Ahhh, the Darrans - They have successfully managed to steal yet another summer away from me...
I definitely have a love/hate relationship to that place. It continuously draws me back, with the allure and promise of beautiful clean granite, crystal clear mountain streams and stunning wilderness, but then tests your patience and resolve with countless days of torrential rain, sandflies and epic vertical bush approaches.
This summer I had made ambitious plans to climb a new route on the remote Kaipo Wall, and my confidence was boosted by having experienced amazingly stable weather over the last few Summers in the Darrans. However, this Summer did not feel like summer at all... It was warm enough, but far too wet. The forecast constantly promised fine spells in the long-range predictions, yet, every time as they approached, the systems weakened and were squeezed into non-existance... Generally yielding no more that 12 hours without rain. Before I realized it, the whole summer had slipped away - into a blur of waiting for the ever allusive "weather window"!
Although I found this extremely frustrating, constantly battling sub-optimal conditions and a distinct lack of sunshine to recharge my psyche... It did turn out to be an excellent summer of training, both physically and mentally! I spent nearly second day climbing at Little Babylon, arguably the best sport-climbing crag in NZ, attempting to climb one of the few routes in the country that I have not yet climbed. This route is steep and powerful with a definite boulder crux, which was at, or possibly just beyond, the limits of my capacity and in a style of climbing that I find the most difficult. However, it would have difficult to set a better training route for me - It worked all my weaknesses in one hit! I feel that I have made significant improvements over the last few months, particularly in my power and power/endurance. Additionally, I maintained a positive frame of mind most of the time (with only a couple of momentary lapses), managing to keep my impatienent nature at bay, even while not receiving immediate gratification for my efforts.
Now I am back in the remnants of Christchurch (more commonly known as "Shaky-town" these days), attempting to sort through piles of paperwork, rubble and Earthquake bureaucracy, before heading away again to find some stable rock to climb. Most of the crags around here have turned into piles of rubble, our house feels like it is in the middle of a construction site, the roads are still far from flat or paved and the city is only half functional... Getting anything done, even if it is merely driving across town, is a test for anyone's patience.
Luckily Castle Hill is not far away, and provided a much welcomed escape from the craziness. We spent the weekend with friends, losing ourselves in the serene boulder-scape and playing on countless amazing problems - Refreshing my psych to test my limits once more.