Kiwi-land / by Mayan Smith-Gobat

The last week of my time in the Getu Valley was really amazing. As the village returned to normal, there was no more waiting in a cue to climb and by end of the week it felt like we were the only foreigners left in the village. There was some sick sendage going down, despite us all getting sick at various times throughout the trip. Beau got some great photos, and thanks to Kevin, doing an incredible job of organizing everything for us throughout the week. Which including making multiple hair-raising trips to town, we were able to really just enjoy craziness of rural Chinese life. We all got sick of eating noodles for breakfast and rice for dinner everyday, so began sampling ever-increasing amounts of every variety of the (very limited selection) of junk food available, and slowly our standards lowered enough that it actually tasted good! It was an awesome trip, but I think we were all ready to leave when the time came!

I am not quite sure what was more of a culture shock for me... China or arriving back in a still very altered (earthquake affected) Christchurch. I have been away for long enough that I had pretty much forgotten how badly the city (and the surrounding rocks) have been damaged. Even though I knew that it was going to take years to come back to normal, In my subconscious I must have expected at least some things to be returning to normal after months had elapsed. However, the inner city is still closed, many of the roads are still more like four-wheel-drive tracks and many houses are still hanging off crumbling precipices. In the hills behind the city, the cliffs are covered in raw scars where large chunks of rock have detached themselves and scoured the hillsides below.

Most of the climbers in town have turned to mountain biking because it is too risky to go climbing at the crags which have not been damaged. Since coming back, I took a couple (much-needed) weeks off climbing to let my body and mind recover, and because it was hard to motivate myself to climb here after spending so much time in incredible places, like Yosemite and the Getu Valley. The Cave, my regular training venue in Christchurch really does not compare, it is small, often wet and held together by glue... And worst of all at the moment it is located inside a Park which is closed due to the danger of rockfall in the event of another aftershock. However, I soon realized that my obsession with moving over rock is too great for any of these minor facts to matter - I needed to climb! So, I found a small group of dedicated friends who still climb at the Cave, and the for the last week I have been putting my life at risk every second day to go and train on routes I know so well I could climb them in my sleep. “Are we crazy?” I often wonder, as we stop on the boulder strewn track, scoping out the teetering blocks above, while discussing the likelihood of another big quake... The answer is probably “Yes”, but I have been really enjoying my afternoons climbing at the Cave, and I think I would rather enjoy life than live in fear.