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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Ti Point

Three points of contact. Two feet smear against the salted rhyolite. One extended arm grips the arrête. Vigourous surf bursts on the rocks below as you grab the rope and clip into the rusty bolt. Safe!

The ranges and crags of the Central North Island usually steal attention from all the goodness up north - I hadn't been past the Waiwera toll road in over a year. You could be fooled that you're 3 or 4 hours up north, because Ti Point is typical northland holiday material. Sprawling pohutukawa waiting for Christmas, soft dirt trails winding the coast, Omaha Beach in full reach, boaties doin' the rounds...

This is how we do Study Break

The sea-cliffs of Ti Point were impressive, but intimidating - where are the bolts? I soon realised this crag is half trad, meaning you place your own protection in the rock crevasses and cracks. Boulder hopping around the point, trying our best to avoid being drenched by waves, brought us to the Whiskey Delta area full of easy grade climbs. A perfect spot to warm up.

Caroline and Niall find their spot

Attempting the Fang (18) but actually Richard (20) - why is the first bolt so...high!
After an hour re-aquanting myself with lead climbing techniques on some easier climbs, it was time to fry some bigger fish. Ti Point is extremely tidal, even at low tide surf would still roar against the point and cause havoc for some areas of the crag. The Fang climbs a distinctive arrete with a jagged-tooth rock extrusion near the top, and is one of the 'classic climbs' in the area. Discouraged by Fang's dangerous cousin Richard climbing the same intriguing feature from a harder face, I redirected my attention to Angry Sea and the Sky. 90% as epic and only doable at this exact tide. 

Trembling on the arrête, two-thirds up
It began with an exposed traverse across to the first bolt, essentially free-climbing until I reached the 2nd bolt (three metres high). The precarious position of my belayer Cam meant I'd be relying on rope slack to keep me off the barnacles should I fall. Now noon, I was sweating.

I took the grade 18 pillar slowly, breathing a sigh of relief at each clip - it was a real challenge! Not only due to the technical grade, but also the feeling of exposure as waves pounded at the pillar twenty metres directly below. Basically the equivalent of an intense Mozart symphony resounding to the beat of my foot and handholds. Excellent atmosphere! 

Rapping off Angry Sea and the Sky (18)
I should have been more careful to throw toss the rope towards the dry rock - after rapping off I was forced to un-snag the rope from the sharp rocks - too slowly - I was drenched by a rogue swell...

The search for a better grip

Ian, Jenny and Owen enjoying the late afternoon climbs, about to head off to Goat Island

The hours raced by as we battled against our chosen projects. I was stoked to grab a grade 21 and run - by mid afternoon we retraced our steps along the coast and migrated to the beach at Goat Island, the pristine marine reserve just over the peninsula.

I pulled on my Dad's recently discovered 7mm wetsuit, pulled out of the attic still encrusted in salt & sand from 1982. Late afternoon was the perfect time to dive out to Shaggs Rock, and explore the reef. The visibility was patchy, but plenty of stingray and juicy snapper were on view as we ventured to warmer waters...

Music: Space Diver - Nhumo

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