|Lucky and I climbing The Nose in |
4 Minutes (22) at Mount Alexandra a
few years ago. Photo taken
by Simon Vaughan.
I knew Lucky briefly at school, and climbed with him quite a lot as he continued to recover after his accident in France. In recent years, I've kept in contact with him to some extent, though we haven't climbed together for quite a while.
The fact is, that in his demise, Climbing and Adventure Sport in Australia has lost a unique (and some might say: iconic) character. He lived every moment of his life in a manner that made him happy and gave him purpose, regardless of how others might perceive his actions. I think that that is an ideal more people should strive to achieve.
In the days to come, there will doubtless be criticism on social media sources about his life and how he came to this end. There will be commentary offered by people living beige lives (and with no desire to achieve anything more) who feel that they have the right to offer uninformed subjective judgement on the correct path to take through life. There will certainly be a typical over-the-top, knee-jerk reaction from various authorities trying to mitigate the "fallout" from this accident. But the fact of the matter is that in pursuing the things that made every day worth experiencing, Lucky was living his life, and making it so much more worthwhile than those who unquestioningly follow the predictable path set before them.
Was he crazy? Bloody oath he was, but that was what made him unique...
|Lucky and an eclectic crew of climbers about to start up the iconic Clocks (22) at Balls Head, a few years ago.|
Impetus (means Momentum)
impetus/ˈɪmpɪtəs/nounThe force or energy with which a body moves.
Synonyms: momentum, propulsion, impulsion, impelling force, motive force, driving force,continuing motion... (etc)
|Interesting Factoid #1: The rap anchors |
for The Sporting Complex are on the
near rock pagoda, just left of the middle
in this shot.
So, as regular readers (should I call you obscurists, or perhaps merely masochists?) will know, I've done a fair bit of new route development at The Sporting Complex in Medlow Bath. And when you're at The Sporting Complex, looking across at the wall immediately opposite (the Pole 28 crag), there is a single line that draws your attention.
The line in question as seen in the surrounding photos is the steep face on the lower tier perpendicular to the photographer's position, and after many days at The Sporting Complex (and with the rest of my bolted projects completed) I finally decided to go and investigate the line. I spent 3 days rapping different potential routes on the steep face, before settling on a plum line up the guts of the face that would become The Impetus Project.
On the basis that all falls are over clean air (due to its steepness), the climbing generally consists of long sections of steep, thin moves separated by "okay" holds, and that you rap directly over the route (more or less) to get to the belay, I made the decision to bolt it "sportingly". As such, there are 7 bolts in the entire 30m climb, with the first 3 close together at the start (to stop a potential ledge fall), and the last two close together near the top for the same reason. So, as you might imagine, there is the potential for some pretty exciting airtime. From this, the name for the line became clear: big falls... momentum... Impetus.
|Abseiling the slab-arete to reach the belay ledge.|
|"Fist bump for good luck!". Ninja looking forward|
to gaining some Impetus.
Immediately after the rest, you encounter The Dyno: a ridiculous jump move from a crimp, to a crimp, which -even at my height of 186cm/6ft 2in- I have to lose both feet to achieve. One you stick the dyno, you're then forced into some extreme body positions to make a number of very small, hard-to-hold, crimps a long way apart work for you.
|A sequence-shot of me sticking the dyno move on the First Ascent.|
|Yep, I was rather excited with the First Ascent... Don't worry,|
it's chalk and will wash off in time.
