OVALO Straight Gate. Strength: 25 10 8kN (Heavy Duty)
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|Gramps Jan 05 Weekend: Stapylton & Rosea
And so it did come to pass that we journeyed to the hallowed ground, and partook, there-in of its delights aplenty. Yea, even though the sun itself did curse us with its burning touch and the long hours of toil did sink deep into our bones….
Scene: Early morning. Simpleton (18), 78m, Central Buttress, Grampians, overlooking the valley below the great Taipan Wall.
A cry echoes up onto the cliff from the depths below, emerging out of the otherwise silent valley like the clarion call of an advancing army, “Hey Boniwell, wad ya doing?”. Recognition dawns upon me. “Is that Kent?” I ask of Brad who is ensconced in the belay cave below me at the base of pitch two. “Yep, I think so” he replies, while we both eye off the bolt only two moves away from putting us out of fall factor two territory. “Hoy Kent! I’m on the crux of Simpleton!” I call over my shoulder into the general void below. A reply wafts upwards and I whisper “Just let me get some gear in!”.
A few moves later the bolt is now clipped some ways below me and I’m semi-wedged into the wide crack above with the only decent hold out of reach behind my back. A tiny horizontal seam offers a possible micro cam placement. The crack itself is too wide even for big bertha, the #5 camalot hanging lamely at the back of my harness. Advance quickly to the good stance above or stop to place gear? The eternal question. As always caution wins out. I fight in a small alien, twist out of the crack, grab the good hold, smear up and suddenly I’m on the nice stance above, once again wondering why I couldn’t just do the moves and ignore the abyss.
Above Right: Looking down Simpleton from the P2 belay. The second crux is the somewhat thin moves just below, which force you to depart the crack and take to the face.
We despatched the rest of Simpleton well. Nicely shaded in the morning it makes for a grand start to the trip. Kent, Neil and Will were visible, doing something steep and wild on Taipan while Brad cursed the rap ropes for our descent. They weaved a tangled web, spitting and hissing like snakes intent on devouring one another. Finally embarrassed by the presence of another party below they behaved long enough to permit our departure.
Scrambling off the ledge, now occupied by two girls watching their leader cruise the same crux moves I pondered above, we made our way through the scrub to the base of Grey & Green Walls, just left of Taipan. Here we made the near fatal mistake of failing to don sunscreen, our reasoning being the abundance of shade we’d wallowed in so far. Thus vulnerable, I soloed up the ramp start to Spillway (18) and traversed left along the airy window ledge to its pseudo base; an experience not unlike (I would imagine) attempting to gain access to an apartment by creeping in through the window. With the full trad rack weighing me down I headed up this sport-ish route luxuriating in the ability to place good cams in the horizontal breaks between the six bolts, some of which lay a mere foot or two from said trad placements. The climbing, however, was unlike anything I’d been on before. Slopers and plenty of them. In fact I’m not sure there was a single edge in sight. Bulbous, water rounded “holds” lead steadily up the grey slab with only the occasional pocket to break the journey. (Think of a lower angle Bloodline).
Flopping onto the comfortable ledge above I decided to fix a belay rather than head for our intended destination, the ever convenient chains a few metres right. Meanwhile below Brad once again fought bravely with the reptilian ropes. We needed a second line for our eventual descent, but the beastie refused to be coaxed onto the window ledge, so I suggested to Brad that he try the direct start, a very thin though probably doable affair for someone with sufficient talents. I rigged a simple hauling system off the gri-gri and a prusik to increase his chances, and sure enough he made it up, with only a few moves requiring mechanical assistance. He then proceeded to happily cruise up Spillway claiming it felt a lot like some of the climbing in NZ. People who enjoy slopers; ever a mystery to me.
