This was one of my landmark achievements in rock climbing. Always known as one of the routes on the far left that only the “good climbers” climbed, it is graded 6A+ which is also the same grade as Monsoon. For some reason, even though we’d climbed Monsoon to death, we were still unwilling to give it a go, until Fearless Leader paved the way forwards.
There’s a lot of beta revealed in this post so it’s best not to read on if you want an onsight of this route.
Shortly after Fearless attempted this route, Thin Man followed suit. When Thin Man was climbing this route in his sleep, I started to top-rope it. I liked Water on the Rocks because it was the style of climbing I loved best at that time – crack climbing (at least for part of the way). Crack climbing is more technical than it is physically challenging so I knew it was simply a matter of figuring out how.
The crux the point at which you have to move away from the crack to a ledge and hoist yourself up over it. If memory serves me right, it is a very slight overhang that was enough to make it a real challenge for me. Back then, overhangs were not something I particularly relished climbing.
The crux for me was to move from the end of the crack to the big jugs at the ledge that made it possible to get over the ledge. This was the route that taught me never to forget my legs. The one time that I did, I found myself wondering why I couldn’t reach the big jugs. Whenever you can’t find a good handhold, move your feet up. You will be surprised by what a few inches of extra height can exposed – like a jug or two that were originally out of your reach.
Water on the Rocks was the first of the “routes on the far left” (this was before they added the new routes beyond the hut) that I had ever projected. It was a significant achievement for me because it represented a style of climbing I hated – overhangs (however slight it might have been). Ironically, I can’t remember the crux as well as I remember the second pitch of Monsoon which makes me wonder if the second pitch of Monsoon was a more significant route for me?
Of the routes at Damai, it was Monsoon, Water on the Rocks and Jah Lap Climbing that held a special, deeper meaning for me. Although I have climbed every route at Damai (the old wall, not the new routes that were bolted later), these three are the routes that stick out most firmly in my mind.
By the time I could climb the three routes on the far left, we migrated to Nyamuk, White Wall, Volley Ball and Comic. I think that was when I finally considered myself to be out of the beginner’s category for rock climbing.