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Chockstone Forum - Trip Reports

Tells Us About Your Latest Trip!

Author
TR: Noobs on Bellbird Wall
prozac
11-Dec-2016
2:58:29 PM
After getting up sweet dreams a couple of times bellbird wall seemed to be the next easiest sport multi-pitch in the blue mountains so I was keen to get on it.

My partner for the day (herein referred to as R) and I don't climb much harder than 18 single-pitch sport. I expressed some feeling of trepidation in the car on the way up. R seemed unconcerned but that changed when we looked down at the first abseil.

After assuring R the flat overhand was OK and everyone on youtube uses it I set off. I'd gone with the auto-block backup and made a stuttering descent.

The abseil is a bit exposed. My calm focus came apart a little when I spun and faced the emptiness below.

We found the start of the route easily and had the crag to ourselves. R lead the first pitch. The climbing went smoothly. The bolt spacing is beginner friendly. R repeatedly exclaimed the pitch was long.

R made the top of the first pitch and realised he was a locker short for the belay. He whacked in a quickdraw snapgate on the back of the belay device which got us a stern talking to by a party that was heading down.

I got to lead the second pitch. I had spent time looking on the internet for pictures and knew something about the crux hand traverse (special thanks to David Noble's photos). I followed the chalk marks and clipped the bolt mid-traverse. I was carrying the second rope in a backpack and as I went to move across again it swung out. I didn't think I'd make the next move and called take. Luckily R could see me and I sat harmlessly on the bolt. The second attempt was successful though a bit desperate. The rest of the pitch went smoothly except for a little problem where the crack narrows and there is large tongue feature jutting out to the right. I couldn't decide which side to pass on and wasted some energy.

It was a bit difficult getting R climbing again. I had tethered inside the cave and couldn't see him and communication wasn't easy.

R got climbing and after a few minutes I heard a rapid sequence of "take"s and the rope went tight. After resting R asked if I could take any more. I pulled on the rope but couldn't move it. We tried this for a few minutes but there was no progress. I called to R would he like to lower. He agreed and I had a wrestle with my device but it didn't move. I was wary of completely inverting it and dropping R. I gave up and R went back to trying to make upwards progress. I attempted a Z-pully system but could not lift him. We switched back to lowering. I clove hitched the brake strand to a quickdraw on one of the ringbolts. With two hands I was able to lift the belay device high enough and it released. It went fairly controlled and the clove wasn't weighted. After a few more lowers R began climbing again and progressed upwards.

I was quite concerned about the state R would be in when he reached me. As he made the cave he seemed relatively calm and of course happy for the struggle to be over. In R's recollection, he had got into the hand traverse, thought it was a bit hard and called for take and let go. He hadn't considered the rope stretch and ended up swinging in near-free-space. He could touch the wall, but didn't have any good holds and wasted a lot of energy and forearm strength trying to get up from that position. All this was made more difficult because we couldn't see each other and could only shout simple commands or questions.

We had travelled up to the mountains with R's girlfriend who was going to have a snooze and a walk while we climbed. It was now about an hour later than the time we told her we'd return. She had tried to call during the struggle and R got her on the phone once he was in the cave. She was in a bit of a state but luckily hadn't called any emergency service.

By this time the leader of the second party was up in the cave with us. R was thoroughly burnt out and I got to lead the final pitch. While this is reportedly the most enjoyable part of the climb I was just focused on finishing. R said he was cold and wished he'd brought a jumper. I awkwardly moved out of the cave and was relieved to feel the jug on the outside face. R came up without a hitch.

So that's it. Thanks for reading. We are beginners and made some avoidable mistakes. It wasn't always a fun day out but am glad to have tried it.

IdratherbeclimbingM9
11-Dec-2016
3:18:30 PM
On 11/12/2016 prozac wrote:
A great Trip Report, particularly as a first post on Chockstone!

It is clear that you are pushing your own adventure envelope into new territory, and it makes for interesting and informative reading to many I'm sure that are normally quiet on Chocky, possibly out of fear of being flamed by crusty old long term inmates.

Thanks for the read and also having similar courage in posting it up, warts and all, here.

PS; I'm also glad that the other party was prepared to voice their opinion to you over a perceived safety issue. Hopefully they did so without causing you further angst!

Timfreddo
11-Dec-2016
5:42:33 PM
Good story Prozac,
Has it's fair share of epics, Bellbird wall. Not quite as easy at the grade as Sweat dreams. Also a lot more comitting as it's a rap in, climb out route!

Check out the video on the Black diamond website of best practice to release guide mode devices (if that's what you were using). Had that clove hitch come tight you may have been in a bit of strife...

Bit of a plug, but Australian School of Mountaineering in Katoomba teach great self rescue and multi-pitch rescue courses.

prozac
11-Dec-2016
10:25:10 PM
Thanks for the kind words IdratherbeclimbingM9 and Timfreddo

>PS; I'm also glad that the other party was prepared to voice their opinion
>to you over a perceived safety issue. Hopefully they did so without causing
>you further angst!

It was graciously done, no ill feelings.

> Check out the video on the Black diamond website of best practice to release
> guide mode devices (if that's what you were using). Had that clove hitch come
> tight you may have been in a bit of strife...

