Sicily ‘On the Rocks’ with World Expeditions

Happy New Year everyone! Hope 2016 is amazing…

I’m delighted to announce that Simon Carter (hubby) and I have teamed up with World Expeditions to host a climbing trip to Sicily this October. Yes THIS October so make plans now. This fun and interactive climbing trip is set in the idyllic seaside climbing destination of San Vito Lo Capo, which is home to over 1000 routes (mostly sport climbing) covering a wide range of grades. Over the course of this trip, Simon, myself and two local guides will facilitate up to seven days of fun-filled climbing along with personal and group coaching to help you take your climbing to the next level. Rest days will be spent exploring this wonderful Mediterranean destination and doing other activities (paddle boarding, kayaking and cooking classes). You will have ample opportunity to practice your climbing skills and attempt any routes that inspire you. In addition, for those interested, Simon will be eager to discuss techniques of climbing photography and work with anyone interested in improving their photography skills. For further information about this trip click here.

To promote our ‘Sicily on the Rocks’ tour, Simon and I are presenting a National speaking tour in February to Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. It should be a fun evening so come along and have some laughs, bookings essential.

Recently World Expeditions wanted to get to know me so they asked me a few questions. You can read their ‘On the Couch’ interview with me here and they also did one with Simon, which you can see here.

Happy climbing!


745 D0453-Edit

Limestone is such great rock for climbing! Here I’m climbing Daniboy (8a) a few years back, it’s at Kalymnos, Greece. But the rock in Sicily is just as sweet.



Posted in Events

New Climbing Clinics – Sydney

Brrr the chill is in the air so what better time to hit the gym for some serious winter training. If you are interested in gaining some training insights and fully utilising your time in the gym then perhaps consider participating in one of my training clinics. I promise you they are heaps of fun and very interactive. I provide full course notes so you’re not spending time writing you’ll be doing loads of climbing.

My Climbing Fundamentals clinic is targeted towards beginners and intermediate climbers who wish to unravel some of the complexities of climbing. If you’ve ever wondered how some people can simply breeze up climbs then wonder no more…Through a fun and interactive program we explore; precise footwork, balance & body positioning, hand holds and how to use them, breathing, resting & recovering, mixing it up on wall angles and route reading. This clinic will see you well on your way to mastering the key fundamentals of climbing technique.

My Train Smart clinic is targeted at climbers who want to learn how to train smart. If you spend a lot of time in the gym and aren’t getting results then learn how to “train”, not just go climbing. I will unravel the secrets of climbing technique and provide a training structure for you to maximise your time in the gym (and outside the gym) to its full potential.

My Breaking Climbing Plateaus clinic is targeted at intermediate and advanced climbers who wish to learn ways in which to push through mental and physical barriers. Have you been climbing for a while and have hit a wall? Don’t know how to progress to the next level? Well during this hands on clinic we discuss possible reasons for reaching a climbing plateau and learn strategies to push through these plateaus. The clinic explores; technique, fear of failure (numbers), mental game, falling, creating a tick list, mixing it up, building a pyramid, expanding your comfort zone and route selection.

Spaces are limited to 10 participants per clinic. Contact the gyms to book your spot.



The Climbing Centre
Thursday 11th June 6-8pm
3/16 Borec Road, Penrith
Phone: 4731 1130

The Edge Rock Climbing Centre
Tuesday 9th June 6-8pm
9/10 Hudson Ave, Castle Hill
Phone: 9899 8228


Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym – Villawood
Saturday 30th May 3-6pm
850 Villawood Road, Villawood
Phone: 9728 2825

Northern Beaches Rockhouse
Saturday 6th June 4-7pm
Unit 4E “Winbourne Estate” 9 – 13 Winbourne Road, Brookvale
Phone: 9905 6202


Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym – Villawood
Saturday 23rd May 3-6pm
850 Villawood Road, Villawood
Phone: 9728 2825

Saturday 30th May 8-11am
Unit 4/12 Frederick St, St Leonards
Phone: 9436 4600

Hope to see you there brown bear!


