Category Archives: Rock Climbing

Stories from Rock Climbing, or something in that general area

From 2018 into 2019 – An Australian Adventure: The Blue Mountains, and the end of the trip

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Friday and Saturday, 04-Jan & 05-Jan-2019

As is tradition, Sarah and I spent Christmas and New Years on an international adventure of epic proportions.  This year, the Lydecker clan (including myself and Henry’s girlfriend Leah) met up in the land down under, the magical land of Australia…

 

This last adventure was a bit focused on Sarah and I – You see, we like rock climbing.  It’s a bit of a hobby of ours, if you hadn’t heard, and when packing for our trip we’d included a few pieces of climbing gear… just in case we could escape the city and get a bit of climbing in.

Also please note, and give praise for the fact that… These climbs were Sarah’s first outdoor rock climbs since injuring her leg!!!  Major milestone to recovery!!!

In fact, that was part of the plan – Pack up a car, drive into the Blues, and get ourselves on some rocks.

So that’s what happened.  Please be warned – this section will have some rather specific details about the routes that we did.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the extreme specifics.

 

Friday, 04-Jan

Let me start by saying that, while inflatable mattresses are excellent… They can have some downsides.  Such as when they pop in the middle of the night. Then we end up escaping and sleeping on the couch.

But that’s A-Okay, because then, once we wake up… well, then we pack up and get on the road!  Roadtrip with Henry and Leah!!!

There was some stress with fitting all the gear into the car, but thankfully success was had, and toward the Blue Mountains we went. The drive was pretty long, but we made it out without too much difficulty. Then Henry and Leah dropped us off, headed out into town, and Sarah and I descended into Blue Mountains climbing…

Even though the day was hot and the sun was bright, we were out of doors, and next to some beautiful rock.  It was good, and we got more than a few routes in, as shown below.  All of them were sport, with the exception of the two top-rope routes, due to the fact that we didn’t bring any trad gear along with us.  Trad is fun… but it’s also heavy.  Which is no bueno for international travel, unfortunately.

  • Captain Pugwash, Lead, 5.6 (13)
  • Three Sheets to the Wind, Lead, 5.5 (11)
  • Roger the Cabin Boy, Lead, 5.3 (9)
  • Until Death do us Part, Lead, 5.5 (12)
  • Manana, Top Rope, 5.7 (14)
  • Go Back to Switzerland, Lead, 5.5 (11)
  • I Only Eat Plankton, Top Rope, 5.8 (17)

The climbing itself was lovely, while being quite different from the States.  The rock was sandstone, and surprisingly weak – Instead of the hard sandstone that I’ve climbed before this almost felt like sand… it was gritty, but not in the same way worn granite is.

As an added challenge, not every “sport” route was open to us.  While “Sport” in the USA means that there are bolts and hangers for us to clip into, in Australia some of the sport routes simply have the bolts – you have to bring the hangers along with you.  Well, we didn’t have hangers.  So, we trusted our guidebooks, and stuck to the routes that came complete with hangers.

Also, another challenge: Australian summer.  It was hot.  Hot enough that we took a nap halfway through the day, in the shade.  We had more than enough water with us, but… yeah.  Hot sun is hot.

After climbing, we hiked all the way out to link up with Henry and Leah… in order to hike back in to watch the thunderstorms roll in from a gorgeous viewpoint above the valley.

After re-ascending (in the rain, this time… In my defense, it was Henry who said “The rain would be refreshing”, not me!) we packed into the car and got into town for dinner!

Since it was full though, we went to the pub first. Beer, calamari, garlic bread, and more beer was followed by going back to the restaurant, having a delicious pizza, and then heading to the AirBnB for some well-earned showers and some deep, deep sleep.

 

Saturday, 05-Jan

Another early morning… but that’s fairly critical when the weather hits the high 90s by noon.  And while the day before had been amazing… it had been a bit toasty, and our goal today was to get our climbing in early so that we could get back to Sydney before it got too late.

