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.
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.
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.