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Chockstone Forum - Crag & Route Beta

Crag & Route Beta

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Area Location Sub Location Crag Links
VIC Grampians Northern Mt Stapylton Amphitheatre Taipan Wall [ Taipan Images ] 

Seventh Pillar ***18 M2
5:17:20 PM
Climbed this route on Wednesday this week.
Absolutely outstanding incredible full-on all-day adventure. This is a "must do" for anyone who is solid on 18 and can manage a few points of aid. Gives a small-time Big Wall feel on sandstone.

Flat Rock track and into the Amphitheatre.
The Taipan track is a fairly distinct left turn from the main track near where it begins to ascend, then bends slightly right. It soon goes around some oversize boulders. Head uphill for a while, at one stage you have two options: to head straight uphill bearing left (steep) or bend right and walk across the hillside alongside a rock wall which is more overgrown - take the 'turn right' option, it goes across a narrow ledge then head uphill bearing slightly right to reach the base of the cliff. Aim for the white streak.
If you've done this correctly you'll be somewhere near the bottom of Seventh Pillar, initialled "SP", starting with a short pocketed wall down and left of the prominent guano (white) streak that can be seen from the other side of the valley.

Pitch 1 (35m) 17M1
Step up and plug a microcam into one of the pockets, then up onto the flake (crux move of the pitch). Head right and up the corner to reach the horizontal slot. Crawl into this and along it until level with the bolt ladder (large cam handy but not essential), then place pro in the last part of the slot and use it to swing out onto the wall (aid, midsize hex and/or 2.5 Friend) and reach the first bolt, which is an old and rusty carrot.
Up the wall on aid, 9 bolts, some of which are very droopy and downward sloping, and the second and last are new fixed hangers placed December 2005 (thanks Neil). Some tie-offs (hero loops) are handy to minimise leverage, but all the bolts will take brackets.
At the last bolt (new FH) there is a tricky free move to reach the first belay - either reach up high and left for a good edge (stand on the bolthead to gain height) or make a tricky step right (perhaps gr 18) to better footholds. Belay from 2 old bolts with FHs, can be backed up with #9 hex, 1.5 Friend and/or microcam.

Pitch 2 30m? 18 M2
From the belay, move left then up over several bulges (extend runners to avoid chronic rope drag later) to reach a small horizontal slot where there is a stick to clip a FH on the overhung wall above you (don't forget to bring tape). Aid off the FH to reach a bomber wire placement (#5 or 6 Rock) then on RPs across and left under the small roof to reach bigger placements and gain the corner above. Aid up as far as you need to, then switch to free. Up the corner (good placements) to reach a bolt just short of the large horizontal break above, then make a harder move to reach the slot. This is steep and can be pumpy, doubly so if you forgot to manage rope drag earlier (double ropes would help).
Belay in the cramped slot on two bolts plus a FH on the wall above. Some large cams in the back of the slot help.

Pitch 3 18m? ungradeable.
Everyone says "ungradeable" but I'd say about 14 for the first few moves, then an easy but sensational traverse. Crawl or hand-traverse (depending on your gumption) rightwards along the break (Size 3 Friend/s handy) then crawl across the middle section until it is possible to stand up easily (about level with a FH on the wall above). Continue to the comfortable but exposed belay ledge. Don't forget to leave some gear behind to protect the second (note: it is possible for the second to shuffle the #3 friend along as portable pro).

Pitch 4 20m? 18
Continue fairly easily (15?) up the ramp system rightwards with good pro to an old piton, then up into a scoop with 1 bolt and a good rest. Continue with a tricky bridging move out of the scoop (3.5 Friend high above) and up the steep grey corner with amazing exposure to a sensational finish over the top. Many find this pitch "pumpy" but we did not - use footholds on the wall for the first section.

Best option is to find the chains above Dance of Life but I've never done this so will have to leave directions to others.
We made the mistake of choosing to walk off, by heading up to the summit and finding the walking track (in the dark). Unfortunately this involves 2 more pitches of easy climbing up the grey rock above the caves (easily visible from Flat Rock) then finding the track (not well marked). Once unroped, you need to head across to the summit but then stay well down and left (i.e. on the other side of the mountain from Taipan) to find a small cairn near a small uncrossable chasm. From the cairn head south (the direction you were walking) to descend down a rock ramp into the gully, then keep heading in that direction until a track appears.

