? It’s not a big problem, and should be easy for the climbing media to get on top of – if they just start querying these sorts of reports.

But I digress. I know the real reason you are reading this blog is to find out how I’ve been going on my latest project, and on that front I am stoked to report that after three weeks of top-roping I managed to send my 7b+ proj on my very first shot! It actually felt easy. Yeah, 7b+, and definitely soft…

😛

Thanks for reading my blog. More soon!

Nory’s Moonshadow

By | Climbing News, Photographs | One Comment

Matt “Nory” Norgrove has been making his mark in the Blue Mountains of late. On the rock he has been ripping it up and has steadily accumulated an exceptional tick list of ultra-hard routes: lots of 31’s and 32’s, some rarely repeated, many in fast time — the list is too long to get into here. His enthusiasm, positive attitude, and encouragement of others, is appreciated.

Recently Matt cranked Moonshadow, his first 33 — an awesome achievement! So I coaxed him out for photo shoot on that gnarly rock and worked him till his fingers were raw…

Matthew Norgrove, Moonshadow (33), Centennial Glen, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.

Matthew Norgrove, Moonshadow (33), Centennial Glen, Blue Mountains.

Also, below is an older shot that I took of Matt on Mr Line (32). Check out his blog, it’s a good read.

Great job Matt. And thanks for the help with the shots. Keep cranking!

Matt Norgrove, Mt Line (32), Diamond Falls, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.

Matt Norgrove, Mt Line (32), Diamond Falls, Blue Mountains.

Mind Control

By | Climbing News, Photographs | One Comment

Here’s a new shot of French climber Guillaume Lebret on the incredible Mind Control (8c+) at Oliana which, as I mentioned earlier, he sent on his third (consecutive) day on the route. It’s such an awesome looking 50-metre route and aptly named too — check out the run-out, Guillaume has skipped the last bolt…

Guillaume Lebret, Mind Control (8c+), Oliana, Spain.

Guillaume Lebret, Mind Control (8c+), Oliana.

Incidentally, Adam Ondra onsighted Mind Control last year and there is an awesome video floating around on YouTube of that here — check it out if you haven’t seen it and have 12 minutes to spare.

Oliana

By | Climbing News, Photographs | 3 Comments

As I mentioned in my last post, we are now climbing at the Spanish super-crag Oliana. I call it a super-crag because a) it is so cool and b) because it has the second highest concentration of ultra-hard routes in the world (nearby Santa Linya holds the title). Not that I can do much here, getting spanked on everyone else’s warm-ups seems par for the course for me, but I’m having a good time, hanging with a good crew and that’s what counts as far as I care these days. Guillaume Lebret continues his sending spree (mentioned in the last post) and yesterday we watched him do T1 Total Equip (8c), which he seemed to work hard for but once again it was in the blazing sun and conditions were miserable (well, miserable for sending, I thought conditions were quite nice for belaying actually!). Later I took these shots of Guillaume attempting to flash (but no cigar) the 50-metre Humildes pa Casa (8b+), a stunning route following tufa line for much of its length. Check it out!

photocrati gallery

Also at du Loup

By | Climbing News | No Comments

The same day that we were at Gorges du Loup catching up with Muriel Sarkany, I had the pleasure to meet the very talented French climber Guillaume Lebret. He was trying to do Trip Tik Tonic without the two sika (glue) holds — and I snapped this shot of him on it. I didn’t even know what route he was on, just though that it looked really hard; only later did I discover it was the famous TTT. There was no joy for Guillaume that day but he sent it a few weeks later. Damn good job! Without the sika holds the route is French grade 9a which would be Australian grade 35 (except that we don’t have any routes that hard, apparently). If you can read French then you can get the full story on his website here.

I think Guillaume might be following us around Europe… We are now in Spain climbing mostly at the super-crag Oliana and Guillaume turned up a few days ago. We quickly went to work on the ultra-classic Mind Control (8c+) which he smoothly send on his third day on. We were then back at the crag yesterday (after a rest day) and watched him do another test-piece: Fisheye (8c) in the blazing sun — obviously not being the least bit precious about conditions. I think he might have got the send out-of-the-way so that his mates could enjoy the shady conditions later in the day. I’ve climbed for 26 odd years now and it was only when watching Guillaume climb that the penny dropped and I finally learnt the solution to climbing in crap conditions. Yep, darn it, the answer is: “get better”! 😛

Guillaume Lebret attempting Trip Tik Tonic.

Three 8c’s in a month

By | Climbing News | No Comments

We took a rest day from Verdon Gorge and headed over to Gorges du Loup to catch up with Muriel Sarkany and see how she was going on her latest project — Last Soul Sacrifice (8c, or Oz grade 33). I first met Muriel some years back at Siurana and have to say she must be one of the most modest and best sport climbers I’ve had the pleasure to meet. I heard she is the all-time second most successful competition climber in the world (the overall winner of the World Cup for five years) but talking with her you’d never know it. Now retired from the competition scene, she has done a great job translating her skills and fitness into results on the rock. On her trip to France Muriel had been tearing it up at Gorges du Loup, having sent two other 8c’s (Hot Chili-X and Qoussai les maux de la fin) already. Last Soul Sacrafice would make her third 8c in a month, but she only had a few days left. Could she do it? Turns out we had timed out visit well…

And of course I took some shots. For Muriel’s first shot of the day I just photographed from the ground. She fell on the crux, dogged the moves a bit and climbed to the top, then kindly hauled up and fixed my static rope so that I could get some shots from above… And so then on her second shot for the day — she sent! And as she climbed higher had to quickly abseil back down to the ground to get out of her way. This time she ditched the “boys beta” that’d thrown her off before, stuck to her sequence, powered through the crux and cruised to the top of her third 8c that month. It was an impressive send. Fantastic job Muriel! And suitably inspired, Monique sent her 8b+ project the next day. Good times!

photocrati gallery