Thursday, 31 January 2008

Working life in Melbourne

Nursing, Bogong and other bits.

The Blue Mountains should be renamed 'The Blue Valleys'.

Wicked Van

Had a FANTASTIC 6 days climbing. Both loved it. Climbed loads of classic trad routes, sports climbed a little harder, swam/washed in a dam and lived out of the van. Perfect.

A truly amazing place but being just the two of us did not pick up the camera much.

The Merio Van

They don't mice with their words!

The Kitchen - Dan cooking again...

Some Blue Valleys

Gotham City (otherwise known as Sydney)

So our Sydney / Blue Mountains trip was shortened to 8 days in total due to work commitments- obviously not enough time to dive up from Melbourne - so off we went with Virgin Blue.
We stayed in Sydney for two nights (and 2 days) first walking around the parks (seeing masses of bats) then the Opera House and finally getting on a harbor tour and visiting the aquarium.

On the second day we chilled out on Bondi beach and wished we had more money to hire surf boards. The waves looked fab. We also walked along the coast.

On the third day we made a visit to the art gallery then picked up our Wicked Van....

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Boats, Bikes, Jobs, Gym and Tennis.

Having spent the last two weeks in Melboune things are just about coming together. Last week was mainly spent on the fustrating task of finding work. Jo is now a registered nurse and can get work through the agency from Monday when wanted and I have a job at Melbournes only real climbing shop, starting...? ( To be arranged soon I hope).

At the weekend we were invited to a new friends parents house near the coast. Here Jo took charge of a dingy catermeragne (Hoby-Cat) and in turn took Mark and I out on the river estuary in blustery conditions. Excellent fun and good skills Jo!

We started looking for some cheap secondhand bikes to use around town and did not win a few on ebay before being very generously offered a pair of mountain bikes by Adam and Cath. They have new road bikes and seemed pleased to regain space in the house for a few months. People really are welcoming and generous. We can now make it to the beach in about a 15min cycle - much faster than the tram.
To try and keep any climbing fitness (or even improve) we have both joined a gym (the climbing gym is too expensive) and have been using the weights, cardio, swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sauna almost daily.

Last night we went to Australian Open to see some tennis - a first for both of us.
We are off climbing in the Gramps for this weekend and maybe to Sydney and the Blue Mountains next week, depending on when my job starts - come on phone, ring!!

Sunday, 6 January 2008

New Years in Hobart

New Year was celebrated in Hobart. We were booked into a hostel so decided to sample some Tasmanian delights at The Taste. Our top taste award went to Two Metres Tall Ale Company who produce the closest thing we could find in Australia to real bitter - no fizz.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hunting down more beer in Hobart.

Looked around the yatchs that had completed the Sydney to Hobart race.

Celebrated the start of 2008 with fireworks.

On New Years Day Mark proved what happens to climbers when they can't climb enough. Running is a dangerous sport.

After climbing at Mount Wellington we at last experienced a proper Aussie Bar-b-que.

The views from Mount Wellington were impressive.

After two and a bit weeks of 'holiday' it was finally back to Melbourne for some serious work finding just so we can pay for the next episode of the trip.

Tasmania 4 - THE Totem Pole

If you have not heard of the Totem Pole then your probably not a climber but it is a 60m sea stack with a diameter of only about 4m - yes, it looks like it should have fallen down years ago. It is perhaps most famous for the Paul Pritchard accident and his book on his recovery titled The Totem Pole, but has also been photographed by the Aussie pro climbing photographer Simon Carter (he was also on the first free accent team) and shown in his books and calenders

The Totem Pole was at the top of Marks tick list and we had to give it a go.
The Totem pole from the sea - mainland on right and candlestick on right

The walk in to the Tote is 1 1/4 hours so our hearts sank when we saw our early start had not paid off and others were on the cliff, but no, they weren't there to climb but to walk a slack line from the top of the Totem pole to the mainland cliff! So while we sorted gear we watched the first slackline walks off the Totem Pole!

The first job if you are to climb the Tote is to abseil down the mainland sea cliff and swing on the end of the 60m rope like crazy until you can reach across the sea washed boulders, hang onto greasy side pulls and fiddle a carrot bolt plate on the cheapskate hangerless bolts. This was my job, as Mark was to be leading the two climbing pitches - at grade 24/25 its a bit hard for me.
Once Mark had slid down to me and I took a video clip on my camera (not good quality but worth a look - click on it to play).

(Oh yes, we did not have enough carrot bolt plates so that's why I used some dodgy rivet wires on one of the belay bolts)

Mark onsighted the first pitch in good style to the mid way ledge.

The second pitch was hard, but had some proper bolts on it. Just as Mark was starting up I noticed someone absailing down the cliff in a strange position. They then stopped a produced a large camera, 'Hay Mark' I called, 'you've got a photographer, you'll be famous'. Mark promptly fell off at the second bolt - d'oh.

Back at the belay ledge we jested that it would be freaky if it was Simon Carter taking more photos at the Totem Pole. Marks second attempt saw him to but not past the crux (you need to use a side pull that is blind to you around the arete). He made it to the top of this HARD pitch and had a little cheer.

Mark Climbing the second pitch

I covered the ground to the top with a couple of rests (the excuse being I was dragging the abb rope to aid our escape). We signed the summit book and I slid back along our abb rope, now as a Tyrolean traverse.Once safely back on the mainland we confirmed that the photographer was indeed Simon Carter and had taken photos and would let us see them back at the campsite.

We explained there was no space at the campsite and we had had to sneaked in the night before. Before long the offer was made that we could pitch our tents on their site - and so ended the Totem Pole climb.

The next day, and probably for the first and last time ever Mark and I signed 'Model Release' forms so Simon could sell the photos. And yes he said he would sort us out some copies :-)

Tasmania 3 - At the seaside

The Freycinet Peninsula is very much like Cornwall - gorgeous coves, beaches, granite sea cliffs and occasional big seas.

Mark leading 'Walking the Plank' 19 on Alchemy Wall

Dan and Mark getting to the start of a route on Tetragammaton Buttress in suddenly big seas.

Christmas and Boxing day. (Taz 2)

Christmas Eve in the Ben Lomond hut, warming minced pies, feet and wet shoes.
Christmas morning - opening presents in front of the fire.
The three of us and car at a sunny beach on the way to the B&B on Christmas day.
Christmas lunch on the beach at Coles Bay (after a good shower and change into Christmas outfits).
Christmas day walk along the beach.
Boxing day walk to Wineglass Bay
And quick swim in the clold water.

Tasmania 1 - Taking lessons from a crack addict.

The Tasmania trip started like many other, taking a 12hr ferry over with a car packed with gear and supplies. To save time in Taz we had gone food shopping, however we did not know that your not allowed to take fresh fruit, veg or fish into the state. So we had to bin kg's of veg, and ate the fruit and supposed Christmas morning smoked salmon on the ferry.
Over the 12hr crossing we ate most of this fruit and refused to buy any other food on the boat.
We headed to Ben Lomond, Scottish sounding and Scottish feeling (cold and wet). The climbing looked amazing but after 2 days of doing the horrid boulder hopping walk in we only completing 2 climbs (in drizzle).

Frews Flutes area on Ben Lomond

Dan using bridging to rest from the splitter crack climbs

My first tape job to protect my hands

The crack master - probably laughing at my inefficiency to crack climb, or in need of a biscuit after hauling up that stack of cams.
More Aussie wildlife - wombat

Luckily we could shelter from the weather in the free climbers hut
We escaped the weather on Christmas eve to the sunny Cataract Gorge, here Mark is on 'Third Rising' 24.