After the debacle that was trying to find rock in Japan, touching down in Australia brought great relief. We knew exactly where we were going, we knew exactly what was there, and the sense of excitement was further heightened by the fact it was formed of orange sandstone. No prizes for guessing: The Grampians.

But we were really desperate, so after 30 hours of travelling we touched down in Sydney at 6pm and at 7am we were awake and making plans for climbing. I was desperate to get out on the rocks and fortunately Sydney is home to many inner city crags. Without a car, a pad, or even a guidebook I was fortunate to get a crag recommendation from Stu Ellis. We boarded a bus, rode across town feeling a bit disorientated, and then proceeded to walk from Bondi Junction to what looked like your bog standard park. Psyche was high. So was the temperature. By the time we reached Queen’s Park I was sweating like a man ten times my size.

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It may look like a normal park but at the back lurks a crag!

The rock wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was sandstone. That was enough. The fact that it was in the sun and had a tarmac walkway underneath it couldn’t really hold back the psyche.Without a pad we did the sensible thing and started traversing around on something of unknown name and grade. Then I made up some eliminates. Then I climbed it backwards. It was just great to be able to do some climbing, although having to run into the shade to try and cool down every minute or two was rather bothersome.

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Piesker Child Problem – V4 (but old school grades when V4 was hard)

In addition to traversing a couple of inches above terra firma I did manage to do some upwards moves, in the form of a great V4 called The Piesker Child Overhang. Some juggy moves and then a throw for a lip high above the tarmac path that runs along the base. It didn’t make for a great landing and Emily warned me not to ruin my entire trip on my first day. She was right, and fortunately a bunch of punters from Sydney climbing club turned up. I borrowed a small pad and slapped the lip, grovelled over using the classic worm mantel technique and so it was; my first boulder problem in Australia. It turns out that this was Greg Child’s problem, and immediately after doing it he went and did the first ascent of Gasherbrum IV’s Northwest Ridge. It wasn’t quite the goal I had in mind but it was a start.

The climbing wasn’t amazing but it did provide an opportunity to climb, which was priceless, and it also gave us the opportunity to begin acclimatizing to the heat. Climbing in 35C was a whole new world which I was about to start exploring in some depth.