Air India flight 807 Heathrow to Delhi.
“I’m glad that my next flight isn’t going to be as long as this one,” I said to a red-headed brummy I’d ended up sat next to.
‘Where are you going?’ he asked.
“Melbourne” I replied.
He spluttered into his tea. In my mind Delhi was really far away, so Australia couldn’t be that much further.
“You’re not even half way there,” he laughed at me.
In between considering how an earth India was ever going to understand that lad’s thick Birmingham accent, I decided angrily that my Dad couldn’t have moved further away. With already 12 hours of travel under my belt and another 20 to go I wandered through Delhi airport looking for something edible.
I’m in Yosemite now and to be honest I wish I were still in Australia. Irritation at my Dad moving so far away changed into gratitude as soon as I touched the rock at Arapiles. A daughter needs to see her Dad at least once a year. Or at least that’s a great excuse to visit the best rock on earth. Exaggeration? Probably not.
Gemma sent me an email at the start of the year asking if I would talk at the Australian Climbing Festival held in October. This was before my Dad ever intended to move to Natimuk, before he’d decided to marry an Aussie chick. I agreed, largely because for 6 years I’ve wanted to return to Australia. Gemma also invited my friend Cedar, which was perfect seeing as I’d have a partner in crime for the whole trip. Later I found out my Dad would be moving to the village situated under rock I wanted to climb at and I hadn’t seen him for over a year. Everything aligned and we had the makings of a perfect trip.
In the last 6 years I’ve been to most of the best climbing destinations this planet has to offer and I’ve climbed on every continent other than Antarctica. Half of me wondered whether I’d still think Arapiles was that good after been spoilt so much. After Yosemite, maybe I’d think it was a pile of choss.
If anything I think it’s better than I did when I was 19. With only 7 climbing days at Arapiles and a few days in the Blueys the trip felt like a bit of a tease. Just enough of a taste to get psyched but not nearly enough to feel satisfied. Once the jet lag had worn off, Cedar and myself got a cold and then we had to leave. Despite the jet lag and the cold, my shoulder behaved for the whole trip and we managed to do more good routes in those 9 days than I have the whole year so far (!!). Every pitch we climbed, we would lower off with massive Cheshire cat grins on our faces. Was climbing really that good? Take any of the best sport routes you’ve done in Spain, times the quality by two and then make them a trad route with bomber gear the whole way up.
We also had the pleasure of attending the Australian Climbing Festival in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Three days of climbing-related festivities including a competition, talks, workshops, films and music. I usually enjoy events like this, but also find them quite hard work and tiring and sort of wish they were only an evening instead of three days. I’m not that good at prolonged socializing and small talk. Although I was tired after the 3 days and the cold made resurgence, everyone was so friendly that it really didn’t feel like a chore. Apart from being a tad sport-climbing/lack of adventure orientated in the Blueys there is a good crew of people who get out and make the most of their amazing back garden. I always thought of the Blueys as a good sport climbing destination. But actually it’s a great sort climbing destination, with the routes and the rock being a slightly more special than European limestone. I also learnt that there is a ton of adventures to be had there from multipitch trad to choss to aid, should any of those things take your fancy.
Unfortunately on the last day I pushed my shoulder a bit too far. Before I left I saw Matt Pigden in the Peak district about my shoulder. He gave what seemed to be amazing advice and I went on my way feeling better than ever. In Australia my shoulder felt better than it had in 6 months. I think for this reason I got a bit cocky and pushed it a bit far. On the last route of the last day I tweaked it. And now I’m sat in Yosemite housekeeping, doing laundry whilst my friends go climbing. It was only 6 months ago that I was in this same position. Yosemite is quite possibly the worst place to be with an injury. Those big walls stare down at you mockingly as you massage your shoulder, wondering whether you can go up there without breaking yourself.
Cedar took all the good pics. I took the not so good ones.