Monday, December 31

I won't miss you, 2012

Sure, you were the year I turned 30 - I have yet to decide whether this is good or bad!

And I got promoted and got tenureable. And had many professional accomplishments. And realized that all my students are awesome, even those that, well, aren't. And got Suzie. And went to New Zealand. And got the almost certainty that maybe I won't have to leave these new found friends like I had to leave my old ones. And Dodo, Jensen, Chloe and Uncle Pan visited, among others. And I sent a number of V5s. And I sent Iliad, which is probably the hardest v4 ever:

But you were also the year where I overworked myself and nearly burned out. And the motherfucker left us in the blue mountains. And a guy I went to school with died of leukemia. And a colleague got leukemia. And a friend's wife died of breast cancer. And my paternal grandmother died. Alone, in her flat. And my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I became the divorce kid. And my friend is grieving still. And I cannot help from so far away. And my running partner got injured. Again. And I got a pulley injury. And six foot got cancelled. And the weather in New Zealand sucked, and as such I didn't climb Mount Cook. And this made me feel like a failure. And because of all this mountaineering, I became unfit for climbing. And I didn't send Master Bates. And for some reason I decided to wear a white dress tonight. And there's an accident waiting to happen right under my nose.

I won't miss you, 2012 - but I don't want to jinx 2013 either. So, 2013, no pressure, but the standard is pretty low, so surprise me!

Sunday, December 30

Christmas at the Grampians

... or, Force No Fortunate Feeling

On a side note, "Force no fortunate feeling" is what one would say to Jensen when he was stuffing his face. Which he did. Which we all did actually. That, and climb a lot. And send a lot of problems (Jensen and Chloe). And fail on a lot of problems (me).

To sum it up, I could just say that it was so cold (in the morning) and so hot (in the afternoon), and I was soooooo weak and the drive was soo long and then we were back in Adelaide.

To make it longer, I could say that Jensen's and Chloe's trip to Adelaide started with picking of cherries, right before we were to leave for the Grampians. My sekret plan was to take the cherries with us. Which they did, with their share, but I didn't with mine. Luckily, J. and C. are not only children, and as such they shared their cherries with me!

The drive was long, but it was good for me in that I realized that I can drive all the way there by myself! We started the first day superiorly psyched. The weather was also good, a balmy 25 degrees. The "balmy" turned into fucking cold, which led me to wear my down vest at some point. Down vest! In the summer!

Jensen flashed a number of V7s, which was great because it meant that I was sort of trying starts on them. Progress!

 At some point, we realized that we needed something long to clean handholds, so J. constructed the Spear of Destiny, pictured here in action:

Our Christmas dinner was pre-cooked lasagna and pre-baked sour cherry pies! Most yum.

And then the heat started and the psyche started to go slowly downhill. I tried 253 times on Master Bates, and have yet to finish it. Chloe finished it very quickly - very inspiring, I wanna be strong again woo hoo! Here we are contemplating Minus (V4), at Campgrounds.

At Campground I also found my new travel companion, Ray the raisin hippo. The similarities between us are too many to mention, so I will leave them for now.

On our third day we went to Kindergarten, which was guaranteed to be in the shade. By this time, the temperature was predicted to go in the 30s, but in the Kindergarten cave it was quite cool, which led me at some point to wear my pyjama top AND my down vest.

Here's the route that nearly fucked my left knee. The sit-in on the left heel is monstrous, at least for somebody as unfit as me*. 

For variety, we tried a right-heel hook route and C. tried a V7. Here's C. showing me how it's done:

Here's me pondering the right heel hook route. Starts on the right, finishes on the left side of the obvious rail (<- book="book" guide="guide" i="i" like="like" m="m" p="p" sound="sound" starting="starting" the="the" to="to">

 J. in the meantime was playing on a V8. We tried the start of that, and got a quarter up the way, woo hoo! Surely that counts as a V2!

On day four we met D. His psyche would have been enough probably to lift one of us up, but not the three of us at the same time! 

And then we drove back and slept for two days and ate like pigs.  We each cooked a dish. Chloe: Pad Thai, myself: Tom Yam soup and Mango sticky rice, Jensen: Banana loaf. All dishes had varying degrees of success from awesome to unbelievable, and all were super tasty despite their looks. Here's Chloe's Pad Thai (before assembly)

 *Before we get into that, two monts of mountaineering and traveling around the world DOES NOT make one grampians fit. Bummer.

Friday, December 21


I guess I'm not young anymore - heh. Let's start again. I guess I'm not young anymore if all this world hopping leaves me soooo tired. Adelaide to Wanaka to Queenstown to Berlin to Bucharest to Berlin to Hamburg to Berlin to Adelaide and all I want to do right now is sleep and cuddle with the cat for three weeks. 

