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Sunday, 9 September 2012


A cracking start to Spring Break - a bonfire on Muriwai beach thanks to Hudson & Draper's Landrovers towing in a trailer load of garden waste. The flames burnt late into the night, with the grill keeping over fifty meaty appetites at bay.

The Fire
Early the next morning with much lack of sleep, we were off to Froggatt Edge for a spate of rock climbing on some of the Waikato's best routes. The Animal Biscuit valley kept us entertained for most of the morning and early afternoon, as I ticked off some old favourites like Moon Base Alpha, Julien puffed up Zoomers, while Greg & Tian enjoyed falling and fighting on Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter.

Caroline warming up at Froggatt

Starting up on Moon Base Alpha (17) on the Australia Face
Later in the day once I'd rekindled my connection with the airy ignimbrite, it was time to lead on. I'd had enough of top-roping, it was time to move up in the world. I started out on an easy grade, but the huge jugs soon ran out and the mellow gradient steepened to overhung!

At least thats what it feels like when you're petering a metre or two above your last bolt... It was a puzzler, and after trying both sides of the arĂȘte I lunged and plunged in desperation: my first fall on lead. Good to get that out of the way.

My first outdoor lead
Onwards to the main cliff, and I surged in confidence after cleanly leading up two 20 metre routes. On a sweet climbing buzz! Dusk was falling so instead of pumping out another route, we abseiled off to the car to keep fresh for Kewa.
Riddick chilling on top of 'Hold Onto Your Face' wall

Abseiling down Terror Incognito to finish off pristine day in the Waikato
Local acrobat Greg was not only a whizz on the wall, but also a fiend of fresh food. Instead of naturally succumbing to Te Kuiti takeways, we pooled our ingredients together at the Kewa campsite, and with three burners raging harder than our stomach's, we finally feasted on a royal ragout. Relaxing out under the stars for another night - too good - the moon lit up Sunday's cliff face hanging high above the Mangaokewa River. We were psyched.

The Bridge to Kewa

Ian reclipping a backclip the project 21 - One Two Miss a Few
Climbing at Kewa was a sweet contrast to Froggatt. The change of rock type from Wharepapa's sharp, porous ignimbrite to Mangaokewa's slopey, slightly overhung bulging layers made for an interesting adaptation. My favourite routes offered deep cracks up some sections - leading the grade 17 'Dogamtrix' I used my whole forearm in a crack to lever myself up. Probably not the best technique nor the safest, but it did the job! I was loving being on lead rather than on top rope, at the top of each climb I could take my time to anchor in, pull through rope and rappell on prussick down while my belayer had lunch. Check out the routes on offer at Mangaokewa.

After leading two more grade 17s, now later in the afternoon I decided to UP THE ANTE and attempt a grade 18 climb - the Muzzifunsta. My ego was clearly inflated, as I scoffed at the warning in the guide book:

Muzzifunsta (18)
This obvious (juggy) corner to face is located just right of "Pretender." Be warned
that although the moves on this climb are fairly straight foreword, there is a
good amount of air between bolts... so be sure you are solid at the grade (or
willing to tempt fate) before hopping on! 4 bolts (DBB)
Paul Henson 27/4/08

I was going well through the initial wedged chimney section, and at about halfway I reached a nice ledge to get my breath back. I soon realised my arms were trembling - I had muscled my way up the slight overhang and was now 80% pumped. Not good. Carefully traversing back onto the main route, I searched for holds and found nothing... Time ticking, I surged for a higher hold, and at once my forearms gave way - I had no strength left whatsoever - scoffing at the warning of a "good amount of air between bolts" now came to haunt me as I fell from 1 metre above my last clip, narrowly missing my rest ledge. *JOLT*. I had taken a decent fall on lead, and only had to be lowered a few more metres to the dirt. A sober warning to quell my over-confidence! A good note to finish a mighty weekend in the Waikato.

The Ripper - at Campbells Bay
With two more days of mobility to savour before my ankle operation, I took out my newly acquired surfski for a cruise around the bays. She was a stubborn beast to begin with - I spent more time in the sea than on the seat. But as I began to learn her ways, I gently tamed her and kept her upright long enough to jump one bay south to Campbells. There I surfed ashore on a light wave. The feeling of landing on a new beach to stand on solid land again is great. She naturally points in the photo away from the coast and towards Rangitoto... as soon as I master her in the higher swells I'll be ready to take her for a Rangi summit run and return. Its been a long time in the waiting!

1 comment:

  1. You didnt buy this from a South African guy who reconditioned it?