Posted in Events

Train Smart clinics – QLD

Following on from the positive energy and feedback from the training clinics that I have been running in Sydney over the past month I am now very excited to announce a flying visit to Brisbane and the Gold Coast where I will be presenting more clinics.

My Competition Tactics clinic focuses on the mental and physical preparation for climbing your best on comp day. You’ve done the hard work and training leading up to the competition now lets look at how to get a great performance on the day. We will practice onsighting two routes in the clinic and discuss the tactics involved before climbing, what happens during the climb and then analyse how you did.

My Train Smart clinic is targeted at climbers who want to learn how to train smart. The goal is to turn your time in the gym into meaningful training, not just climbing. I will unravel the secrets of training and empower you with the tools to utilise your time in the gym to its full potential. Bring climbing shoes, harness, chalk bag and lots of psyche!

Spaces are limited to 10 participants per clinic. Contact the gyms to book your spot.


Urban Climb
Friday 27th March 6-8pm
Unit 2, 220 Montague Road, West End
Phone: 07 3844 2544



Rocksports Indoor Climbing
Saturday 28th March 9-12pm
224 Barry Parade, Fortitude Valley
Phone: 07 3216 0462

Urban ClimbFULL
Saturday 28th March 3-6pm
Unit 2, 220 Montague Road, West End
Phone: 07 3844 2544

Paramount Adventure CentreFULL
Sunday 29th March 8-11am
38 Hutchinson Street, Burleigh Heads
Phone: 07 5593 6919

Crank Indoor Climbing – FULL
Sunday 29th March 1.30-4.30pm
2/537 Kessels Road, Macgregor
Phone: 0421 994 216

Hope to see you there!


Posted in Events

Tiger Cat tamed

If you have read my last blog Taming a tiger then you would know that I have spent some time trying a route called Tiger Cat graded 33 (8c, 5.14b). It is located here in the Blue Mountains, so I did have an advantage of the route being close to home at least.

It’s been a long journey but I am very pleased to say that two days after Christmas I finally tamed that tiger. Either I did or didn’t eat enough xmas pud, either way, I’m psyched to have done Tiger Cat.

035 D0313-Edit
The difference between sending Tiger Cat that day, as opposed to any of the other days that I made it to the final rest at the last draw, was, I don’t know. Puzzling, I think? I can say, that on that day I was fresh when I reached the last rest, this time I had got to there on my first burn of the day, and that certainly helps. But I know that other times I have reached the same point being even fresher. So what was it that made the difference that day?

I have been trying the route on and off for a few stints getting incredibly close each time before walking away from it. Be it because of injury, one of numerous trips away, or simply the six-month break over the winter. I had the route dialed but did I really want it? Perhaps I had already sent the route in my mind and I was just putting my body through the physical steps, I wasn’t hungry for the send. It’s possible that Tiger Cat had simply become a training route, and it’s true as I actually used it to train for Spain. Just recently I wondered if I wasn’t trying hard enough and so I made a conscious effort to really focus and switch my mind to send mode, not plod mode.

Had I become complacent? No, I don’t think so. It’s a bit of a juggling act between being fit, peaking, being rested enough, having familiarity of the route, remembering intricate sequences and body positions, being warmed-up enough but not blasted. Performing at your physical and mental limit is a hard thing to achieve, throw in other factors like weather, conditions, skin, school time limit and it is a hard balancing act indeed. But before I could strike that balance I needed to re-set several things:

Firstly, my training wasn’t translating to performance on rock. Training isn’t all about numbers, mileage nor performance outcomes, its about quality not quantity, it’s also about peaking and resting, patience. Previously I had been doing training in the gym. Be it bouldering, 4 x 4’s, building power or climbing continuously on the auto-belay at Villawood, where I was doing up to 40 routes in a 90-minute session. I could climb non-stop at a 90-95% pump threshold for a long time, awesome, but this approach didn’t exactly work for me on Tiger Cat. So I re-set and fine-tuned my training gains to realign with the climbing requirements for Tiger Cat.

