Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Six Week South Island Climbing Trip

Recently I came back from a six week climbing trip in the South Island. Most of our days were spent in the Darran mountains in Fiordland, but we climbed at other places as well. My sister is on a three month exchange trip to Canada, so it was just me, Mum and Dad. On 14 December we caught the ferry and were on our way.

Our first stop on the way down was Mt Cook. We spent the night and did a couple of nice walks with good views. On the second day the lack of climbing started getting to me though, and on the way back on our second walk I did a few easy boulder problems in my sneakers.

Next up we had four days in Wanaka. We went to Al Cap and I sent my project from my last trip, Tuffer (27). Al Cap never sees the sun, and back in April My hands would be frozen by half way up and I couldn't feel my fingertips. This time conditions were good and anywhere in the sun was sweltering. I tried Continuous Play (27) as well but left that a project for our return trip. The climbs at Al Cap are long and pumpy and don't suit me, but I felt better than last time and I was able to recover at the rests.

Next up, we climbed at Diamond Slab area, and I tried to onsight some stuff. I fell off two 26's but did easier climbs first go.

We headed south to Milford and arrived at Homer Hut. There was a good crew staying there including Derek Thatcher, Zac Orme (my old coach) and Rachel Musgrave. It was great to meet these guys and they showed us around and gave me lots of good route recommendations and beta.

All of our climbing that first stint was at big Babylon and Little Babylon. Little Babylon is cool with lots of hard pumpy and bouldery climbs. I left a project there, Xerxes (30). Big Babylon has two different styles of climbing. The right hand wall is slightly overhanging with very little contour change. It has lots of sharp crimps, some underclings and a few heinous slopers. I did Fuel (29) on this wall. The left wall is very high and has lots bulges. There are lots of jugs and no-hands rests but getting between them can be hard. On Christmas Day, Dad and I did an awesome three pitch 24 called Project Aqua. I had lots of fun and onsighted each pitch. Getting down wasn't easy though and Dad had to swing me in to a belay. I wasn't put off and two days later we hopped on a four pitch 25, PSI, that went right to the top of the wall. It was 78m high and I almost fell off on the hardest pitch, but I onsighted this one too. After having trouble swinging me into another belay Dad suggested another method of going down: as I came down I would clip draws into the bolts and clip the rope in above me so I would stay close to the wall. This worked better and we made it down.

We left Milford to avoid the rain and drove to Queenstown. It rained for the fist two days of the new year and when the rain cleared there was snow on the mountains all around us. We did some climbing at Wye Creek which was freezing. Despite the cold I managed to onsight Projection (26) and did a soft 28, Boss Combo, second go.

We went back to Milford but this time Dad and I had gumboots. The track up to the Babylon crags is long, steep, wet and muddy. It involves climbing over stuff, and gumboots were an improvement. We got the idea from Derek and the others who all wore them.

This time back we were staying at Milford Lodge which has showers and a nice lounge with power. To keep costs down though we were sleeping in the tent.

After a few days, heavy rain came in. Because the rain wasn't going to last and we had enough food, we decided to wait it out. Normally the mountains around Cleddau Valley are steep granite slabs with some snow on the more rounded tops and some thin water falls falling into the valley. When it's raining heavily the whole valley transforms. On the first rainy day we went for a drive to look at the waterfalls. The valley was full of them. They were running over moss slops and some even over trees. We stopped by the slip before Babylon. It was amazing. The small water fall left of Big Babylon had turned into a massive torrent. Farther up the valley we went for a walk to the Chasm. Not the Chasm crag, but a spot in the river where the water runs through a chasm. It was cool the first time we went on a sunny day, but this time it was spectacular. The water rushed through and there was lots of spray.

It rained so hard that night that we got moved to a free room at the lodge in the middle of the night. This was because the tent could have flooded.

I didn't get Xerxes that trip. After the rain I had a cold which lasted a few days. We had an easy day at Chasm and went to Little Babylon the next day. The last time I'd been there I'd tried a climb called Hercules (28/29). The climb is really cool, just big moves on big holds. After a warm up I hopped straight on it with no rest as it was a cold day, and sent it first go of the day.

That day we drove to Te Anau to stock up on food and stuff.

