Pierces Patagonia

7 09 2009

My life is a string of moments. Its like one of those choose your own adventure books. To go to Europe turn to page 49, to go to the Blue Mountains turn to page 56. I never regret what page i turn to, all these moments make me who i am and i feel like I’m living in a dream, why? Because i choose to ๐Ÿ™‚ Life is great ๐Ÿ™‚

So page 56… Claire, Simon and I went to Pierces Pass to do “Hotel California” a 10 pitch, 355metre, 5star (yes the blueys use a 5 star system), grade 22.ย  I was psyched to lead every pitch (and there was no ice on the route) so Simon and Claire stood up to the plate of moral support and belay duties for the day. The first pitch was the crux pitch, grade 22, a small roof spat me off, it was reachy and i missed the small crimpy hold by an inch as i tried what seems to the same move on half the climbs at the blueys. Reach up with both hands over the roof, grab what is usually pretty good holds, then put a heal hook up at the same height as your hands. Rock over the heal hook, lock off 1 arm and reach for the hold with the other hand and depending on how reachy it is and how small the hold you are going for is will define the grade ๐Ÿ™‚

Second pitch, grade 20 friction groove was really cool but as we were getting height the wind was picking up.

The 6th pitch says in the guide “48m grade 19 up onto wall and traverse right FOREVER” they weren’t wrong. After traversing right for 20m i spent five minutes looking up for the next carrot but eventually saw it another 5m to my right, it really did feel like forever before i started to climb up to the belay. The traverse right had put us on an arรชte in the full force of the wind. To say it was just windy would be a severe understatement. So pitch 7 was a 30m grade 20 up the arรชte. Not the most technically hardest climbing Iโ€™ve ever done but defiantly the most demanding Iโ€™ve ever done. The thought had crossed my mind to ask Simon to lead this pitch but Iโ€™m so glad i didn’t. It was such a challenge and i kicked its arse! I stuck the first hard move straight off the belay, through my head into the wind, yelled “fuck the world” and climbed on. Pulled through another small roof, the carrot was a meter to my right, “fuck it, too hard basket ” i thought and climbed on passed it. At one stage higher up on the arรชte i managed to get a bolt plate on the carrot, get a quick draw on the bolt plate but had to wait for what felt like 5minutes before i could take a hand off the rock to clip and as i pulled up 1 stretch of rope put it in my teeth to pull up another stretch the wind ripped the rope out of my teeth cutting my lip. I spat a mouthful of blood into the wind spraying my jacket with blood then managed to clip and climb onto the anchors. When i looked back down a bolt plate which i had clipped with a wire gate quick draw (you should use solid gate binners on bolt plates but i didn’t have many) had come off its carrot and was swinging in the wind on the next carrot down. Simon and Claire came up on second. I looked into Simon face at one stage, no way of hearing each other we just smiled and shook our heads, then a foot hold blew and Simon got blown out of sight.

The rest of the climb went easily and after a short walk we were soon back at the car after 9hours from leaving, even as a party of 3 we had made good time, go team ๐Ÿ™‚

John (& Anna) was already back (from doing the west face of mirror ball) and he soon had cups of tea ready for everyone.

We were supposed to be camping here for 3 nights but we were all beat so after much umming and arring we all made the decision to pack up camp, head home and have a massive MiGoreng cook up ๐Ÿ™‚

The next day i was sore and nobody was psyched for another day in the wind so we all went to Shipley and after warming up on a 19 i felt 100% again and red pointed a 23 “hot flyer” second shot. Claire was bloody close to getting it too ๐Ÿ™‚

Next day the wind (winge) factor was 0 so Claire and I headed back to pierces pass and did “Bunny Bucket Buttress” 9 pitches, grade 18, 270m. Claire lead all the crux pitches as we swapped leads and flew up the route. It was such a different place with no wind, the sound of silence was a welcome sound ๐Ÿ™‚ Back @ the car in 6.5h from leaving it was a relaxing day but energy levels were low so next day rest day, fuck yeah, I needed it. I did nothing, read a book, oh yeah I did do something, that night I drunk some gin, got that look in my eye (john said) and I flew out of the house and had a trippy little 1.5h return walk to get a shot of sambuca and by the time i got back to the house i was so psyched. Bring on summer, itโ€™s going to be awesome.

The last few days brought some cragging and hanging out with friends. Claire linked 3 pitches of a climb to make a 55m grade 19 called “The Rift” (Anna did the same) John ticked a few 26’s and when he’s not kicking arse on rock he’s working hard on level 9 of bounce on his phone which is apparently harder than climbing grade 30. I did this 1 grade 19 which i can only describe as like taking a shower, i was so relaxed i just floated up it but i think it was more to do with my state of mind cause Claire didn’t think so ๐Ÿ™‚

Yeah so trip is over. Claire left the house the same day we did and hits the rd for a week of surfing before coming home to tassie ๐Ÿ™‚ John & Anna jump on a flight (now that John’s a millionaire) to Araps in a few days to take over the permanent camp ๐Ÿ™‚ Me Iโ€™m sitting at the airport, sipping the last of my vino and thinking back over the last 6 amazing weeks & looking forward to whatever the future may hold. I’m back at work for the next 8 weeks before heading to Araps/Gramps for 4 weeks. In the meantime looking forward to catching up with everyone back home, hopefully doing my first skydive, climbing where itโ€™s not wet in tassie (Hurry up and defrost Ben Lomond!) Also some slacklining ๐Ÿ™‚