We’ll be wonkered at The Chocolate Factory

Heading off to yet another new crag called The Chocolate Factory. There are two routes there I have decided to do and now is the time. We walk through the beautiful smelling forest on a cool morning, a little fresh but pleasing as the friction on rock will be stellar and after all my hands still feel a little tender. On the way in we pass other humans warming up and a dog barks incessantly notifying its boss of our presence. Monique and I both comment on the barking and hope it does not continue. Makes me think of how obedient my little mutt is and just how much I miss Molly.

Molly - The coolest dog in the world!
Molly – The coolest dog in the world!

Standing at the base of a crag classic “Hip to the Jive” 5.11b (22) I look up at this great looking stemming problem that leans out over my head and this is the warm up. Its an old skool outing for the first five bolts and then its into the pockets on a slightly over-hanging face to the anchors. I don’t remember who put the draws on, but I fall off at the crux first shot.

We leave the draws on and wander around to another sector to locate the routes Monique wants to warm up on. A route called “Hookah” 5.12a (24) if memory serves correctly. After Mon come back to earth I wander over to “One Side Makes you Taller” 5.11a (22) and put the draws on and at the top find out that the anchors have been placed in the most ridiculous place possible and I take the fall. Monique comments that the crux should not be clipping the anchors as I lower off, a little disappointed that I sent the route bar clipping badly placed anchors. I was also as pumped as all hell….hahahaha….rather soft really, next time suck it up ya’ pussy. Monique jumps on “Malice” 5.12c (25) and a five star classic for her next warm up. It is really wonderful to be able to watch how Monique does what she does and have the conversations we do about the process of improving what we do. The reoccurring theme is body position…..body position.

We have a bite to eat and then we are off down the trail to a line called “Pure Imagination” 5.14c (34) and Monique’s fun for the day. She was super psyched to get on this line and check it out. She was talking about it regularly on our rest days. Its great to see the same excitement in her eyes is how I feel about the routes I choose to get on. I am stoked to be able to belay her on such a classic route. It is all about the process again and I am on belay watching one of the worlds best sports climbers execute her craft, truly inspiring to say the least.

We are told about a newly developed sector further to the right of where we are and we head round to run into Nick Duttle a pro climber from Colorado and a his buddy Brandon a local tobacco-chewing vertical beast. Monique susses out a route there and seems really keen to try it; “Silky Smooth” 5.13c (30) a steep over-hanging face on some incredible rock with solid technical moves. She works the route and figures out her sequences through the crux and pushes through to the anchors. Lowering off I see Monique is suitably impressed with the line and she smiles as she touches down, only to be warned by Nick that there is a Copperhead snake living near where she is…..not too thrilled to hear this, Monique scampers up to the belay ledge and feels a little relieved that she didn’t meet it.

Returning to the first route of the day to collect my quick-draws and have another shot, I tie in and focus on my red-point attempt, thinking through the crux visualising how I need to move to tick this great line. As I move up I feel my body clearly kicking into the movement I require to be graceful and still remain solid. I love this style of climbing and it makes me smile as I continue up. Getting a good rest before hitting the crux is key and I find a reasonable rest to shake my hands out and get my breathing to slow. Monique is being encouraging and sprouting words of support. Moving into the first pocket on the steep face my body responds and my core locks off trying to get me closer to the wall. I feel the pump start to kick in again. Seeing the anchors looking down at you two bolts away is a real motivator when you are starting to feel lactic acid burn all the way through your arms and into your shoulders. I am going and I have six moves to pull through. Fighting all the way to the anchors I tick my second project for the day.

Hip to the Jive 5.11a and crag classic at the grade.
Hip to the Jive 5.11b and crag classic at the grade.

Very happy………………….. I need burgers and beer.

We head over to the cabin where Olivia, Melissa, Joel and the kids are staying and hangout for a while and abuse the hell out of their free WiFi, eat Tim Tams and generally have a lovely time with these really awesome people. I can’t say it enough, they are some of the world’s “good humans”.

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