Finally made it to a beach!

After several failed attempts (read, roadside assistance required), we finally made it to a beach.  Friday, we drove out to a little beach town called Robe in Southern Australia.  We drove on the long beach in a Bay and enjoyed ourselves on the beach before driving further north to a bit bigger town, Kingston.  We had wonderful lattes and pastries at a little coffee shop just a short walk from the ocean. Kingston used to be a bigger port exporting wool and other materiels in the early 1900’s. Now, the pier that used to harbor the ships, after being destroyed in a storm, was rebuilt as a smaller pier. It is no longer used for shipping but makes for a good fishing location. For as far out as we walked onto the pier, it seemed the water was too shallow to support a boat, let alone a freight vessel.
The water was cool, clear, and very refreshing from the parched lands we are in day to day.  Driving on the beach was a nice touch.  The weather started out cloudy but broke up and ended with scattered clouds and mostly blue skies and sun.
Since then, we have been climbing back at Arapiles.  Mike sent Lord of the Rings and I sent a route called Fortress (there is a picture of Ross in the Arapiles album on that route).  Fortress was really cool for me becuase it had 4 big moves on it. First, 3 moves off the ground, big dyno for the right hand, then a few moves up and past the first bolt (this is a mixed gear/bolt route), there are a few very cool moves (left hand gaston, right heel hook at your right hand, gaston hard left and step up on the right heel reaching up with the right hand to a side pull, lie back the block, step onto nooks and crannies out left, reach left to a 1/2 pad 3 finger crimp, cross up and left with the right to a 1/4 pad greasy 3 finger crimp, reach your left hand to a sloping hold (squeeze), set the feet (left on a sloping ramp, right on a barely there feature above the last crimp used for your left hand) rock down for momentum and then JUMP to a flat 6 finger 2 pad ledge catching it with your left hand! i caught some serious air here, it was awesome! the second bolt is just above the jug. this move was definitely the crux for me, but the next section is supposed to be the crux. there is another big move up with your right hand just after a techy crimpy/slopey crimp section and then one more big move up with your left hand to a jug (incut, sink your hand in, but you don’t want to hang out there forever kind of jug).  This is where you get to place your first piece of gear. the rest is pretty straight forward. sloping holds on flat ledges with pretty positive feet to gain an intermediate but positive hold that leads to a jug. this is the next piece of gear.  run it out on 11ish decreasing to 10ish moves to the top.  if you are a sport climber, this route will be super fun for you! Not a typical Arapiles climb.
After my success on fortress, I decided to give a go on slinkin’ leopard.  i had tried it twice before on TR but never led any of it. there is a really big move on it that i had not been able to do so the purpose of this go was for me to work on that move. focused on that section alone, i geared up (thinking i should try all the moves down low with gear on so i can learn how to do them with extra weight on me).  after heading up the wall, i asked mike how we were going to clean the route and he responded with ‘well, i hope you’re going to go all the way to the top!’  to the top?? i took a big gulp and thought about the move i had to do if i was to make it to the top. i worked the lower bits briefly before setting my sights clearly on that one move. ‘let’s get doing what i came to do’ i sighed as i started leading into the crux.  right slanted 1/2 pad 4 finger crimp left, cross in/over or under to textured 1/4 pad 3 finger crimp, set feet on little nothings and traverse left foot out waay left on small, flat feature. reach far left to side pull, move right foot in and high, under self onto fairly textured and decent hold, (awkward), bump left foot up from small feature to a slightly better hold (really crouches you), windmill to reach far right (up and across you) to nice, welcoming, flat, two hand, bomber hold.
ok, so i got it, first try. now what? now i have to lead to the top. yikes! what is so scary about the lead to the top? well, first, this is a 28 i am working (so a 13a), which means it’s not easy for me and there is still one big move to come and now, on top of focusing on the climbing part, i have to fuss with finicky and not so good gear placements. i worked my way to the top, but after each piece of gear i placed, i was terrified.  i did not want to fall, yet i knew i could not link to the top in one go. i took up and hung at the nut placement (making it impossible for me to clean on my way down), but all the while, i am staring at this placement wondering how people could feel more secure on this little thing than on a bolt!  below me was a purple metolius cam and out and far right was the last solid piece (in my mind), a bolt.  so above me was an old bolt with no hanger and a nut that mike had placed on his redpoint some days prior. i was to place a nut over the bolt tighten the nut on the bolt and not fall above that piece.  our friend Will, on his onsight, blew the nut i was just hanging on and knocked the nut he hung off the bolt (before a nut was screwed on (confused with all the ‘nuts?’ :P) and would surely have decked had he fallen anywhere above that. knowing this, i was petrified to continue, but i had to make it to the top and i knew i could pull the moves. i never climbed so carefully, that i can recall off hand at the moment, as i did at that moment. i was so scared and mentally unprepared for this that i skipped the last gear placement (one mike placed on his redpoint but one that Will did not place on his onsight). in a way this was good for me because i found many more options than what i remembered using on my top rope attempts but it was also very scary and i was definitely wiggin’ out. 
after this climb, learning to gear climb has taken on a new meaning for me. i had not really realized the risks on other climbs because they were well within my ability, but now, i am so tuned in to the risks that i am hesitant to lead anything fully on gear. i’m sure that will change after practice and i get my confidence up…i might also have to take a fall on gear, which will be a big step in itself.  
some photos from the beach have been uploaded (see my webshots for more). here are two pics of the crux sections i described on fortress, one shows the bottom dyno, the rail to the flat ledge, you should see a bolt right around there. see if you can follow the 2nd dyno on the climb from my descriptions. 🙂 and one pic of slinkin’, which is not too easy to follow, but if you can find the rail of crimps and the bolt there, then you can follow my description out left.  i thought this would be a bit of fun for my fellow climbing friends!  enjoy! 🙂

About Audrey Sniezek

Audrey Sniezek is a rock climbing athlete and computer software/technology enthusiast.
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