Tuesday, April 30

One picture Tuesday

You elude me still, Master Bates. I have now clocked about 300 attempts on you and I have not gotten further than I did on my first attempt, which is the second last fucking hold. To most people, getting to that hold is the crux of the problem. To me, this is just the beginning. You expand my right wrist, and it goes clickety click and it hurts. But this is not why I fall off you. I fall off you because despite the 300 attempts and two ending sequences absolutely wired out, I have yet to decide between them: heel hook and power through OR step really really high and just reach. Both are problematic because a) I do not have the endurance (yet) to power though and b) I AM AN ELEPHANT, Master Bates.

I must say I hate you. I hate you and I love you at the same time. I hate you because I have yet to spend so much time and energy on any problem in the Grampians. I love you because I'm the reincarnation of Sisyphus.

I google for you and I find other people sending you and I instantly hate them.

(Photo from here)

I watch my friends send you and I do love me but boy do I want to be them. Until next time, Master Bates.

Friday, April 26


Because my memory is shit, I leave post-its for myself on my monitor.

Because my memory is shit, six months down the line I look at these post-its and I have no idea what they mean.

I can sort out some of them: for example the one to the right of the marmot will be easily revealed when I take a discovery trip down to the library. The one on the left has been a constant source of bewilderment for the past three months. Why is that course (SEP) listed? Why is June so important? What do 1500 and 3600 have to do with anything?  And, most importantly, can I just remove it from the monitor? Will all hell break loose if I do?! Aaargh!

Tuesday, April 23

One picture Tuesday

Today I'm technology challenged: no phone, no ipad, no kindle, no nothing!

Students are graduating today and as such I've spent a fair amount of time taking photos with them and their families (!) (I must not be such a bad lecturer if students come to take pictures with me, I guess ..) Two things I noticed: a) the academic dress for master's students is very boring. b) the academic dress for bachelor's students is very boring.

Truly, the only exciting one is the PhD! this did take me back to a year and a half ago when I attended my first graduation ceremony EVAH. It was most exciting. The speech from whomever was our Valedictorian was absolutely pathetic. Me running through the NUS campus in heels because Marian San and Dodo had made me LATE (yes i jumped out of the cab and sprinted for the place). The overall giddiness of it being FINALLY OVER! (It was an absolutely amazing and nourishing - ha! - experience but I wanted to become an adult - oh how I wish I could turn back now!!! The phd period is a goddam holiday!! - so as such I needed it to be over).

I do remember the giddiness of the entire (short) time spent there. Us doing pull-ups on the I.

A random thai pig-out at some ulu place in a condo somewhere (there are no pictures of the food because we polished it!!)

The durian pig-out on another night:
Sigh. I was wondering which team our dress fits best. I always thought it was Griffindor, but the green makes it an obvious Slytherin. Ah well.

Monday, April 22


Oh boy oh boy oh boy!

Another bouldering competition yesterday that truly brought me back to my Singapore years: I did not finish any problem!!!! Even though I came close to the top on many (I have to admit this is not what I experienced in Singapore, where I could not even start some of them), I did not finish anything!! Nothin'!!!

This was an opportunity to get myself severely depressed but on the other hand this was an opportunity to be inspired and get PSYCHED!!! Roar. So which one did I pick? Both really. What this competition tells me is that
a) I'm getting too relaxed. Loosing my edge. Need to get back on the training wagon.
b) There is no way I am ordering the best-tom-yam-cup-noodles-ever-!! online. Actually, there's no way I'm ordering any cup noodles online. Or asking for them to be shipped from Singapore. Or bringing them here for me to nom nom.
c) There is climbing beyond 35! There was this superiorly strong climber who flashed almost all of the guys' routes. He was 47 years old and so smooth and skinny and inspiring!! I want to be him when I'm 47! (read tall, skinny, and strong - two of these are actually achievable!).
d) Need to get some power endurance thrown in the mix! If not for anything but for this: Thailand 2013!!! ROAR!!!

Friday, April 19


I'm sitting here in the dark with my iPad and thinking that I've neglected this space for so long and that it just won't do: not when I tell students that are struggling with writing that they should write on their blog haha

And I do want to talk about many things that are zipping through my brain at lightning speed (I now know why people drink! ) but nothing sticks around for long to make it into a full blown post.

