Tag Archives: Turramurra

Katoomba

Australian place names are just cooler than American ones- Katoomba is a bit of a tourist trap, but it’s also ground zero for outdoor recreation in the Blue Mountains National Park. As I’ve noticed in the past, climbing makes me feel more at home where-ever I am than almost any other thing I do. Even better, I met Alan two years ago in Squamish, B.C., and he and his leading lady Amy were in town for full on climbing holidays. We’ve been having a very good time.

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(good to see an old friend)

I took the train up Wednesday morning, and after a trip to the post office and grocery, Alan says “how about a quick 5 pitches this evening.”
In a word- “yes.”

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(more exposure please!)

While not the climbing wasn’t particularly beyond me, I’ve never climbed anything so exposed, and Alan’s mate Paul joined us for the fun while Amy rummaged for dinner. We had a good time- more on the phenomenon of “carrot bolts” in another post.

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(top out stoke with Paul)

I got an unlucky finish with rope drag topping out the second crux pitch and felt a muscle tear in my back while yarding up the rope for the seconds. Despite the exceptional climb, it wasn’t the best way to start the trip.

Thursday morning was surprisingly misty and cool, but Amy and Alan were up for some adventure so we headed for another stellar multipitch at Pulpit Rock. Amy lead off, I got the gymnastic overhanging crux, and Alan (who climbs 5.13) stuck the 5.7 outward facing roof chimney pitch (yes, you read that right).

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(misty, but pretty)

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(outward facing roof chimney crack….)
Late afternoon found us racked up at a short sport crag, and despite best best effort at the 5.10d warmup, my back wasn’t up for steep sport climbing. Alan, and his friend Rhys however- proved the moniker that the Blue Mountains are “all about steep, hard, sport climbing.”

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(pull hard, Skander, its steep)

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(whipped)

I took today very easy, still on-siting 5.10c though and feeling my back badly. The scenery and company can’t be beat, and my friends seem to know everyone, so even just hanging out at the crags is a really good time. The Blue Mountains are one of the most unique areas I’ve been in and I’m truly loving my (very relaxed) time here.
I’m blogging from the phone, so posts might be limited and with typos, thanks for following! More soon!

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(Amy, loving it)

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(more steeps!)

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(brilliant views from climbs, photo by Amy O’Toole)

Sydney, New South Wales

“On holiday” it’s a phrase that has a meaning that most Americans don’t really understand- but after 6 days in Sydney with my half-brother and his family- I’ve got a pretty good read on things.  “On Holiday” is about eating, lounging, doing all the fun things we don’t usually let ourselves go at and most importantly, not doing anything in particular at all.

On the other side of the Pacific.

On the other side of the Pacific.

Given my stop in Hawaii, I had almost zero trouble with jetlag, even though I left on Monday morning and showed up 10 hours later on Tuesday night.  Sydney is one of the great cities of the world, and even rolling home from the airport I was eager for a detour through the city streets.  Wednesday we hopped a ferry across the harbor, under the harbor bridge, and into the heart of things.  Photos to tell-

I love these kids- the background is nice too.

These guys are worth travelling 8,000 miles for- oh yeah, the background is nice too.

Top down view of the harbor from Sydney Tower.

Top down view of the harbor from Sydney Tower.

Getting a feel for old town in The Rocks district.

Getting a feel for old town in The Rocks district.

We’ve had a solid day on/day off pattern, with plenty of lounging around home.  The Cricket thing is big here, so my nephews made sure I had a complete experience.

Fully kitted up.

Fully kitted up.

In American baseball you "pitch," in cricket- you "bowl"- the difference is signficant.

In American baseball you “pitch,” in cricket- you “bowl”- the difference is signficant.

Most importantly though, it’s been over a year since I swam in the ocean, and Sydney beaches are truly world class.  Friday in Kilkare was nothing short of perfect.

Salt water.

Salt water.

Family beach day.

Family beach day.

Solar powered hot tub.

Solar powered hot tub.

My brother’s house is on the north side of Sydney, and perched close to Ku Ring Gai National Park, which means I’ve had a great opportunity to meet some of the locals.

They said hello first (literally).

They said hello first (literally).

Backyard entertainment.

Backyard entertainment.

Questioning my choice of flip flops for my hike.

Questionable choice of flip flops for a hike.

Names here are hilarious.

Say it as fast as possible.

Say it as fast as possible.

Really?  Bong bong?

Really? Bong bong?

I’ve spent the last day catching up on some professional commitments before I leave my computer and head out climbing, but this first week with the family has been worth the whole trip.  Even though he is my brother, we’ve (obviously) not spent much time together, and I’m looking forward to having some more time with him and his family after their vacation and some of my other adventures.

My nephew Morgan on the left, my brother Bob on the right- Sydney Harbor, January 2013.

My nephew Morgan on the left, my brother Bob on the right- Sydney Harbor, January 2013.