Résumé: A Rockclimbing Roadtrip in Down Under

Our Trip is over. It wasn’t our first overseas trip, but traveling in a threesome this time made it different to previous ones.

When we first booked the flights to Newzealand a year ago we were excited but also a little nervouse about the upcoming journey. We were confident about the feasibility, as Finja had already seen quiet a few european countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy and Macedonia) in her short life. She had handled it really well so far, but none of these trips lasted longer then four successive week.

Finja on one of her first road trips to Italy (less than 2 months after her birth)

The end of January and the whole February were really exhausting. I finished by Bachelorthesis in time and then we had to empty our apartment in Stuttgart. All our furniture and possessions stowed into several family households in Stuttgart’s surroundings and finally it was time to catch the plane in Frankfurt.

Goodbye Cake

The flight was incredible long (33 hours?!), I was sick with a cold and Finja kept us busy carrying her around in the airplane. The better part of the flight was actually good, only on the final bit she had enough of air conditioning, narrow space, airplane light and got a bit grumpy. Anyways, happily we arrived in Christchurch where we had the big luck to get picked up by our friend Greg.

It did not take us long to find a convenient campervan for our planned time of 6,5 weeks traveling through the beauty of New Zealand and so we left our friends place soon. We spent most of the time on the South Island, driving down to the incredibly wet Milford Sound (6.715mm rain/year) where we climbed at a beautiful Little Babylon. We visited Wanaka, Queenstown and Paynes Ford for some climbing and spent four weeks in the world-famous bouldering destination Castle Hill.

Finja in one of her first boulderproblems – Castle Hill, New Zealand

When I visited Castle Hill five years earlier, it was colder and many climbers from all over the world spent their time here. It was a big crowd of motivated climbers and a lot of fun. This time the number of other climbers was quiet limited and most of the time it was really warm with no wind. Anyways, the boulderproblems did not suffer in quality and we enjoyed our time a lot. I could climb great problems as „Interstellar Overdrive“ V10, „Prince Tui Teka“ V9, „Snake Eyes“ V9, „Monkey and the Magic Peach“ V8 while Katinka had a fun time sending several problems up to V6 after her pregnancy.

Castle Hill, New Zealand

In the end of march, one month after the trip had started we headed back to the airport to pick up my Brother Jochen, his wife Miriam and their daughter Paula. They had taken the opportunity for a longdistance flight as well, using the parental leave. We climbed with them for a couple of days, before we had to leave for the northern parts of New Zealand as our flight to Australia was booked for a date two weeks earlier than theirs.

On New Zealands North Island we stopped at a friends place in Wellington for a couple of nights and sampled some of the local climbing before we ended up in Auckland. We had a really stressfull week trying to sell our van for a reasonable price, flying out to Sydney and buying another van in Australia. But thanks to another friend in Sydney we had a place to sleep and to get ready for the second part of our trip.

Katinka at Turakirae Head, Wellington

We had three great weeks in the Blue Mountains, as many other climbers and friends were around for Easter Holidays. Most of the time there was someone else at the same crag and we could climb while Finja was playing or sleeping at the crags base. By that time she was already crawling a lot, but luckily not walking or running yet.

An unnamed V6 at the Black Cave, Sydney

In the end of April my brother arrived in the Blue Mountains and while we climbed together for another week we proofed his ability to climb hard and sent „Alpha Leather“, 32 (8b+).
Together we checked out some of the Sydney Bouldering Areas and climbed many problems such as the ultra classic „L’homme Obu“, V11 at the Balkham Hills. Katinka and Miriam both grabbed a quick ascent of „Paratroopin“ V8 the same day.

Sending „L’homme Obu“, V11 – The Balkam Hills, Sydney

Our main goal for australia was climbing in the Grampians Nationalpark, a world class sandstone area 300km to the west from Melbourne. Unluckily a massive bushfire swept through the Nationalpark a couple of months ago and the majority of the climbing got shut down due to security and regeneration purpose. We evaded to the less known southern Grampians, The Victoria Range where we found a great amount of rock around the Buandik Campground. The climbing there is great, but we were pretty lonesome and the humidity and precipitation are way worse here than in the northern parts.