Saturday, December 15

Surely there must be laws for this

... Or maybe not. I have registered again for Six Foot Track Marathon. This year I think they will not be cancelled, and as such I will not have any excuse not to run. Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself. The answer is that I probably would not run otherwise. Which will then make fatt and therefore unable to climb.

Tuesday, December 11

One picture Tuesday

Oh the irony... The only good view of mount cook is from the plane, when leaving... Sigh.

Saturday, December 8

It's ALL in the name

Today I led an 18 on traditional gear, or trad for short. I was never more scared in my life (maybe on the Matterhorn?) but my belayer and trad eye-opener was very patient and walked me through everything. The route was pumpy and the fact that I was trying to place as much gear as possible for her to check did not help. Anyway, there was this big cam I had aptly called "the motherfucker".

I had put in on my left side, with the other smaller cams on my right side. Anyway, I reach this spot where I'm super pumped and shaky, and super-duper scared. My feet and hands are not shaking yet but I am starting to loose grip on my right hand. It is an overhung crack that requires a bit of laybacking, and, as this is Wanaka, there are no jugs, only bigger crimps and some ledges. The crack in front of me is this big big void and I try to place EVERYTHING either below or above it. I am getting more pumped with every little thing that I try to place. Nothing matches and I am starting to think that maybe it does not matter: if nothing but the third bomb-proof one holds, I have a good chance of not hitting the ground.  Lydia is saying softly and repeatedly: "The moterfucker is on your left side". "The motherfucker is on your left side". "The motherfucker is on your left side". Eventually I hear her through a haze and wonder: "What motherfucker?" (I am thinking of you, Rose Petals!)

"Oh, THAT motherfucker!" I quickly grab it and place it poorly, but enough to proceed, place a better one, rest and adjust. Whew. I have found another scary dimension of climbing: trad climbing!!

Thursday, December 6

Bugger all

Learnt this expression from one of my students this year. To cut a very long story short, no summit.

Longer story. Shitty weather for Mount Cook with high avalanche warnings for the only good weather day in the trip.
Decided to change to Mt. Aspiring and gamble on that good weather day. Flew in at Bevan Col and walked to Colin Todd hut. Summit attempt started out quite good but then backed out when reached the ridge because of 80 km/h winds and a complete whiteout.

Came back to Colin Todd and walked out to French Ridge Hut in a complete whiteout -> glacier travel in whiteout FTW!  (GPS for the win!) And then from French Ridge to Wanaka with some river crossings etc thrown in the mix. I froze and soaked in the same day.

I am quite depressed however I am having a blast with my guide! She is 51 (FIFTY ONE!), insanely fit and is the first female to summit everest without o2 (in 1988!!!) ( There might be a good day on Saturday and we might do the double cone - single cone traverse in the remarkables (alpine 2+) or we might not.

Sigh. 2012 has not been a good year sportswise. Did not climb mount cook, did not finish a sub 4 marathon, did not finish six foot track (because i didn't run it ... ).  It was a good year careerwise, which is hinting at maybe that I can't give 110% to work and 110% to climbing? And that probably 100% to work and 120% to climbing will not work as well? At least the consolation is that Lydia says that I'm strong so there might be a chance that I might be.

Gotta go and change my clothes. Still soaked. Pictures of whiteout attached. Team is 15 m in front. Sigh. I don't know whether the tears are frustration tears as you can't (apparently!) change the weather or they're tiredness tears.

Friday, November 30

Positive mojo & karma urgenlty needed

Climbers have obsessive and addictive personalities, but on the plus side, can focus really really well!

I knew this beforehand but somehow it slipped my mind and I checked the NZ weather.  And the summary of it is, that it's crap. I will have (as usual) crappy weather, which will probably mean that I will be stuck in a hut, crying my eyes out, without any real chance at even starting a summit attempt to Mount Cook, let alone summiting it.  This brings back the Matterhorn fiasco, where two days crying in a tent ended in us spending the night on a ledge on the Matterhorn (it makes a good story for a long run, by the way).

It also means that I've been refreshing the weather page EVERY TEN MINUTES for the last two days. Add that to my overall tiredness caused by the 14-hour days i've been putting in since Monday, and the two/three coffees a day, and my anxiety level is through the roof. Most importantly, I can't relax at all, and I only get brief bouts of relaxation in the interval between the page refreshes. Of what? Of the NZ weather site, of course!

And of course, even being stuck in a hut becomes optimistic, in that I might not get to the hut in the first place!

30 November
Issued at: 12:33pm Friday 30 Nov 2012
Fine with high cloud.
Wind at 1000 metres: Light.
Wind at 2000 metres: Southwest 40 km/h.
Wind at 3000 metres: Gale southwest 80 km/h.
Free air freezing Level: 1600 metres rising to 3000 metres tonight.