Next, I had to be peaking but also be rested enough. Resting between climbing days is something that I am not good at, for me resting is boring. I knew that I had to be fresh to send Tiger Cat, meaning two days rest. But my brain says when you are idle for two days your fitness must be going backwards. This time round however I wasn’t going to listen to such nonsense and I didn’t bother trying the route unless I was fit, well rested and the conditions were at least half good. Re-set, I learnt again to settle the mind, to be patient when patience was required, and to convince myself that the hard work had already been done.

Further, I had to learn how to climb again in my own style. I realised that some of the training I had been doing had turned my climbing into a chug, chug, chug machine-like methodology where continuously climbing pumped was the goal. But this doesn’t work on redpoint. So I re-set and tuned in to my body to get my natural climbing tempo back to where it used to be. I practiced resting at crucial spots along the way and learned the pace required for this climb.

Finally, I realised that I needed to re-set my mind and concentrate on the task at hand. I found my mind wandering on several occasions, Tiger Cat is a long route (35m) and being present only half of the time wasn’t good enough. I needed to concentrate on every single move, climb in the moment, not thinking ahead of myself. Many times I had fallen because I thought I’d nailed the move, and I had, but my mind was racing ahead not where my body was, physically, at the time. The result was hanging on the end of the rope thinking, “what had just happened?”

You can say that being too critical and over analysing things can be destructive but at the same time I needed to consider what I did wrong and what I could improve on. Without this I was wasting my time and my belayer’s time. Lessons are learned from making mistakes if you care to try, care to fail and care to listen and learn.

So by addressing these points perhaps that is why I sent Tiger Cat that day?

035 D0322-Edit

It was a quiet day at the crag, there was a gentle breeze and I had my personal head space, no one screaming at me just genuine encouragement from Simon. Almost silence, just me and the route. I listened to my body, rested when I needed to stay and went when I needed to go. When I got to the last rest I was pumped, but I tuned into where I was, and what I needed to do next. When I got the next left crimp I was strong, when I did the cross–over to the slot I was fresh, really fresh, not melting, this was a surprise I thought to myself. I launched for the throw and stuck it, still I wasn’t thinking that I had done the route, my mental alertness was thinking in the now, that was good. It wasn’t until I clipped the anchors that I felt it. Relief, freedom, excitement. “Waaahoooooo!” I’m sure all of Katoomba heard it.

All the days when I left the crag and had not sent the route, were all of those days worth it? You bet. Sitting back now, a week after the send, I am not thinking how great it was to tick another 33, rather, I’m thinking about how great it was to have completed a journey, overcome personal hurdles and to have maintained a strong belief in myself. It’s very satisfying to have seen this through to the end. To have closed that chapter in my life, it’s a nice feeling.

Thank you my friends at the cliff for the catches, laughs and great memories.


Posted in News

Wild Borneo



I first visited the island of Borneo in 1999 with a group of Aussies who were developing a new climbing area called Batman Wall just outside of Kuching (Sarawak). Garth Miller and Simon Wilson were among the climbers and Simon Carter had been commissioned to take the photos. Just by chance we bought a memento of our trip, a book of Borneo, Wild Borneo it was called. And in that book we found a mesmerising picture of a massive sweeping orange cliff, on an island, sitting idyllically above rainforest and a beach. We hadn’t told a sole about our discovery until recently, as we vowed, that one day we would find this island and explore it’s climbing potential. So the story begins…

We did some research to discover that the slash of rock is located on Berhala Island, just off the coast of Sandakan on Malaysian Borneo. The potential for climbing there has been described as huge and the cliff is said to be between 150 to 200-metres high.

After fifteen years we are finally here. We being, Simon Carter, Simon Wilson, our good friend from Adelaide who comes armed with a power drill, and myself. To reach the island we hire a local fishing boat for a hefty price (later we negotiate more appropriate rates). As the boat skims over the net barrier, intended to keep the rubbish from washing up on the beach, we come up underneath the monolith and are completely dwarfed by its enormity.

Wow. What a rock. We have finally arrived.

Wow. What a rock. We have finally arrived.

