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Chockstone Forum - Trip Reports

Tells Us About Your Latest Trip!

Author
Climbing with The Great Fantini

Capt_mulch
17/12/2007
2:28:59 PM
In one of those co-incidences of life, early in 2007 I ended up with John Fantini as my landlord. These days he lives most of the year in Canada, then returns to Australia for a while during the Australian summer. While I rent the house, John keeps the majority of the garage to store gear and his car, so when he is in Australia I see him when he's picking up some gear or repairing something around the house.

I've only been getting back into climbing and had just bought a pile of new gear, including a reasonably comprehensive trad rack, so when John came back from Canada at the beginning of December I was as eager as a proud new father to show off my new gear to him. He cast an expert eye over it and was pleased with what he saw. "I didn't bring any gear with me this time" he said "we'l have to go climbing and use your gear" Perfect! At first he was talking about going to Point Perpendicular, then it transpired that we would do a day up at Booroomba with a couple of other guys from the Canberra Climbers'Association.

John, Jamie and Oliver picked me up at my house on Saturday morning in Jamie's trusty old Subaru. I sat in the back with Oliver and tried not too talk too much (hard for me) while Jamie and John sat in the front and swapped stories about climbs from around the world. Jamie and John are both obviously very well travelled with experience on a lot of crags in a lot of countries. We arrived at the Booroomba car park without any dramas and went through the ritual of sorting gear and who was taking what. There was light cloud cover so the hike up the hill was not too bad - head down, one foot in front of the other, look at the wildflowers. I chatted with John a bit on the way up about what he'd been up to in Canada and other idle chatter.

We arrived at the campsite at the top of the crag and, as it was only my second time to Booroomba and I hardly knew the place, I took the back seat on route choice and plan of action for the day. The guys decided that John and I would do Determinant (15, 144m), while Jamie and Oliver would climb to the left of us. Determinant is one of the original climbs of Booroomba. We did the standard slog down the broken gully to the bottom of the crag, then bashed through the rapidly growing undergrowth that is being encouraged by the recent plentiful rainfall that the ACT has been experiencing. Not having to been to Booroomba for about eight years, John was surprised at how much the bush had been hammered by the bushfires, and was amazed that the crag was now a whitish hue, rather than it's darker, pre-bushfire form.

We started at the bottom of Determinant at about mid-morning. The cloud was increasing a bit due to the approaching cold front, which made the belay quite pleasant and without glare. John disappeared off up the slab of the first pitch. Watching John Fantini climb is an experience. He climbs with purpose, deliberation and economy that belie his years. Hunt, place pro, test, clip, move. As I was about to find out when cleaning the pro, when Fantini places protection you know you can trust it. I was glad to have Jamie over to my left belaying Oliver on their climb. I have only just started using a Grigri and Jamie gave me some beta on the best way to hold it and feed the rope. John was moving quickly so I needed to feed the rope fast. He moved out of sight, and then he stopped. I waited quite a while before he called down "I'm just getting my slab head together". John prefers his climbs vertical, and just needed that slab psyche adjustment like so many of us require when getting onto granite. Before long he was moving again and was calling "on belay!", and it was my turn. I started strongly, and soon came to the point on the slab that John had been deliberating over. I called up to him that I could see what he meant. I chalked up, trusted my feet, moved with care. Ahhhh, granite, you slabby head muck. The next couple of pitches were cracks, slabs, and some traverse, with a great section of laying back up a big corner crack with lovely foot smearing gripiness on the opposite wall. I was pleased when John complimented me with how fast I moved up. I mumbled some pathetic comment about how I always moved fast when I was scared. I wasn't really scared, it was more that the climbing was very sustained, and I don't like to linger unless I have a good spot to rest. Where I was slowing down was when I was cleaning the pro. When John places pro he places it brilliantly, which makes it really hard to clean at times. My gear cleaning tool got a good work out. At one point I had to remove a friend by grabbing the cam lever with the hook of the tool and slowly work the friend out sideways.