When we next went to Little Babylon I put my draws back on Xerxes by aidclimbing it as a warm up. I was determined to get it this time back and planed to keep working on it until I sent. I had a go before we went back to Homer Hut, where we were staying again this time. I did the bouldery first crux confidently, just like the last five plus times. I got to the second crux, and with the intermediate I had worked out I grabbed the pocket. I put my feet up and powered to the gaston slot. I yelled loudly and stuck the hold. The yell was louder than necessary, but I hadn't stuck the move before so I put the effort in. The next moves were pumpy and I made it to the third crux. I put my heel up and pulled past the big sloper. I had only one hard move left, a throw to a three finger chink out right. I set my feet up and went for it. My hand went around the hold. I gripped it, but not hard enough. My hand uncurled off the hold, but I caught myself back on the previous holds. I was pumped and I knew the move would be harder this time. I did not want to fall off at this point, having come so close. Those thoughts went through my head in the two seconds before I went for the move again. My hand went around the hold again. I gripped hard. I let out a tremendous yell and put all my effort in. I stuck the move. The next two moves felt hard too and I struggled with the last clip, but I made it. I was really pleased I did it, because the climb felt right at my limit.

I removed the bottom draws and put them on No Country For Old Men (29), an easer variation which met up at the second crux. I worked the start of this, then we went back to the hut. The next day, armed with bata from Derek, I sent the climb after a few goes. I felt fresher after the second crux than I had on Xerxes so I knew I would do it, but that throw still felt hard. That evening Tom Hoyle (aka Gomez), Derek and I tried a new route on the Pebble boulder next to Homer Hut. The climb has been dubbed The Russian Route and is grade 26 in my opinion. I did the route second go, just after Derek. It is very technical and bouldery and and the crux is not letting your feet pop.

Derek and Tom left two days later. James Morris, Zac, Rach and others had left earlier. I hopped on Cyrus the Great (30) that day and had fun working out all the moves. That evening Jon Seddon from Wanaka arrived and replaced Derek as warden of the Hut.

The next day Dad and I went to the Chasm and climbed there. We made our way up to Chill Out ledge in two pitches, carrying backpacks the whole time. The first part had via ferrata rungs up to the belay. Dad says I went the hard way up the next pitch and should have taken a different route to Chill Out ledge. I had a good time at Chill Out ledge doing a couple of hard onsights. The first one was Bus t' Milford (26). A really fun climb with a streak of pockets and then pumpy climbing on big edges. The next climb was Buster Gonad (25). This one had a steep juggy prow near the top with some cool no-hands rests. I missed these on the onsight but found them when got my draws back.

That evening we went back to Te Anau for our last resupply and stayed the night.

Back at Little Babylon, I worked on Cyrus fine tuning my sequence. Dad didn't get much of a go on his project, International Turkey Patrol (25), because there were so many people climbing that day. Some of them were trying Hercules and I passed on some of the beta I got from Derek and Tom.

The next day was different. Nobody else was there. I tried some new beta I got from Jon and got close to Cyrus a couple of times. Then when I was feeling unmotivated I had one last go. I pushed through the crux and made it to the rest, rested for a bit, then did the last hard move and made it to the top. My second 30 this trip. It felt easier than Xerxes to me and took less time.

Cyrus is one of the coolest routes ever. It starts with a grade 15 slab and then gets hard straight away with a V6/7 boulder problem. There are other ways, but my method through the boulder problem involved a high step with an undercling followed by a catch of a 45 degree sloping one-pad edge. I then had to pull up hard and fast to some better holds. Originally I went to an ok gaston and then caught a good pinch, but I often didn't get enough thrust to reach the pinch. Before I sent, I worked out that if I crimped the one-pad edge I could go straight to the pinch. The next hard bit involved a hard lockoff clip and then a hard twist-lock from a crimp to a poor pinch. I tried Jon's beta instead, going left to a good edge, which made the clip easier, followed by some hard undercling moves, which skip out the poor pinch. Next I reached a juggy crack, and a knee scum allowed me to clip while I was kind of upside down. A few more moves and I got to the crux. It starts with a crossover to a gaston. Then there is a smear foot to reach the first undercling in the bulge. I slapped the foot onto an edge. This is the crux because I barndoor, and the foot is hard to move. Then the climb gets easier. I traversed an undercling break and got a rest on the top right of the bulge with a knee bar or heel hook. Then there is a hard crossover from a set-back edge to a sloper/jug. Jon told me about a heel hook that made this easy. From there, it's a few jugs to the top.