We gaze and stare in wonder and it doesn’t take us long to spot a line, potentially a new route taking an arête to the top. We discuss our options and hiking in to the top and rapping the line would be impossible. There are not many crack features, it’s a fused face, so doing a new route would mean bolting it. And so to access the top of our new line we plan to first climb an existing five-pitch route. We start the following day.

Hot work on pitch 2 of Make it Snappy.

Hot work on pitch 2 of Make it Snappy.

Progress up the route is slow and our feelings of awe are soon squashed as we realise the reason for there being limited development of this place. The rock quality is poor, friable edges, and the sun beats relentlessly on the wall until late afternoon, which we didn’t realise the day before because we got there very late. Even ferrying packs and supplies to the base of the cliff in 30 C, 85 F with 80% humidity is enervating. We persist and make it three pitches up the route, mostly stick clipping our way due to the fragile rock and difficulty in route finding, well I mean ‘hold’ finding. From the anchor of the third pitch Simon (Wilson) begins his mission of tensioning across to gain the arête to bolt the new route that we had spied. After hours of work he concludes that this idea is not a viable one, again due to the soft nature of the rock, with many sections of un-climbable rock penetrating the okay rock.

All is not lost. We spend a rest day visiting several animal sanctuaries around Sandakan.

All is not lost. We spend a rest day visiting several animal sanctuaries around Sandakan.

We return to Berhala to attempt to free climb the existing route. Even with a pre-dawn start our fingers and minds are destroyed after three pitches. We strip our gear and head to the beach to play on the single pitch routes down there.


Make it Snappy pitch 3.

Surprisingly these are good, and fun. Simon (Wilson) decides that there is no point taking his bolts home with him, and so goes on a rebolting mission to replace the eroded bolts.

Simon heading up on his rebolting mission.

Simon heading up on his rebolting mission.


Simon on a 7b+ or thereabouts with a super bouldery start.

Monique, testing a newly rebolted route (7b).

Monique, testing a newly rebolted route (7b).

It may not have been a successful climbing trip in terms of establishing a new route or getting up an existing one but it was a true adventure and a long awaited dream come true. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.


Posted in Trip reports

Daila Ojeda interview

Daila Ojeda is a well accomplished sport climber best known for her hard ascents at Oliana, which include Fish Eye (8c), Mind Control (8c/+), El Gran Blau (8b+/c), and many more hard ascents scattered throughout Catalunya and further afield. I had the chance to catch up with Daila earlier this year and asked her a few questions about her climbing and her future.

Please check out my interview with her here.

Daila Ojeda, Mind Control (8c/+), Oliana, Spain. Photo: Simon Carter.

Posted in Interviews

Barbara Zangerl interview

Austria’s Barbara Zangerl (25) initially made her name in competition bouldering winning the Italian Melloblocco five times. On rock she achieved the first female ascent of Pura Vida (V12/V13) at Magic Wood in Switzerland back in 2008. Soon after she was forced to stop bouldering due to a back injury and turned her energy towards roped climbing. It seems that the shift in disciplines has allowed Barbara to excel even further. Last year she completed the highly venerated “Alpine Trilogy”, comprised of, End of Silence, Silbergeier and Des Kaisers neue Kleider. Respected for their boldness, these enduring multi-pitch routes are in alpine style and have long run-outs, all three routes were established in 1994 and given the grade of 8b+. I met Barbara at Oliana (Feb 2014) and was excited to ask her some questions about her climbing achievements and future plans.

Please check out my interview with her here.

Barbara Zangerl, End of Silence (8b+) 11 pitches, Berchtesgaden Alps, Germany. Photo: Hannes Maier.

Posted in Interviews

Patiencia cont…

Arriving in Spain was like jumping into an icy plunge pool straight from the Simpson Desert, literally. I had escaped the sweltering heat of the Blue Mountains to winter in Spain, with my friend Will Currie, hoping that the fitness I had acquired on Tiger Cat (8c) would translate to fitness at Oliana, and maybe, just maybe put me in the league to give Mind Control (8c/+) a real good go. The first climbing day was stellar. Mind Control was as dry as a bone and as I clipped the anchors and lowered, a grin spread from ear to ear, I loved this place and I felt privileged that I was able to be here. Overnight rain fell, a lot, perhaps even enough that would see the route wet for the remainder of my short trip.


stocking up … mmm

Even so, I was optimistic that it would dry (fingers crossed) in time for me to try the top ten or so metres of climbing to the anchors again. But realistically the only thing that happened in the first week was that I got a huge kick in the pants, as Will says,” got my ass handed to me on a plate”, once again. What I had neglected to acknowledge was that my fitness on Tiger Cat (35m) only translated to pretty much half way on Mind Control (55m). I was fit, but not that fit, and so I had a lot of work to do.