About how well I used to draw when I was a kid. But then my mom said that I should focus on school and forget the doodling-which I did and thank god for that- I was not that fantastic. But then I look at this career of mine and wonder if I'm any good at it and if it's worth it, really. Why not give it up and just do some job from 9-5, get some money and then go climbing. Or just forget about it all and go climbing. Go back home, teach in my old high school and climb all the limestone in the world that I would need, and then some. Visit my favourite place and pet the dogs while they are still alive.

And then there are all these mountains that are looming in my future, like little carrots at the end of a little stick. And I wonder. Why not just stop training. Forget about loosing all that stupid weight. And all that running uphill for fucks sake. Who the fuck made these hills so effective for training, I want to know. Stupid sadistic fuckers, that's who.

And if I don't get to even try them, what will I do? If all the plans come tumbling down like the little cards that they are ( remember, I'm not the luckiest duckling in the pond)? Of course, in classic fashion, I have already set up things to do to prevent depression: I'll go to try Matterhorn if Denali falls through. I'll get a dachshund puppy if E tumbles down. I will then promptly leave said puppy to probably go to South America. And do what there? Who the fuck cares? SOUTH AMERICAH!!

And the most important thought of all: how to become skinny and strong by Sunday when the next adelaide bouldering competition will take place? Suggestions welcome. I heard eating air makes one superiorly light but I'm not sure that the air contained between rice grains is what they had in mind.

Tuesday, April 16

Monday, April 15

Fatt cat

... with fatt owner...

The vet says Suzie is fatt.

Says she should be 4.8kg instead of 5.3kg.

Says it's only my fault Suzie is fatt.

Says feeding Suzie when I remember does not work if I remember more times than I forget.

San! You were right.

Friday, April 12

Realization. Part 246.

The videos youtube suggests to me are:

  • Cute kitteh videos. KITTEH!!!
  • Classical + opera videos
  • Climbing videos
I may be turning into the crazy cat lady. Or I may just be turning into the crazy.

Oh, and as a first for me, yesterday two of my former students added me on Facebook. I may be turning into the old crazy cat lady. Or I may just be turning into the old crazy.


Thursday, April 11

A date with a lion

I'm starting to believe that last year's depression (which got me Suzie yeah!) may not have been caused by the fact that a course I really liked was ditched, but may have just been a yearly thing. Or maybe this year's near depression is caused by friends nearly losing the battle or by just being overworked. Or maybe I just need to find a good excuse for a holiday. Meh. Who knows. Anyway, the question on our minds right now is:

  • Lion King and limestone? (i.e., climbing in Tonsai, Thailand) This time, I will send this even if I have to have surgery to GET MOAR BALLZ. First clip is to the right of the lion's jaw, I think.  No, I zoomed in and it's much closer to earth, whew. Still. Need MOAR BALLZ.

  • Or Mee Sua and sandstone? (i.e., climbing in Taiwan)

Will decide by the end of the week I guess. Marian, D., ARE YOU IN? (around July 19th). Also, must train endurance. Meh.

Tuesday, April 9

One picture Tuesday

I am on your tarp, counting ur gearz.

Monday, April 8

Trad climbing 101. Part 2: Stress management

I'm not the bravest one in the parking lot when it comes to leading. And this, friends, is an understatement. I like to say that I have a very strong preservation instinct, but the truth is, I am chicken.

Trad climbing requires so much ballz than sport climbing that most of the time my brain is so bewildered that I am even trying it, to even get in the way of my climbing. My body, on the other hand, is not afraid to say something. And it does, at the worst possible moments.

To counter that, and to keep my brain busy, I have named the cams.

Josh does not have all in the set, but, starting with the small purple one, I have on my rack:

  • The Purple Slurple (x2)
  • The Green Machine
  • The Red Fred
  • The Yellow Below
  • The Big Red Fred
Whenever I reach a crack and think that a cam would go in, I say out loud: "This looks like a case for the Purple Slurple!" and take the cam out and try to place it. If I'm wrong, I shout: "No, I was wrong! It is a case for the Green Machine!" and so on. I have progressed now to only a whisper, but when I'm really stressed I try to say it out loud, mainly to stop myself from biting my lip and drawing blood. 

Sigh. It has just occurred to me that I have these in my office:

Perhaps they could be attached...