Traversing over to the chains soon found us below Narrave (17), a nice corner crack. I lead up managing to load several pieces into the crack before the crux, but getting a little intimidated by the left leaning wall and smeary feet with no visible signs of pro further up. The loyalty of a dog gave confidence, so I ventured out with it wagging encouragement, ready to fetch me back to safety. A weird overhead move off a high, reverse side-pull and suddenly a solid stance appeared from no-where. The crack too thin to accept fingers, decided to welcome the micro aliens. Crux thus manoeuvred and protected, I proceeded up to the joyous monster bucket finishing holds, cutting loose with a “whoo-yeah-that’s-what-I’m-talking-about-baby!” to mantel onto the massive ledge above.
Brad came up in good style removing gear, then down-climbing to a stance and heading up again to preserve a TR flash. A short scramble to the chains above and we were once again flinging the reptilian lines, this time tangle free to the station below. Wondrously the second rap went just as smoothly and we arrived back at the packs with only skin cancer and dehydration to worry about. While partaking heavily of both water and sunscreen we observed one of the girls from the previous party boldly leading Navigator (21) to our left. Running it out for several metres more than I would consider comfortable she shoved a whole leg into a horizontal break and placed gear with both hands. (See below)
Above Left & Middle: Girl leading Navigator (21). Above Right: One of the guys (Neil, Kent, Will?) on something steep at Taipan.
Our faces now white with the greasy war paint we hiked over to catch up with Kent, Neil and Will, the later of whom was in the process of an FA attempt on Taipan. The steep orange rock provided Will both challenge and eventually reward, while we yapped below occasionally offering encouragement. By this stage it was past 5pm and we’d been on the rock since 8 or so that morning, so we decided to call it a day with only a little light bouldering at Trackside on the way out.
Stapylton campground was full of numerous walkers & tourists keen on big fires, so we opted for the otherwise empty “fuel stoves only” section feeling a little cut off from main stream society. The others managed to find our isolated campsite later that night and many a yarn was told despite the lack of burning wood.
Sunday found us hiking into the base of Mt Rosea. Brad had never seen this crag so I was keen to show him the grand multi-pitching adventure experience. We carefully chose Heretic (17) mainly because I had lead or seconded all the pitches before and figured this way we wouldn’t get into too much trouble, despite the decision to take only one rope.
Pitch one was a breeze so I combined it with P2, a delightful and well protected but goey, stemable corner crack thing that plonked us onto an exposed and angled ledge. Five pieces into this station and I could still feel the void sucking at my back like the tentacles of a giant squid. Two of the five placements were behind what sounded like a hollow flake.
P3 proved to be a right bastard interrupting the otherwise pleasurable route. The opening moves required a right arm lock off on little or no feet while I quickly sunk an alien and pictured swinging down and directly loading the belay. Exciting stuff, and fun once the piece was in. Further up however, the "evil jam corner" lurked like a troll under a bridge. I’d could remember this section from seconding a previous ascent and kind of wanted a chance to free it, but alas it was not to be. A collection of large blocks kept looking at me saying “yeah go for it, just don’t fall down here or we’ll bite your ankles off”. So once again (as always) caution prevailed and I took the dogs for a walk, silver jugging to glory.
The rest of the pitch is now a blur in my memory except to recall that the belay offered some small amount of shade, very welcome in the heat. Fortunately Brad had valiantly offered to carry several litres of water along with food so we camped here for while. It was at this point that Brad claimed to have discovered an in-cut edge that avoids the whole meat shredding jam move. So now I’m still wanting to go back for another chance to free this devil incarnate.
Anyway, I digress. Pitches 4 and 5 proved to be glorious, definitely my favourite leads for the trip. Both were well protected, and P4 in particular had some great moves off widely spaced jugs – just my style of climbing. We hiked down off the summit, confirming my personal shoe choice (all dayers, not technical), and made it back to the packs with just a sip of water left. Perfect. The route had taken about 5 hours, and I know I was weary, so we called it a day. An uneventful drive home had us back in the land of 9 to 5 all too soon.
(Click Images Above To Enlarge)
photos loading fine from my end....
and a good trip report mike, cheers!
Nice TR Mike - good to hear you got up heretic! thats me in the last photo - trying to find a sordid orchids variant variant, using Neil's sordid orchids variant anchor .... but somebody forgot to put a few holds on :(
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