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Showing posts from 2017

Climbing Photography

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I've been getting the camera out a bit more recently, partly because I've got a new one, and partly to keep me from climbing too hard when I should be resting.

Most of it gets put on Instagram @ goneepic if you want to see it sooner, although some will get mirrored here eventually.


Sadly, I've been unable to get that many good shots recently. I've been mostly climbing in pairs, which is sadly not particularly suited to getting good photos, except for the expressions and faces on the ground.

I have managed a few while bouldering, and I'll certainly got a few more this weekend at the North Black Range Boulder Festival. I'm planning on taking my full camera setup, and probably 2-3 flashes, in case people are interested in helping me with some night shots.

I've also got the light wand working fully now, so that could be fun.






Butterfly Wall Direct

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For the first time in my life I've actually been applying myself to training for something, it's been about 10 weeks since I started an aperiodized climbing training plan, based loosely on Steve Bechtel's Logical Progression
The basic premise is that you rotate between the three types of sessions, progressing them all simultaneously, rather than peaking and letting each of them fall in turn. 
The results seem to be pretty good, I'm climbing harder than I ever have before, and am seeing benefits in all three areas.  Finger strength and general strength is improving (so surprising given that I've never done any lifts before)  My on route endurance is improving, and my ability to apply power is increasing as well. 
I still struggle with setting goals, but one route that I've been keen on doing for years is Butterfly Wall Direct (24) at Nowra. I first had a look at it in January this year, and the moves felt surprisingly doable. I spent another 3 days looking at…

Trango Vergo, Review and Recalls

March  I've finally bitten the bullet and purchased an autoblock belay device, Actually, thats not quite true. I've had a Gri Gri for years, but it's used solely for tensioning slacklines. I've never liked the way they operate, I can't feed slack well enough with them, and with the exception of the times when someone is dogging a route, I've rarely found that the ATC guide isn't sufficient. You never short rope anyone, and give a better belay in general. However getting a rock dropped on me a few months ago has got me looking at alternatives, I've now got a MegaJul for cases where the rock is concerning. But it too struggles to pay out rope as nicely as I'd like if someone is going for a hard send on good rock.

We'll see how the Vergo goes, everything I've heard about it suggests that it's a gri gri, but a little better. If it addresses a few of the gri gri issues I may use it a fair bit, if not, it will still be useful when someone wan…

A camera update

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I've spent a lot of time shooting with the EOS-M now, in a variety of situations. I'm finding that I can make it do most things I want it to with a little bit of effort.

I've made a few changes or additions to make it work better for me.
I've added:
- An aluminium grip to the camera, this adds to the bulk, and the weight, but makes it a lot easier to hold onto it with one hand as you are dangling from a rope.
- The long lens that I mentioned last time, this allows me to get close ups, and means I need to move less when I'm on the rope, or get decent cliff wide shots from further back
- a set of RF flash triggers, great when you want a discrete flash, or don't want to play with photo-triggers
- UV filters on all of the lenses - these are pretty much solely to prevent scratches on the lenses... something that is bound to occur in the conditions I shoot in.
- a lens hood - this is mostly to save the UV filters and lenses from bashing into the rock as I move around.

Future plans

I've been back from China for a week and a half now, and as I catch up with work, I find my mind drifting to the next trip.
I'm thinking somewhere within Australia, almost certainly East coast so that the car is an option. It's already somewhat fitted out, and the addition of a rooftop tent and some decent solar panels would make it a solid option for a month or so on the road. I'd also need to kit it out with better organised storage, and reconfigure it to be better used as a kitchen.

However it works, I'm keen to get to a bunch of places that I haven't got a chance to climb at yet.

- Tassie - probably summer, it's a lovely place, and I know a lot of people down there, mostly cavers, but I could probably get a few spots to crash for a night in a bed if need be, and the scenery and routes down there are amazing. I'd certainly love to get some time in the area of Cataract Gorge, Ben Lomond, Mt Wellington and the totem pole

- Arapiles - It's an old cl…

Yangshuo

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Apologies for the long time between posts, I just got back from 3 weeks climbing in Yangshuo, China. It's limestone Karst country, with some tufa climbing, some overhanging pockets and caves, and some slab-like climbing. It's certainly an interesting mix, and a very enjoyable place to climb.

The climbing was great, as was the group we had, mostly current or former ANUMC members, and based out of Canberra. We spent a lot of weekends in the lead up climbing in Nowra, as the sandstone there seemed better suited to training for limestone than anything else that we had available.

The Climbing
The climbing is varied on the cliffs around Yangshuo. It's not as tufa heavy as the tropical limestone in Thailand, but it has a combination of tufas, pockets, and slabby walls. You will find something you will enjoy here, although some of the higher traffic areas are getting polished and chalk caked in places.

The grading is meant to be  a little stiffer than Thailand, which I probably …

Training, 1 cycle in

 I've been training seriously for the first time ever in preparation
for the trip to Yangshuo, I'm interested to see how far I can push, and
in what kind of time frame

It's hard to say how effective training has been so far, it's only been
6 weeks, and I don't really know where the baseline was to begin with.
I am feeling stronger that I ever have been before, but this is the
first time I've ever really trained seriously, and even now it has been
less consistent and regular than I'd like... One of the effects of
having one's life shaken up a bit.

I've just started the second power phase, and based on the indoor
'grades' I'm a few grades above where I was a month or so ago.Moves on
V8-10's, completing or nearly so on V6-8's But with limited problems,
and limited people grading the problems it's hard to put much stock in it.

