Wednesday ,27 May 2015

Disvovering Tasmanian climbing

After some time in the big mountain, it was time to go back to rock climbing. Since the Tasmanian selected guide book came out in 2013, I had been keen to go back, lucky my friend Thara had some free time and was equally keen. We headed down for three week to sample some Tasmanian rock.


Dirt bagging in Hillwood

After a night on the spirit of Tasmania, we started our tour of Tassie rock by Hillwood. It's a nice sport climbing area with easy access, something of a rarity in Tasmania. The rock is basalt with some cool looking shape. It makes for interesting climbing, as every hold seems to be facing the wrong way ...


Doesn't really do justice to Hilllwood but it's one of the only photo I have, Sacred Stone (24)

The weather wasn't looking too bad for the next few days so we left bolt clipping behind and drove toward Ben Lomond. Thara needed to perfect his jamming technique. We managed to climb Rajah (18) on the first afternoon. It's really one of the best pure hand jamming pitch in Australia, at least the first half of the first pitch. Climbing at the Ben is quite tiring, the boulder field and the physical climbing (and all the hard climbing on bolt beforehand) left us in the need of some rest. Unfortunately, we rested on a good-ish day. The next day wasn't great so we packed up and decided to go and check Frecynet peninsula. On the way, we spent an afternoon climbing at the gorge in Launceston. Somehow we couldn't find any crag on the sunny side, so ended up climbing on the shady side, much easier access. We did some nice crack and short bolted route on dolerite.


Hut life in Ben Lomond, waiting for better weather

We started our exploration of Frecynet by checking the coastal crags. The access is via a four wheel track but it's manageable in a two wheel drive with a bit of care, the Fiesta made it. The weather wasn't so great but we managed to check out some of the classics. Seacliff climbing always add a bit of atmosphere to the adventure. Unfortunately, we got chased by the rain and went down to Hobart for a bit of rest.


White Water Wall


Going to Alchemy wall, the orange-ish wall left of the two ramps

Soon enough we were going back north to Hillwood where the weather was better. As the good weather moved down, we raced back to Frecynet. We had some epic day checking different area, Mt Amos, the Hazards and the Star Factory. Highlight for me was Stud City (19) a nice three pitch climb with the top pitch quite wet, luckily we only needed to climb the wet crack on the easy section. And of course Antimatter (23, we ended up at the Start Factory after getting somewhat lost trying to find Arocknaphobia(22). We both repointed the climb on second go ! It's a really nice pitch on great granite,but knowing that's the crag warm up is a bit demotivating.


View from the top of the second pitch of Stud City (19)


Thara going for the send on Antimatter (23)

We were after some change of scenery, Fortescue bay on the Tasman Peninsula looked like the obvious choice. Our objective was the Moai, one of the free standing pillar. The famous totem pole is still a bit above my skill set, but something to check out if you can climb 25. Fortescue Bay is an awesome place to hang out, really nice setting. We successfully climbed the Moai via Sacred Site (18) and we also played on Ancient Astronaught(24). I got a bit shut down, I couldn't figure out how to do the crux move, I am not used to slabby arete climb.


The Moai


On top of the Moai

After the short adventure climbing excursion, we headed back to Hobart where we had a place to crash on the week-end. We were pretty keen to sample some of the climbing on the Organ Pipes. There are some excellent crack and face climbing to be done. The location is also quite nice, with a view of Hobart and surround.Sadly, that was one of our last stop before going back to Victoria.


Destroyed crack clove after struggling through Tartarus (21)

On our last day, we decided to check out Norht Esk next to Launceston. Beside the nice instruction from the guide book, we couldn't find any of the crag ... Launceston climbing is definitely not one our forte. As Vertical Life says :

Life is too short to climb shit route

but we still climbed some crappy crack that we found. At least it wasn't a rest day !


Questionable quality route

More photos there :

During those three weeks, we did climb a fair bit and sample some cool crags. But there is still lots to explore, more adventurous places like Frenchmans cap or Mount Brown. I am looking forward to the next trip.


They say Tassie is the place to be in summer ...

Monday , 4 May 2015

MUMC Alpine camp, New Zealand

Earlier this year I ran the MUMC Alpine camp, which saw eleven of us going out in the hills. We took over Tasman saddle hut, and proceed to climb lots of the classic objective around.

We had such good weather that everyone did lots of climbing. The cherry on top was a mass ascent of Malte Brun, a big 3198m high rocky peak and the big prize in the area. Although I did not reach the actual summit, we did the most interesting part of the climb, aka the "cheval" section. It was certainly a great experience on a committing peak, we had to do nine abseil before getting back to the snow.

Instead of trying to write a probably boring account of all the climb I did, I'll show you photos of what I climbed.

We warmed up with Aylmer to Hochester dome traverse in somewhat windy conditions :


Mt Aylmer


Hochester dome

We carried on getting some crampon mileage by climbing the snow slope next to Mt Anan :


Mt Anan and peak 9144 on the left

The following day the weather wasn't too good, we choose to do some rock climbing on Peak 9144, route that I already climbed in 2012. This time I did it with my mountaineering boots to get some mileage on rock. You can get a glimpse of the route on the previous photo, follow the blue dots.

By then we were quite warmed up, so we went for a bigger objective, Mt Green. I also climbed Mt Green in 2012 with a bivy at the col, soft snow condition meant we couldn't move fast enough to do it in a day. This year, with Rodney, we climbed it in much better style, we were at the base of the climb by sunrise around 6AM, back down around 9AM. We were back at the hut by 12h30, text book time ! We just kept on moving which was the key.


