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||Tuesday, 18 July 2006 At 4:55:35 PM
Fool in the Rain
|Here's a trip report I wrote for CragX last year..
How much alcohol should four 40 year old plus climbers carry up to the hut at the Bungles for a (short) weekend trip? (drive up from Sydney Friday night/back Sunday night) We took 2 litres of port and 4 litres of wine.. this is sort of what happened..
I’m on the sharp end of the rope at the start of pitch five (or is it eight?) of Out and Beyond on the backside of Belougery’s in the Bungles and nothing’s looking too good. The guidebook description of “up” isn’t very helpful as the slightly overhanging loosely stacked TV sized blocks above look distinctly like “death on a stick”. It’s a 32-degree day and we’re in the full sun and I’m starting to wonder about my careful preparations for the trip. I’d done all the good things, once a week in the gym, a multipitch warm up the previous weekend and a good read of at least two guidebooks as well as listening to “hear say” beta. But last night things began to go a little astray..
It all started well, a late afternoon pick up in Katoomba with R, G and J already in the car. Maybe I should have joined the others in a burger at R’s favourite Mudgee truck stop the Busy B,. but the “cut the air with a knife” aroma of frying grease and the casual staff banter of lack of cleaning kind of put me off. Back in the car we drove on into the dark listening to R’s selection of Queens’ Greatest Hits II & I and then as a change Classic Rock Hits. It should have had Purple’s “Black Night” but it did have “Smoke on the Water” and we had a rousing sing along to “Bat Out of Hell”. Mmm, a bad bad sign.
We arrived at he car park at about eleven and started the uphill slog to the hut. J and me got there pretty quickly, too quickly so we thought we’d have a nightcap. Out comes the port cask. R and G arrived sometime later. R’s walked up barefoot due to a rapidly developing blister from his hiking boots. We’d all had a long day and needed to get up early so sack time was probably in order. Probably and sensibly, but somehow when B, Rob and some pommy fella turned up two hours later we’d seriously dented the port and showed no signs of stopping.
We must have at some stage because in an all too short time we were tumbling out of the bunks preparing to go climbing.
Food, coffee, gear, walk. Not a lot of time to think and soon I was stumbling towards our destination. A shortcut through some trees and I’m turning round to look at the rather large burnt, dead tree falling over as I pass, and don’t see the old trampled wire fence at my feet. I hit the ground with quite a thump (a sack full of climbing gear helps with the momentum) and a quick manual face inspection reveals blood and a painful swelling above my eye. Still anesthetised from the night before I picked myself up and continued.
We surfed the scree down the backside of Belougery’s and looked for the “obvious pinnacle” marking the start of the route. Soon the path was climbing back up a bit and I realised I’ve walked round the backside and could now see the usual front face, along with R & G who’d taken a frontal approach to the walk in.
I don’t know who made the decision but soon we were climbing up some easy slabs for about 70m passing some old tat and a piton on route. The obvious pinnacle was loosely identified and I climbed up the first pitch. Suddenly the description seemed possible. The “bridge” in the description is more like a big dirt coll between the cliff face and the slightly detached buttress/pinnacle. J placed a high piece on the “pinnacle”, “fell” across onto the face and climbed up and across the traverse. Spaced gear, an old fixed off route wire and J finally made the moves to the ancient ring piton belay.
I followed, feeling more than a little shaky and led thru, moving right a little and up. I was climbing very slowly and cautiously due to the rock and my condition. J followed the modern guidebook description up a brown rib; I followed and found myself at the start of this story.
I’m more than a little dehydrated and would probably have a raging headache if my head wasn’t aching from my fall. Everything above looks shit and scary. The only easy way is a small up and down climb to the left. Easy sounds good, but the rock quality isn’t and I put in some miserable pieces behind loose blocks to hopefully protect J as he down climbs the moves behind me, effectively on lead. A very scrubby ramp leads to a much more user-friendly wall/slab/big corner. J’s lead and he goes for the full 50m. Some nice bridging and I’m up with him now feeling weak and almost unable to stand up. Which I don’t really have to, just climb up a big beautiful blocky corner. Another good 50m of climbing, passing an old piton on route (but of which route we have no idea) a short pitch for J and unbelievably we’re at the top.
Postscript. It's probably more fun to drink after climbing but more interesting if you drink before..
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