1 December
Issued at: 12:33pm Friday 30 Nov 2012
Rain developing in the afternoon with some heavy falls in the evening.
Wind at 1000 metres: Northwest rising to gale 70 km/h in the morning and to severe gale 120 km/h in the afternoon.
Wind at 2000 metres: Gale northwest 70 km/h rising to severe gale 120 km/h in the afternoon. 
Wind at 3000 metres: Severe gale westerly 90 km/h rising to 120 km/h in the afternoon. 
Free air freezing Level: Above 3000 metres.

Tuesday, November 27

Realization. Part 243.

Just realized that one of the immediate (non-academic) perks of being here for a long(-er) period of time is that not only Suzie will not go on intercontinental flights but NOW I CAN BUY BOOKS!

One picture Tuesday

Spot me! We did this sharp and steep route in the first day. I found it not too hard (easy!) but my teammates found it difficult, so we sort of mellowed after that. It does not look like it in the photo, but it's a loong way down to those crevasses.

Monday, November 26


Summitting Single cone in the Remarkables on Wednesday on ice and snow for a 12 hour summit day, and picking 8kg of cherries (only 4 kg left!) on Sunday. In other words, I'm back for a week and getting psyched to mark my exams and do some research before tackling mount cook next week. It has just dawned on me just how difficult Mount Cook is, having experienced the New Zealand grading scheme for alpine ascents. ah well, in the quiet words of the poet, "suck it up, buttercup!"

As I'll be immensely busy this week, posts will mostly be (glaciated) pictures.

Monday, November 19


Writing on a crappy computer with crappy internet connection. Stuck in the hut due to ginormous snow storms, sun burned, up to my neck in snow, can now do crevasse rescue and hauling reliably, and ice climbed!!!

Heading god knows where in the hills tomorrow. And when I say hills, I mean permanent snows at 2500m. Life is good!

Saturday, November 10


And psyched!!!

Friday, November 9

The Claw, V5, Campground boulders, Grampians

Only posting this up because there are really very few videos for lower grades, especially done by short climbers - although compared to some people, I am not short!! 

Thursday, November 8

Photographic evidence

Of three  four things:

  1. The spaghetti top from Dodo is most cool.
  2. Even though I may be Hulk's sister, those muscles are useless. I cannot start Master Bates anymore.
  3. I CAN hook my left foot to my left hand! (before I only had photographic evidence that I can hook my right foot to my right hand - it's on display in my office) This is an important achievement for an elephant like me!!!!
  4. The reason why I can't start Master Bates anymore is because it's not a HEEL hook as in the photo, but a TOE hook. Go figure. A toe hook would indeed allow one to hold this tiny tiny crimp:

More photos here.

Wednesday, November 7


My version of heaven is a 10-pitch, easy 6b limestone cliff. At the end of every pitch you have the following:

The first pitch has on offer cheese with olives.

The second pitch has a strawberry patch and the strawberries are always in season.

The third pitch has a coffee machine with good Yemeni coffee.

The fourth pitch has Tom yam that is spicy enough for me. Tom yam is also on the fifth pitch.

The sixth pitch has cheese again and some sort of anti indigestion medicine.

The seventh pitch has blueberries and raspberries and they are always in season.

The eight pitch has nothing but edelweiss flowers - they are beautiful and fluffy and nobody picks them because they are so high.

The ninth pitch has nothing and is very strenuous, to make me really work for it.

Lastly, at the top of the cliff there's a cherry orchard. And the cherries are always in season!

Tuesday, November 6

One picture Tuesday

It's been a while since I've taken pro shots of people climbing: here's Marian in the grampians over the weekend:

Monday, November 5

Existential issues

Last week, on Monday, I got promoted. I celebrated with a beautiful bag and we celebrated by going out for drinks and dinner and drinks and dinner!! However, it was all hush-hush for the entire week as all the outcomes had to be discussed with all the applicants. The news did not come out until today, during lunchtime.

Also today, during lunchtime, grant outcomes were published, and I obviously didn't get it. It would have been too good to be true and thus obviously it wasn't. Now here am I getting all the congrats emails but gloomy as to the little minor failure (when, truth be told, it was a chance in 200,000 of

Should I be happy? Should I be sad? I was pondering this, but then I remembered this past weekend in the grampians with the dodo. And I realized that regardless of all the shit and angst that's been going on (and the lack of sleep, mind you -!) I am happy! And life? It is good!

Friday, November 2

The bird!

It has landed! And here is the proof!

Thursday, November 1

9. more. days.

And so much happening until then. Like the bird arriving tomorrow. The bird! Here! In Australia!!! AARGH! Grampians woo hoo!!!

Now, I must admit that I have no idea where I'm going. I mean, I know I'm going to New Zealand. To do an advanced mountaineering course. And then climb mount cook. If the weather holds. And my students give me enough positive karma (or not enough negative karma) to keep me alive.

