A Slice of Heaven / by Mayan Smith-Gobat

Aside from the Darrans having the best rock in New Zealand, Milford also has a stunning beauty and power that is unlike anywhere else in the world. Max and I have just returned to Christchurch after having spent a month living in the Darran Mountains, and it has felt like quite a shock to of all my senses. It was wonderful to be totally removed from all obligations, other than climbing and a little study, and we have totally enjoyed having space, quietness and awesome orange granite to play on.

Milford Sound supposedly has one of the highest yearly rain falls in the world (9 meters), but I am beginning to seriously doubt this fact, as we received a maximum of ten hours of rain in the month we were there. So we climbed as much as our bodies would let us and spent the rest of our time exploring this beautiful part of the world and swimming in ice cold snow melt. Sometimes the water was cold enough to leave me gasping for breath and shivering for a long time after, but with a burning fire inside and a renewed love for life! 


Most of our time was spent climbing at "Little Babylon", where there is a great selection of steep, hard, sport climbs, on amazingly good rock. Max succeeded to climb almost everything at the crag, including a couple of difficult routes which I had established a couple of years ago. Meanwhile I dedicated all my time to one route "Blood Meridian" 32 (8b+), which just kept spitting me off. It made me work very hard, and I almost thought I would have to return to Christchurch without the send, but on my last try on the last available day I managed to summon up all my will power, and give everything I had to catch the last long dead-point and clip the chains.


It took everything I had, even though I was frustrated with the route at times, I was absolutely ecstatic that I managed to pull it together at the last moment, and get the third ascent of Blood Meridian (First Female Ascent, redefining FFA). In addition, this was my fifth route 32 and above within the last seven months, completing the best year of climbing in my life!