Back in Arapiles / by Mayan Smith-Gobat

Arapiles is a special place for me. This is where I came on my first real climbing trip, when I was 16, where I learnt to place trad gear and where I got my first real taste of true "dirt-bag" climbing life.  Ever since then I have returned fairly regularly, and last year I even ended up living here for a couple of months. So now, Arapiles is definitely one of the places I call "home".

Travel is crazy... I feel like I should be used to it by now. However it never ceases to surprise me how everything in ones life can change so quickly. Simply by boarding a plane, and enduring multiple hours (or days) of discomfort, one can re-emerge to a totally different environment and focus. Lately, I have been traveling enough that the hemisphere and seasons make no sense anymore. I never know which side of the car to get in and home has definitely become a very transient thing... I feel like I spend my life flitting in and out of peoples lives, my friends are scattered around the world, and I just seem to slot into their lives for a period of time, then disappear again!

Two weeks ago I was in Spain, enjoying the routes in Siurana, hanging with a super psyched strong crew of Scotts, and now I am in the middle of the flatland of outback Australia, surrounded by half the NZ climbing community!

Arapiles is most famous for its easy multi-pitch routes and sinker stopper placements. However, the beauty of Arapiles is that it really has something to offer everyone, including a good selection of brutally hard test-pieces. In the 80's Arapiles was at the cutting edge of rock climbing, where the hardest routes were being established. The most famous is "Punks in the Gym" - The first 32 (8b+/5.14a) in the world, which was first climbed by the master of sport climbing himself, Wolfgang Güllich, and took sport climbing to a new level. Punks is both super technical and brutally powerful and has received relatively few ascents.

I first tried Punks in the Gym two years ago, and since then it has become a bit of a nemesis for me. I returned last year, and  came ridiculously close to climbing the route. I extended my trip as much as I could, however, winter conditions were far from ideal for me - It was often wet and I struggled with the cold. This year I am focusing all my energy on this route alone and doing everything in my power to achieve this goal! It is making me think about everything I do, analyze my climbing in utmost detail and really try to control my emotions.

Please wish me luck and stay posted for updates!!!