Articles - Bouldering: A Rocklands Trip
Words: David Mason, All Photos: Nick Brown - Posted on 04 Oct 2011
The idea of going to Rocklands this summer had been batted about for over a year and after eventually booking our flights in April I allowed myself to start getting excited. You don’t have to be a climber to look at the landscape of Rockland’s and be left speechless, but it does add to the excitement! The amount of rock there really is incredible; orange sandstone boulders and cliff faces as far as the eye can see...
The area itself is quite sparsely populated but during the summer months is taken over by boulderers and botanists. The locals definitely seem to prefer the boulderers! We arrived on July 5, 2011 and were immediately greeted by 30° heat and unfortunately this stayed for the majority of the month. Great for rest day tanning sessions that were needed far too often after the destruction of skin on hot, sweaty rock! With August came a little more rain and some colder temperatures that allowed for an increase in dispatching.
The climbing style in Rocklands is quite gymnastic: tending to be big moves between fairly good holds requiring lots of power, tension and compression. In theory this should have suited my climbing style quite well but perhaps I was a little under-prepared in terms of training and maybe a little over confident. Needless to say the first few weeks were not a success; when added to the heat and big holes in my skin, I was not a happy bunny! I decided to just stick to doing as much climbing as possible and, if weather and strength allowed, try some harder things nearer the end of the trip.
This seemed to work and I started to enjoy the climbing much more; my confidence improved, bringing with it some good ticks. I never really went back to trying the harder things as I was enjoying doing as much as I could far too much. I had also decided that I definitely wanted to return in better shape for the harder climbs like Sky and Amandala.
It’s funny how mental climbing is; as soon as things start going well you get on a role and everything is perfect but with failure comes the cycle of misery and however much you flog yourself nothing seems to come of it. I suppose that is what really makes the difference between the best and the rest as they say; yes genetics and strength, technique and fitness help but at the end of the day it’s all in the mind.
The last and probably the most important thing in terms of pushing my personal climbing is that I don’t think I have ever put enough time into one climb, therefore I think I am capable of climbing much harder than I have ever climbed before and this feels very liberating. You read about people putting 10, 12, 20 or 100 days into a project, I have never put more than 5 or 6 and even they will have involved very short sessions or ones in awful conditions. Fingers crossed I can build up the mental strength and afford the petrol to put the time into something that is really hard for me!
The one thing I will describe is the feeling of not climbing the Vice. I hate the idea of having an antithesis in climbing and describing a problem as such but if that exists then the Vice is my antithesis. A power endurance problem based around compression with a million different options for beta, definitely not something I thrive at but it is one of the best climbs I have ever seen and getting shut down on it was fun! After the first session I had done the moves and thought I had my beta figured out, this changed on the second and third session, eventually settling with the most basic and powerful beta shown to me on my fourth session by Joey Kinder. So the previous sessions wasted and with time running out I managed two more sessions on it, coming dangerously close five times the day before we had to leave. One more session and it would have been mine.
All the thoughts of: “if I hadn’t wasted sessions trying duff beta or why didn’t I try it earlier” passed through my mind but in reality I loved every minute of it and yes a story book ending would have been nice but it wasn’t to be. This boulder really did teach me that I can climb much harder than I ever have; I didn’t do it but I am not sure why as it didn’t feel hard, I could jump back on straight after falling off and finish it easily. Next time. And there definitely will be a next time.