September 29, 2021
Welcome to Episode 27 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with the indefatigable crusher of all rocks (including choss), Jon Sedon.
Originally from the North Island, Jon has been based in Wānaka for nearly 20 years. From there, he has climbed more rocks than you can poke a stick at, both around Wānaka and in Fiordland. His Wānaka rock guide is nothing but ticks. And that includes dozens of new routes, including area classics such as Huffer 27, Peking Man 27 and The Complete Bastard 27. So many 27s. And there are more, not just in Wānaka. Like the uber-classic Moses 27 at Little Babylon.
But he's not just a craven sport climber. He boulders and big walls too. Jon established many classic boulders during the heyday of Quantum Field and Spittle Hill bouldering. And he has climbed a ton of multipitch, with first ascents at Babylon, out at Copper Point and in Pakistan.
Add to that a staggering amount of mileage in places like Yosemite, Indian Creek, Zion and the Black Canyon and you start to get the picture that this quietly spoken builder from Mt Iron is quite possibly the most climbed person in the land. Go ahead, prove me wrong!
In our conversation, we barely scratch the surface of Jon's deep climbing résumé. But somehow we still cover a lot.
August 24, 2021
Welcome to Episode 26 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with 'crazy' skier, climber, family man and natural born leader, Ed Nepia.
Ed hails from the East Coast (Ngāti Porou) and comes from impeccable sporting stock (Google: George Nepia). As a teenager, he moved with his family to Christchurch where a close encounter in the local library with a book containing photos of Gaston Rébuffat looking effortlessly cool on the granite aiguilles of the French Alps lit a fire for climbing that still burns hot several decades later.
In the mid 1990s, Ed moved to Wanaka "for the skiing" and found acres of accessible unclimbed rock and a fledgling club of enthusiastic route developers. 25 years on, the sport climbing resource in Wanaka is second to none in Aotearoa and Ed played no small part in that.
In our conversation, Ed reflects on the changes in Wanaka climbing (and in Wanaka itself) over his time there. We discuss some of the characters in the scene and a few of his more notable new routes, such as the mighty Taniwha at Hell's Gate. We talk about his time at the helm of New Zealand's oldest dedicated rock climbing organisation: the Wanaka Rock Climbing Club and the role that it has played in enabling the development of sport climbing areas in Wanaka and in managing access for climbers. Ed shares his perspective on Maori in New Zealand climbing, including why he believes Maori are under-represented in the demographic of our sport. And we chat about skiing and family and Fiordland and few other things besides.
August 11, 2021
Welcome to Episode 25 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with fly fisherman, free diver, canyoner, author, father, partier and climber, Dave Vass.
Born in Australia, Dave quickly fled east to Rotorua (he was only 6 weeks old). An outdoorsy childhood led to a passion for fly fishing (unquestionably the ultimate outdoor activity), which led to zoology and botany studies at Canterbury University, which led to a university tramping club, which led to mountaineering and rock climbing, which led to a remarkable life of adventure and high-end climbing in the mountains, which led to a tragic accident, which led to life as an incomplete tetraplegic, which led to a whole new life.
Yes, it's been quite the "journey" as Dave puts it. And, as I discovered, he has written a book all about it. But don't worry, this episode isn't a spoiler for what promises to be a great read. Instead, we get nerdy on lots of climbing stuff, particularly his escapades with the two Dicks in the central Darrans. And we talk about how he has grappled with moving from a life of physicality to a life of the mind. It's quite a journey too.
July 6, 2021
Welcome to Episode 24 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with surfer, free diver, cyclist, snowboarder and climber, Andy Milne.
Andy hails from Dunedin, where, as a rebellious teenager, he discovered the vibrant world that was New Zealand climbing in the mid 80s. Equally drawn to the mountains and the crags, Andy threw himself in the deep end - an "all or nothing" approach that would come to define his relationship with a number of athletic disciplines.
Not long in the game, he witnessed climbing tragedy first hand when two friends died in a climbing accident on Mt Aspiring. Andy and his climbing companion were first on the scene. That experience changed the course of Andy's life, as he dropped out of art school and (perhaps paradoxically) 'doubled down' on his climbing obsession.
In our conversation, Andy reflects on the twists and turns that his life has taken since, as he moved into working in the outdoor equipment industry, moved around the South Island and pursued a number of other challenging and adventurous activities such as surfing, backcountry snowboarding, road cycling and free diving - all to a high standard. And yet he has continued to return to climbing - as much for the process as the outcome. Now on his 4th or 5th comeback, Andy's deltoids are as big as they ever were and his 6mm crimp game must be (pound for pound) as good as it gets.
Andy has dedicated this episode to lost (but not forgotten) friends Jeremy Strang, Grant Crumpton and Donald Hollows.
June 21, 2021
Welcome to Episode 23 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with crop harvester, committed shoveller and climber, Robin Hood.
Robin is one of the stand out characters from the Canterbury rock climbing scene of the 1980s and 1990s. He was particularly active at Castle Hill where he contributed a number of classic moderate sport routes to the area, including Tales From The Riverbank, Kiss In The Dreamhouse and On Some Faraway Beach. He was, however, also infamous for chipping and modification of climbs - something that he admits he did whilst noting that he was far from the only one doing it at the time.
In our conversation, Robin describes his upbringing on the Canterbury plains, the circumstances that led to him sharing a name with the legendary outlaw of Sherwood Forest, his early experiences of climbing at Castle Hill in the late 1970s and stories from the heyday of route development there. He also shares a lot about his personal life, including significant physical and mental health challenges. Some of Robin's experiences have been very traumatic and some listeners may find parts of the interview distressing. Listener discretion is advised.