Half way up Determinant

For the last pitch of the climb, we moved to the right across a broken, shrubby ledge to Terminant Corner. Terminant Corner is a brilliant corner crack that soars to the top of the crag. The start is a bit desperate and off-width, and really makes you work on your crack technique. The top section of the crack backs away from being so vertical and turns into a corner that you can poke the toes of your shoes into, and the crack accommodates open hand jamming with ease. Beautiful, relaxing hand jamming all the way to the blocky top of the pitch. I'd even rappel back down there sometime in the future to do just that section of the climb again. The blocky section at the top had me grovelling a bit, with a step across a void to the right to exit. It didn't make me feel any better that John had placed three bits of pro in the same place here, indicating to me that he felt the exposure as well. I bush bashed the last few metres of the climb to John's belay, and was complimented with a "well done". Jamie and Oliver had just finished their climb also, so we trouped back along the top of the crag to the camp site.


John Fantini starting up Terminant Corner

Over a bite to eat and plenty of water, the guys started hatching a plan for the rest of the day. It was early afternoon by then and I'd worked hard on Determinant, and I was sure there was a long-neck with my name on it down at the Tharwa store. I would have been quite happy to call it a day then and there and gone home quite satisfied. But it was not to be. A plan was being hatched and I could see that I was meant to be part of it. "Right then!" said John, "Integral Crack!". My knees knocked a bit and my lower lip trembled, and I said in my best bumbly-trying-not-to-sound-pathetic voice "how about I hang off a rope while you guys climb it and take photos?" Everyone stopped talking. Jamie and Oliver gave me a look that was halfway between fear and the look that is reserved for people who have just farted in front of The Queen. The birds stopped singing. The sky darkened and thunder sounded far off in the distance. A chill wind crossed the camp site, and then all was still. Fantini fixed me with a steely gaze and said "when someone gives you the end of a rope, you f@#$%en climb mate. Climb the rope, step on bolts if you have too, it doesn't matter. It's all experience." I had no choice, I was climbing.

I had been pre-psyched about Integral (20, 48m) - it was the first climb I had ever been shown at Booroomba when I went there with Aaron Jones. He had talked about it with reverence, and it looked like a vertical, holdless face to me at the time. I'd also read about people getting psyched by the exposure, and comments on the climb such as "bring your mental stamina" had not improved my opinion. When we reached the bottom of the climb it didn't look so bad. It was no where near as vertical as I'd remembered, though it still looked a little featureless. Even though it's a crack, it's not a wide crack, and is mostly used for the placing of the pro, with the majority of the climbing happening on the slabs to the side of the crack.

Jamie and Oliver had decided to do No Beans for Bonzo (23?), which starts just to the left of Integral. As John climbed I watched him like a hawk for beta on the route. I chatted with Jamie as he belayed Oliver, and Jamie gave me more beta, as he had done Integral a few times at least. John placed plenty of pro all the way up the crack. I watched him tackle the final crux, which is the obvious bulge at the top of the climb, but could not really see what he was doing at that distance. Before long, John was calling "on belay!" and I was ready to move. Jamie started off up No Beans not long after me, so it was calming to have someone shadowing me on the crag.


Oliver leads No Beans for Bonzo (left), John leads Integral Crack (right)