After I sent Cyrus, Dad had a go at Turkey Patrol. He did his best yet, falling off at the end because he was pumped and forgot to move his foot.

The next day we planed to do Tufa Dub at big Babylon, but because of a slip the start was a wet, boltless slab, so we did other stuff instead. I was low on motivation and the only thing I sent was a 19. That evening we left the Darrans for the last time and began the journey home. The Darrans is home to the best climbing I've done and I look forward to a return trip sometime.

We had a couple of days in Wanaka. On the first day, Dad and I went to Far Horizons, a crag Jon told us about. I did two nice climbs, Komatsu (26) and Project Manager (28). On my 3rd go on Project Manager, I fell on the last move because I pushed the draw onto the top jug. I was very annoyed, but I came down and sent it next go.

The next day we went back to Al Cap. I planned to do Continuous Play, but when we got there both this and Huffer (Dad's project, the first half of Tuffer) were wet. We tried Popeye (28) instead, and I sent this fourth go and Dad did almost all the moves on toprope.

Our last climbing day was at the Cave in Christchurch. I worked on Bogus Machismo (29) most of the day and came close twice at the end but didn't send. Some other climbers were there including Vanessa who won the Masters last year in the Christchurch comp. I tried Gorilla Grip (27) and fell off right at the top on my onsight attempt. With Vanessa's beta I did it second go.

The next day we caught the ferry home and ended our six week trip. It was great to have so long to climb but I was getting tired by the end of it.


1: Me and Mum at Mt Cook.
2: Me working on Fuel and Zac working on Katelipsis (32) on the right wall of big Babylon.
3: Babylon in the rain.
4: Going to the Juggy crack on Cyrus the Great 5: Dad working on International Turkey Patrol.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Turakirae Sends

Over the last two months I have been sending a lot of stuff out at the Bronx, Turakirae Head.

First up I sent John Palmer's new Bronx Cave link up, Raw Iron (V8), starting as for Pumping Iron (V9/8) and finishing on Clark boulder. A few sessions later I did the first ascent on the extension to Raw Iron, starting as for Mr Olympia (V10), and named this Raw Ruthenium (V9). Later that day I did the second ascent of Supersonic (V8). Next I did the second ascent of both Kompressor Arête (V7) and Boilerplate (V8) in the same day.

A week after I got back from my trip up north, I did second ascent of The Code of the Samurai (V9/10). The Code of the Samurai is a variation my first V11, Though the Looking Glass. Though the Looking Glass and The Code of the Samurai are both variations of Alison Wonderland (V11), and all three climbs have the same hard start but finish differently.

Two days later I finished my sending spree with the first ascent of Boilerplate Sit Start (V9).

Here is a video of me sending Raw Ruthenium, and another video of me on The Code of the Samurai and Boilerplate Sit Start.

Friday, April 27, 2012

April Climbing trip

On Saturday 7 April Mum, Dad and I left for a week long climbing up north. Our first big stop on the journey was at Ohakune, where we met up with Kristen Foley and climbed at White Falls on Mount Ruapehu. I did Krakatoa (25) and worked on The Wraith (28), and Kristen sent his long term project, Retaillack (28). Mum did a 19 and both Mum and Dad worked on Krakatoa. The sun was setting as we walked back to the car and we drove up to our accommodation at Mangakino in the dark.

Sunday 8 April

We climbed at Waipapa. I worked Hands Christian, a hard 23 slab, and sent this third go. Next I had a go at Handsome Julio (Direct) (28). After skipping out the crux and finally reaching the chains, I decided to leave my draws up and work on this the next day.

Monday 9 April

After warmimg up I had a couple of go at Handsome Julio (Direct). On my second go I managed to work out, with some help from the picture in the purchased-that-day guide book, the crux sequence. The sun was on the route so I decided I would go for the send the next day and rest for the rest of this day. Mum sent her project from our last trip, Name Game (21), and we went back to our accommodation.

Tuesday 10 April

I sent Handsome Julio (Direct) first go of the day. Next we decided to head over to Froggatt and work on Burn (28). I put the the draws up then had one redpoint go and fell off on the crux.

