Friday, 23 July 2010

The Little Devil...

1 hour on the metro and bus / 2 hours in Berlin airport / 1 ½ hours to Frankfurt / 1 ½ hours in the airport / 11 hours to Singapore / 1 hour in the airport / 10 hours to Sydney / 1 ½ hours in the airport / 1 ½ hours to Melbourne / 6 hours in the airport / 1 ½ hours to Hobart.

Aided by my lack of sleep over the last 72 the travelling time itself was not such a big problem and I slept for a lot of hours on the various planes. However the entire journey was probably the worst I have ever had due to my blocked sinuses from my illness the week before. Every time the plane took off and gained altitude it felt like my head was going to explode! Each time this feeling lasted for around 2 hours, and really was agony, so much so that I was almost sick from the pain.

Every flight was the same, but each flight I took was one closer to being there, and finally I arrived in Hobart, met my friends and drove to our accommodation - a small cabin down near a beach on the south of the island.

The next week was to be a non-stop whirlwind of epic proportions involving monstrous hikes, monstrous cliffs and monstrous monsters... but unfortunately I can’t share too much of it with you at this time due to exclusivity commitments with Sender Films – but rest assured, all will be available in glorious Technicolor detail later this year... Check it out

What I can share is as follows...

After escaping from the Jungle, stumbling into a fine dining restaurant stinking to the high heavens and covered in dirt, taking a few rest days, partying to surprisingly good drum and bass and enjoying the company of new friends, everyone felt like the time had come for a little more climbing... and what better way to end our trip than with a quick ascent of the Tote!

Situated at the end of Cape Hauy, the Tote is accessed by a pleasant 2 hour stroll (a walk in the park compared to the last few days) through lush vegetation along an ever thinning peninsular. Towards the end the trail turns rockier and steep cliffs develop on either side leading to the crashing waves hundreds of feet below. Eventually you get to see what you have been waiting so long for... and it does not disappoint – The Totem pole is simply majestic, and if truth be told, a little intimidating!

We had begged, borrowed and stolen all the info we needed to be able to access the route – essentially an awkward scramble down took you to a ledge level with the top of the pole, where 2 shiny bolts made the ab to the base and the following swing across the chasm a very pleasant experience – that is until the first big wave rolls in leaving you soaked to the skin! The last thing to remember is for the second not to detach from the ab-line, for reasons that will soon become clear...

The first pitch in its own right would rank as a 3* route anywhere in the world, even if you do have to climb the first part of it over wet rock with soggy chalk. The rock quality is excellent and strange, often in cut ripples and flakes are a joy to climb. The crux comes at around 2/3 height and is a surprisingly balancey affair that keeps you on your toes. This leads into pleasant jugs to the prominent belay ledge and the first chance you really get to appreciate where you are and what you are doing.

The second pitch is simply superb and in my opinion is possibly the best route I have ever climbed – I can’t remember another pitch that made me smile this much. For almost 40m you climb one of the most striking, perfectly situated arêtes on the planet; the rock quality is amazing, the holds impeccable and the moves fascinating. Protected for most of the way by slightly spaced bolts which can be supplemented by trad gear as you approach the top, the route feels go-ey enough to be really enjoyable, but never dangerous.

On arriving at the ledge just below the summit, you are greeted by a further 2 shiny bolts making belaying a breeze. After bringing up the second and quick cruise up to the summit to pose for the necessary hero shots (well it would be almost rude to come all this way and not stand on top of the damn thing) the final exciting chapter is ready to begin. Fixing the ab-line you have patiently dragged up the whole way, an exciting 20m Tyrolean lands you back on the mainland with huge grins still firmly plastered to your face.

A day later I was stood in Hobart airport waiting for my plane back to the mainland and contemplating the events of the last week. Tasmania had been an incredible experience that had tested me in new ways and taught me many new skills. The main objective of the trip had been a great success, we did what we came to do, and got out alive – but the thing that had made the entire trip worth it, was those few hours of bliss climbing the Totem Pole. What a route!!!