Australia. But most importantly, Koalas. / by Tara Kerzhner

Koalas. Those square shaped prince and princesses of the eucalyptus forest. Those fluffy grey balls of joy. So wise, perched high in their rent controlled eucalyptus condos. Likely tired from a long night of filing their taxes, or wistfully dreaming of their upcoming vacation to Barbados. A real highlight of the visit has been these adorable tree-kitties. 

Then of course you have your Kangaroos. The creeps of the Australian Outback. Making direct eye contact for just long enough to make you both uncomfortable. This is usually followed by a breaking point in which they bound away, mocking you with their gazelle-like agility and grace, and zig zagging into oncoming traffic while laughing hysterically. 

The Emu. We're all embarrassed about the way you look. 

As for the climbing. We came here with one intention, The Taipan wall. The wooly worm shaped orange wall that one could only dream to visit. Perfect stone, so far away. 

I think it's always a challenge to set goals on these short trips. You don't want to leave empty handed, but you want to challenge yourself. Thankfully the lines we both wanted to do, were both striking and too perfect to pass up. Greg set his sights on Groove Train, probably one of the most beautiful routes I've ever seen. It starts with a heinous looking 13a that Greg joked to be the crux of the entire route, 14b. 

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Greg flashing Groovy, the first pitch of Groove Train. He flashed it, then he un-flashed it, then he sent it again, then he sent the whole route in 8 tries. 

Greg doing what he does best. Splitting all of his tips.

Here's Mike on the full span crux of Groovy. 

And here's Mike sticking the last hard move of Groove Train. 

Leslye working her way up the ultra-classic Mr. Joshua. So cordial that Mr. Joshua. Monocle and all. 

 

Leslye lowers after a working burn on Mr. Joshua. 

On rest days we hiked, hunted for Koalas, and went and watched the madness that is Arapiles.

Here, a young peter pan attempts a barefoot free solo before down climbing back to safety. What you can't see is his headlamp. Always prepare for darkness at 11am. Always.

#baewatch

We already knew this, but Australians are really nice. Here's Stu taking the king of all whippers on Snakes on a Train, a 14a link up that links a 12c first pitch with the upper headwall on Groove Train. 

Just have a seat why don't you.

My goal for the Taipan wall was Serpentine, 13b. Probably one of the most famous routes of it's grade in the world. The only problem, was that I was scared like a little tiny kitten inside of a tiny teacup. Scared for no real reason at all actually...and I almost convinced myself not to try it at all. 

Thankfully, I got the fuck over it and went up the route, quickly one-hanging and finally sending. Here's Greg jumaring up to belay me. So nice this one. 

The last 20 feet of Serpentine is incredible. You finish at the top of cliff, and if you're me, you pull the lip and just sit there for a second...shaming yourself for ever doubting the chance to climb this route in the first place. Then you jump off, since there's no anchor... Thanks Vikki and Colette for the beta and encouragement <3

Projects finished, Greg and I sampled some other routes before heading east on a whim to check out the Blue Mountains. Here's the amazing Venom, 13a. (photo by Greg) So. Good that wooly worm. 

Pick a man that can spell your name, is what my mother always said. 

Blue Mountains. Not pretty.

Greg thinking skinny for his project at Eliphinstone. 

So here we are, Blue Mountains till the end of the week. Then we shall leave these adorable, Koala filled lands. 

Thanks for the socks, mom.