[Warning - The next several posts are going to be highly granular when it comes to climbing. I doubt many people have ever written so much waffle about a single bloc. You have been warned.]

The first session on Ammagamma came on Day 5 of our trip. I went there knowing I was about to face the goal of my trip. In fact, I was about to try the very purpose of my trip to the Grampians. Walking up there I remembered the videos that I’d seen on youtube and vimeo. The moves were etched into my mind. But I wasn’t walking up there chest puffed out and full of confidence. At best, I was a v7 climber. I’d managed to do a single v7 prior to Day 5 and failed on another V8 and 9.

We arrived not too long after sunrise and it was already hot. The first thing I did was to strip down to my undies to try and cool off before trying the moves. It didn’t take many goes to do the stand start, although Emily had given me a little power spot so that I could adjust the high left hand pocket to avoid it tearing my skin as it had done on my first try. But the mantleshelf at the top was ok. I hadn’t fallen off it or backed off it. That was a good start. The stand start gets v8 by itself so I was happy to have done it with only a minor power spot.

Too hot for clothes

It was hot…

However, those few moves were only the final easy moves of the main meat. There were 5 moves to do before that and those were the moves which really made Ammagamma. Of these 5 moves, only 1 is really hard, but during my first session they all felt impossible. The heat was making it hard to really gain an understanding of the difficulty as I was very sweaty and the friction was poor. The crux move is a powerful lunge up and right off a 2 finger pocket that you have to 3 finger stack. I tried the move and came up well short of the intended target.

I think the best way to describe the motion through a move is as a vector. On Ammagamma you have to power upwards whilst keeping your hips and body close to the rock, so that when you do hit the intended hold your body is high, your bum tucked under, and your feet away from the floor. My attempt was so poor that the vector my bum took was directly outwards from the rock and my hand desperately lunged upwards as my body simultaneously flew outwards. I was very, very, very far away from doing THE MOVE. I’d expected the move to be hard so I wasn’t too crushed, but the other moves seemed just as hard. The first move, a reach up to the left hand pocket didn’t seem easy and from there I couldn’t get my foot up next to my hand in order to do the second move. I know I’m inflexible but I think it was a combination of weakness and inflexibility that meant I couldn’t do that move. The next move is a short right hand move into an undercut which sets you up for THE MOVE. Following the move there was one small right hand bump, a mere 10cm movement upwards, but I was falling on that move too. Overall, I found every move hard and linking them together was so far away that I didn’t even begin to think about it. My only focus was simply to do some of the moves.

Ammagamma is a very steep problem. I measured the first section at 70 degrees overhanging and the second section at 50 degrees. From there it kicks into a slab onto which you mantle to glory. I even mapped out the problem in my book;

The Breakdown

That’s it…

I gave up when my skin became too bad, my power levels went from low to appalling, and the heat caused permanent dry mouth. Session 1 wasn’t a success, but at least I’d faced my fear. I’d gone to Ammagamma and I’d had a go. At least now I knew where I stood: on the ground. Everyone has to start somewhere and I was starting as a v7 climber trying a v13 boulder.