"Standard" rack plus:
Microcam (handy for under the roof on p2 - Friend size 0.5 - as well as the initial pocket).
Size 2-5 RPs (assuming these aren't on your standard rack)
One large cam.
Basic aid setup with 4 etriers for leader, 2 for second, set of jumars, fifi hook.
Tie offs plus brackets for the bolt ladder - two or three tie-offs would be enough as some of these bolts are fine with brackets.
Two ropes of course.
LOTS of water and daylight. More water. Some food. A head torch.
- Steve
11:03:02 PM
Good description but the descent details are a bit strange. From memory, from the top of the pillar you can scamble up to the right unroped (or keep the rope on to be comfortable) to meet the summit track. Do not climb straight up from the top of the pillar. That would require a rope and you would be nowhere near the track.
The scramble right follows the natural contours and is the best descent option IMHO for people doing Seventh Pillar.
Sounds like you had a brilliant time Steve. God, it's a good climb.

5:53:22 AM
Brilliant Route and good description. The descent is easy with two 60's. just walk climbers left from the cave until you find the chains and rap off. We did the route mostly free with a few bits of aid. A little tip for others. from the start of the second pitch take the bolt to climbers right. The way up L is the free route (28). I think our first bit of aid after the bolt was two lobes of a yellow alien, then some small wires. We started the route at 3 pm in the blazing October sun, no shirt, no water, light and fast! Mick said "I want to BURN so I can peel my skin off and chase girls around with it!" We were off in three hours.
3:38:33 PM
On 16/12/2005 kieranl wrote:
>The scramble right follows the natural contours and is the best descent
>option IMHO for people doing Seventh Pillar.

Thanks KL, saw that option but had no idea where it would end up. Also, we stoopidly thought we were only 15m from the 'real' top, so one short easy pitch would get us there. By that time it was dark and we were tired, so sought the easiest and safest way out.
Rap chains would be preferred next time. Didn't realise we needed 2x60m ropes though! That would have been awkward.
Pics uploaded now -

2:25:33 PM
Good report gfdonc.
Ahh, life is short!, ... so much to do and so little time.
This is another on my 'to do list' and you have just fanned the embers again!

2:33:43 PM
Looking at those photos Steve, you appear to have started the route about 7m left of where we started.
We bridged up the tree for a few moves then climbed up the pocketed grey slab directly at the base of
the corner. A bit bold but easy enough. Much easier to second/clean!
9:52:04 PM
The flakes are very slightly expando but more importantly they flex with changing temps and over time any fixed gear will get chewed up and will finally drop out so a good bounce test on any fixed gear on the second pitch roof is advisable.
A good bounce test is not recommended on the first pitch bolt ladder ;)
10:54:58 PM
(Sigh) must also do a trip report instead of just the beta.

No I would not recommend bounce tests on the droopy bolts.

11:34:35 PM
Speaking about those dodgy bolts, what ever was the conclusion of those discussions a while back, on restoring those bolts, back to their origional condition?

Safer Cliffs Vic
8:37:17 AM
SCV plans to replace 1 out of every 3 dodgy aid bolts and leave the other original bolts in place for the time being. Once these old bolts break then bathook holes will be drilled instead of placing new bolts. Currently two out of the nine aid bolts have been replaced.
10:05:13 AM
Now having done the route (hence speaking with more authority) I'm against the bathook thingy option.
1. Most climbers don't own one. I don't, and I seem to have done as much aiding as anyone.
2. Without a bathook the route will be extremely difficult if a bolt goes missing. A lasso may become optional equipment.
3. This isn't a trade aid route - it's a great free route with a few easy points of aid & should be kept that way.
I doubt one of these is going to pop under bodyweight but even if it does the fall is now harmless. If one should fail I vote it gets replaced with something similar.
If your current rebolting ethic won't stoop to non-stainless carrots I have a few odd bits in the cupboard that could be hauled out to maintain authenticity of the route. ;-)
- Steve
10:10:06 AM
Back to the description, I had an unbelievable amount of trouble cleaning pitch 2. There are still 3 wires of mine stuck in there and most of the other gear had to be hammered out. Took over an hour to (try to) clean it.
Our theory is that, while Dean was leading, the sun came over onto the wall. The morning had been cool but when the sun came on the wall it warmed quickly. We thought perhaps the gear or the flake expanded in the sun, tightening all the placements. A sideways #4 Rock took a dozen or more blows with a nut key and #9 Hex as a hammer, and would not budge. Other placements were similarly tough, I needed to hammer most pieces even though they had not been weighted. Bizarre.
10:39:17 AM
I would think it would be the flake expanding. I had a cam stuck in the initial flake on Glace at Buffalo once. Came back in the cool of the morning and it slid straight out.

10:45:20 AM
I always bring a hammer for the seconder when aid climbing!
12:15:48 PM
On 19/12/2005 nmonteith wrote:
>Looking at those photos Steve, you appear to have started the route about
>7m left of where we started.

The "SP" initials are faint but easily found just 1m left of our start point.

