Thursday, August 04, 2005

Alien landscape

By Rod Smith

Deep within the sport-climbing cosmos, somewhere in the cool orbit of the Nowra galaxy, there exists a little-explored world.

Sandwiched between the rings of Butt head (17) and the nubbins of Beavis (20), lies the richly contoured world of the Barbie Twins (16).

It is to this lost trad world that men and women who delight in gear that clanks rather than ticks can take refuge when the click-snip of the over-populated vertical surfaces of the Nowra galaxy grow too much.

A trip to this curiously named place provides relief from such weird Nowra rituals as hang-dogging, sending, linking and the most bizarre of all, top-rope rehearsal.

On Barbie Twins there exists only the handjam, the layback, the cam, the hex and the fear of falling on runout gear.

At just 16 it’s a tiny part of the Nowra galaxy but for those who can withstand the stares and questions as they don their trad racks in the departure lounge, it’s a trip worth making.

The beautiful, juggy edge of the crack provides some glorious jamming and stemming possibilities before it fines down into a shallow groove. Just above this grooviness two cams in a generous, but flaring, vertical break will give you enough courage to gaston and balance across the zone where the crack meets slab.

Ironically, it’s in this very place on the either side of the Barbie Twins that those on Butt head and Beavis will be tackling similar nuanced climbing.

But unlike those souls, friends of the Barbie Twins will be wandering up a boltless expanse, in a place far, far above and below their next bit of gear.

When it’s done and you’ve grabbed the exit jugs and dodged the wasps living close-by in one of the horizontal breaks, it’s time to use new-fangled technology and thread the lower-off rings on Beavis.

As you re-enter the wonderful world of sports and hurriedly stow you trad rack deep in your pack, sneak a peak back at the Barbie Twins and feel satisfied you took the effort and made the trip.