Wednesday 11 April

I spent the day working Burn, but kept falling off on the crux.

Thursday 12 April, rest day

Friday 13 April, last day of trip

The rest day worked and I sent Burn first go of the day. Next I did Hold on to Your Face (26) second go then tried Double Leaning Jowler (28). I felt good on Double Leaning Jowler and would have had another go, but it started to rain so we packed up and went home.


1: Krakatoa
2: Hands Christian
3: Mum on Terra Incognito (18)
4: Burn

Sunday, April 22, 2012

NBS Turakirae

On Saturtday 25 February I headed out to Turakirae Head to compete in round 3 the National Boulder Series. As soon as the comp started I headed over to Thor's Hammer (V9, FA by me) and started working on this. I was making progress, but before I could get really close it started to rain. After huddling in the Bronx cave until the rain stopped I did Sour Mash (Left) (V5) and Sour Mash (Right) (V6) which apart from the top outs were both dry. I then went around to Noir Désir (V9) and started working on this. The top, post crux, holds were still wet so I took a short break and did Game On (V5), Speed King (V7) and Speed King's extension Pro Series (V8). After many attempts and much time I managed to do Noir Désir and could move on. I tried Brassneck, a V8 starting as for Thor's Hammer, but I was too tied to do this so I went over to Rotund boulder. Within a few attempts I had done Über Alles (V8) and Über Rotund (V7). I moved on to Sawn Off boulder and quickly did Conundrum (V8) and Sawn Off Right Variant (V7). With not much time left in the comp I tried Über Huck (V7). It took me a few goes to recall the beta, but I ticked this one off as well. The comp finished and my top eight climbs were V9, V8, V8, V8, V7, V7 V7, V7 giving me 1021 points, enough for me to win the comp. All the climbs I did I had done before, but it was nice to do so many in one day. Mum and Dad both had a good day too. Mum repeated her hardest climb to date, Game On, and Dad repeated all of his 8 hardest Bronx climbs. A week or so later when the series had ended I found out I was the winner the series. Full results are available here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NBS Froggatt

On Friday 17 February Mum and I left for round 2 of this year's National Bouldering Series at Froggatt Edge. Half an hour into our journey we realised we had left the boulder mats behind! Since we had barely started the journey we went back home to collect them and added an hour to our trip. After a long car ride up to Froggatt we set up camp at the school camping ground and went to bed early.

Saturday 18 February, day of the comp

After registering and receiving our topos we waited around for half an hour before the competition started. For most of the day I climbed with Wiz, Josh, Peanut, Isaac and Kaze, all guys from my age group at the indoor comps. We warmed up in Animal Biscuit Valley and I sent a V4, V5 and a V6 second go. After struggling on Power On (V7) for a while, I moved on to Toilet Block, sending another V5 along the way. At Toilet Block I flashed two V6's and a V5, as well as redpointing Double Trouble (V6). We then moved on to Riverside and worked on Duck Fat 2.0 (V9 in the comp, but felt like V8/7 to me) and after a lot of goes I managed to send this. The others thought I went off route but later I talked to Liam, who did the first ascent, and he thought my sequence was fine. Next we did Kiwi Kiwi Attack, a V6 dyno to a sharp jug. I needed tape to send. The others moved on but I stayed until the horn blew and time was up.

At the end of the day I came second in the Expert Male category with a score of 576 points comprised of my top eight problems: a V9 (233 points), five V6's (55 points each) and two V5's (34 points each).

Sunday 19 February, route climbing at Froggatt

I worked on Burn (28) but I was too tired from the day before and kept falling off on the crux. Mum had a good day though, flashing Monsterpiece Theatre (20).

Monday 20 February, Waipapa

I felt too tired to climb well at Froggatt so Mum and I decided to check out Waipapa. At the crag we met Bryce and Jamie, who had both put up a lot of new climbs there recently, and they showed us around. Mum did the third ascent of a 17 that Bryce had bolted that day, and I sent a couple a 26's: Utopia (third go, third ascent) and Yoda (second go, second ascent).

After climbing we hopped in the car and made the long journey home.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

World Youth Champs Summary

Because of exams, which finished some weeks ago, I was busy and didn't get around to updating my blog. So here's a summary of the World Youth Champs.