Doing routes, my strength on individual moves has improved a bit, but
it's a…

A new(ish) camera

I finally upgraded the old camera...
I'm moving from a relatively high end point and shoot from 2007, to a basic mirror less DSLR from about 2014

- as always my basic requirement is full manual mode, and no weird double flashes that will mess with a slave flash.
- size is important, but not overly so, I just want a machine that will do what I want, and allow me the control when I want it.

The EOS-M fits these criteria, and is a large step up from the compact that I was using prior. It's not the top of the line, nor the newest, but for something that I will abuse, that suits me just fine.
I've got the 22mm pancake lens, an 18-55mm lens, and I've added a 55-200mm lens, allowing me to get close to the action for climbing shots.

Interesting Follows

I collect blogs to read, and podcasts to listen to at an amazing rate, eventually if gets too much and I start to cull them down a bit. Here's a sample of interesting follows that made it through the last cut. . 
Semi-Rad - if anyone is not following it, this is the one I would start with. Think the wit, humour and brilliance of XKCD before it got popular, in articles and flow charts, but with an outdoors slant.
Outside Online - The most prolific of this list, a variety of articles on different topics from Outside's website. 
Adventure journal - a collection of articles on a number of different topic, similar to Outside, and also includes contributions from Brendon Leonard of Semi-Rad
Gear Junkie - will keep you up to date with the latest in gear, including ones that get pulled from kickstarter. It's been a good way of seeing some stuff I might like there, without falling into the wormhole of fund swallowing that is Kickstarter. 
Climbing - mostly a who's done what recently…

Why do we solo?

And don't even get me started on my free climbing rant! Of course I'm free climbing, the part you are worried about is the soloing.
Why do we solo? Many far more talented climbers and authors have written on this topic, (Matt Cousins - Why Soloing, Alex Honnold several times) often coming to the same conclusions. And yet we can't seem to describe it in a way that makes sense to the people that ask the question.

Are we so far apart, those that do and do not solo, or do they just not want to accept the answer?


From Honnold:
"I like the simplicity of soloing," he says. 
"You've got no gear, no partner. You never climb better than when you free-solo." 
He also finds that the sport fits his psychological makeup. 
"If I have any gift, it's a mental one," he says. "Keeping it together."



I love to solo climbs, the freedom of movement, the speed with which you can climb, the state of mind throughout, and the feeling on the top are all inc…

Camper changes after a few nights out

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I've had to get new T-handles for the back so I can lock it up effectively. Sadly these needed a 30mm hole, rather than the existing 20, and the edge of the glass was within this radius. I was able to make it work with a Christmas tree bit, a little force, and a file to do the last few mm. The handles can be pushed flush, making them more secure, and snagging the insect netting a little less.






 The flip up part of the bed now flips down (less strong, but more practical as I can then access food, and toilet bag easier, and do so while having stuff siting on top of the bed, with the stove on the tailgate, and the esky handy.
It also means that I can open and close the bed without opening the tailgate if need be


I've added a few hooks for bits and pieces, and found that a sunshade does a good job of extending the rain shelter offered by the back door.

I ditched one of the thermarests, it's not needed and it was too slippery.


The windows seem to leak a little, so they will need…

Nowra Checkup

It's been at least a few years since I was last climbing at Nowra, but
in preparation for Yangshou I think it'll become a little more common.
The sandstone jug routes and slopers are the closest I'm going to get to
the tropical limestone routes.

Considering the amount of routes I've climbed in the last year or two it
was a pretty good day, an 18 and 19 to warm up, then worked the moves
on a few 22's.

I also finally had a crack at Butterfly Direct, an imposing route up the
intimidating face hanging over the track, right up and over the
'butterfly' feature high on the wall. I've been eyeing it off for years,
but never really felt up to having a go at it. I jumped on not expecting
much, even pulling off the ledge at the start was hard, mostly
intimidation rather than the moves.

Once I was on the wall things got a little easier, I was happy dogging
the route, so I'd climb as far as I could, sit on a draw and study the
next moves, the lower crux up to th…

Midnight Runs

Is there anything better than a run when you can't sleep? instead of lying there agonizing for hours over being unable to sleep, you get to go do something active, and collapse into bed a few hours later.

It's long been a staple of mine on those nights too hot to sleep, just pull on some runners, grab a key, open the door and run into the night. I prefer a moon, but if need be I'll use a light. In summer when the temperature finally drops the running becomes pleasant, in winter it's dark whenever you go for a run.

Whether it's an hour or more round the ridge, a hill climb and return, or a short session of hill sprints, few things make sleeping surer when you finally return to bed.

Arapiles, Sept 2016

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A loosely affiliated ANUMC trip, with a constant battle with the elements and the flakiness of people. 

Following a wet spring, the weather just never let up, the long range forecast was concerning going into the pre-trip, half the group was non-commital, the rest of us were keen to go to Araps in particular, and were prepared to wait and see on the weather.

A week out the forecast was ok, getting better for a few days in the middle, and certainly good enough for me to risk it. Apparently Bonnie, Jin and Paul felt the same. We committed to going down, I tried for a friday evening departure, but we weren't able to make it work, I did manage to wrangle an early start saturday morning, meeting at Bonnie's at 6:15 in the hope that we could get a climb in in the afternoon.

Saturday 24th Paul and I swapped shifts on the uneventful drive down, reaching Araps at about 4:30, with just enough time to setup camp before the rain came down. A trip into Horsham to acquire some additional foo…