But I am absolutely clueless as to which town I'm going to (just checked the tickets, it seems I'm flying in to Queenstown) and what happens from there. No fucking idea. I think I will be automagically transported to a place. From which the course starts. And I think there's a book. That I have to read. In between marking zillions of assignments and writing two (TWO) journal papers. And doing course re-design. And climbing. And training. And entertaining the bird. And I think I have to manage a budget. And write an exam. Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? Who needs sleep anyway?!

And there's gear that I have to buy. Next week. I think. It was on a list. That I made today. When I got halfway I realized it was already two pages long so I stopped adding things to it and tore it and threw it away. Or did I? And we're in the middle of setting up some supercalifragilisticexpialidocious projects for our students!! They will put software into space!! For REAL!!! I think. Maybe. Help! :)

Anyway, what I do know (heh) is that I'm super psyched about all of this!! Even though the last time we went to New Zealand things were not as pretty as I remember them:

Tuesday, October 30

One picture Tuesday

And what probably is the corniest picture. EVER. Also taken with a phone. My apologies but today has been a horribly tiring day.  

Got the anonymous feedback from my students. Two things are troubling me: firstly (and I have yet to read it properly) there seems to be very few negative comments, and, moving from that, very little feedback. Secondly, the fact that they liked me does not mean that a) i'm a good teacher, and, most importantly, b) that they learned anything. 

And yes, I bought a handbag but not any shoes! YAY! One minor hurdle has passed but the "big ice cliff" (to quote one of my students when talking about an assignment) is still unresolved. However, I have a backup plan! It involves getting really angry at everybody, quitting and going climbing for three years. These years (and achievements within) should give me a good enough CV for my barista personal trainer career. The sad and at the same time exciting reality of this is that this is actually a very well specified backup plan, in that I have figured out all the climbing venues, all the climbing trips and all the other detail$. All I need is just to get really angry. And while there might be some degree of insanity associated with the fact that one goes to school for 24 years only to let it all go to waste and start a barista personal trainer career, I have to say, it really makes one sleep better at night. 

Monday, October 29

20 years of my life. Wasted!

I spent the entire weekend reading. That, and showing my friend and mountaineering mentor around the wineries of Adelaide. But mostly, reading. Oh, and eating nectarines. Lots of them. That, and reading. I read "The man in the high castle" and "Among others" and started on "Montaineering, the freedom of the hills" and "The Golden Notebook" and "Ubik". I even read a few student reports while I was supposed to be, uh, resting ...

What I'm really not saying, and I should, is that "The man in the high castle" is my first PKD. I will say this again: I am 30 (THIRTY GODDAMMIT!!!) years old and I have just read my first PKD. This means that I have wasted 27 years of my life. Well, really 20, as one could probably not really appreciate PKD until ten years old.

To add insult to the injury, I have yet to read any Heinlein. Or any Le Guin. How could I be so stupid, so out of touch with reality? (<- dexter's laboratory quote) And, more importantly, dear me, where do I start?!?!! There's only so few days left!!! AAARGH!!!

Friday, October 26


At some unspecified point next week there will be a meeting that may or may not decide my future as an academic. Really. The possible outcomes of this meeting are either "yay! still a chance at academia!" or "Boo, gotta start finding new careers! Barista trainer here I come!!"

I have decided that, if the outcome is positive, I will maybe reward myself with a nice beautiful bag that has been living in the window of this shop I keep walking past. And maybe a little notebook if the outcome is really good. If the outcome is negative, I will definitely reward myself with a bag and at least a pair of shoes. Vain, I am.

Also, I have decided I should be an octopus!! Or maybe, I was an octopus in my past life, which would explain why I am not one now and why all this suffering in this current life. As king octopus, I probably wore all my shoes and all my bags at the same time on my hundred-strong tentacles! This was great because I could give my bags and shoes all the TLC they deserved. Other octopodes carried me on their back and I didn't have to carry any loads. Other than, of course, the load of the bags and shoes I was showing off. Of course, as king octopus, I could eat anything and not get fat, and most importantly, I was flashing V8s.

But I digress. The bag has thus become a minor-major focus at this point - and yesterday all I could think of was "Let next week come sooner and the outcome be revealed such that I can finally get me that bag!!!" ROAR!!!

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Tuesday, October 23

One picture Tuesday

Today's photo was going to be an inspirational photo from the grampians. Or maybe, from New Zealand, while I pondered my upcoming trip woo hoo! That is all going down the drain because earlier this morning, I found out that KIWIS GROW ON VINES!!!!!!!

I know that this is not a surprise for some, but it was for me! And, after a quick run around the school, turns out it was a surprise for my boss as well hahaha. Life is good. We're all dodos.

Monday, October 22

Grampians wee!!!!

Marian sent Mary and Claudia sent The Claw. And if I were to stop here, you would just not know first, how fantastically awesome it was, and second, how close we came to Marian sending Lygon Street Massacre and Claudia sending Master Bates.

