Stories from Down-under... / by Mayan Smith-Gobat

All my faithful followers! Sorry about my long absence from my blog... This year has been off to a flying start, somehow it is already a week into February and I do not know where the time has gone... At this rate the year will be over before I know it! The fox fence... Just down the road from our cabin. Complete with a Pink Panther!

The last week in the Grampians was a whirlwind, unsettled weather, far too many projects to finish and a photo-mog (Andrew Burr) to keep happy made for a hectic and ridiculously fun week! Because of the terrible weather, it came to the last few days in the Grampians and we still had not managed to make it out to the infamous Passport to Insanity, one of our main objectives. The weather did not improve and finally on our very last day we decided to hike out, despite not being able to even see the cliff because of low cloud. After a long wet hike through foggy rain, we arrived under the imposing Fortress - We could still barely see the roof through the clouds.

The Fortress, when the clouds finally parted. Passport to Insanity is the roof on the right tower.

Andrew, Ben and I huddled, wearing every piece of clothing, vainly attempting to stay warm and hoping that the sun would burn through the clouds at some point. Finally, late in the afternoon the clouds began to disperse and I headed up the first pitch. Luck was with us, and as I climbed through the roof the setting sun popped out below the clouds - I beautiful finale to our time in the Grampians!

Sea stacks on the wild Tasmanian coast. This was our first adventure, on day one in Tasi!

The next morning we were on a plane to Tasmania, to climb sea stacks! Our main objective was the Totem Pole, yet we also wanted to spend some time exploring other towers on the beautiful Tasmanian coast. Again, we were plagued  by consistently unsettled weather. It was cold, windy and not a single day passed without rain of some sort. However, we managed to make the most of it and climb nearly every day. The Tote did not disappoint! Fantastic climbing on a stunning feature in a wild and incredibly beautiful location, though only two pitches it feels very exposed!

Ben on the Tyrollean traverse, off of the Totem Pole!

Keep an eye out for the next Adidas Outdoor Magazine/Catalog for a more in depth account of Ben and I's adventures!

Ben and Andrew Burr having fun in the salt lake!

For Ben and I the fun did not stop there though, after a week in Tasmania we headed to my NZ. Where I proceeded to give Ben a whirlwind tour of the best climbing areas my home land has to offer. We drove straight out to Castle Hill, where we were meet by a film crew from TVNZ and proceeded to get destroyed on the round featureless boulders for the next few days. The climbing here is weird and involves more pushing and footwork than pulling - Stay posted for the TVNZ morning feature!

Ben climbing above Diamond Lake, Wanaka. Photo: Judith Spanken

After a few days, we somehow managed to fit my dear mother, Ben and I into my tiny 3 door Mazda and headed South - Darrans bound! On our way down we stopped in Wanaka, where I lived just after high school and learnt my first real lessons in climbing. In the last ten years, since I had lived there, a huge amount of new crags have been discovered and developed, so Ben and I spent a few days exploring these and waiting for a storm to pass through from the West.

One of the classic Wanaka crimp test-pieces! Photo: Judith Spanken

A few days later, in the driving rain, we drove the long windy road further south, to the Darrans - My favorite place to climb in NZ. It is always exciting driving back into those wild remote mountains, stacked with huge imposing granite walls. This time we only had a couple days of once again unsettled weather, so we spent them sport climbing on the most classic lines!

The time passed very quickly and soon it was Christmas eve and I dropped Ben off at the airport to head home. After which I had another few weeks in NZ, enjoying some relaxed time with my family and old friends. Though it was difficult, I actually managed to survive an entire week without climbing at all. A well deserved and necessary break from climbing!

Ben and I chilling out at the Chasm in the Darrans. It was great to show a good friend this special place! Photo: Judith Spanken

Now, I am finally back in Grand Junction, settling into the winter and the amazing brutality of another training cycle with Rob Pizem! Thanks Rob for helping me prepare for another year packed full of incredible adventures! And thanks once again to all my sponsors for helping me achieve my dreams and adventures!