Yesterday I managed to do the first ascent of my summer project at Coolum which I've named Bite The Hand That Feeds. Grade proposal: 31/8b.
In a cave where link-ups probably outnumber actual routes, this is one of the last remaining ground to top, independent lines of the cave and for this reason, I'm super psyched to have done it.
I equipped the line in October 2009, and have worked on it anywhere from a couple to a handful of days per month for the last five months. Fifteen days all up, including a couple of days equipping.
The climb starts about five metres right of Evil Wears No Pants (in fact, you can see Vince working Evil in the photo below) and has a hard boulder right off the ground (see pic). You have to shove a couple of fingers into a slot, torque them, and load it up with close to full bodyweight to do the next move. That section culminates with a dyno to a sloping horn, and a powerful mantle to get established in a big scoop.
Bunched, crossed up moves lead right, and then the second hard problem - a body-tensiony move to snag the arete and a crap crimp and get your feet sorted without cutting loose. This was a move that was very hard to predict for me. One day I tried it three times and did it twice. The next day I tried it 10 times and failed every time. Good bridging flexibility helps here too. A crazy kneebar above the head allows you to roll around somehow onto the "slab" and a shake stance.
The slab is actually about 10 degrees overhung, but it does feel like a slab when you're up there. It has one tricky deadpoint which I would often fall on, and then you make it to the final steep headwall of the route. There's one mega kneebar where you can chalk up, and then you move up into a crescent shaped undercling with your right hand. Problem is, you need to get your knee in there, so you end up doing a dynamic hand-knee switch. It makes me laugh almost every time. I can't believe you have to do that, I've never had to do that move before on another route. If you botch it or the knee doesn't stick, you're gone.
The final hard moves are on these really sloping, perfectly smooth and flat, large edges. The key to using them is to have toe-hooks locked in. If you lose tension, you're gone. As you work up to higher flat edges, you have to bring your toehooks up, but they are blind, so you do a blind stab with your foot and hope you nail it. It's a cool move in itself. And then the finale is a punch to an incut rounded bucket where you can cut loose and celebrate.
Thanks to everyone who has held my rope on this, particularly on the start where I would endlessly fall off and crash into my belayer (JJ, Duncan, Aaron, Sasa, Matt S). Thanks to Dazza and Gareth for the early work they did bolting a bit of the start and finish of the route - that made it easier to establish.
I think it probably is that next step up in difficulty from Evil (which is top-end 30), but it's quite hard to grade these kind of bouldery routes, so time will tell.