Friday, 20 February 2015

A model student

I have access now to some of the course materials for my university papers (semester starts next week). The quantity of the work involved gives me a small knot of anxiety in my stomach.

The difficulty of the work will be a challenge too - especially with regard to the computer programming - but it’s the deadlines that make me nervous. Getting all the work done (to a good standard) in the time allowed.

I guess I should see it as a positive thing that what stresses me is the quantity of work and the time constraints: those issues are easily solved with good time management … start early, stay ahead, prioritize.

Time management isn’t something I got right first time around. I remember feeling behind at the end of my very first week of university. I never got back on top. Often I wasn’t well enough prepared for lectures to understand new material as it was taught; I took notes robotically to make sense of later. After I worked out that assignments handed in for a 5pm Friday deadline weren’t actually cleared from the box until the admin staff arrived at work on Monday, I adopted a practice of early Monday morning trips into university. I operated in a perpetual state of catching up.

My time management challenges this time will be different. I’m a bit more disciplined these days, and a bit more sensible But I have more responsibilities outside study (a house and garden) and more things I care about spending significant time on (adult children, rock climbing).

I want to be prepared before lectures so that I can make the most of them. I want to be on top of new material week by week. I want to spread out assignment work and exam preparation rather than resort to unpleasant (and unproductive) late night bouts.

I like schedules and plans - that will be helpful - but I’ll need to improve at sticking to them and avoiding procrastination. I have a tendency to abandon tasks (like finishing a blog post) part way through to go and do odd jobs around the house which allow me to maintain the feeling of being busy and productive while avoiding working on my most important task. Sadly, I can completely relate to the scene in one of the Bridget Jones Diaries where Bridget is working from home for the day. Somehow the entire day slips by with Bridget about to start work as soon as she has changed her clothes (which necessitates sorting the laundry), and trimmed her nails, and had a nap …

This year, I’m trying to lean more towards Hermione Granger as a role model than Bridget Jones.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The unadventurous climber visits Kawakawa Bay

The unadventurous climber: no trad, no mountaineering, no runouts, no highballs. Just climbing.

Lisia not climbing Coconut Bikini Arête
Photo: Tessa Jacobsen-Grocott

Kawakawa Bay offers plenty of scope for unadventurous climbers as well as for their more adventurous friends.

If, like me, you are unused to carrying a heavy pack full of climbing and camping gear, it will be money well spent to eschew the walk in to Kawakawa Bay favour of taking the boat, especially in summer when the walk over the hill from Kinloch, although pretty, is sweltering, and likely to leave you without energy to climb.

The campsite is beautiful, with little spaces for tents nestled among the trees. A toilet at the east end of the bay and another some way along mark the edges of the main campsite, but if there are boats moored along the campsite beach you might prefer to pitch your tent beyond the second toilet if you like to sleep at night, as some of the boaties come to the bay to socialize, and like to do so loudly late into the night.

The pebbly beach is narrow with just enough space to sit back and admire the view. The water is crystal clear and exactly what is wanted after a hot day’s climbing.

And the climbing itself? In amongst the trad and mixed routes and the exposed multi-pitches are some bolted gems.

Cracks Wall

Rohan’s Little Sister (16)

Stick clip the first clip. Balance moves on a slab, with the occasional positive edge and some good holds around the arête. Two of us found it scary because we felt insecure on our feet, but it is a satisfying challenge.

Coconut Bikini Arête (23?)

Rock Deluxe North gives the grade as 20, but the lower section of the route felt a lot harder than 20 to my party, so much so that we decided the guide’s instruction to “Climb left of the arête,” must be meant to be interpreted liberally, so we climbed the crack left of the face until climbing the arête became easier. This made for fun and interesting climbing, but placed the climber considerably left of one of the bolts (the 4th or 5th?). With my left hand in the crack, my feet on small edges on the face, and both arms at full stretch, I managed after 20 nerve-tingling seconds of pushing the quickdraw at the hanger to hook it in, knowing this couldn’t be what the equippers intended. Later, we learned that other guides give the route a grade of 23.

The Lower Bluff

Jug Addiction (16)

A little crux in the middle to provide interest, and comforting jugs the rest of the way. Enjoyable climbing.

Unnamed (19) just right of Jug Addiction

Enjoyable climbing.

Predator (22)

I tried the moves on toprope: very nice moves; pumpy; the topout looked to me like it would be run out on lead but no one else thought so and I approached it awkwardly - sort of crouched and side-on to the rock - so my perspective may have been skewed. I'm keen to get back to it.

Aliens Resurrection pitch 1 (18)

Big jugs all the way. Fun. Unusual rock: there are bits sticking out all over the place providing lots of opportunities for heel hooks and drop knees, but making falling an unattractive prospect. However, falling is very unlikely - there are places to rest.

Jugzilla pitch 1 (17)

Big jugs all the way as for Aliens Resurrection. And even more opportunities for heel hooks and drop knees as well as a no-hands rest I achieved by jamming my hips in a crevice! Unadventurous climbers will feel the exposure behind them when they climb out of the gully onto the face. My recommendation is not to look at the view until you’ve climbed to the chains and set up to abseil down. Only when you’ve done your checks and are ready to go, turn around and take a few moments to marvel at where you are.

Pitch 1 of Aliens Resurrection and pitch 1 of Jugzilla can be climbed together as an ideal first multi-pitch for unadventurous climbers. At the chains for Aliens Resurrection pitch 1, the leader clips a quickdraw as if this is just another bolt on the route, then traverses two more bolts to the left, then climbs a couple of metres down to the ground to belay the second at the belay bolt. The second needs to take care climbing down to the belay bolt after removing the last quickdraw, as a fall, in amongst sharp, pointy bits of rock, however unlikely, would be unpleasant.

I’ve only had a taste of the climbing at Kawakawa Bay. I’m keen to return and would love to hear route recommendations for unadventurous climbers.