The beta I had for "The Claw" turned out to be totally useless. There was no way in hell in which I could link the route following it. I could, indeed, do it by parts easily, but really needed a truckload of oomph in order to finish it like that. And so I changed the beta completely, requiring me to hold a shitty crimp with my injured hand, load on it, step very high with my right leg, load the leg, and then cross my right hand in the pocket that makes the claw, and then onwards to victory. There's a video of me doing it - I will post it once I get over the fact that I was not wearing at t-shirt.

The next day I tried Master Bates. The ending section, that requires one to have a bucketfull of stainless steel balls, went within the fifth try. Subsequently, it went really really quickly, every time I tried it. I had done the start in the previous trip and was superiorly confident about it, so I was pretty certain it was going to go. This allowed me to dream. I visualized myself coming back from the Grampians with two beautiful V5s under my belt. I saw myself telling Sibby how I did master bates and how easy the ending was. And then I tried the start.

And I couldn't even start. Not then, and not in the two hundred times I tried after that. Must've been the giant bucket of stainless steel balls I was carrying with me in order to get to the top part. Either that or the grampians gods decided to smack me for visualizing the end without actually being there. Pfft.

Tuesday, October 16

One picture Tuesday

Providing that nothing special happens, this weekend we're going to the Grampians! It will probably be the last or second last grampians trip before going to new zealand. My sekret plan is to try to finish The Claw (V5) in the first day, and work on Master Bates in the second day. It's important to try the claw in the first day methinks, because it's really intensive and it requires me to be superiorly fresh. Or, you know, loose weight, become skinnier, stronger, more mentally focused, all before saturday. DOABLE!

Monday, October 15

Humble and angry

Today the chief engineer from "insert famous web search company name here" for "insert country & region where I am here" gave a guest lecture during my lecture. It was fun and relaxing for me to finally sit in a lecture theatre at this university (damn those chairs are uncomfortable), which was a challenge in itself as these days I find it very hard to sit still for more than 10 minutes (must be the coffee I guess). It was also humbling to think of this very exciting journey from the three year-old girl queueing up for hours on end just for the possibility of maybe getting some food in communist Romania, to sitting in my lecture theatre as the chief engineer from  -insert famous web search company name here- for -insert country&region where I am here- gave a guest lecture. I wouldn't go as far to say that it was a hard journey, although this is relative too, but I would say that it's a loong fucking way, even if you only count it in kilometers and years. And if you consider just how blatantly below average I am both in knowledge and intelligence (but this in itself is the topic of another post), then it becomes a loong motherfucking way. But I digress. Humility was in my thoughts and soul.

And also anger. Initially a bit of a surprise, but then damn outright anger. At the number of students that were NOT there. We got I think, with gross over-estimation, about 55% of the class attending. This is great, and most of the students I had expected to be there were there, but this also means that 45% of the class was not attending. Now normally, I would think that it would be the lecturer's responsibility  to engage the learners into the lectures, into doing assignments, and well ... learning. This is especially true for immature learners that well, are immature with respect to taking responsibility of their learning. I would also think that ah well, maybe the lecture was boring, or maybe they have deadlines, or they are working, or they have a lot of work, or they overslept, or the bus came late or  the dog ate their fucking alarm clock! etc. But not today. Not when we're talking about the opportunity of being in the same room with the chief engineer from "insert famous web search company name here" for "insert country & region where I am here" giving a guest lecture! And asking him questions! and finding out about how stuff works! Potentially asking for internship opportunities! Not today.

In NUS at some point we had a guest lecture from some mid-level software engineer from "insert famous web search company name here".  The 200-people lecture theatre that had been booked overflowed and people had to watch the lecture live, streaming, in another room. The lecture had not been advertised more than what I did, and the little bit of advertising that went on took place a month - A MONTH! - before the visit.

And to this I say:


Thursday, October 11

A call from Kathmandu

The highlight of an otherwise shitty day was talking on the phone with the bird. She was, of course, in Kathmandu. The conversation was, of course, highly philosophical:

The bird (without saying hello): "do you want a spaghetti top or a vest?"


The bird:"ah it was allright. Spaghetti top or vest?!!"

Me:"wha?!! Whatever you like leh"

The bird:" I can't choose so that's why I called you! What would you like?"

Me:"Me?! oh, for me?! I don't know leh, both of them show my guns so both are scary. Pick whatever you like. "

The bird:"so if I get you a spaghetti top then you wear it?"

Me:"ok get the vest. I miss you dodo bird! When are you back?"

The bird: "Sunday. Ok I will hang up, I think this is expensive.. "

I heart teknology.

Tuesday, October 9

One picture tuesday

A while ago I found out that Marian was going home for Christmas, leaving me all by myself for both Christmas and New Year. I visualized myself sitting in the shade with a cat purring on my chest while reading the many many books I had just ordered online.