Special thanks to Greg Cole for helping improve the audio quality on this one.
June 9, 2021
Welcome to Episode 22 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with grimdark writer, powerlifter, UFC enthusiast and retired boulderer, Stuart Kurth.
Stu was part of the first generation of New Zealand climbers born and raised on plastic - the gym generation. However, unlike most of his contemporaries, Stu developed his strength, skills and perspective on climbing in a state of (near total) isolation. That isolation allowed his imagination to run wild and, fuelled by international magazines and VHS copies of The Real Thing and Rampage, Stu hatched an outrageous plan - to climb V14 one day.
At the time, V14 was the global benchmark in bouldering difficulty. The hardest problem in New Zealand was only V8 (not that Stu knew that). Undeterred, he set about pursuing his goal with an almost single-minded obsession. His unashamed focus was on reaching the highest levels of difficulty, regardless of the time or energy that it took.
In our conversation, we cover the events and circumstances that led to this obsession, the 25 year pathway to realisation of Stu's dream and the price he paid for that realisation - a total loss of the love of climbing. But it's not all big grades and big ticks. There's powerlifting and grimdark chat too. Enjoy!
And if you want to check out Stu's book Two Blades, you'll find it here.
March 17, 2021
Welcome to Episode 21 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with climber, biker, glider, paddler, parapanter and future fly fisherman, Grant Davidson.
Grant was a key player in the development of cragging in the North Island in the late 1970s and 1980s. His name is associated with new routes at Mangatepopo, Motuoapa, Crag 2/25, Crag Serenity and Wharepapa South. He likely "discovered" and climbed the first routes at Kawakawa Bay. At Whanganui Bay, on the Winter Wall alone, there are 29 Grant Davidson first ascents. And his sacrifice for the development of climbing at Whanganui Bay is immortalised the "Lobotomy Buttress" name. Yes, he got around!
After growing up in various parts of New Zealand, a secondary school trip to the then newly established Outdoor Pursuits Centre at National Park introduced Grant to the challenge and reward of rock climbing. And he never looked back. In fact, despite a beckoning career in theoretical physics, Grant embraced an outdoor lifestyle that led him to pursue many adventurous activities and develop a professional life in the outdoors.
In our conversation, we cover his early years as a climber and alpinist, his reflections of the 'heydey' of central North Island rock climbing and his many travels and adventures abroad. He has some great stories and a fair bit of wisdom to share too. Not bad for a terminal intermediate. Enjoy!
March 4, 2021
Welcome to Episode 20 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with climber, instructor and indefatigable inspiration, Dave Brash.
Hailing from New Plymouth, Dave is a highly respected stalwart of the Dunedin climbing scene. Since arriving in Dunedin in the 1980s, there aren't many holds on the cliffs of Dunedin that Dave has not acquainted himself with.
Something of the late starter (having taken up climbing in his mid 20s), Dave has since made a life for himself and his family around climbing: both as a recreational pursuit and a profession. At 71 years young, he's still getting after it.
In our conversation, we traverse Dave's life from the pre-climbing years to his early experiences at Arapiles to a lifelong love affair with Long Beach to 'danger walking' in the Darrans to discovering the joys of climbing on Mt Taranaki - his turangawaewae. He also gives a brief insight into the dangers of hitch-hiking. Enjoy!
February 18, 2021
Welcome to Episode 19 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with friend, philosopher and photographer, Tom Hoyle.
Based in Christchurch where he runs the New Zealand Alpine Club climbing media empire, Tom (otherwise known as 'Gomez Garcia Gonzalez' or 'Big Tony') has been in the thick of the sport climbing and bouldering scene since the early 2000s.
With the physique of a heavy-weight body builder, it would be easy, from a distance, to dismiss Tom as a juiced-up jarhead. In fact, he is thoughtful, measured and highly creative, sporting a degree in philosophy, a masters in fine arts and an exquisite music collection. He's no ballerina on the rock, however, preferring beefy spans and wild dynos to minging finger stacks and precision toe pointing.
In our conversation, we cover Tom's background in climbing, his contributions to New Zealand climbing media over the last two decades, his experiences in some of Christchurch's more hardcore climbing flats and, of course, many of his more memorable climbing adventures - here and abroad. Enjoy!
December 8, 2020
Welcome to Episode 18 of the Ω Powerband Podcast - a podcast dedicated to rock climbing in Aotearoa New Zealand.
In this episode, I speak with renowned mountain guide, climber, skier and opinion-holder, Murray Ball.
Based in Hawea Flat, Murray is a larger-than-life character who has climbed and skied all over the globe. He entered the mountains at young age and quickly began guiding. After serving his apprenticeship in the Southern Alps he moved to France where his alpine and rock climbing flourished. He lived, climbed and guided there for many years before returning to New Zealand in the early 2000s.
Once back and settled in the Wanaka region he became increasingly active in developing rock climbs both at the local crags and in Fiordland. Indeed, he co-authored what is probably the most popular multipitch alpine rock route in New Zealand - Lucky Strike on the Moir massif.
As he says himself, Murray has no filter and his blunt exchanges have left many bruised and bewildered (me included). He holds his opinions strongly and without apology.
In our conversation, we cover everything from his school days to redpoint soloing to bolt chopping in 2020. It's quite a ride. Enjoy!