12:17:12 PM
On 20/12/2005 gfdonc wrote:
>The "SP" initials are faint but easily found just 1m left of our start

Cool. Can we claim our direct start then?
12:52:14 PM
To finalise this here's a succinct recap of our day's exploits.
Started in Staplyton campground with a brief explanation to Dean of what an etrier was, and an intro to a fifi hook (which is now his bestest friend!). Had a racking session at the campground.

Arrived at the cliff around 10, got organised and set off. Bouldery moves to start then up the flake & corner with good pro. At the first crawl space, made a few jokes about caving then swung out onto the wall by grabbing the gear & clipped the first bolt.

The bolts were well spaced, enough so there was no need to go top-step to make the next placement. At the top bolt I saw some chalkmarks stepping right but this looked awkward so I got onto the top step, seeking holds. I found a nice crimper at full stretch on the left, so stepped onto the head of the bolt to make the move into the belay stance.

The morning was cool so I was climbing in long sleeves. Dean was getting cold down below and happy to move upwards. Reracked and he set off around 12:15 I think, still in shadow. Dean climbed easily over the first two bulges and found the stick to clip the FH, using the white electrical tape we'd bought in Beaufort the night before. Then aided up and left around the roof, taking his time but moving confidently. Eventually he disappeared up and around the corner. A while later he yelled down, complaining of severe rope drag, so I lowered him down a bit to unclip a couple of pieces

He headed upwards then I heard watch me then the airy rush of climber and gear heading downwards. The fall was very gentle at my end, perhaps able to be held by hand given the drag. Hed climbed up the corner about 2m above a #4 RP, but due to the drag and effort had pumped out trying to place something, and was off. It was a safe fall, about 4-5m down the overhanging wall and the RP held. Afterwards, he was pretty chuffed, and singing the praises of the holding power of RPs.

I followed, having extreme difficult cleaning the gear as mentioned above. It took me around 80 minutes to follow the pitch. By that time it was perhaps 6pm (Ive lost track of time), and wed run out of water, and were in full sun. Dean lead the traverse, so then I could lead through for pitch 4 as planned. He crawled then walked over, I got comfortable at last, and we got photos at both ends by sack-hauling the camera on the 9mm line.

The last pitch was my main worry based on reports of it being pumpy by better climbers than I, but the first corner was fairly straightforward with good gear, and I took one rest just to be sure. At the scoop+bolt I found a dodgy wire placement, but the change in rope direction made it impossible to keep in position without extending it far enough to be useless, so I let it fall out (twice) and reached up to place a big cam in the hand-sized crack. The remainder went fairly easily, very steep but with a semi-rest part way up. This is a great pitch!

On top at the cave, I brought Dean up as the sun was setting. I wasnt worried, we had a head torch, but were very dehydrated. Wed heard the rap chains were hard to find, and neither of us felt up to exploring the cliff edge in the dark while tired, so it seemed easier to head up over the headwall above us to find the track. Two pitches later we finally reached the top! The size of the headwall is easily apparent from the Flat Rock lookout, but you forget these things. It was now about 10:30pm.

At the top we figured wed go to the summit and find a track from there. Eventually found the descent ramp and track. At the packs, there was another 3 litres of water, which disappeared quickly. Bliss! Back at the car at midnight.

Having missed lunch and dinner we were keen for food, so drove to Horsham where the Caltex provided burgers and drinks, lots of drinks. Back at camp at 1:30am. What a day!
- Steve
1:00:57 AM
We did this, probably on 19th Dec whilst on holiday from the UK

I have a bad feeling we threw the stick off. However it's easy to clip the bolt by levering up off a big nut or hex placed in the horizontal break below the bolt.

We may have cleaned your 4 RP plus another 3 or 4 pieces from the flake below - don't suppose you use blue tape?

We found the aid fine without specialist aid gear. We had 3 long slings and 4, maybe 5 short. We didn't have hangers and tied off all the bolts with slings or wires.

We found the free climbing very hard on the second pitch despite having double ropes and no drag (we've also got some DMM revolver clips with pulleys in them which are superb for bendy pitches) The free move to the belay slot on the second pitch is very tough - it can't be aided by pulling on the bolt as it implies in the guidebook description. I'd have thought that this could be a stopper move for some parties and the pitch as a whole is surely harder than 18 ? It might be worth carrying a big hook just in case for this move.

I'd also recommend against dropping the medium wire rack from the start of the last pitch as it has a lot of medium wire placements!
12:10:02 PM
Yes, blue tape were mine. Congratulations on your booty. Rock Hardware shipped me a couple of replacements before Christmas.
Re your last sentence - oops!
9:17:49 AM
I am sure we abed off with 2 * 50m ropes with rope to spare.

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