After the warmest summer on record (nothing to do with the climate emergency of course, let’s give the Libs another term!), the sending temps have finally arrived. And just like that, rock climbers all over the joint are sending projects like their postcards – maybe all that moaning and complaining that we do about ‘conditions’ needing to be right is bang on the money after all…
She wasn’t the first cab off the rank, but perhaps the biggest send of the season so far has come from a foreigner (it’s okay! Don’t panic, she came by plane), with US climber Paige Claassen climbing the new Serpentine aka the Groove Train (33 in ‘Straya but reputedly 9a in Spain) on Taipan Wall, for its first female ascent. After managing to avoid the Kalashnikov-wielding rangers at the car park, the long reaches and big run-outs were no match for Paige, who dispatched the route quickly. (Maybe all the extra vowels in her name have the added bonus of helping with the reachy cruxes?) Paige also managed a flash ascent of that hackneyed old classic, Serpentine (29). Stay tuned for our insights-n-inspiration interview with Paige in the coming days.
Paige is not the only person to climb Groove Train in the recent past, with Blue Mountaineer Jake Bresnehan (who has been on 🔥 this year) also managing to hitch up a ride on the train earlier.
Further north, Australia’s favourite Welsh-Kiwi, Wiz Fineron, has made the coveted second ascent of Retired Extremely Dangerous (35) at Diamond Falls in the Blue Mountains. Bolted by legends Garth Miller and L’Cossey, FA’ed by legend Alex Megos and tried by the the strongest in the land, it’s a massive effort by Wiz to claw his way up the difficult, conditions-dependent line, you bloody legend. Also in ‘the Mountains’ aka the Glue Mountains aka the Blueys, the old and the bold and the young and the beautiful got on the send train, with Doug McConnell (the old and the bold) and Luke Hansen (the young and the beautiful – have you seen his smile?), sending Elphinstone’s classic 33, Tiger Cat. It was particularly gratifying for Doug who at one point broke his foot on the route hamming it up for Kamil Sustiak’s camera. Top stuff.
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I’ve waited a long time to be able to post this @kamil_sustiak 📷 classic of Tiger Cat. A lot of water’s gone under the bridge since I first tried this route 7(!) years ago, not least of all breaking my foot falling off it the same day we got these photos two years back! This time round it’s been an awesome process coming down every possible day with the best partner I can think of in @lukehansen__ Such good crag vibes at the moment!! Thanks guys! @jake_bresnehan @stuartart @rowandruce @brecon @joshmennell._ @benjaminpatchycossey @mylah_ashby @bouldermatt2 . . . . @lasportivaaustralia @blackdiamond @bealropes . . . #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #climb #rockclimbing #sportclimbing #rock #lasportiva #laspo #foryourmountain #teamlaspo #testarossa A post shared by Doug McConnell (@dugmcc) on
In Sydney, the mercurial Eli Mercado, climbed the third ascent of the Corridor (V12) at the Frontline. First climbed by RAdlaide’s second-finest export (after Coopers), Sharik Walker, the Corridor is a famously tricky sandbag that only Mark Withers and Eli have managed to repeat since Sharik first finagled his way up this technical classic in a day in the mid noughties, BI (Before Instagram). Also at the Frontline, Tom Farrell has done a low start to James Scarborough’s Daoism, calling it the Substance of Everything (V13).
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I had such a battle with this bloc last year. First session this year and it went down without much fuss. This rock climbing business is a funny game. Substance of everything V13 fa. 📷@_amy_dunlop_ A post shared by Thomas Farrell (@tfarrell2570) on
No doubt more is to come before the murk and damp of winter descends upon the land. Climb safe and get sending while the sending’s good.
Correction: An earlier version of this piece stated that Matt Pickles also climbed Groove Train this year when in fact he ticked that route a few years ago. He did just send Rage (29) and Sheek Naja Ket (30) on Taipan Wall.