We got going, hit a cafe for some pies and coffee, and got dropped off at the trailhead again, lickity split.

Sarah and I descended in, after Henry and Leah headed out, choosing to walk along the cliff base in order to maximize our “gawking like fresh gym gumbies” time. We saw some of the routes that we’d planned on climbing mobbed by multiple groups, and so chose to keep wandering on.

As we walked, we ended up linking up with two other tourists who were heading to the same slab we were, so enjoyed some chatting / commiseration time as we walked – It was neat, chatting with another out-of-country couple who was in a similar boat to us.  They lived in China, but were visiting family in Sydney and had driven out for a few days of climbing before flying back home.  No matter where we live in the world, there’ll always be other people like us, I guess.

Anyways then we dove into the climbing!  Similar to the day before… but a little different.  These routes were more popular, and so weren’t quite as gritty as the previous ones.  They weren’t nearly as polished as climbs back in the States, but you could tell that they’d been loved.

  • Boatbuilding for Clancy, Lead, 5.7 (15)
  • Back to Back, Top Rope, 5.7 (14)
  • The Cat that Fought Back, Lead, 5.7 (14)
  • Statistical Scare Tactics, 5.10c, (20)

Quote of the day, “So the Beta for this is climb up to the crux, get tired, climb down, have a rest, then climb back up and make the move”

After burning out of Statistical Scare Tactics we hiked out via the direct-route, taking a set of fixed lines and rebar steps up the cliff side to the top. Then linked up with Henry and Leah (didn’t climb back down again, thankfully), and made the long drive back to Sydney.

Stopped at a Lebanese chicken place on the way in Palmatta, that had AMAZING chargrilled chicken, then got home to pack, relax, and chill. We didn’t quite stay in the house, though – decided to take a quick adventure down to one of the bars nearby – The Oaks! It was fun, getting a chance to just relax and have a drink in an old-school English-style pub, in the land down under. An excellent send off, from an excellent trip.

From 2018 into 2019 – An Australian Adventure: A quick overview.

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This year, and last year, we went to Australia.  It was over Christmas and New Years, so I can say that.

It’s the tradition now, right?  The Lydecker clan converges from across the globe in one location, all flying in for a few weeks of adventure, excitement, and family togetherness during Christmas and New Year.  We couldn’t break tradition now, could we?

Of course not.

But, the last few years had involved quite a bit of unpleasant travel for Henry and Leah – long flights, cold weather, and did I mention long and unpleasant flights?  They’d banked more than enough suffering to deserve a respite, and so the quorum decided that we’d all fly to them this year – Christmas in the land down under!

Before getting into the specifics of the adventures, here’s a quick overview of our itinerary, and a few of the exceptional photos that we were able to take…

22-Dec = Fly to Sydney
24-Dec through 25-Dec = Sydney, visiting with everyone and staying at Sydney AirBnB #1
26-Dec = Travel to Cairns
27-Dec through 29-Dec = Fitzroy Island, Northern Australia
30-Dec = Travel back to Sydney
31-Dec through 05-Jan = Exploring Sydney and maybe even the Blue Mountains
06-Jan = Fly to Portland

 

Climbing at Vantage, with Daniel!

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Thursday, 11-Oct-2018 through Monday, 15-Oct-2018

 

Quotes from the weekend (overheard from others):

“well, we’ve got straight vodka!”

  • A group climbing, debating what they have to eat/drink at the cliff.

“Yeah, I know how to belay… You just pull it through right?”

  • A person nearby, who we later learned hadn’t ever been outside before

“Ohh it’ll be fine! What’s the worst that can happen?”

  • The worst thing you can ever hear. We kept an eye on them…

 

Daniel came out to visit! Yay Daniel!

It’d been a while since we’d hosted guests, so we were pretty excited for this chance to show off, adventure, and be a bit more sociable.  Our plans were pretty simple – meet Daniel at the airport, cook a fancy dinner, climb in Washington, and then explore Portland.  Those can be the best plans, honestly… simple, straightforward, and clean.

