Australia, great

Denby Weller reminds us that we don’t have to make Australia great again

The time has come, Australia. In tussling with the Orange Terror in recent post-nap-time phone calls, Our Malcolm missed a major opportunity to drive home this great nation’s…er… greatness, and it’s up to us to step in now. While Trump is on the war path to Make America Great Again, here in the land Down Under, we have no similar aspirations, because clearly, we weren’t fool enough to make ourselves ungreat at any point.

There are some Australians, well so okay, who think we have misplaced our greatness. But Australia’s greatness has not become ‘geographically challenged.’ It can be found right here, and every climber knows it. The Age of Australian Dominion is at our feet, and here is the proof, I’ve seen all the proof, and it is great, great proof.

Our grading system rules the world

Thanks to the genius of John Ewbank, we exist on a higher plane of existence than the Brits, Euros, Americans and even the South Africans, who tried to adopt our system but because they were too soft, sneakily upped every grade.

Once, I tried to explain the Yosemite Decimal System to an economist, and after a few minutes he exploded with a spittle-flying shriek of ‘What the fuck did they do that for?!’ Quite. Who, I ask you, could possibly ignore that most basic of mathematical principles, that 5.1 is the exact same thing as 5.10? And while we’re at it, were they only able to remember the alphabet up to D? You know they know it, it’s really very terrible.

The contest for the greatest is already over you NoHem nincompoops (with apologies to Muhammad Ali).

The contest for the greatest is already over you NoHem nincompoops (with apologies to Muhammad Ali).

But the economist’s rage was nothing on the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced trying to grasp the bad practical joke that is the British Adjectival Grade. Somewhere between trying to remember whether Mild Very Severe (a contradiction in idiotic terms if ever there was one) is harder or easier than Hard Difficult, I turned to drink. It got so bad that it took several grades off my climbing ability, but I can’t remember which ones, because they all sound the fucking same to me. The Brits know it, and they know it very well, we have a real problem.

Enter John ‘Genius’ Ewbank, and his open-ended system that requires only that a person be able to count all the fingers and toes between themselves and their climbing partners, and no alphabetic literacy at all. It’s simple people, and I know simple.

I’ve tried all the grading systems, and I gotta say, we’ve got a great system. A very, very, very great system. My friend, who is a very famous mathematician by the way, told me it’s the best system. Believe me.

We have the most sandbagged crags on earth

‘Holiday grades’ is a term that only Aussies really understand, because we can piss off to literally anywhere abroad to experience them in full. Climbing 20 in the Blue Mountains? That’s a 21 in South Africa (for aforementioned reasons), a 22 in Thailand, and at least a 27 in Europe, honestly, they are such nasty liars in Europe, depending which crag you go to. Only the Britons rival our greatness in sandbagging, but (see above) because nobody can understand what the fuck their grades even mean, this is of no import. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so – I don’t think so.

Just ask Megos – who had onsighted grade 35 before taking 20 shots to do a 35 at Diamond Falls, or Nalle, by the way he loves me, you know, who successfully tamed a V15 Grampians project before returning to his seven-season V17 to find that it was pretty much the same as a Victorian V15 – or at least that’s what I think he said in The Lappnor Project.

Our cliffs are almost totally devoid of dumps

Not counting the latrine area at Junket Pumper (which is located under a suitably shit climb, I might add, believe me, I know all of the shit climbs. All of them.), I said, very likely, I don’t know, maybe, who knows, essentially in Australia you almost never step in human excrement between tying-in and stepping onto your project. And that takes me to the next point –

We have a delightfully small community of climbers …

… most of whom are perfectly lovely, really very, very, very good people, and I know, or at least who are unlovely in a loveable way, except Pauline Hanson, who is A) not a climber and B) engaged in a bizarre battle with Donald Trump to be the most orange object that can be seen from space, after Taipan Wall at sunset. Sad.

The coffee

But if you need any more evidence that Australia is the Greatest Country on Earth, look no further than our coffee. Whether it’s crag coffee, campground Aeropress or climbing gym lattes, nobody does the pre-crag, post-crag, or just dreaming-of-cragging brew better than us. Nobody respects coffee more than we do, nobody. Sorry Donald, as we like to say it down here, let me tell you, you’re up shit creek in a barbed wire canoe without a paddle, mate.

This piece originally featured in Vertical Life issue 20, which you can download for free here.

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