I got past the first crux without too much problem, and slowly and carefully moved up. Just after halfway up the climb I got to a nut that I could just not get out. It was hard to get the nut tool out and use it as I felt I was attached to the rock by the tips of my boots and some crimpy finger tips. I worked on it for a bit, then slipped. As is usual with slab falls, they are often not scary, just annoying. My hands went flat to the face, my boots smeared, the rope took my weight. Jamie was nearby and I commented to him that I was going to have to leave the pro. He was doing Integral after us and promised to clean it for me. I move on up and reached another desperate section. Two crimpy finger holds and a tiny foot hold to my left. I took a breath, yelled "f@#% it" and moved up. "That's the attitude", called Jamie. Then I reached the final crux, a vertical bulging section about 80% of the way up the climb. My foot placement was good, so I had time to inspect the route, but I just could not see a way up. I worked at if for a while, but felt defeated. "You'll have to lower me!" I yelled up the cliff. By then Jamie had topped out and I couldn't see the other guys. "I can't get past this section" I yelled "you'll have to lower me!". No response. For quite a few minutes I stood there expecting some kind of reaction. Nothing. Time to get really pathetic. "I'm old, fat and weak. You'll have to lower me!" I yelled again. "What was that?" I heard John ask the other guys. I heard Jamie tell him "he said he's old, fat and weak". At least I knew now my message was getting through. "Take your weight on the rope!" yelled John. Hang-dog on the rope? I hadn't though of that, through my blinkered ethics. I leant back and hung for a while. I went over things. The guys were going to think I was pathetic. I wasn't scared. I wasn't pumped. I was fatigued though. I hung there for a few minutes and I felt much better. My head was in a better space and I was more positive. "I can't see a way past this section!" I yelled up the cliff. "Climb the rope; pull on the gear; it doesn't matter; just climb!" Yelled John. "Bugger it!", I thought. I grabbed the rope with both hands leant back, and hand over hand Batmaned up the rope and over the bulge. I only had to do it for a few metres and there was a lovely big flat topped flake to grab. I transferred back to the rock face and moved again. I'd left a couple of other bits of pro in the rock, but wasn't concerned about them at that moment. The top of the climb was an easy exit with plenty of good holds. I topped out, a little bit ashamed, but got a round of "well dones" from the guys. I'd made it to the top, and had my ethics reshaped somewhat on the way.

We all rapped back down on double ropes attached to the anchor chain at the top of Integral, and Jamie and Oliver set up to have a go at Integral themselves. I looked up the crack at the bits of pro I had left there and thought about the climbing law implications. "Look at all that booty!" commented Jamie. "You bastard", I said politely, "that's what I was just thinking". "Don't worry" said Jamie "I'll clean it for you".

John asked me if I wanted to have a go at anything else, but I said I was too fatigued. It had been a big day as it was. He was getting ready to have a go a No Beans for Bonzo, when the first drops of rain began to fall.

I didn't have a waterproof bag for my camera, so I decided to head back up to the camp site with the rope and make sure things didn't get too wet. When I got there I bagged the rope and pushed all the packs under a log. I put my rain jacket on and headed back to the top of the crag, just in time to find the guys all coming back. John had bailed on climbing due to the rain. We chatted for a bit, ate some dates that John shared around, then headed back down to the car. When we got there I looked at my mobile "It's a quarter past six!" I exclaimed. I was surprised because the cloudy sky had obscured the ability to mark the time by the sun, and it didn't feel that late. "Only a quarter past six!" declared The Great Fantini "drop me off at the National Library bouldering wall on the way back and I'll do some laps with some weight in my pack!" We all laughed, though we knew he was half serious. The guy's a climbing machine.
widewetandslippery
17/12/2007
2:43:43 PM
Great report. That 1st traverse on Determinant really f---ed with my head without my slab brain in check. Good work.

cruze
17/12/2007
4:07:10 PM
Mate you are posting some great TRs lately. I really like reading them. Brings back good memories of the granite.

I wouldn't worry about what Jamie and Oliver think about your climbing, they won't judge you I'm sure. Those guys are two of the most humble and awesomely talented climbers around the ACT. You were in good company. Sounds like you did really well on Integral for someone that hasn't done much climbing on granite. It is a stunning line to look at and climb. You'll be back.

Determinant into Terminant Corner Finish is great. That photo of you guys on the prow brings back a few good memories.

