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 ( (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  ( 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!

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