And then multiple offers piled up to relieve me of my loneliness. At first, I thought I was going to go to Melbourne for a pig out Christmas. But then! Jensen and my favorite producer are coming over to visit, so it looks like I'm going to spend Christmas in the grampians, woo hoo! They too, don't camp.. What is it with people these days?!!?!!

Sunday, October 7


Spotting koalas is like doing pull-ups: the first one is very hard, but the rest follow easily given enough persistence and application. On Saturday I went in my "conquer the motherfucker" (CTM) run. This time, I ran up chambers gully and descended on Mount Lofty. In my next CTM run I plan to run up chambers gully, down mount lofty, and then up mount lofty and down chambers gully. Provided that I'll do it, this will be the final full CTM run for this year. I've been doing so many CTM runs now that I feel there's a need for either a label or a new blog entirely dedicated to CTMs.

I spotted eleven koalas in this run, all in the lower parts of Chambers Gully, before reaching the motherfucker. They were small koalas, big koalas, moving koalas, sleeping koalas, chewing koalas. All were very fluffy koalas.

Friday, October 5

Sweet thoughts

Until I started to actually earn something, I used borrowed gear for all my mountaineering trips. And by gear I mean everything other than backpack and boots, as gore-tex and merino base layers and crampons and harnesses and ropes and helmets and poles and gloves and beanies etc were very expensive. This always resulted in me wearing clothes that were too big for me and had weird color combinations, making for very very funny pictures. For example, I used a down jacket that was size XL for Aconcagua. It was very good (kept my knees warm too!) but it made me look like a very very fat blue! penguin. With an orange beanie!

I cannot begin to say how much my mother opposes me doing any type of climbing and mountaineering, and long distance running for that matter. Oh, and trail running. And bungee jumping. She would really love it if I did more tennis, not-long-distance running, and frankly, would be very happy if the only sport I did was chess. She gets so disturbed and so worried about any trip I take (probably more disturbed as she ages), that I don't even tell her anymore. All of our grampians trips have been "trekking with friends". I did not tell her about the last Alps trip (and had to take the photos down from picasa as well), and I will not tell her about New Zealand either. At least not about Mount Cook. When I went to Aconcagua she checked (and worried) about the wind conditions and the weather conditions and every fucking little thing more than we did. She, of course, had interwebs, which we didn't.

Even with all this, when I went in my first alpine climbing trip, she bought me a (very expensive for Romania) pair of crampons that I badly needed and I didn't have money for as I was at the time a poor-er PhD student. That pair of crampons turned out to be the first technical alpine piece of gear I owned. I have yet to take them out and look at them but here is a photo of how they looked when they were new:

Wednesday, October 3


... definitely my favorite sin.

On Sunday I went for the usual long run with the club people. As my running partner is still out of commission and will probably be forever for "not short" distances, I had planned to run alone. I had my running playlist and my not-bouncy-waterproof headphones on, and was ready to run at whatever pace I felt like. Which was, on a lazy Sunday morning, after climbing harder on Saturday and reading ALL THOSE ABSTRACTS!, a slow to very very slow to "I'd be faster if I walked" pace. The run went through North Adelaide (nice, pwetty!) and then all the way to Regency park (not nice, not pwetty!), and back again, for a total of 18km.

I had planned my slow slow pace by texting San and telling her that I will be stopping throughout my run to take pictures of pwetty North Adelaide in spring.

And then we started the run. For some reason that was later edified, I started at the front of the pack, but not exactly leading the pack. Once we reached the first uphill section I moved at the front of the pack, because of my tendency to sprint. Up. Hilly. Sections! And yes, I'm still trying to stop doing that. This however, posed two problems.

Firstly, I had no idea where we were going, although I had a map. This is because the instructions that came with that map were "head north on X street, then west on that street and then east on the other street" etc. Why not say left and right and straight and back!?! WHY?! Also, the map itself, as in the drawing, was so badly printed that you had to be "not-a-tourist" to know where the hell you were going. And so, a lot of pressure on me: had to take my headphones off everytime I reached an intersection and wait for people from behind to shout at me if I were to be taking the wrong turn. Hopefully shout after me, because they do enjoy to pull tricks on you!

Secondly, I was at the front of the pack. Which meant that I had to keep going at the front of the pack. As I'm absolutely pathetic at pacing - my pace has three levels: "This is slow", "I can't really talk right now", and "WHAT THE FUCK!?" - I needed to pace myself to ensure that I was within sight of the group (so as not to get lost) but still in front of it (so as not to loose face), without turning to look behind too often. Heh. Vanity.

Turns out that the group had run Yurebilla* the previous weekend and the faster runners were still recovering, and therefore were slow as snails.

