Friday, June 3, 2011

How About...A VIDEO!!!

For your viewing pleasure:

New Zealand Mega Adventure 2011 from Ryan Moon on Vimeo.

Please don't kill me. This is my first time using iMovie.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rest Days (aka Darfield Days)

There's one thing that we look forward to almost as much as our climbing days; it's called rest days at Darfield. Halfway between Castle Hill and the earth-shaken Christchurch lies New Zealand's cultural hub known as Darfield. The population is a modest 1,500 or so people and hosts some of the finest 'get Ryan Moon fat now' venues. We typically start off our rest days by getting meat pies and expensive coffee at the local bakery. After trying my best not to devour all the pastries at the bakery, we then travel to the library where the meat of our day is spent. Library sessions usually consist of 3-5 hours of facebooking and facebook chatting (sadly, much to much of it being with my co-workers). If you feel as bad as I do about lounging in the corner for hours on end using free wi-fi and charging about thirty different electronic devices, you do something nice for the sweet old ladies at the front buy them cookies. Since then it's been nothing but smiles. From the library we venture to the fish and chips shop. Don't try to get free tartar sauce from the apathetic teenage girl at the front, she ain't gonna budge. I hate her for that. Next door to the fish and chips shop, and next stop for the Moon and Vergne boys, is...


The birthplace of our love for the infamous Tip Top ice cream is right here in Darfield. One should be prepared before ordering ice cream on a cone in New Zealand. A single scoop in the states is just that, a single scoop. A single scoop in New Zealand is a grapefruit sized ball of bliss that even my sweet tooth can barely handle. There was one experience where the woman serving the ice cream crushed my cone into oblivion attempting to place the gigantic frozen sugar sphere onto what would normally be a structurally sound cone. Alas, she had to rescoop.

Should I just start a blog about ice cream?

Yum. If we're lucky enough do all this before 5pm, we usually hit the library again for one last internet sesh. The sun then is just about setting and becomes our cue to return home to our soggy tents and mediocre camp food.

Last night the usual highly unpredictable NZ weather took hold. I had trouble sleeping through most of the night because it felt like Zeus was unveiling his almighty wrath upon our campsite. Frustration ensued. An incredibly accurate depiction of my experience last night can be seen here:

Most of our friends here have been either from Australia or New Zealand, both are places that use the metric system. We, as you know, do not use the metric system. This has produced all sorts of confusion. Conversations can go:

"My friend did that problem and he weighs 100kg!"

"Oooooh. Wow. Wait, is that a lot?"

It also means that every time I think of an increment, be it distance, weight, or even time I have the need to translate it. Example:

"It's not too bad. The drive is only about 20 or so minutes. My bad, you guys don't use minutes. Do you?"

Last but not least, here are some pics to prove that I am still very much south of you.

[Holly wrapping up unfinished business on her send go of the classic 'Beautiful Edges'. One of Spittle Hill's most classic problems and until today, a long term project for Holly.]

[Eric on Disconnect.]

[Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Eric Vergne.]

[So many tick marks.]

[Awesome highball runnel action out at Flock Hill.]

[My only complaint is, I wish I were vacationing somewhere aesthetic.]

[Visually, it's not Barstow, CA, but it'll have to do.]

Friday, May 20, 2011

Oh My God! One More Week!

Let's get one thing out of the way here. Yes, the climbing is world class and that is the reason I originally came to this magical place. However, it's the ice cream that really, really makes this place great. A New Zealand company called Tip Top makes the world's greatest sweet creamy goodness and it comes in flavors that don't exist in the states. There's nothing that stands between me and a single (double) scoop of Tip Top cookies and cream. Good god. Come for the climbing, stay for the ice cream. Sumo Ryan, here we come.

The sun has been out like you wouldn't believe and we have been climbing! Also, my arm injury thing is all healed up. See, I told ya things would get better. The temps have been unbelievable and the forecast is cold and sunny until we leave for the states. Freakin' rad!

Our crew of people that have been camping together before getting kicked out have remained a tight knit posse and have since migrated to a drier, sunnier, more beautiful, legitimately free site on a lake just down the road.

Keepin' the post short cuz Eric and I are about to hit the town of Nelson and show 'em how we do.

[Eric and I kept passing this weird RV-looking thing on the side of the road while driving to our climbing area every morning. We decided to pop on in and see exactly what it was. It seems that a very nice couple, Rowana and Russell, travel around as part of a caravan of gypsy hippies and go to gypsy conventions. We had no idea such conventions existed. They had no idea there was climbing at Castle Hill. Touche.]

