Sunday 17 January 2016

The Annual Blueys Trip (2015-2016 Edition)

January 2016

What better way to round up one awesome year and begin another, than with a trip to the good, old Blue Mountains? Over the last few years it’s become an annual road trip event for Alex and I to join the hordes of Queensland climbers doing exactly the same thing. It’s such a great vibe with everyone there simply to have fun, celebrate the coming of the New Year and climb as much as physically possible… Which is generally until our fingertips bleed, tape becomes our best friend and yet we still refuse to stop climbing.
Me working on "Hairline 2000" (28) at Diamond Falls. Photo by Slavik Titov

At just under two weeks, this year’s trip was a slightly shorter one for Alex and I, but we had an incredible time regardless. On the morning of our arrival (a few days post-Christmas) like keen beans we headed straight to the nearest crag, Centennial Glen’s Main Wall to get some much craved rock under our eager fingertips. After a half day of climbing, we set up our tent in the Blackheath Caravan Park. The place was packed to the rafters with all sorts of caravans and tents, some small and modest and some which looked like the size of a small house. With many young families around the place it certainly wasn’t the quietist of campgrounds, but the hot showers were amazing!
Rainy day at the crag with Alex Turnbull

Sore hands!
Week one of our trip brought perfect weather with sunny blue skies and cool breezes which was a stark contrast to the weeks before we’d arrived. Lucky us! …or so we thought. Our luck seemed to run out as week two came around with torrential rain and strong winds diminishing our climbing area options and making the campground drenched and miserable. The creek behind our tent was rising, things were leaking everywhere and tent pegs were pulling out of the now soft, muddy soil. All of a sudden the once packed campground was now almost completely empty, with only our tent and one or two others sticking it out in the miserable conditions. Amongst all this, Alex and I were unfortunate to catch a vomiting bug which seemed to be making its way around Blackheath. As unpleasant as it was, it kept us occupied over the two worst days of weather, and thankfully we were back to our old selves once the rain began to recede. 
Me on the onsight of "Paint God" (25) at Bell Supercrag. Photo by Sam Cujes

Throughout the trip I was really keen to head to some new areas we’d never been to before and just have fun pushing ourselves to onsight or flash as many routes as possible. It’s my favourite type of climbing, onsighting… I find that I use my whole body and mind as one element to keep myself on the wall, and everything seems to just fall into place. I push myself harder and I seem to be able to hold on for that little bit longer. It’s those magical moments when you seem to pull strength out of nowhere and pull a move you never thought possible, or when you happen to catch a dyno in the perfect spot, as if you knew the climb without ever even seeing it before. It never ceases to amaze me how much strength your body still has in reserve, even when you think you can’t possibly hold on any longer. The more I challenge myself to push past this mental barrier, the more I understand myself better as a climber and what my body is capable of.

Cuskelly Photography: One rainy day at Sublime Point, Binary Cave

My most memorable climb of the trip was a long, tough route called “Parallax Error” (27) at Bell Supercrag. I didn’t onsight the whole climb as one because I had some insight into possible beta for the boulder crux start. Past this point however, was another 25 metres of completely new rock for me to work my way through. This was one of those magical climbs that just happened to all fall into place, where my mind and body were challenged to their limits to keep me on the wall, and somehow I managed to pull moves I didn’t think were possible for me…

It was our first day at Bell Supercrag, and also Alex’s birthday!! Alex had just managed to strongly onsight “The Reality Dysfunction” (25); a very long pumper of a climb with a tough finish. I was very pleased to flash it before we shuffled down a few climbs to the left where the daunting yet alluring “Parallax Error” stood before us with what looked like a very bouldery, cruxy start. Warning: Beta alert ahead! Alex jumped on first and tried working out this difficult boulder problem which began the climb. He managed to pull the massive move after only a couple of attempts and put the first couple of draws on, but decided to come down and rest for a bit so I could have a go. He pointed out a few small crimps which might be useful to get through the cruxy boulder problem… So I whacked another 10 or so draws onto my harness and decided to give it a try. To my delight, I managed to get through the bouldery start on my first attempt with some sneaky, crimpy short-person beta. Now with very pumped arms, I continued battling for the next 25 or so metres of onsight climbing ahead of me. Once I was past one crux, there seemed to be another just ahead. It was the climb that just kept on giving. At one point I was sure it would have to ease off in difficulty, but instead I was confronted with a crazy slab with no foot holds and tiny crimps. I don’t know how long I was stuck at the next undercling trying to figure out how I could possibly reach the next slopey rail way above my head. Eventually I figured the only way would be to do a full cut-loose dyno from a slabby undercling to this diagonal slopey rail. With feet numbing and arms screaming, I managed to stick it. It felt absolutely amazing! There was no giving up now… the thought of having to do it all again after this much effort and desperation was almost more painful than my forearms at the time. Thankfully there were some larger holds after this crux but the climb had not finished with me yet… Just before the anchor, with a tremendous amount of rope drag almost pulling me back down the climb, I was forced to do another full cut-loose dyno to reach the clipping ledge. I couldn’t believe I had actually stuck it and was thrilled to clip the anchors bagging a flash of this epicly awesome fun climb.
Going for the dyno on "Hairline 2000" (28). Photo by Slavik Titov

We ended the trip on a high, spending our last day at the lovely Porters Pass where we jumped on a few of our past projects and spent the day hanging at the crag with a bunch of our lovely Queensland mates. I was super happy to find some new but very painful beta for the crux of “Sail Away” (26), and managed to tick it on my second shot of the day. After bruised knuckles, bleeding fingers and a profound lack of energy left, we decided to end the day and head to the pub for a beer. It was a stunning evening and a lovely way to round up another awesome trip and another incredible year.
A very sore and exhausted me after the send of "Sail Away" (26) at Porters Pass

Thanks so much to Flight Centre Active Travel, Pinnacle Sports, ICP, Revive Ashgrove, CLIF Bar, Feeney Family Law and all my amazing friends and family for supporting me through 2015. It was a massive year for me and I could never have done it without the incredible support from you all. I have very exciting plans for 2016 underway and look forward to spending 3-4 months training overseas and competing in 6 World Cups across Europe, finishing with the World Championships in Paris this September!