I think we did the best out of this situation by brushing new boulders, doing a decent amount of first ascents and publishing a pdf guidebook. After beeing annoyed by humidity and precipitation for a couple of weeks we psyched for a couple days off. We had booked a flight to Bali, Indonesia where our friends Manu and Marie joined us for exploring another culture. It was different and stressfull, but an interesting and great experience at the same time. Unfortunately Finja catched a cold on her last days as she did not like the constantly change in between the local climate and the air-conditioned rooms. But her cold only lasted for a couple of days.

A few days off … 8 days of vacation from our trip in Bali, Indonesia

Back in Australia we returned to Buandik to finish off some Projects. Especially I had a big goal, a line I had scouted on our first days which had not been climbed yet. It took me an endless amount of days to finally finish it on our last day in the area. „Simplicity“, fb8A+ was a great archivement for me and probably my hardest climb ever. Katinka also returned to her old strength and climbed „Hillary Step“ V9, „Northern Fire“ V8/9 and several others.

First Ascent of „Simplicity“, V12 – Buandik, Southern Grampians

As mentioned earlier the climbing here is really good, but we spent way to much time here. We had planned to climb a lot in the northern areas, which where totally shut down due to the fires and we were climbing by ourselfes only most of the time. It’s just a different level of fun if you have great people around you. Additionally we had some bad luck with the weather god and many rainy days, which bit into our motivation as well.

Our plan for future trips is to avoid too long periods at the same place. A maximum of 4 weeks in one spot should be enough to tick the most stunning climbs in an area, but afterwards you loose motivation our you have to focus to much on a limited number of climbs .. such as „Simplicity“ which I almost gave up with. We had also hoped to meet more people along our australia trip, which was a bit disappointing.

Katinka in „Hillary Step“, V9 – Buandik, Southern Grampians

Finally it was kind of a relief to say goodbye to the Grampians after 2,5 months. Finjas Grandparents arrived at the airport of Melbourne and wanted to join us on our a roadtrip back to the Blue Mountains and Sydney. They enjoyed 3,5 weeks with us and their granddaughter, while we explored the landscape of Victoria and New South Whales. They joined us at several rocks to watch us climb or took over Finja and occupied her perfectly.

Our campervan accompanied by my parents bigger campervan


Ulrich, Finja, Katinka, Rita and Ulrike (left-to-right)

As they flew home, we only had two weeks left to sell our campervan once again. We spent some days within the CBD of Sydney switching inbetween busy advertising sessions and bouldering at the local areas. This time we had more luck on the car sale and recieved a good price and we finished the trip with some hard boulderproblems in our ticklist. Within the last two weeks I did „Contact“ V12, „Uncle Joe’s Banana Shack“ V11 and „Groove Terminator“ V11 while Katinka flashed her first V6 „Crack Attack“ at The Villas and sent „Paddington“ 26 in the Blue Mountains pretty fast.

Katinka in the flash ascent of „Crack Attack“, V6 – The Villas, Sydney
Finja in an unknown V0-

It was really convenient to have a rentalcar for the last couple of days, as we did not have to take any stressful public transport and we did not have to trouble any of our friends by asking for a ride to the airport.

Thanks to all our friends Down Under who helped making this trip to what it was. A great time off!
And thanks to our sponsors who assisted us with their products:
Thanks Chillaz for equiping us with comfortable, great looking and fair produced clothes.
Thanks Evolv for supplying us with quality climbing shoes, especially our favorites: the high performance Shaman and the brand new Nexxo.

And last but not least:
Thanks to the Light my Fire Team for sending us samples of their whole product range, and many many sporks which were given away to friends here and there every now and then. And thanks for convincing us to start blogging in english.

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