[Rowana & Russell of 'Rowana & Russell's Roaming Rig' fame.]

[Me on one of our favorite lowball turds that we've been calling runnel cake. Boy, do we love the runnel puns.]

[Eric trying his luck on a classic Castle Hill mantle.]

[Even the Kiwis have a sense of humor.]

Quote of the day:
"How come I keep seeing hipster dudes that look like Boy George?"
-Eric Vergne

Monday, May 16, 2011

Goodbye Rain, Hello Hurricane Winds!

Aside from of course the infamous 'sun rain' that occurs in broad daylight every morning and our nightly downpours, the rain is mostly gone. Replacing it is the world's most ruthless wind gusts. Picture an incredibly beautiful day at an amazing bouldering area with five or so climbers wearing puffy jackets huddled together in cave seeking refuge from the wind. Having said that, our Kiwi friend Oliver managed to tick off two of his long term Flock Hill projects; Trifecta Left (V9) and Monster Society of Evil (V10). I must've been too busy complaining about the wind to whip out my video camera and get footage. Oops.

On another note, I seemed to have pulled something tendon-wise in my left arm making it way painful to pull on anything. I'm not sure how it happened, but now I'm limited to slabs and mantles. If you'd like to see some entertainment, stop by Castle Hill, New Zealand and witness Ryan Moon trying to get his meat over some V2 mantles and grease off slabs that boy scouts and school groups waltz up during fields trips.

Also, climbers and rangers don't have the best of relationships here (weird). This morning we got booted from our campsite by a ranger accompanied by his rugby player looking police officer friend. Way lame. Apparently, the campground we've been told was a free campground is not at all. We've moved. We're fine. All is well. He was kind of a butt face about it though. Just sayin'.

I promise super amazing news is on the horizon!...I hope. In a few days we're headed to a town on the northern tip of the south island called Nelson. It'll be a nice rest for our elbows and will give us an opportunity to do something New Zealand-ish. If you're lucky you'll see some awkward photos of me with the fear of god in my eyes as I count my blessing on some easy lowball mantles.

[Our Kiwi friend Holly on a great V3 slab problem at Flock Hill.]

[This place is beautiful.]

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Halfway Point

Today marks the halfway point of our trip. It also marks the first shower I've taken since I've been here. 'Clean' used to be just a word. Now it's something I'll try to achieve on a more regular basis during this trip.

I know rain has been a pretty consistent theme on my blog entries, but it's only because rain has been a pretty consistent theme on our trip. It literally rains EVERY night. Even if the forecast is perfect, it's still guaranteed to rain in the middle of the night. We've even come up with a term for the rain that occurs in the full morning sun, 'sun rain'. Sun rain is an interesting phenomenon. It gives you the illusion that the day is nice while, at the same time, presenting you with awful truth that it is indeed raining.

Phoenix at Quantum Field, New Zealand from Ryan Moon on Vimeo.

I finally got a video to upload (WOO HOO!). Here's me on one my favorite problems of the trip so far. A couple tries before this one, I fell from the top and scraped my forehead on the corner of the boulder. It freakin' hurt. Observe the evidence at the end of the video.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lots of Sun, Lots of Climbing

Things have certainly been pretty great during the last week. The sun does in fact shine on the South Island of New Zealand. There was a moment there when I didn't think we were gonna be climbing at all on this trip. I was actually woken up one night by rain only to look outside of my tent and see not one single cloud in the sky. It rains here with no clouds! WTF!

Most of our trip has been split between two areas here at Castle Hill; Spittle Hill and Quantum Field. A majority of the climbs are described in the guidebook as:

'Follow pocs [pockets] up face to encounter slopey mantle of death. Castle Hill classic!'


Actually, they are quite fun and climbing here definitely makes you feel like you just started all over again. Basically, every climb ends in mantling two big ass slopey butt cheeks. What's kinda funny is that the outhouses at Spittle Hill and Quantum Field have locks on the inside and outside. This makes for some pretty fun pranks between friends...and strangers?

Our most recent adventure was to the much talked about Flock Hill. Eric and I braved the 45 minute hike out there one miserable rainy day last week. It resulted in taking refuge under overhangs hating life and a 45 minute 'don't talk to me' walk of shame back to the car. That freakin' sucked. My shoes are FINALLY dry 5 days later. A few sunny days later and a full day of climbing there, Flock Hill is now my favorite spot at Castle Hill. The features are super unique and less butt cheek topouts. A consistent theme at Flock Hill is a feature in the limestone that folks here are calling runnels. It's like a negative tufa that provides all sorts of different styles of climbing. Also, there is no guide for Flock Hill, making the boulder problems nameless and gradeless unless you're there with a local.