Wednesday 17 August

We had a one and a half hour train ride to a different climbing gym with a ten metre speed wall. When we got there we found out they no longer had the speed holds up on the wall (we found some of them in the boulder room), so we did onsighting instead. After some not great first attempts Ken gave us a team talk about how, after going to the swimming complex the day before, we were in 'holiday mode' and needed to switch into hard climbing mode. After Ken's motivating talk I was putting more effort in and getting further on the climbs.

Thursday 18 - Sunday 21 August: last days in Munich

We had three more days in Munich. We went to the Dachau Memorial Concentration Camp and watched the semi-finals and finals of the Boulder World Cup at the Olympic Stadium. One night we watched as more and more people arrived outside our hostel to film a scene or part of a scene for a movie. On Sunday we caught a coach to Imst, Austria.

Sunday 21 - Wednesday 24 August: Comp prep in Imst

We climbed on the indoor wall on Sunday and Monday (the Comp would be on the outdoor wall) and met some of the other competitors who were also doing some last minute training. On Tuesday we went up to the Alpine Coaster for the third year running but the ride didn't seem worth the money so I sat around instead.

Thursday 25 - Sunday 28 August: The World Youth Champs

My first qualifier went ok but I think I could have got further. The climb was very cool and I enjoyed trying it. The next day on my second qualifier I psyched myself out about a move low down and fell off there. I was very frustrated and disappointed about that climb.

In the speed qualification I did better than last year's time and got under 20 seconds.

The team's results were

Junior Male

Daniel: lead: 54, speed: 26 (16.99)

Youth A Male

Christoph: lead: 34, speed: 27 (18.76)
Sam: lead: 65, speed: 33 (22.08)
J.J. (me): lead: 67, speed: 30 (19.80)

Youth B Male

Josh: lead: 39, speed: 27 (21.23)
Kaze: lead: 46, speed: 32 (33.36)
Peanut: lead: 49, speed: 28 (22.90)

Youth B Female

Tayla: lead: 39, speed: 29 (34.29)
Aiyana: lead: 45, speed: 32 (46.05)
Alex: lead: 61, speed: 31 (45.93)

The next day it was raining. The semi-finals were in the morning and we all went down to watch. I got very cold and wet but I stuck it out to the end. In the afternoon the clouds cleared and the mountains all around were covered in snow. In the evening we watched the finals and then the medal ceremony.

On Sunday, the last day of the competition, we headed down to watch the speed finals and trade some of our team uniform. I ended up with a Swiss hoody and a Singapore singlet. We went to the after party that afternoon but the only countries attending were us, the Ausies, South Africa and Japan.

Monday 29 August - Thursday 1 September: Heading back home

We had another long coach ride back to Munich. In the afternoon we did some shopping and I somehow managed to get left by myself in the climbing shop. Because Glenda told us not to go off on our own I made my way back to the hostel and waited there.

We left Munich the next day and travelled back to Auckland with a short stop in Singapore. We arrived in Auckland at 11:00 at night so there were no domestic flights until the next day. Most of us were met by family but Glenda, Sam, Christoph and I all had to stay the night and fly out the next day.

The next day I arrived in Wellington and Mum, Dad and Tessa were waiting for me. I was Home.


1. Peanut on his first Qualifier
2. Josh on his first Qualifier
3. Sam on his second Qualifier

Monday, September 26, 2011

Friday 12 August

We had a rest day and went climbing gear shopping. I bought a pair of 5.10 Arrowheads and some of the others spent almost all their money.

After lunch we took two trains and a tram to Nymphenburg Palace and I took lots of photos.

That night Daniel and I did the video diary.

Saturday 13 August

During our first two days climbing we took it easy because of jet lag, but were back to training hard now.

Sunday 14 August

Because it was Sunday almost all the shops were closed and the gym opened late. After hunting around for some time we found a bread shop and had sandwiches for lunch.

Monday 15 August

This was a public holiday so the shops were still closed. Training today was all about getting the boom (German slang for pump).


1. Nymphenburg Palace.
2. Josh, Aiyana, Tayla and Alex outside Nymphenburg Palace.
3 to 5 Alex, Aiyana and Kaze training at the gym.