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Central Grampians 10-11 April

3:18:26 PM
Headed up to the Grampians on Wednesday arvo with Mike Schedlberger. We got to Halls Gap early enough to pay a flying visit to the Watchtower. I lead Jugular Pulse (21) then we top-roped Silvertop (22). I've done them both before but still enjoyed them second time around.
Mount Rosea Campground was totally deserted when we got there so we got the prime camping spot. On Thursday morning we headed into Barbican Wall. I've never ventured to any of the cliffs in this area before so we had some initial problems finding them (who really knows why since the directions in the selected guide are very clear). We started off with The Pirate (16). I lead the first pitch which is quite pleasant for most of the way then Mike did the second pitch which is very ordinary. Wouldn't recommend the climb to anyone else. The next climb we did was Rapier Direct Finish (20). Mike did the first pitch (17), a beautiful corner with a short traverse to finish. Then I climbed the short steep corner above to finish. Its a bloody great climb and has the added advantage of finishing directly at the abseil tree. The original finish wanders off to the right somewhere and looks bloody awful. The direct is well protected and good fun.
After a long lunch back at the car we walked up to Barbican Rocks to tackle The Lonely Race (19). Mike lead the first pitch (18) in good style. His trad climbing form seemed to have returned after a break of two years I think? I made a hash of the first few metres of the second pitch. Its a slightly overhanging jam crack with good pro but Mike was sitting right underneath and I was worried about lobbing on top of him. I solved the dilemna by waving goodbye to ethics briefly and standing up on a sling. The rest of the pitch went better. It is quite steep and committing with a few sections of loose stuff. Topping out at the rap point was very satisfying. We quit the crag after this and went for a beer in Halls Gap.
Since we were both climbing fairly well by this stage we decided that it was time to tackle Hard Times (19) at Mount Rosea. I have a history of getting off-route at Mount Rosea and this was to be no exception. Its part of what makes the place so appealing. There is no topo other than for the Tourist Buttress and the routes are long and involved. Part of the problem is that I've never done the easier routes like Speculation and Mixed Climb which are often used to reference the adjoining climbs. Mike set out up the first pitch and climbed strongly past the point where you're meant to traverse right (at least that is what we determined in the post-mortem). He traversed right at about 20m to a bulge and found a fixed wire, complete with a biner, which lead him to think that was the way forward (I think it was left by a previous party who bailed out). He had a few small falls trying to climb past this point and then decided to set a belay (at around 30m) and bring me up. I solved the problem with a rightward lunge to a convenient chockstone then some good old fashioned crack climbing. This lead up to a tree with a sloping ledge on the left. I set another belay here and brought Mike up. The tree had a very well aged army green sling on it suggesting earlier bail-outs. By this stage we had climbed about 45m. I took the lead again, and after negotiating my way around some loose stuff, climbing the corner above our belay and hand traversed right to a nice airy stance above the tree. A short friction traverse to the right led to very steep corner with a mostly fused crack. After considering for a few minutes I wiggled some small wires in down low and then bridged tenuously upward. Everything seemed to be slopping the wrong way. A momentary panic then I spotted a pocket high on the right arete. Cranking up I reached the pocket and struggled on. It felt a lot more like grade 21 than grade 19. Gradually the holds started to improve and about 5m up some gear came to hand then a good ledge on the right. I set a belay and surveyed my surroundings. I was at the right hand end of a long ledge (probably 15m or so) sheltered along most of its length by a 1-2m roof. A few metres to the right was a nice friendly looking corner which we probably should have come up via. Mike joined me on the ledge and set out up the friendly looking corner. He reached a large ledge on the right but after once again checking the guidebook we decided he probably should be going left. So he abandoned the ledge and traversed a metre or so left into a very nasty groove. I probably would have turned back here but he climbed it gamely and was soon at another ledge. I followed him gingerly, trying not to break of any of the choss over which he had just climbed. We were now under a small roof with an obvious exit out left.
Racking up one last time I forged out along the traverse and up to the top of the cliff. It wasn't Hard Times that we had climbed. I think we did the variant first pitch by mistake (this took us to our second belay point) then climbed something completely different in the space between Hard Times and Ashes to Ashes. We agreed it should be called "Even Harder Times". I daresay other lost souls have done something similar in the past so I won't be writing in to Argus.
We were both too stuffed to consider another climb so we called it a day and headed home to rainy Melbourne.
7:02:31 PM
Hi Antonio,
What a trip, I really enjoyed it up there.
Its nice to read the trip report, reminds me to some scary
moments i had up there.

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