And so we ran.  I stopped only when I really had to, but I didn't sprint either. I did a thorough review of every part in my body that hurt. I did this review many many times, and frankly, my conversation with myself either went through the list of pains and aches or was interrupted with more complex philosophical issues such as: "Oh, a bird! Oh, two birds!" or "What should I have for breakfast when I get home?" or "If I run on the street now, will cars run over me?!".  I guess this is really the place where you want to be for a "not short" run: not mulling over the world's problems, having arguments with your various relatives or (ahem) motherfuckers,  or giving in to your inner voice (always negative, if you must know), but just humming along without caring about anything.

The pace was not bad either: I think in the end it turned out to be 5:25 min/km, which, provided that I kept this for the remaining 24kms, would get me under 4hrs/marathon, without even stressing about it. So I guess the morale is not to really stress about it.

*Good thing I didn't know Yurebilla was on, or I might have tried it this year.

Tuesday, October 2

One picture Tuesday

Labor day long weekend was upon us: we couldn't go to the grampians because a conference track I am chairing had its deadline over the weekend, which implied that I to work 2/3 days to get it done. And so I did. However, on Saturday I slept in, snoozing blissfully until 6:45 am!

On Sunday I couldn't sleep in more than 7:00 am because I went for the sunday long-ish run (more about it tomorrow!)

However, yesterday i so totally slept in, waking up at 7:30 am and going for a run up Chambers Gully (the motherfucker was conquered again, hooray!).

And yeah, this is Suzie, our cat - just realized she never made it here - she likes to sleep on her back.

Friday, September 28


I have decided to do at least one set (1-3-5-7-5-3-1) of pull-ups per day. I have also decided to give up dinner until november. As such, things will turn pretty shitty chez Claudia!

To keep the psyche up, I have decided that everyday from now on I will start (and end) my day with climbing p0rn. This is very difficult as my hands get very very very sweaty.

I started my day with bouldering championships.

This what I'm ending my day with (it's also one of the few videos in which sharma is not talking, thank god!)

Thursday, September 27


We were supposed to travel the world to climb and boulder, and occasionally visit on our rest days. We would have my kickass (TM) omelette for breakfast every-fucking-day, and, if travelling in the summer in cherry-capable countries, we were going to pig out on cherries and sour cherries etc., that we would not necessarily buy. One of us would remain crazy fit climbwise, thus giving the rest of us wusses the possibility to climb harder routes that we would otherwise be unable to setup or clear. We would almost all eat crazy spicy food all the fucking time, and wonder at the overall wussness of one of us. When not driving, I would have to be exiled to the back seat or tear Marian's heart out because I'm such a great co-pilot. When driving, I would take crazy pictures of the people sleeping in the backseat.

We were supposed to live happily ever-fucking-after. And we probably will. Just not together. This is my second time as a divorce kid, and what I have to say now is very simple: Fuck this shit. I was three when my father and mother divorced and I took my mother's side  for fifteen years (also aided by the fact that my father never wanted to see me), only to realize five more years later (I know, I'm slow) that things are not always black and white and that, as a person outside the couple, the most inconsiderate and presumptuous thing you can do is take sides. Or choose. I'm a divorce kid once more, as the glorious foursome that was has turned into a rotating 2+1 that still struggles to find balance and new magic. And it's not even a threesome as the +1 person is, six months down the track, still broken.

New trips are planned and new magic is scheduled, but the person that's missing (the -1 from above if you want) still looms. Sometimes I wonder if all of us would not be better off with having our memories completely erased. 

Tuesday, September 25

One picture Tuesday

My friend is visiting, and therefore I have to do all the touristy stuff. This is relaxing and frustrating at the same time: I haven't climbed since Wednesday, but have conquered the motherfucker. And saw two koalas in a single run. Nevertheless, I haven't climbed since Wednesday. But then again, she will probably never visit me in Adelaide again. Sigh. Selfish, I am.  

One day she forgot her camera, and therefore I had to give her Tommy. This resulted in me taking picture with the (gasp!) phone. This is a weird, un-edited one. Am thinking of starting a new category of iPhone pictures.

Also, spring is here: time to take some time to go outside, sit on a sunlit bench, and ponder. In the winter, I used to sit on the steps of the library and watch the students walk by during lunchtime: summer is more interesting as the campus fashion (or lack thereof) is terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time.

Saturday, September 22

For you, dodo bird!

The dodo bird is going to Nepal.

After that, she is doing I do not know what and something or other and then she's coming to Adelaide, right before I leave for New Zealand. Dodo bird, please remember to send us your flight details. I miss you dodo bird, please have fun for me in Nepal. It's really something else!
Oh and I miss you and can't wait to see you and all that. Wait, I just said that.

Friday, September 21


1. I decided to call the Motherfucker, Rose Petals instead. Judging by yesterday's post, I really need the word motherfucker again, and I think that to some extent I need to move on from this. It's been nine months and three weeks but who's counting. So, for old times sake, one last one: Fuck you, Mothefucker! And moving on to: Fuck you, Rose Petals!

