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General Climbing Discussion

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Wolgan Bolt Story 11-May-2011 At 6:41:09 PM Superstu
A short story I originally started writing for Crux mag but never got around to finishing it...

I dialed the auto pilot to Newnes, leaned back into the leather, and ordered a double espresso from the hover-carís voice-activated computer. Soon we are whooshing down the M4 hover-way, into the dark and deafening Blue Mountains tunnel, then out into the light again, screaming past Lithgow. I glanced out the window and spotted the Wallerawang giant solar thermal array slowly open up like a budding flower. With clear blue skies everywhere, I could sense it was going to be an awesome day of climbing.

Some twists and turns, a whoosh over Wolgan Gap, and soon the hover-car whined to a halt and the computer announced we were at Newnes. The door slid up and I climbed out into the sun to be greeted by two human silhouettes. The first, short and wide, was the mustached and Popeye-armed Marty; the other, the youthful narrow profile of Linus. Hand-shakes and greetings were exchanged, then without much ado we shouldered our anti-G packs and marched on up the slope.

Linus was up in front of course, always itching to get up to the crag. That boyís enthusiasm was endless. Marty was no slouch either, and I was working a sweat keeping up with him while he bantered on about his latest project at the Glen, something about a three-metre horizontal dyno to a small edge on the lip. Yeah sure, in your dreams buddy.

These fanatics. I was just happy to be out here again. I breathed in the crisp spring air, and savoured that distinctive Wolgan smell, a blend of dirt, eucalypt leaves and ant trails.

By the time I plodded up to the base of the cliff, Linus was already making his way up a blank wall and Marty was occupied with his climbing guide, tapping and finger-gliding away.

"Whatís this one rated?", called Linus from above, as he dangled one foot left and palmed down on a nubbin to his right.

Marty tapped some more. "Mirrorman Super Direct Variant Start, I think. Grade 25."

I donned my sticky boots, sticky finger pads, sticky elbow tubes and sticky knee patches, switched on the anti-G backpack and headed for an arÍte nearby that Iíd spied last visit.

Marty looked up. "Thatís a Richard Croker route, put up sometime in late 2017. Grade 27. Reputedly soft for the grade."

"Sweet!" I grinned, and padded on up. The climbing was technical, lots of foot swaps, elbow leans, double-figure 4ís and a full figure-8 to get around a steep scooped section.

Iím all absorbed, then suddenly I heard a loud shout, and Linus is off and flying, rocketing down the cliff, arms flailing, screaming in delight.

Then a mechanical whirr and his anti-G backpack kicked in, he bolts upright, halts, hovers, then slowly drifts to the ground.

"Yoooooooooooooow!" he cries, then plops onto his back with a grin from ear to ear. Ah kids, their enthusiasm is just so infectious.

I noticed a line to the right, a stylish old school fist crack.

"Whatís that?", I called across to Marty, who's now climbing up beside me.

"Thatís the classic Sizzler, grade 19." The guidebook says it used to be a hand crack when it was first put up, but it's worn a bit over the years.

I continued on up the arete, passing some old rusty bolts and rings sticking out of the rock. I chuckled at the quaint reminder of the times past, and tapped my anti-G pack for good luck.

There are several more pitches to go, so I continue on alone. Finally I rest at the top, muscles warmed and nuerons calmed. Sitting on the edge, I spy an eagle soaring far below.

The peace is soon broken however, with a racketing RATATA-TATATA- RATATA-TATA-SCHWOOOOP!... RARATAATA-SCHWOOOOOP! RATATA-SCHWOOOP!

It's Marty, de-bolting as usual. Ever since he got his magno-debolter kit he's been at it non-stop. Good on him though, initiating the Sydney Rockies De-bolting Fund and getting the cliffs cleaned up. Still, the sentimental side of me thinks he should leave one or two behind, for old-times sake. I mean geezus, people used to trust their life to ropes and this stuff! Crazy!!

Anyway the sun is getting high, so I switch the anti-G backpack to descend mode, stand up and launch off into the air, swooping down past Linus who's still figuring out the moves on his blank wall route.

That old-school crack looked just a treat, so I zoom down to the ground beneath it. I swap my sticky finger pads for my super sticky hand gloves. Soon Iím jambing away into the hearts of millions. Some things just never lose appeal.

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