Continuing from his impressive ascents in Australia, Ben Heason recently spent a month traveling around neighboring New Zealand. As it was his first time in New Zealand Ben spent most of the time exploring the country, being a tourist, with only seven days on the rock. Of those seven, Ben spent five days climbing at the internationally acclaimed bouldering Mecca of Castle Hill. Describing the area as ?awesome bouldering, really funky moves, but powerful at the same time, and to top it off you?re surrounded by amazing views of snowcapped peaks?. Due to the vast number of high quality boulder problems Ben chose not to spend too long working any particular lines, opting to try and flash them, or climb them very quickly. On his first day at the popular Quantum Field area, Ben took little time adjusting to the notoriously unique style of Castle Hill, flashing the classic ?Fingers of Fury? V8 (Font 7b+) and climbing Boone Speed?s test piece ?Snake Eyes? V9 (Font 7c). Over the next couple of weeks Ben climbed at Quantum Field, and the nearby Spittle Hill, a further four days, climbing the following highlights :-Snakeoid V7(Flash)Rocket Pants V7(On Sight) Monkey and the Magic Peach V8Quantum Mechanics V8Placebo V8The Leonard V8 (Flash – 2nd ascent)Inositol Low V9Cuba V9Symptoms of Slow Twitch Motion V9Energy Follows Thought V9The Joker V9The Gift V9 Ben at Castle Hill, photo courtesy of Gilli Helbig Not known for his bouldering prowess, it?s therefore not surprising that Ben?s most impressive ascents transpired on some of the many larger boulders. (Unrecognised internationally for its route climbing, Castle Hill actually has several hundred routes, the majority of which are high quality, on boulders ranging from 10m to an intimidating 30 + metres in height.) Due to their alarmingly blank nature the practice of bolting was introduced to the area?s routes; a practice which is heavily frowned upon nowadays due to their visual impact. Ben says that ?because of the bolting restrictions in place at Castle Hill there?s an exciting amount of potential for Hard Grit style routes?. Not having the necessary time or equipment to search out potential new lines Ben contented himself with some impressive boltless ascents (solo?s due to the lack of natural protection) of some existing routes. The more impressive routes soloed were: -Little Ling 18(On Sight) A serious, extremely tenuous slab, solid E6 6a.Dr Squat 22 (On Sight) A bouldery start followed by a perplexing top out, E6 6b.Nether Edge 21(On Sight) This mega classic soaring arête, first climbed by the legendary gritstone master John Allen way back in 1979, proved to be a scarily technical E7 6b.Suicide by Hallucination 26 (Flash)Equating to a French 7b+ sport route, this sustained wall climb has a heinous crux at about 8 or 9m, followed by sustained 6a climbing, with a 6b move to reach the slopey top? Hard E7 6c.Ben said he ?enjoyed the gritstone like style of climbing, as it?s been a long time since I was in the UK?. Ben is hoping to spend a few more weeks climbing in the Grampians and Arapiles, in Australia, before returning to Sheffield, possibly via Thailand.
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