2. My running partner will be able to run again in three weeks. It's been a while since I've been so happy and so truly and utterly relieved. So happy and relieved that when I found out I started to squeal and jump up and down and squeal some more, to the utter embarrassment of the colleague that told me the good news, and to the utter bewilderment of the passers-by (we were on the main street, going to lunch). Life is good.


Thursday, September 20


Yesterday morning at 5:30 am I went to Chambers Gully again. And I failed. Again. My sekret plan was to run until I reached this beeg beeg slope, also called the "Motherfucker" (not that motherfucker, but yeah, close enough). I my mind, I visualized myself flying on this motherfucker and getting to the top of it, without any shortness of breath, smoothly going through the flat top, and then turning around and running back. The words to note here are "smoothly", "flying",  and "without shortness of breath".

And then I actually started running. I stopped at each and every one of the slopes. I stopped after each and every one of the slopes. And I stopped in the middle as well. Sometimes, more than once. I did not discriminate between the motherfuckers. I stopped at the big motherfuckers, and I stopped at the small motherfuckers. Throughout this ordeal, all I could think of was: "how could I do this so easily before?!"   "Why is this so hard now? I'm definitely fitter and skinnier and have much much more miles under my belt!", or,  closer to reality: "WHAT THE FUCK!?"

Eventually I reached the bend that I thought was right before the Motherfucker. And I turned that bend in the track and what I saw was not the Motherfucker but a smaller one - still serious though, but not the Motherfucker. And I stopped. And started to cry. I am not sure if it was frustration or tiredness, but the fact is that I didn't event try the small motherfucker. I cannot even begin to say how sad the fact that I didn't even try made me, and it still does now. The last time a slope made me lose control and cry was in South America and I definitely tried that motherfucker! Aargh.

So I changed the music to a slower one (Adele - don't you remember, if you must know), and sat down, put my back against a tree, and sort of dozed off for a couple of minutes. Afterwards, epiphany:
Turns out, for tough endurance-based journeys, it's 60% mind 40% body. At least! (Am very tempted to say 75% mind and 25% body.)  So when the mind is not there or plays the "I'm gonna playback a route I don't know and therefore mis-prepare you for what is to come" game, it's just not gonna work. Sigh. Time to rest.

Tuesday, September 18

One picture Tuesday

Tonight I was supposed to go climbing. But then I spent one hour with a student discussing a mark on his report. And then another hour talking to colleagues about maybe doing a summer school next year (if I'm still here, that is). The highlight of the evening was coffee with d. and a discussion about boundaries and personal time. About setting them that is. And having it. My resolution for that is to tell students from the start of the meeting how much time I have - this will help them organize what they need to get out of the meeting but also help me plan my time - with the understanding that if I do not say how much free time I have then the meeting can go on for as long as it needs to. 

But then!

Well obviously I couldn't go climbing anymore. But then of course I felt guilty about it (heh. But still, time, I have not!) So I proceeded to do pyramid pull-ups on the rim of my office door!

My first set went smoothly with 1-3-5-7-5-3-1, with 20-30 seconds break between each set. My second set did not go so well: I failed at 5 on the 7 and then at 4 on the 5. My third set was even worse: I failed at the fourth pull-up on the 5, and then after it I failed at the 5th, so I decided to end it quickly. Not surprisingly, I could easily do the 3 and 1 that followed. I am still surprised that my first set went so smoothly, and also blessingly pumped after all three. Not a total failure of the night, I would say.  

Sunday, September 16

Running uphill

Running uphill is like childbirth (or so I'm told): you remember that it was painful, but you forget just how painful it was.

This saturday I visited one of my Australian Golgothas, Chambers Gully. In Singapore, my Golgotha was Vigilante Drive, a steep hill (I know, Singapore and hills!) near NUS. In Adelaide, I have two Golgothas: one is Chambers Gully (not close to uni), and the other is Montefiore Hill (close to uni).

Anyway. FRIENDS! Wtf!? I started running uphill on Chambers Gully and within 30 seconds my legs and my lungs started to shout in unison: WHAT THE FUCK!? I had forgotten not only how fucking steep it was, but also I was in awe of my January, February self - I used to run on those slopes like a fucking mountain goat!

This time around, I stopped at every slope and took a photo of it. I called it "documenting spring" whereas what I should have called it was "Inception: Fatclimber goes running". Anyways, spring is here and the gully was in bloom:

 To be fair, and without really being a wuss, it is steeper in real life than in the photos:

 I do not remember exactly but I think the gully is not as green in the summer as it is now. Definitely not looking forward to that (I still want to join Six foot track, so this means that this will be my Golgotha come the summer).

 And this is howI felt at the end of it: