The “Perth 1000” started off as an idea that my mate Nish came up with. Legend has it that he was thinking about whether it is possible to climb 1000m in a day… The next question was where?
Bluff Knoll came into his mind and the challenge was set. How do you train for that he asked himself? What about the Porongurups? It has pitches of easy terrain which can be covered quickly by simul-climbing, that could be a good place to start. What about somewhere closer to home? What about the Perth Hills? Why not?! There’s more than 1000m of climbing in the quarries itself let alone the surrounding areas. And that’s how the story begins.
If you’ve ever gotten to know Nish, he’s not one to do anything the easy way. He enjoys suffering through long romantic hikes in the rain, waking up at insane hours of the morning to hang out with the pelaton and at times, locking himself in his study for weeks, sometimes even months on end to master what Victor Frankenstein could not. What am I getting to? He rejected my idea of driving as the mode of transport for our challenge. Instead he insists that we ride our push bikes… What a purist =P
I first heard about his idea nearly a year ago. At the time, me being me, I liked the idea of it all but I knew I was going to suffer so it never took off. I think Nish has secretly worked out how my brain works. Just like Bluff Knoll, he planted the seed and when the time is right, the idea will grow and flourish. After reading Alex Honnold’s biography, which is a great read by the way, I was inspired by all the challenges he faced and set himself to. What’s life without goals right? So when Nish and I caught up at the gym last night, I dropped the idea back to him. It was on!
We decided a good place to start would be to climb 500m on 24hrs just to test the waters and allow us to work out a system. It shouldn’t be too hard I said … Nish agreed then smiled…. Oh no I thought… I could feel the onset on the pain and suffering before he tells me of his other condition. We must average at least grade 18 and we must both climb all climbs on lead without any falls.
I was so psyched that I left the gym early and put together a spreadsheet of all the climbs at Mountain Quarry, listing their height and grades so I can calculate a total height and an average grade. I picked it the best value climbs which was a total of 24 climbs ranging from a grade 15 to 22. 24 climbs is alot! Especially when they are at my onsight limit… Definitely have to do some serious training and planning. Even though 24hrs does sounds like a long time, I think we’ll be totally knackered =)
So training… We didn’t do all that much.. I got on the bike for three 30km rides… Preparation… I made an excel spreadsheet of all the climbs at Mountain Quarry with a few formulas and transferred it to my phone… definitely set ourselves up for success =)
So on the 11th of September, we met up at 6:30AM and started our ride towards Mountain Quarry. It was a bloody windy morning and despite my carb loading the previous 24-48hrs …. i was shagged during the ride. We got 2/3s of the way there and the wind picked up like we were riding through a wind tunnel. Luckily there was a pack of riders where we instantly jumped on the back to leach maximum drafting for a good 15min or so.
When i called to book us to use the quarry, DEC told me that there was going to be 60 others also using the quarry, one of many obstacles that we did not account for …. When we rocked up and there was already a bout 5 or 6 people getting ready to climb as well as a few randoms flying a drone.
It was freezing cold and after rugged up and sorted ourselves out, we kicked off the assault on the warm up wall. We were super efficient and raced through a good 7 climbs which made up for less than a third of our target distance. The Back Wall was seeping and there were parts which was still waterfalling so we gave that a miss and headed for the sun at the Main Wall. We did Ace and Fear in the Face of the Carrot which were both really nice climbs and got us an extra 60m towards our total. It was decided that we’d try and knock off the Mullup Buttress and come back to the Main Wall later. Mortal Wombat, tick … Dinosaur Killer …. i fell onto the ground before i managed the first clip …. this was the first sign of our demise … and things just didn’t get any better. I’m pretty sure it took more a whole hour to finish that climb due to my lack of familiarity with it. Things just slowed down from there and morale dropped with the realisation that we might not be able to make the 500m.
Slowly and surely, time caught up with us and by midday, we only totalled ~7 climbs … by 3pm we totalled 14ish …. progress was slow and it was getting dark. The last climb we jumped on was Inside Out where i was battling the water drenched holds in my little headtorch bubble … even managed to slam dunk a jug which turned out to be a bird bath. That was the end of it … 7pm and we called it a day with ~350m under our belts with an average grade of 17.
It was such a great learning experience. Here’s a few dot points for things to prepare for next time:
- Repeat all the planned climbs so they are dialled into your head. That way you’re confident and quick with your climbing and not trying to work out the climb as you go as if you’re onsighting.
- Try and avoid trad climbs as the gear is heavier and placing gear slows you down unless it’s absolutely straight forward.
- Consider using a weighted average based on the height of the climb instead of just grade per climb
- More endurance training… I don’t mean power endurance, I mean full on fatigue endurance.
I’ve out together a short video of our experience… All talking and no climbing =)