Punks in the Gym / by Mayan Smith-Gobat

For much of the last six weeks I have been living in my tent at Mt Arapiles, Australia. Escaping the the New Zealand rainy season and training on beautiful Arapiles rock. For the majority of my time at Arapiles, I have been working on "Punks in the Gym", a beautiful and historic master piece. First climbed in 1985 by the master of Sport climbing "Wolfgang Güllich"; it was given the impressive grade of 32 - the first 32 in world. Punks still retains an intimidating reputation and has been referred to as "the ultimate lesson in climbing".

This route combines super technical climbing with long, powerful moves... all of which seem to be a just a little out of reach for me. I was not able to do the usual sequence because my shoulders are just not quite strong enough at the extremities of my reach. Instead I have come up with a super direct sequence. My sequence heads straight up, into the crux, after the initial hard section, rather than traversing left, to a major rest in the middle of the route. This eliminates the section of climbing I was having difficulty with, but also creates a much more sustained piece of climbing.

The ultimate lesson in climbing is what I arrived at Arapiles for, and "Punks" has definitely been teaching me a lot, physically, mentally and emotionally. At first the moves felt impossible, but slowly I figured out the subtleties of each individual movement, and the intricacies of how to possition my body to hold every one of the tiny vertical hand-holds. I have spent so much time playing on this route, studying the rock and thinking about the moves, that it feels as though I have gotten to know this beautiful piece of rock better than my own face. Unfortunately, for the last couple of weeks there the weather was not working in my favor, this, combined with a tweaked finger meant that I have not managed to make a successful ascent of "Punks" yet... But I guess this just gives me a really good reason to return, and escape some more of the NZ winter!