Thursday, April 4

Climbing in Arapiles

Here's to what I hope is the first of many many trips. It has probably become evident by now, but I have not died!! Nor have I killed Marian! In terms of sends, it was really special: we climbed for 2 days and a half, during which we did five multi-pitch routes, ranging from 60 m to 145m in length and/or height. I led them all, and with the exception of one that had chain anchors, put the protection and made the anchors for all.

Here's the list:
Day one:
Guiding Light (6) ***
Serpent (11) **
Bishop (11) **

Day two:
Tip Toe Ridge (120m) (5) ***
Last pitch of the Green Slinger (13)
Siren (145m) (9) ***

Day three: (Ran out of ballz after the epic on Siren)
Holdup Line (10) ***
Some other line that I can't remember (8) ***

I have found that the number of stars in the guidebook equals just how scared shitless you are while doing the route, with one star being scared shitless, and three stars being OH PLEASE SAVE ME LORD DON'T LET ME DIE NOW scared.

For example, pitch two of Guiding Light looks like this (sorry for the bad quality pic), whereas pitch 3 of Siren reads in the guidebook as: "step over the void". It does not help if it's windy and as you approach the void the wind starts blowing.

So anyway, first day was Guiding Light in the quiet quiet Mitre Rock. The first thing you notice as you get on top of Mitre Rock are THE VIEWS! This is Mount Arapiles from Mitre.

Then you notice that I have a helmet problem:

After doing Guiding Light, we did Serpent: such a beautiful beautiful route!! Also, chains at the anchor point allowed me to relax a bit. (Since we tried to do the more remote routes, we were mostly by ourselves - except on siren - and as such could really fool around)

 After Serpent and Bishop (no pictures on Bishop because it really rose to it's number of stars: pitch two read: don't climb straight up but go on the exposed arete), we decided to boulder for a while. The boulders!!! They are on the road!!!!!

The next day saw us doing Tip Toe Ridge. Note to self: take care not to go off route. Things might be a bit more difficult, especially if you are climbing in trekking shoes and it is raining. Enough said. We climbed the pillar to the top and did the rappel - much more exciting than bypassing it. That being said, next time I'll bypass it as it saves time.

More fooling around: Mitre rock in the background.

This is where we find why the big cave that our route is going past is called Eagle's Eyrie. This is why!

After Tip Toe Ridge, we decided to get on Siren. On pitch two I got a bit off route and freaked out when I found myself on a very sloppery part. Bit my lip and drew blood as a consequence but did not fall. Siren was crowded and so had to wait for a while before starting on pitch 3, the "step over void one". And then I did step over maybe 1.5m of OH FUCK THIS SHIT THIS IS ACTUALLY A VOID!!!! void. I had previously declined Marian's suggestion of going on Xena, mainly because I wanted to see the void. Well then. 

To make this pitch even more epic, Marian could not free a nut so I had to downclimb most of it to get the nut out. Here's me giving my nut some love - it got a bit scratched in the process.

We combined the last two pitches of Siren into 50m of beautiful, layback (oh my god I hate layback cracks!!) on sloppery rock. Scary but easy. LOVED IT! Of course, to make matters even better, the last 5m of the pitch were a slab. Another one of my favorite, especially since the rope drag was getting a bit too much. Still, loved it! Got to the top and fooled around some more.

Day two consumed all of my stainless steel ballz supply so we did only easy single pitches. Behind me is a 10.

And here I'm out of juice. And ballz. Tired but happy.

It was beautiful!

The white things are not alien eggs. Nor emu eggs. Colleagues tell me they are shaggy parasols, a type of mushroom.

More pics here

Tuesday, April 2

One picture Tuesday

The thing is, I would have paid that price for that rock about six months ago... Nowadays we have a rock just like that living in our trunk :)

Monday, April 1


It pains me, sometimes. That I won't be able to listen to that song again nor look at a canola field with the same eyes again.

Sometimes, I wish time would go backwards to this sunny day: Bingo would be alive; we would be lost on windy roads in the middle of nowhere: I would be peeing in a luscious wood and find a buddhist monastery (of all places! in Orthodox Romania!), all to the rhythm of that same song.

And sometimes I wish that time would just go forward already and everything would be settled.

And sometimes I wish that it would just stand still for me to enjoy it thoroughly.