The problem being after a week or so more rain had fallen, again making the route only workable to half height. What to do? Should I keep trying this route in the hope that my patience (or stubbornness) would pay off? Or should I look for another project? Even though I was already half way through my trip I decided that getting a high point on the route was worth it, anything else would be just giving in. In the meantime Will was progressing nicely on Fish Eye (8c), almost getting through the lower crux on several occasions, if he got through that he was surely going to send.

And there was plenty of sendage every other which way you turned. Every second day a new team would arrive, we already had team USA stationed here for two months, ticking left, right and centre. The usual Spanish locals and international regulars, Barbara Raudner and Hannes, which I now call friends, are always a comfort to see. Team UK, two young lads came and went in a matter of three days, vowing to return in a month. Then team Austria arrived, Barbara Zangerl (if you are not familiar with her, she is the first lady to complete the alpine trilogy last year) and her not so sloppy other half Jacopo Larcher. I couldn’t trip over myself quick enough to congratulate her on her achievements. Needless to say they quickly despatched everything they touched. Daila Ojeda and Colette McInerney paid us a flying visit. Ramon Julian Publique rolled in one day with his younger brother and effortlessly onsighted Fish Eye (8c), worked a 9b+ then polished off another 8b for dessert. All in a day’s work really. I guess that is one of the reasons I love coming here. Being a teeny weeny fish in such a huge ocean is incredibly inspiring (and grounding) to watch such athletes do their thing without pomp and ceremony.

After another spell of rain I questioned my thinking once again, new project or stick with the one that blows my mind away? Encouragingly when we arrived at the cliff the next morning the damage was not as shocking as I would’ve expected, considering the fallout from the other downpours. I was excited in the hope that I could at least just try the route again in its entirety, be it, perhaps, only on the last day of the trip.

So I went for it. My prediction was almost right. The route did dry but not completely. I had been pacing myself so that my last two days of climbing would coincide with the best weather, that being the last day of the trip. Send day came and went with mixed effects. I can happily say that Will sent Fish Eye (8c) that day. A huge congratulations to him, he worked so hard and finally it paid off. As for me, well it was definitely my worst day of the trip. I guess I had realised that the route would not be dry enough for me to even try let alone send and I was disappointed that my fitness had eluded me, I was getting weaker and further away from where I hoped I would be. I guess that’s the result when you are only working half a route, be it a long one. I’m not one of these super elite climbers just a 41 year old having a hack. I didn’t send but I wouldn’t swap the experience. I was in Spain giving it a go, living my climbing dreams and having fun in the process. I guess it will have to wait till next time … if there is to be a next time?


our favourite detour … oh so yummy


goodbye Spain … until next time?

Posted in Trip reports

Taming a tiger

It has been a frustrating year with my climbing, having had several injuries to nurse and overcome. I’m back into the swing of things now, getting stronger and building fitness again. And more recently I have been working Tiger Cat (33) at Elphinstone, the new super crag in the Blue Mountains. If you haven’t heard of Elphinstone then check out some info here. The route was established in Jan 2013 by local climber Lee Cossey and has had several repeat ascents by local strong guns and high flying internationals. But most notably by local female climber Andrea Hah who turned it into her first ascent of a grade 33, big congrats to her. Tiger Cat is 35 metres long and has three distinct cruxes for me, all of which are quite bouldery but do-able, the key is linking it all together.

Things have been progressing nicely, very close nicely, on many occasions nicely. But it seems when I get close on Tiger Cat I lose momentum for some reason or another; injury, bush fires, rain, trips away, etc… you get the picture. Yeah, I know, rolling out the excuses, but a good run at this thing without interruption will be welcomed.


