Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Wizardry of Oz

Days feel passing by faster with the coming Christmas.  Everyone is rushing.  The coming holiday is cheering people on to finish whatever it is they are doing to get into the spirit of the season early.  Mine is no different.  The semester is closing, time-devouring presentations for Urban Design master classes are ending, and work at the current construction jobsite is slowing down.  While everybody is cramming shopping for the holidays my mind is settling on the three remaining days before I’ll be travelling to Sydney.  My thoughts are already on hiking up and down the Blue Mountains for climbing.  As in all my previous trips, this one too is equally exciting me.  I’ll have, once again, a chance for refocusing my sensations on simple things like a gliding silent breeze through a valley, for realigning my energies on calming heart beats while scaling hundred foot walls, and for reassuring myself that I am a climber and it is what I have to be, realities I constantly need to breathe life into. 

Hiza Suzuki self-spotting on "Exit Wounds" at the Villas, Sutherland, NSW ( there's a good 5-6 foot drop at the edge of the crashpad)

The boulder field at "The Junkyard" at Ingleburn, NSW.

Matthew Brooks on a day off bolting duties climbing one of the many overhanging routes at "The Junkyard"

This is why "The Junkyard" is called "The Junkyard"

I’ve been to many climbing trips, all feeling different from the other, each holding a special memory I take with me long after the trip ends.  I can’t say by how much the coming trip will standout but the way my chest constricts at the thought makes me believe there is something that makes it extraordinary.  Anxiety, nervousness, and excitement are all making me act neurotic about the whole thing, making my stomach feel increasingly queasy as the day for the trip draws near.  Sometimes I find the ground I’m stepping on shifting with every step I take, making me feel unbalanced.  The trip is bringing with it a tugging and pulling at the gut that keeps me from settling down. Casual sorting of the feeling away is something I have to do to convince myself everything will go well as soon as I step on foreign ground. 

The troopers of Nowra climbing at "The Grotto"

Camping in style near "Thompson's Point", Nowra

 Super steep route at "The Grotto", Nowra

Arriving in Sydney, two time zones ahead, is making me think I’m well off into the future.  I’m moving forward.   What is behind me is blurring and is becoming distant.  Walking out of the plane, waiting for my baggage, and passing through customs are all magnifying the transition I’m moving into.  Out of baggage claim and into the arrival area, I feel the whole place expanding and spinning around me like a maze I cannot set my bearings on.  Not planning the trip in detail, as I should, may have been a mistake.  Knowing, perhaps, that I won’t be going at it alone, that a friend would be with me once I step foot in Oz, made me feel I didn’t have to.  I keep turning my head every now and then for a quick look around, searching for something familiar I am expecting.  Long-minutes keep passing, and the maze keeps whirring.  The welling of the uncertainty mounts up.  The locking away of uneasiness is beginning to bore out the casual shell. 

Finally at the Blue Mountains

A Boronia Point warm-up

Maxie the super three legged ninja dog with a super photo bomber 
Glancing here and there is becoming futile, an effort bearing no comfort and no answer.   To let the passing of time run fast I turn to fixating on food.  Burger or coffee or both or. . . a familiar face smiling back and drawing closer. I begin breathing easily and begin exhaling a smile again.  A friendly face takes seconds in dissolving the unfamiliarity around me.  A welcome sight of eyes smiling back, big warming hugs that feel minutes long, and the company of someone I passively but unquestionably missed is fast setting a backdrop that now easily comes into plain sight.  Taking the next step suddenly comes easier.

Excitement is building up again.  It is now easier setting my mind on climbing.  In less than two hours our train will reach the city.  In less than two hours climbing will be starting. 

Boronia Point, Blue Mountains

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