Thanks. I have to spend some time down in the local park with a sack of potatoes.

> Bit of a plug, but Australian School of Mountaineering in Katoomba teach great
> self rescue and multi-pitch rescue courses.

I've sniffed around the self rescue course before but didn't commit. This episode has shown it's probably worthwhile.

Miguel75
11-Dec-2016
11:38:45 PM
Glad you made it home safely. Also glad you learned a few things and shared your experience here. Keep learning and exploring;)
johnpitcairn
12-Dec-2016
7:43:13 AM
Sounds like a good learning experience, even just writing it up.

Definitely practice releasing and lowering with a reverso/guide if that's what you were using, and do it somewhere safe. A pack full of rocks works well as "unconscious second". Personally I gave up on using a guide for anything except skinny double ropes some time back, for exactly the reason you have discovered, and have come to prefer a simple munter hitch for bringing up or lowering a second. It's worth knowing how to do that too, you may be surprised how well it works.
johnpitcairn
12-Dec-2016
7:46:13 AM
Aside from doing a course, the Tyson/Loomis self rescue book is a good thing to be familiar with.

http://www.amazon.com/Climbing-Self-Rescue-Improvising-Mountaineers/dp/089886772X

Lingy
12-Dec-2016
8:55:03 AM
Good stuff Prozac - it's a pretty ballsy route to get on if you're already pushing your limit at gr18 single pitch! Glad to hear it all turned out well in the end.

As an aside, it's amazing how many epics are had on this route, mostly on the abseil. When I did it last (a few years back) there was another party calmly waiting at the base of wall after having got their rope stuck on the second abseil. For some obscure reason they'd left all their requisite rescue equipment (prusiks, phone (!)...) at the top of the first abseil and figured they'd just wait for the next party to arrive and free their rope for them. Didn't get much of a response when I pointed out BW wasn't Shipley and if we hadn't come along chances are they would've been waiting for some time...

Anyway, great TR and thanks for writing up.

Zarb
12-Dec-2016
11:14:55 AM
On 12/12/2016 Lingy wrote:
>As an aside, it's amazing how many epics are had on this route

Mainly by uni groups :D
Martym
12-Dec-2016
7:15:14 PM
On 11/12/2016 prozac wrote:
>Thanks for the kind words IdratherbeclimbingM9 and Timfreddo
>> Had that clove hitch
>come
>> tight you may have been in a bit of strife...
>
>Thanks. I have to spend some time down in the local park with a sack of
>potatoes.

I'm curious how you would have gotten out of this? A locked device is one thing, a deadweight on a clove hitch is something far more difficult.
Had you considered lowering your second rope?
Here's a few suggestions:
- learn to lock off a belay device with a releasable knot (not a clove)
- learn the Munter hitch
- learn an assisted hoist

For some more forgiving MP climbs in the blueys try:
Cats in the Cradle, The Rift & The first two pitches of Mr Bigg (can be done as three pitches for training) in Blackheath.
They are all walk in - so worst case scenario you can sacrifice some gear and lower down.

Good luck, stay safe & be sure you have your escape plan sorted next time - including the procedure for your safety contact (girl/boyfriends don't make the best emergency person - at too concerned - you want someone who knows what you are doing& how long you are likely to go overtime)
prozac
12-Dec-2016
10:48:10 PM
Thanks everyone for writing. I'll respond directly to only a few things but appreciate all that's been said.

Lingy wrote:
> As an aside, it's amazing how many epics are had on this route, mostly on the abseil.

It could have happened to us. We had to pull hard to get the ropes off the second pitch.

Zarb wrote:
> Mainly by uni groups :D

I remember looking at the different anchors at the start of the second abseil
and thinking of the unswoc bellbird trip report. If that was you thanks for writing about it!

Martym wrote:
>I'm curious how you would have gotten out of this? A locked device is
>one thing, a deadweight on a clove hitch is something far more difficult.

Yes the clove to the anchor was a bad mistake. I may not have got out unassisted.

>Had you considered lowering your second rope?

No. I realised later that night I could have tied some butterflies into a ladder and
dropped it down. At the time the fact I had a second rope never crossed my mind.

>For some more forgiving MP climbs in the blueys try:
>Cats in the Cradle, The Rift & The first two pitches of Mr Bigg (can be
>done as three pitches for training) in Blackheath.
>They are all walk in - so worst case scenario you can sacrifice some gear
>and lower down.

Thanks. I was a bit lost on what to try next so these will get a look.

regdog55
12-Dec-2016
11:13:54 PM
In terms of your communication problems, my partner and I use little walkie talkies (I've mentioned this in other chocky threads) that we bought from an electronics store for less than $40, and they make a bucketload of difference on multipitch climbs, or on windy days, or both. We also use them to help out other parties climbing nearby, to relay messages. Definitely worth the price of admission.

tnd
13-Dec-2016
3:42:34 PM
On 12/12/2016 prozac wrote:
>...Thanks. I was a bit lost on what to try next so these will get a look.

Also try Schwing (two pitch) at Medlow Bath; and Penny Arcade (three pitch) at Mt Boyce- first pitch is 20, but you can dog the hard move.

Both are accessible on foot from above and below.

There are 13 messages in this topic.

 

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