[The view from on top of Flock Hill. Caught in the distance during the last fading light of the day is the upper sector of Quantum Field.]

[A group of very enthusiastic tourists from Thailand jumping up and down on Eric's crashpad. They had never seen one before and were curious as to how soft a mat you're trusting your life with is.]

[Me climbing a super classic highball V1 slab at Quantum Field called 'Ode to Joy'.]

[Eric on 'Ode to Joy'.]

[Our Australian friend Allen on one of the reasons I was originally drawn to New Zealand bouldering. 'The Joker' V9.]

[Apparently, some time ago, the Dali Lama came to Castle Hill and dubbed this specific area 'The Center of the Universe'. Hippies hang out here and act weird together.]

[Upon topping out this limestone behemoth, Eric catches the last glimpse of sunlight and wonders to himself, 'When I die, will I dream?']

[On our way from camp to climbing one morning, we saw this car teetering on the edge of a cliff. Kinda like a movie, but f'real. Scary!]

[The car we've rented doesn't have an ipod friendly setup. These compact discs have been our wisest purchase yet. So far, so good.]

I've been trying to upload videos, but vimeo seems to not like me for the time being. I promise a mega-video when I get back, complete with music and super-bitchin' editing!

On a side note, a concern of mine prior to leaving for this trip was a native parrot called Kea. They are the only alpine parrots in the world and are heavily protected. If you mess with them you supposedly get fined $50,000. The trouble is, they rip open people's tents and cars. Instead of taking your food, they take your wallets and important stuff. No encounter with Kea have been made yet, but the concern is ever present. Firsthand Kea horror stories have been told to us by more than one person. On the Kea wikipedia page, under the 'Human Interaction' section, you can find:

The Kea's notorious urge to explore and manipulate, combined with strong neophilia, makes this bird a pest for residents and an attraction for tourists. Called "the clown of the mountains", it will investigate backpacks, boots or even cars, often causing damage or flying off with smaller items.

People commonly encounter wild Kea at South Island ski areas. The Kea are attracted by the prospect of food scraps. Their curiosity leads them to peck and carry away unguarded items of clothing or to pry apart rubber parts of cars—to the entertainment and annoyance of human observers. They are often described as "cheeky". A Kea has even been reported to have made off with a Scottish man's passport while he was visiting Fiordland National Park.

Here's some more Kea stuff for you:

Also, they eat people. Just kidding...or am I?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

4 days in NZ, 1 day climbing, so far...

Nothing like international travel to bring you up to date on the romantic comedies you've been missing out on. Eric and I arrived safely on May 3rd (skipping May 2nd completely) in Christchurch early in the morning. After getting our mega cheap rental car, we quickly went to work gathering food/supplies for our upcoming month of camping. It's actually quite sad how much destruction was caused during Christchurch's recent earthquake. It seems that the quake exclusively targeted churches, knocking out what normally would have been an impressive array of stained glass.

The first few days of our trip have been pretty boring. The weather has prevented us from doing anything cool. I promised myself that I would do some super rad New Zealand stuff and not spend an entire month abroad staring at rocks, BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT...

...this weather effing sucks and I'm going to go crazy from the lack of climbing and sunshine. Also, boy oh boy, am I gonna be fat when I get back. No climbing + a jillion cookies and heaps of cheap nz beer = SUMO RYAN!!!

As far as culture shock goes, I can't even tell that I'm abroad aside from left side driving and world's hardest to understand English speaking residents. Seriously, are they really speaking English? Are they really?

Sooooooo, we rock climbed. Oh yes. Ryan is happy. The sun came out after we were quite certain that our flight had landed us in a Pacific Northwestern winter. This place really is quite amazing. Check your ego at the door, cuz you're gonna get spit off everything. I knew this coming into this trip, but dang yo.




Ehhh, kinda.

View from the top of Spittle Hill.

Eric waltzing up the buckets on one of New Zealand's coolest higball slabs.

Hopefully the weather shapes up. Unfortunately, if the weather is awesome, I will not be posting because I'll be having a kick ass time greasing off nasty slopers in an area that people film fantasy movies. Unfortunately again, if the weather sucks I will be posting, it just won't be about anything that anybody cares to hear.

Also, isn't it weird how inaccessible Mexican food is when you leave California? Weird.