Monday, 8 February 2010

7th Feb...Escarpment Climbing and Sunset Beach Walking.

Dave Wassel dropping into that bomb of a barrel I posted in previous blog . A link to Dave via Volcom is below.

Here they Come....the swell lines that is. Pipeline, Backdoor and Off The Wall from high up on the escarpment.

Sunset Beach on the "off day" when I went climbing.....It's bad when I can walk away from waves like this as I know there's better things coming.

A barrell firing down the line at Backdoor behind the palm trees.

The Old Abandoned House on the way to my climb.

A close up from a long way up. Pipe to the right of pic, Backdoor to the left.

There is not one single muscle in my legs that's not burning and cramping up from yesterdays activities Feb 7th....and I only have myself to blame. I've always wanted to get an overall view shot of this area, and have tried a few times to find my way to a vantage point to do so, but all have failed miserably with me coming to a full stop at a gate, sign, house or similar.

There is a lookout that's easy to get to by car over the Waimea Bay area, but none down this end that I've ever found or heard of.

Well yesterday I was talking to one of the locals in the house here about doing it and he said that he could hook me up with someone who could point me in the right direction if I was interested and would contact him and get back to me within the next few hours.

An hour later there's a knock at my door and he introduces me to Kevin. He say's that if anyone around here can get me up there....Kevin's my man !

We had a five minute discussion on the subject of what my reasons were for wanting to get up there, and then he suggested that I put my climbing gear on as it's wild country up there with pigs, boars, horses, extremely dense and hostile vegetation, near vertical cliffs and god knows what other surprises waiting for me. But I really, really wanted this shot, so I thought...lets go !

I race into the house, change from my cleanest T shirt into my dirtiest one and select my worst shorts. Top it all off by putting my Converse shoes on, (I figured that they got me safely up Mount Ranier and the Emmons Glacier and back in Washington that they would have to cope with this easily) ...grab my lightest camera, (which is none of them really), the 100 - 400mm lens, my phone and water bottle, throw them all into my Blackwolf backpack and I'm out the door, down the steps and standing next to Kevin near the big machinery shed looking for all the world to the locals like the climber from hell probably. Kev just looked me up and down and says...." ya'll ready now then", I go yep....lets hit it, and off out the gate we walk.

We head straight up the dirt road behind the house here that I went up the day before looking for access, get to the end and turn left just like I did the day before also and then run into the same gate as the day before with the big red sign on it stating in very obvious terms " NO TRESSPASSING...PRIVATE PROPERTY ". all of a sudden I'm thinking, maybe I shouldn't be following Kevin into a remote area after all and then flashbacks of "Wolf Creek" come flooding into my mind and I start spinning out sort of thing thinking how can I back out gracefully now....NO, can't do it I say to on we go straight through the gate, up a dusty dirt track past an old falling down house, three horses, a pig with 8 piglets running into the bush to hide from us, and untold roosters (have I ever mentioned the dam roosters around here by the way) then around a corner to be presented with the base of the escarpment towering up over me and a lot of what looked like rather thick forest.

Kevin says..."this is where it all starts gettin' a bit wild now" and off we venture into the forest and start following a creek bed up the ravine.

As we're walking along I'm making small talk with Kev to try and set my mind at, waves, Australia, .....anything to make conversation. As we are on the photography subject Kevin informs me of the fact that about a year ago one poor punter that had this same idea as me went over the side of this escarpment while getting his magic shot, fell half way back to Pipeline, survived and staggered out of the bush half a day later and was hospitalised for quite some time. Geeez, I was really feeling good by now I have to tell ya. Anyway, I thought I could just about sniff victory at this stage so there's no way I was woosin out now...onward and upward Captain Kev.

About another five minutes of climbing through a few barbed wire fences, negotiating the muddy creek bed and rocks, and stumbling through uncharted territory, Kev says to me......"this is it for me now ya hear....ya'll just keep headin' on up there and sort of head to the left and you should be fine". Then he turns around and starts heading back down the ravine. As he's walking away from me he turns around and yells back at me, "if you aint back by nightfall, I'll inform the authorities" I look around to face him he's already vanished into the thick bush and I swear I can't even see him. Off I go with more than a hint of trepidation.

I head in what I think may be the general direction and eventually come to a sheer rock face....backtrack for five, then spot another way I may pull it off. This happens about three times. When I'm just about thinking I should maybe give up and get the hell out of there I see another way that may forgive me and let me past.

Eventually, I get to within what I think is about twenty meters from the magic spot that I hope will deliver my pot of gold, but the trouble is that the only way up is quite litterally straight up a sheer rock face. I study it hard to work out if I think I'm capable of this calibre of mountaineering (free solo I think is the correct name for it, rock climbing with absolutely no safety gear or ropes) there is a lot of tree roots growing out of the rock face, and I mean a lot....they are everywhere. I pull at them and they are strong and solid and then I think....I can do this and up I start going, very quietly and with great care to always have three secure points of contact with the rock face.....testing every root or crevice I plan on hanging my weight on and making sure it would hold me. It was extremely strenuous I will say with all that weight on my back trying to pull me straight back off the face and back down to Pipe....I think of the young guy last year, but figure I'm older and wiser and push on. Five minutes later I'm perched out on a little outcrop bracing one foot against a small sappling and panting like I'd just seen god. I'd made it and it was stunning.

I found a spot and jammed my backpack into it as best I could...pulled out my camera and started firing, all the time not moving an inch as there was nowhere to change position to. I stayed up there shooting and one time, just one time only, very delicately and carefully changed lenses on the camera so I could get a close up of the house I'm staying in.

I just looked on in awe for about twenty minutes I reckon....quiet, peacefull and looking down over the "seven mile miracle" that is the North shore of Oahu. Man.....did I feel good then !

I finally got back down to the house where everyone was sitting around in the big shed, drinking and watching the superbowl gridiron game, pulled out the camera and scrolled through a few of the shots with everyone looking over my shoulder......Kev says to me "you sure got up there surely did, you Aussies are somethin' else. None of us locals would ever go up there"

The rest as they say is history and I've got a fist full of suberbly beautiful images that I'm very happy with and I'm still in one piece. I'm as sore as hell and in great need of a massage but will never forget that little adventure as long as I live.

After that I couldn't stop for the day, I was too amped up so I thought I would walk the KeNui bike path down to Sunset Beach, and then venture home along the beach itself. As I was saying in the previous post, I ran into lifeguard and all time hellman and fearless surfer Dave Wasell who was on duty in the tower there. I had an interesting and informative talk with him and then started the gruelling walk back up the beach home. When you walk on the beach here you sink up to your ankles every step you take due to the coarseness of the sand so it really is taxing and hard work. All the surfers and locals here do a sort of a semi jog / energetic walk type thing so they sort of bounce along the's a bit hard to explain that one. Anyway, I had a great day, and now it's beer o'clock.

Now, what will I get up to today, check in tomorrow to find out.

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