Suffice to say, I was pretty excited to have succeeded, and after Ninja attempted to second the route (confirming that it is indeed hard in the process), we did some easier climbing for the rest of the day, then raced back home to meet up with the rest of the The Mount RiverCrew™ who were christening the newly constructed ShredShed™ (see my previous Blog Update) with a barbecue and beers... Not a bad way to end the day!
|Ninja attempting to second Impetus.|
|Pulling the opening moves of the crux.|
|Learning the meaning of the route name by falling off the last hard move of the lower crux.|
And here is a short composite video I put together of the First Ascent of the route (in the Red Shirt), and of another lap on it (in the Green Shirt). The crazy Dyno is at 1min 46sec:
The Black Rose
The Black Rose (27) at Hanging Rock is a route I've wanted to climb for a long time, mostly due to Simon Carter's iconic photo of Richard Rogers learning to fly:
|Taken from the 2002 Blue Mountains Rock Climbing: 3rd Edition guidebook.|
|A unique view of Hanging Rock (taken from the |
belay at the bottom of The Black Rose).
How does that thing not fall down?
Despite my best efforts, it still took me the better part of an hour to hike out to Hanging Rock. More time was wasted as I struggled to work out exactly where the abseil needed to be made from (there are no anchors, and no clear line-of-sight on the route), but after an hour of cocking around I managed to make an abseil anchor by slinging a dubious bollard and backed it up off a nest of dubious half-placed cams. At this point intermittent showers were passing by, and the wind was so strong that it was at the limit of what I would consider tolerable for rapping in to this type of route (in the selfie photo below you can see the abseil rope coiled over my waste to stop the ends blowing around the arete and getting snagged), but eventually I found my misplaced testicles, gathered my fortitude, and committed to the abseil.
|A totally bomber slung-bollard!|
|A totally bomber nest of half-placed cams in dinnerplate ironstone.|
From the belay at the bottom of P2, the gr27 first pitch looked intimidatingly exposed, improbably steep, and outrageously positioned. Suffice to say, I was feeling rather overwhelmed. I continued abseiling down the pitch, clipping into every bolt along the way (fortunately, the hideous carrots the route was originally equipped with have since been fully retrobolted on ringbolts in good condition). Reaching the belay below the 1st pitch (which is fully-hanging, and situated right on the very lip of the steep face, hanging above 150m of clean air), I set up my rope-soloing system, took a deep breath, and started up The Black Rose.
The climbing begins with some easy moves to a stance, then a few thin crimps to a bolt and the start of the crux. Despite being on Top Rope Solo (which is not so dissimilar from being on Top Rope), I was pretty freaked and had a lot of trouble committing to the crux initially. The fact of the matter is, that the isolation of rope soloing, the extreme exposure and terrifying steepness (meaning biiiiiig swings over the void whenever I fell off) of this climb, and the irrational fear of potential equipment failure was pushing my psyche right to the edge of acceptable levels.
|The obligatory selfie taken from the belay below P2 of |
The Black Rose, looking down at the infamous P1.
Above this it is about grade 24 to the end of the pitch, featuring big moves between small intermediates, through continuing steepness to good horizontal breaks. This final section would be quite intimidating on lead, as -even though it is comparatively easy climbing- it is quite runout, and still terrifyingly exposed.
|The sustained upper section of Pitch 1. Exposure much?|
So, is The Black Rose any good?
|Looking down at the crux of P1 of The Black Rose. |
This section is unfathomably steep, and the fully hanging
belay is right on the lip of the face below, directly
over the void.
Beginning the Jumar back up to the clifftop, a torrential storm moved in, featuring horizontal rain blown directly onto the face and subsequently drenching the route, thus negating any chance to check out Oranges Poranges (25) or The Great Outdoors (23) nearby. Though this made for an exciting (and wet) finish to a bloody exciting day, I still had the hour long trudge back to my car before it was over. No one can say that I don't suffer for my art!
With my trip to the US of A beginning in a few days, and lasting for at least 2 months (at least 1 month of which will be spent in Yosemite Valley), this might be my last blog update for a while. Since I don't have a laptop, or a tablet, or any other similar fandangled technology, I cannot promise any comprehensive updates of my activities, but as much as possible I will try to post a few short blurbs and the odd photo or two during my absence.
In the meantime, be safe, climb hard, and pursue the obscure and ridiculous... After all, it's what I'll be doing.