035 D0295-Edit

Falling off the last hard move on Tiger Cat again.


It’s a long route (35m), resistance style climbing and it has some nice rests. There is a lot going on in the brain and to forget one detail, one minor adjustment, at the critical moment, or to grab a hold wrong, means you’re outta there. You’re lucky to get more than two shots a day, depending on how spent you are or how far you get up the route, or how hot it is, etc. Conditions do help but it’s just a few critical moves where conditions make (or break) the difference.

It’s been exciting working a route at my limit so close to home. A luxury really, having such a mega-cliff just up the road, rather than on the other side of the world. I don’t know if that means I’m not trying as hard as if I were in Spain, for example? Or basically I just need to get stronger? The later most likely. I’ve always wanted to project a 33 in Australia, for 10 years, but there aren’t too many around here that really inspired, so I searched further a field. Now with this route being conveniently located, in my back yard, I’m super psyched to keep trying it and keep enjoying the process.


Posted in News

A quick play on the Rings

For the first time in five years I have time to myself. At first the thought of unleashing myself on myself was rather disturbing, not knowing if myself could handle myself all alone, all at once. It wasn’t that hard (or bad) in the end, manners were on high alert and constantly engaged. Where is this coming from? Quite simply I (yes I, alone, implying no Coco and no Simon) had packed my bag and joined Will Currie on a trip to Mount Arapiles at the end of November – usually one of the hotter months. Was I crazy? I guess that depends on what one views as being the objective. When this impromptu trip surfaced I was eager to get away, anywhere, and my family supported me, and so I left quick smart before they changed their minds. Arapiles looked like the easiest and quickest escape so off we went.

Gradually, as I got farther and farther away from home my heart sank deeper with the knowledge that I couldn’t just rush home and give my Coco bunny a kiss and a cuddle. I called her late in the afternoon of day one. No tears there from her just a casual, Where are you? I miss you. When are you coming home? My body held the tension of holding my heart in my hand all that day and the days that followed. A few days into the trip I was exhausted physically; by trying really, really hard on my project, and mentally from trying to convince myself that it was ok to relax.


I was working on Lord of the Rings (31), a route that I had tried back in 2006 for two days then again last year during a heat wave of 40+ degree temps, it went well…perhaps not, but I thought I could do all of the individual moves. To clarify that’s on top rope, off the dog, not linking a single move, but it was a start and I always had the hots for this line. So I was excited to try this route and see if I could progress things somewhat.

I was battling a barrage of mixed emotions. I felt incredibly guilty not having the task of chasing Coco around dealing with her day-to-day requirements, having left that all to Simon. Was he coping? Was she coping with him? I know I was not coping with the luxury of time and my new found freedom.  Nor was my body coping with climbing. Climbing anything was hard, I was tired, my elbow hurt, my bicep hurt, my body had shut down. I recognised what was happening, rather than beating myself up I gave in to doing nothing, and waiting for it to come back on board.

Encouragingly, each time I called home I was reassured that, “all was quiet on the home front” and gradually I was able to chillax.

At last the day came when things just clicked together. It was my first attempt at leading the route and conditions were good. Sporadic, but good. I got through the lower crux (which had been giving me grief) and just kept going… … snatch left edge, right toe up, right hand cross-over to credit card crimp, plant left toe, rock-over to high side-pull, right toe to edge, tension and snatch to right side-pull, drop down and cross left foot under to pocket, left hand snatch… And it was going great until it came time to clip; clearly that needed more work. But I was ecstatic, I had overcome a huge hurdle. I was on lead and I wasn’t scared and I got so much further than I thought possible. It was a good outcome. I’m sure it can go down and I’m psyched to return.

I had also come to realise that not every move had to be perfect. Sometimes just doing the moves and staying on the rock was enough, just to keep on going seemed to work, little hand or foot adjustments could be made on the run, this was something I thought would not be possible on this route.

So I returned home grateful for the break and overjoyed to see my family again.

Posted in Trip reports