Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The post re-entry post.

People always say that settling back into your home country after living abroad for any serious amount of time is a difficult and slow process. One where you need to take it day by day, step by step to ease yourself back into the 'normalities' of everyday life in your home country. Thing that were once familiar an intrinsic seem out of place and even weird.
I got back to Australia 18 days ago and I have to say that luckily I have not had to deal with any of the expected 're-entry syndrome' that I had been concerned about. to be fair, I haven't so much settled down into a routine as yet, quite the opposite. I have been out climbing, catching up with friends and enjoying myself immensely and even when I 'settle into a routine' it's not a normal 9 to 5 existence because I am working on my coaching business which means holding down slightly different hours to most people.
So all in all - no re-entry syndrome!
The little differences are what stands out the most, really. Being able to have fresh baked wholemeal bread, lightly toasted and slathered with avocado, sea salt, cracked pepper and a side of Camembert with a glass of fresh orange juice for breakfast is one up side to living in the west that I am particularly fond of! Good red wine is another. No government imposed internet bans on blogging and social media is another.
Not everything is rosy, of course. A government with leaders and opposition leaders that I wouldn't trust to house-sit while I'm on holidays, let alone run my country is one gripe I have. The fact that everything is way more expensive than I'm used to is another.
But then there's the weather, too. In China I didn't see blue skies too often. Here I have had almost all blue sky days so far. Cool temperatures in the shade, yet warm, biting rays of sunshine if you want them all under skies so blue that it took me a few days to get over feeling like it all looked too fake to be true.
I spent some time hanging around Canberra, settling in, meeting up with old friends, going climbing on the local granite, heading down to Nowra for some steep sandstone on the weekends, climbing on the rhyolite of Hollywood, training in the gym, generally having a blast. After that I went and spent 5 days straight climbing on the amazing sandstone in the Blue Mountains, revisiting my old home and falling back in love with the place.
Now it's time to knuckle down and get stuck into building up my business. Athlete By Choice (www.athletebychoice.com) is now a fully fledged coaching business being run by yours truly here in Canberra, Australia. I have started working with the climbing gyms junior squads, I have my first private clients starting tomorrow, business cards and posters are on their way. It's all go. I'm pretty psyched to be getting stuck into it and it's going to be exciting to see how far I can take it. Here's hoping it goes as well as I'm hoping!
The other big part of my first few weeks back in Australia has been working with an amazingly talented young kid, Angie Scarth-Johnson. An 8 year old girl who in the last few weeks has flashed V5, redpointed V7 and V8, and redpointed 26 and 27 (5.12c/7b+ and 5.12d/7c). This kid is phenomenal. Perfect movement, contact strength, mental toughness... her climbing IQ is through the roof, it's amazing to watch. This kid is going to be huge, the future of Australian rock climbing is here... watch this space!

So that pretty much sums up my thoughts on how things are going so far back here in the Land Down Under. It's pretty great so far - here's hooping it continues!

I want to quickly shout out to a few good folk before I finish. Firstly go check out JJ O'Brien and his blog at http://www.jjobrienclimbing.blogspot.com.au  - he wrote a really nice little peice about my last climbing day in China. Check it out and all the other great interviews and write ups he has on his site!

Also a big thanks to all the people supporting me being back in Australia - Climbing Anchors (www.climbinganchors.com.au), Tendon Ropes, Metolius, CAMP, Kailas & Evolv - Thanks for making it easier for me to spend more time on the rock  :-)

Here's a few photos and videos of the last few weeks - enjoy!!!

Angie sending 'Nappy Nuggets' V8

Angie sending 'Turkey Slap' 26

Danny Ewald running a lap of 'Ain't No Sunshine' 28, South Central, Nowra

Angie Scarth-Johnson sending 'Nappy Nuggets' V8, Lot 33, Nowra

Danny Ewald cutting a fine silhouette at South Central, Nowra

Ray Spencer throwing down at Hollywood, Canberra

Melissa Mooney crimping hard on a delicate yet powerful 24 at Hollywood, Canberra

The Climbing Anchors Team (www.climbinganchors.com.au) - Angie Scarth-Johnson and myself.