Mt Green

Back to rock climbing for a shorter day, I went up the obvious red corner on Mt Mabel with Tom and Rodney. I did it in boots again, it was a bit harder than the last one, but we had Tom and his climbing shoes as rope gun. I don't really have a photo of that one, but you can sort of see it on the snow slope photo, it's the rightward raising sky line on the right of the blue dotted route.

To finish an already great trip, I teamed up with Tom and Luke to go up Malte Brun :


Rock buttress leading to Malte Brun west ridge


The Mighty Malte Brun in the center, we went about half along the ridge on the right side

More photos from the trip, include some nice new year pina colada :

Thursday ,16 April 2015

My climbing in 2014

I feel like 2014 has been a bit of a frustrating year climbing wise. I felt I wasn't getting out as much as I wanted. But in retrospect it wasn't such a bad year.

I aslways had in mind to try to onsight Katchoong (21) the most famous roof climb in Australia and probably one of the most photographed as well. Well I ticked that goal in February and earned some bragging rights, unfortunately I don't have a photo of it. A good trick is to do Golden Echo (18) first so you can get a look at the lip.

I also started looking a into training for climbing a bit more seriously. A tried different things with mitigated success, it takes some time to figure out what works, and it's also hard to know what one should be working on. I don't think I have an obvious weakness, so I am still trying to figure out what to focus on. I also started using a fingerboard, which was usefull in increasing my finger strength.


Thara putting a good effort for at the Victorian State Title 2014. I fell on the first bolt ...

Competition wise, I had an interesting start, I competed in open A for the first time at the victorian lead title. Well I am too strong now to compete in open B, but I am still at the lower end of the scale in open A. It was interesting... I didn't get very far falling on at the first bolt on one of the qualification route. Well plenty of room for improvement. The Australian national lead title were held in Victoria in 2014, that's why I ended up competing. Fortunately, the grade limit dividing Open A and B was a bit higher and I was able to compete in open B. I came away with the 3rd place ! Looks like my attempt at training was paying off. I didn't do very well on the final though, missing some crucial jugs, but I was feeling strong coming out 1st after the semi-final.

A few shots from Anthony's website taken during the National :

2014 was also the year I took a ground fall which resulted in a small concussion. I was glad I wore a helmet because it could have been a lot nastier. I was attempting a route called Legal Aid (21), which pretty much start with a roof. I was using some pre-clipped gear that my Friend Sean had placed. Unfortunately, one of the cam popped when I was resting on it, resulting in me hitting the ground. Nothing too serious, I was back climbing after a week of rest. It was a while though before I was back trad climbing, but after my first fall on gear my head was good again.


A summary of my climbing in 2014, the helmet is actually cracked

I also went twice to the Blueis, so in the end I did quite a bit of climbing in 2014 even if it didn't felt like it. Durring my second stay in the Blue Mountain, I redpointed my first 24 ! Holly leaping short arses, Batman, a Mike Law route that has a bit of everything. A crimpy start into a slab , to a roof. The slab was the crux for me has I am quite short, but once I worked a way to do it I ticked the route on my first red point shot.


A shot from my friend Anthony, looking at the roof on Holy leaping short arses, Batman (24)

So in the end it was quite a good year climbing wise, I also quit my job so I could focus on climbing a bit more. I should have plenty to talk about soon.

My profile on the crag if you want to see what I have been climbing :

Thursday ,19 February 2015

From Sea to Summit, New Zealand again - Summer 2013/2014

During summer 2013-2014 I went back to New Zealand. As you probably gathered by now, I love New Zealand, it's such a beautiful country and it has proper mountains.

The first part of the trip was spent in the north island. We went to Bay of Island to do some sailing for a week. Back to my roots, sailing is probably one of the first sport I took part in, perks of being born by the sea in a land with lots of sailors. I never invested too much time into sailing but it has always been something I enjoy doing. It was great fun, and we got to do a bit snorkelling as well.

Check the photos : sailing


Capitain G ! Alistair doesn't seem to trust me though ...

After that, I flew to the south island for my second season of mountaineering. I met up with some friends who did a mountaineering course while I was at sea. We then flew to Chancellor hut for a week. I wasn't a really successful trip, we seemed to turn around more than getting to the top of things. To be honest the weather wasn't helping, but we did manage a traverse of Aurora and a run to the top of Aigrette. There was a lot of snow this year, I think we could have climb the egg memorial route as snow route !

Some photos : Mountaineering


On top of Aigrette, Aoraki/Mt Cool in the back ground

Thursday ,15 January 2015

New Zealand skiing - winter 2013

As a French person everyone seems to assume I can climb 8a (29) and that I am a good skier. Well my climbing is slowly getting there but being from Brittany skiing is certainly not one of my strongest point, I'd call myself a less than average downhill skier. Anyway, Stuart Hollaway from Vertical World Mountain Climbing agreed to take me on a backcountry skiing trip he was running in New Zealand, during winter 2013.

I got to see the west coast Mountains in winter, a bit different from summer with a lot more snow around. Such a beautiful environment ! I also got to learn a lot more about staying safe in the mountains. We didn't get the best condition, with snow showers and high wind but we still managed to get out and have some good run. My skiing really improve over those few days. I also realised how quick one can travel on skis. It's a lot more fun to ski down to Chancelor hut.
Check out the photos to see what I am talking about : New Zealand skiing

Frozen beard selfie

Frozen beard selfie

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