NSW climber Michael Tonon recently climbed a new hard line at Blackwall on the Central Coast that he’s dubbed Fourier’s Proof (V14). We had a chat to him about the ascent.
Tell us a bit about the new line, what’s it like?
Fourier’s Proof makes about 17 moves through a roof, the last of which is a dyno off some bad holds to a jug with your feet tucked way in under the roof. From this jug you get a decent rest before doing a V5/6 8m slab to top it out where you get rewarded with some fantastic views over the ocean (and the send). So the roof is basically where the climb is at and can kinda be broken into two sections even though there is no place to rest/shake out.
The first part is 12 moves and maybe about V12/13. It starts the same as Academic Revision (V13), doing its first two crux moves before adding some of its own and heading out right through new territory to the start holds of Sinusoidal, which is a powerful five-move V10. It then finishes Sinusoidal and tops out the slab! I always found Sinusoidal quite low percentage so I knew doing it after the 12 hard moves was going to be tough, especially without a rest.
It’s always tough to grade first ascents as I’ve played this game before and people come along and find new beta or sequences and it can all change. However, I have no doubts that for me this was my next step. It was far above anything I had done before, so I was super stoked when it went. I sat on top enjoying the view for a moment and remembering that it’s mostly only change from within that comes from these moments.
How was the process of climbing it?
The process for this one was a little atypical for me. Usually when I find something I want to do I work at it until it’s done. Anyone who has known me in these periods can vouch that I’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen, and there was an element of this towards the end when I was getting close. However, I think because this one was going to be harder, when I first dabbled on it fourish-years ago I knew that approach wasn’t going to work. I played on it each time I was psyched and went there. Working out beta, refining beta and making small links. The first step was when I Sent Sinusoidal, which is a V10 that Fourier’s Proof finishes out. I then realised there would be a top out and did that also, making the line in my opinion ten times better – and this is probably where the V10 should now finish. I think maybe a year ago I linked from the start of the climb into the start holds of the V10 a couple times in a session, but it still didn’t feel like something I could do as I was totally pumped and the V10 was thin and powerful and I couldn’t imagine doing them back to back.
The climb sat like that, done in two halves for quite a while. I did some other lines at the cave but would always do the V10 when I was there to build familiarity/muscle memory. It wasn’t until this year I found a few small changes in beta, slight efficiencies and the climb moved in my mind to something that was now possible. I had a few good sessions on it making overlapping sections and then had a month long trip to Rocklands. When I came back I had lost a bit of psych, I went snowboarding instead and I wasn’t sure I was ready to push and put the effort in it would take. I’m not actually sure what changed this, but it could’ve been a couple good sessions with Olly Kleyn as he was working Sloths in the Attic (V10/11) and I’ve never had a low energy session with him at the crag. We bounced off each other and got to the cave whenever we could and weather permitting. I knew I had to be completely above that last V10 section and did it at the end of every session, one time doing it four times in under seven minutes to get the feeling of climbing it pumped. Olly also started to get close, but we started feeling drained and decided we needed a weekend off the cave. I think this must have worked as I sent it first shot on the session back.
I was a little worried this session as it appeared someone had been to the cave in the wet (please never climb on sandstone in the wet!) and tried to dry holds with chalk everywhere. One of the holds was slightly broken and noticeably smaller but I hoped it didn’t matter and was lucky that it didn’t. My mental state while climbing is usually pretty good and doesn’t wander too much but during the send burn everything felt so good and easy, the moves had become second nature and my body was executing cruxes without hesitation making them fluid and saving energy – I knew it could be the one and was lucky enough to just grab and hold the crimp and make the dyno (both of which were close to falling) before resting and spending five minutes shaking out and doing the slab.
Where does the name come from?
You will have to bear with me on this one, and I hope this is specifically correct as it’s been a while. In engineering/mathematics there is something called a fourier transform. Basically what this does is it allows you to decompose a complicated messy periodic signal into a finite summation of cosine and sine waves. Flipping this around, if it is possible to conduct this transform it proves that the signal is in fact periodic.
Okay, that’s the boring stuff out of the way. Since I started developing this cave I had never committed to sending this line, it was too hard, it didn’t seem within reach at the time, I still didn’t have beta for sequences etc etc, but whenever I was psyched I would go to the cave and chip away at it. There would be long periods when I wouldn’t try it as I knew in that current condition/mental state I had no hope. Back then I knew I would name it ‘Fourier’s Proof’ because if I finally sent it, me going back to it proved that psych and strength is periodic but we are always learning along the way.
We also hear that you’ve had a good trip to Rocklands in South Africa. What were some of the highlights of that trip and did that help lead to this ascent?
Rocklands was amazing. I was hesitant on this trip as I had been twice before and wanted to go somewhere new. However Jasmine [Naghsh] managed to wear me down and convinced me to head back again and I’m glad she did as it was probably my favourite trip so far and has made me want to return again in the future. Climbing highlights would’ve been all the new areas that had opened since I was there a few years ago. The number of high quality lines is ridiculous and I would never need repeat one. You can drive to a crag just to warm up on new five-star V5s each day of your trip. Another highlight would be the ostrich eggs (size of 24 chicken eggs!) we found at our farm were we were staying and they are delicious! We had a 17-course meal in Cape Town and fresh lamb from the backyard. But honestly what makes a trip is always the people and there were so many friends from Aus and the world that were there which made it as good as it gets.
I can’t honestly say if this trip helped lead to the send or not, I know it didn’t hinder it but I still think I probably would’ve sent without it. It did however provide a great baseline of climbing/fitness to come home with as well as loads of time on the rock. Either way it feels great to strike one off the long term list and gain confidence for the next.
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Fourier’s Proof - v14 FA The cycle closed on this one today, not sure if it is the end of a chapter or a book 😂 Right pic is from send footage. The post on the left was from over 2.5 years ago and even prior I was on and off trying it and working out sections. However it wasn’t until this year that something changed and it felt like it could be possible for me. So, I dug my heels in and dedicated myself to it. Psych and strength can be periodic, but we are always learning and this climb proved it for me. Thanks for the endless crag psych @kleynolive most sends we make are better shared and I can’t wait to see you up sloths, soon. . . #climbingtraining #climbing #bouldering #centralcoastbouldering #climbing_is_my_life #evolv @seatosummitgear @rhinoskinsolutions