So we stuck with the plans!

 

Thursday

Picked up Daniel, ate stuffed acorn squash.  It was glorious. Tried to scare him with an animatronic Santa, but unfortunately that didn’t quite work… I think he expected something, and so wasn’t surprised when he found out what that something was. Went to bed early, so that we’d be ready for the weekend of adventure coming up.

 

Friday

Packed up the car, drove to Vantage. It was a surprisingly long drive… though the technical duration of the drive was exactly what we’d expected, it somehow seemed to take way longer… It wasn’t a bad drive, by far, but it definitely wasn’t a super fun one. I think it was tough because we were all so excited, honestly.

Once we arrived, we did a quick unpacking and then headed in to climb a bit, specifically at the feathers, where Sarah got in her first post-injury rock climb! We didn’t do a ton of climbing, thanks to the sun setting on us, but what we did get to was quite excellent – I actually ended up working a 5.10 by accident! I didn’t quite finish it on lead, but then Sarah came in and wrapped up her post-recovery climbing by crushing it – on top rope, since she wasn’t quite cleared for taking falls yet, but still. No issue, clean movements… she cruised up the route that had just thrown me off.

 

After climbing, we headed back to camp to finish setting up. Once done, we cooked (and then ate, of course) a delicious steak and zucchini dinner, around a fire, with whiskey!  It was glorious!

 

Saturday

Had a relaxed morning, ate breakfast, and hiked out to the Sunshine wall once it was warm enough out.  Before we left though, Sarah did a bit of exploring and scavenging, and found us a rather impressive amount of firewood for the evening… we’d brought some of our own, but you know how it is. There’s never enough firewood, and having that little bit extra can be the difference between a pleasant evening, and going to bed before the conversation gets really good. Once it was warm enough though, we headed to the Sunshine wall to get in some serious climbing.

Climbing was excellent – it was somehow almost too warm, at times, and beautifully sunny. There were a lot of people around, but thankfully we were able to work around most of them and get in a quite legitimate number of routes. See below for specifics:

  • Ride ’em cowboy
  • short trad line
  • cool arrete
  • other climb
  • trad version of other climb
  • boshido

Honestly, we should have brought more water though. As the day went on, we snacked and sipped, but the sipping ended far before the snacking did… and thanks to that bright sun (hence: “sunshine wall”) we were quite dehydrated by the afternoon. Instead of trying to push for more routes, we took the better part of valor and headed back to camp for some well-earned rest.

At camp, we enjoyed the rest of the evening – chopping firewood, cooking dinner, stargazing, all of those good things.

 

Sunday

Vantage is pretty awesome and all, but there’s a lot to do in Portland too. As such, we packed up fairly early and headed out, after grabbing a few small branches of sage to bring home.

On the way we did stop for a quick snack in The Dalles, but aside from that it was pretty much a straight burn home… quicker driving this time, but it’s still an impressively long drive. That drive makes me miss the comparatively short ride out the North Conway.

At home, we didn’t stay for long. We did a quick unpack, set Ollie up with a nice place to relax and unwind from the drive, and headed back out for a bit of adventure!

We:

Ate Apple Cider Donuts!

Went to the Pendleton store!

Walked around downtown a bit!

Ate conveyor belt sushi!

After sushi was done, we were all pretty well worn down… but Daniel was visiting! And I wasn’t going to give up on bro-time just yet! We dropped Sarah off at the house, since she was crashing pretty hard, and went out on the town, finally settling into a small basement bar called “The Caves”.

Spooky, right?

Well, it wasn’t that spooky. In fact, it was really cool – I learned about yellow wine, and orange wine, and we got to sit in a tiny little alcove beside the bar. It was lovely, and honestly a perfect bro-down time. Which is a little strange, honestly. I guess Daniel’s finally corrupted me into accepting that sometimes it’s acceptable to just sit down, relax, and sip a fancy wine.

It’s very acceptable, as a note. An extremely good cap to an excellent visit full of excellent adventures!