Autumn colours in the Blue Mountains

Sateki & Claudia Scarth-Johnson looked after me all week here at the Blue House in Blackheath. So much good food! :)

Angie Scarth-Johnson sending 'Wrong Movements' 27 at Centennial Glen, Blue Mountians

Angie Scarth-Johnson basking in the glory after sending 'Wrong Movements' 27 at Centennial Glen, Blue Mountains

Angie Scarth-Johnson sending 'Turkey Slap' 26 at Bardens Lookout, Blue Mountains

The kiddo and I at Bardens Lookout.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

No Guarantee

Nothing in life is guaranteed. Nothing stays the same. Some things that you think are stable, forever, certain, sometimes can change in the blink of an eye and completely change your perspective or situation.
As I sit here in Kuala Lumpar airport on my way back to Australia, nursing a bit of a hangover as a result of a larger than expected last night in Yangshuo, that sentiment is brought crushingly into reality for me as I realize that after so many years away I am actually only less than a day away from being in my old home town of Canberra, heading back to start a new, yet familiar, life back in the western world.
Yangshuo has been a solid part of my life, the stable, immovable fact that my life could revolve around, the anchor point in a wandering lifestyle. I live in Yangshuo. But, not any more. Now it’s on to a very different world back in Australia, and I’ll be honest – I’m bricking it. It is really intimidating in some ways to be going back after so many years away, going back to a changed place, different people, different ways of life, different values. Going back a changed man, a different man to the one that left all those years ago. Will I even fit in anymore? Am I just too different for it to work out? Or am I over thinking the situation and everything will be fine? I guess we’ll find out really soon.

One of the fantastic little things that happened on making the decision to come back to Australia was a surprising offer from some companies in Australia for sponsorship!
I am super excited to be able to announce that thanks to the good folks at Climbing Anchors (www.climbinganchors.com.au) (namely the man himself, Steve Hawkshaw) I am now proudly sponsored by CAMP, Metolius and Tendon Ropes! Super excited to get back and get out on the rock with all the new gear! Super psyched to get my new Metolius Magnum bouldering pad and get out bouldering after a long time away from it. I have so many classic routes all over the country, in every style, that I just can’t wait to go and get on. Super psyched! Thanks heaps, Climbing Anchors.
I’ll also, of course, be keeping my other sponsors (Kailas & Evolv) in Australia and I’m super psyched and feel very privileged to have so much support from so many great people and companies. It’s going to be a big year of crushing rigs and having a blast at the crags, I hope!!!

I spent the last month or so working on a route back in Yangshuo, a stellar 40m metre pitch of gently overhung limestone. Just my style. Except for the fact that it is quite reachy and very crimpy… not my style. This route, while not being of any ground breaking difficulty, really made me work hard on some weaknesses, give myself up to the process of breaking the route down move by move until I could do the moves first one by one, then two by two and so on until finally I was close to sending. I worked really hard for it, I tried soooo hard, I got soooo close. I fell from the last hard move of the crux 13 times. 13 times! I climbed it in 2 parts with barely a rest at all in between about 10 times. I was soooo close! I headed back out to the crag, my favourite crag in Yangshuo, Lei Pi Shan, on Monday which was designated to be my last ever day of climbing in Yangshuo. I headed out with a fellow Australian rock addict, climbing media celebrity and all round nice guy, Mr. JJ O’Brien  (www.jjobrienclimbing.blogspot.com) who kindly snapped a few shots of my last attempts on the route.
I tied in, got psyched and headed off on one last burn, cruised the 5.13a / 7c+ / 28 first pitch, chilled at the only available rest and launched on into the crux… and fell with the last hold of the crux in my hand but not quite enough gas in the tank to reel it in. So close. Crushingly close. The name of this route is apt. It’s called ‘No Guarantee’. It’s about 5.13c / 8a+ / 30. I didn’t send it. I got close, I tried hard, I learned a lot on this route. I learned to let go and enjoy the process of really projecting long term on something hard for me. I learned to crimp harder. I learned to try harder. I learned that you have to really WANT it if you hope to achieve things above and beyond your normal sphere of performance. You have to REALLY want it. I learned to be humble in defeat. And most of all I learned that in life there really is no guarantee. Nothing is certain. Nothing is forever. Nothing is ever ‘in the bag’. There is no guarantee.

I’ll miss you, Yangshuo. See you soon, Australia.

The rest at the end of the 13a first pitch

Trying to reel in the last hold of the crux... so close!

The hands free kneebar after the crux... only 18 more metres of 5.12+ climbing to go!

Sticking the jump at the last bolt, 40 metres up over the crowd at Lei Pi Shan. I'll miss that crag!

See you later, Yangshuo! It's been real!