Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wet Season Bouldering: Better Than Nothing

On Friday, the first monsoonal rain system moved into the area, and, in the last week, we've had about 250 mm of rain. No problem for kayaking as it isn't cold. A slight problem for hiking – leeches become virulent and the already steep trails can become really slippery, but, pretty challenging for climbing. In fact, I haven't been down to the Esplanade bouldering area since last Thursday, the day before the rains started.

It was raining lightly when I first got up this morning, but, by the time I'd had a cup of tea, the sun was out and, despite a forecast of “a few showers” there weren't that many clouds about. A few showers in Australia can mean either no rainfall or 200 mm of rain, there really is no reliable way to tell in advance, so I find it best to not let weather forecasts deter me. After all, I frequently regret not going out, but, rarely – if ever – regret going out. 

 Working the roof on a dry day

Despite being all over sore from yesterdays workout, I felt energetic. Seems quixotic but that is the beauty of maximum effort weight training workouts, you can be totally smashed, yet full of energy at the same time. I wasn't too hopeful about being able to climb too much after all the heavy rain lately, but I did think the roof at the bouldering area might be fairly dry.

Cycling down in the sun actually felt really good. Even in a warm climate, there is something about the sun shining that lifts your mood. I was surprised to find the bouldering wall relatively dry when I arrived, except for all the water sitting in the cups of the jug holds. Too bad, a heavy shower came over exactly as I arrived and doused everything down. 

Undeterred I put on my shoes, queued up a podcast (Mark Sisson has some new podcasts out), chalked up and started climbing. Before I started climbing I thought slippery wet footholds under greasy damp shoes would give me the most grief – a lot of the holds are pretty polished from the typically novice climbers that boulder here – but, the handholds were actually the slickest features, and I realised (duh) that the entire base of all the walls is actually undercut so the footholds were not too bad. After greasing off half a dozen times trying to warm up, I switched to climbing under the roof. But, only about two holds on the roof were actually dry, the rest were under a continuously streaming drip of rain water that tracked under the roof. 

I got half way across the roof a dozen times, but it was really hard to “go for it” as you need to do when climbing something strenuous. The holds were just too slimy under hands and feet and I was way too worried about a nasty fall onto the hard ground below. Doug climbs the route in a vertical position, but I work it in a horizontal position. Dropping off vertically is easy, imploding down horizontally, not so much fun. In the end, I found two or three holds that were dry when I started – wet when I finished – and worked a bunch of “Peter Pans” until even the last key holds were slimy and wet. Definitely worth going out.

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