AUTHOR: Mayan Smith-Gobat
PHOTOGRAPHY: Rich Crowder
The first 5.14 in the world, climbed by the master of sport-climbing — Wolfgang Güllich himself. Punks in the Gym is located in Arapiles, Australia... on my backdoor step. I remember walking past the steep orange wall on my very first climbing trip and wondering how it was possible to climb such a blank face.
Years later, I eventually summoned up the courage to try the route. I slowly figured out the moves and put together sequences that would work for me. After several days, a sudden realization hit me...
"I could climb this beautiful famous route!"
It might take a while, but I could do it... I became hooked, obsessed by these 80 feet of rock, and returned to Arapiles countless times to complete this goal.
Finally two and a half years after that first attempt, I managed to align my mental and physical capabilities. I let go of the need to do the route and let my body flow... It was my third try for the day and I had no expectations, yet I threw for the crux hold with everything, my tips just latched the lip as my body peeled out from the wall, barely managing to reel it back in. Surprised, I fought to keep my composure — the route was far from over. Fighting to control my nerves, I took a deep breath and committed to the next tenuous moves, moving with precise determination and entirely absorbed in the moment. Before I knew it I was clipping the chains — Having completed the first female ascent of Punks in the Gym!
Thanks to everyone who believed in me and gave me endless support and belays!