Capt_mulch
17/12/2007
4:17:47 PM
> you are posting some great TRs lately
Thanks cruze
> You'll be back
definitely - I'm happy to second you on Integral any time! If someone could just give me some beta on getting past that last bulge (JF said something about a flake to the left).

cruze
17/12/2007
4:36:26 PM
On 17/12/2007 Capt_mulch wrote:
>> you are posting some great TRs lately
>Thanks cruze
>> You'll be back
>definitely - I'm happy to second you on Integral any time! If someone
>could just give me some beta on getting past that last bulge (JF said something
>about a flake to the left).

I vaguely remember pinching the crack with the right hand and using a couple of left hand crimpy holds to work my feet up and up til I thought I could punch my left hand out left. All in all I thought that height helped but remember thinking that it was a little barn-doory bringing the feet up onto worsening holds and with the right hand getting closer to your waist. Then again I might be thinking about a different move. I thought that the whole thing was pretty much the same grade. A real thinking person's route.

I am 1 from 1 on Integral, and with living in Melbourne making it a big commute, I might not be able to offer you another lash on second. Although it might be worth the drive...
Bob Saki
18/12/2007
12:01:18 PM
Very cool report Capt'n, easy to empathise with

you did well to climb with such a hard nut!

That Integral crack looks mad

IdratherbeclimbingM9
29/12/2007
8:46:21 PM
I too agree with others about your high quality (& prolific), Trip Reports along with the excellent photos.

It is a unique life thread that you are weaving into the Chockstone tapestry and with the experience you are gaining from the characters you are climbing with, I dare say you will be an old man of the hills (in a totally positive sense), in no time!

Miguel75
22/09/2012
1:24:07 PM
Bumpity bump...
Clark153
2/10/2012
4:06:40 PM
That is great report on tour. Rock climbing is an interesting adventure activity who those who love to win some thing and see natural beauty by its eye's closer.
My first climbing was in Thailand when i was on my family tour, since then i'm climbing rock & mountains.
simey
2/10/2012
8:48:34 PM
On 2/10/2012 Clark153 wrote:
>That is great report on tour. Rock climbing is an interesting adventure
>activity who those who love to win some thing and see natural beauty by
>its eye's closer.
>My first climbing was in Thailand when i was on my family tour, since
>then i'm climbing rock & mountains.

I too agree with others about your high quality (& prolific), Trip Reports along with the excellent photos.

It is a unique life thread that you are weaving into the Chockstone tapestry and with the experience you are gaining from the characters you are climbing with, I dare say you will be an old man of the hills (in a totally positive sense), in no time!

shortman
2/10/2012
9:27:49 PM
On 2/10/2012 simey wrote:
>On 2/10/2012 Clark153 wrote:
>>That is great report on tour. Rock climbing is an interesting adventure
>>activity who those who love to win some thing and see natural beauty
>by
>>its eye's closer.
>>My first climbing was in Thailand when i was on my family tour, since
>>then i'm climbing rock & mountains.
>
>I too agree with others about your high quality (& prolific), Trip Reports
>along with the excellent photos.
>
>It is a unique life thread that you are weaving into the Chockstone tapestry
>and with the experience you are gaining from the characters you are climbing
>with, I dare say you will be an old man of the hills (in a totally positive
>sense), in no time!
>
That my friend is some seriously funny shit.

GOLD

IdratherbeclimbingM9
2/10/2012
9:37:19 PM
On 2/10/2012 shortman wrote:
>On 2/10/2012 simey wrote:
>>On 2/10/2012 Clark153 wrote:
>>>That is great report on tour. Rock climbing is an interesting adventure
>>>activity who those who love to win some thing and see natural beauty
>>by
>>>its eye's closer.
>>>My first climbing was in Thailand when i was on my family tour, since
>>>then i'm climbing rock & mountains.
>>
>>I too agree with others about your high quality (& prolific), Trip Reports
>>along with the excellent photos.
>>
>>It is a unique life thread that you are weaving into the Chockstone tapestry
>>and with the experience you are gaining from the characters you are climbing
>>with, I dare say you will be an old man of the hills (in a totally positive
>>sense), in no time!
>>
>That my friend is some seriously funny shit.
>
>GOLD

I laughed at that too!
Shades of five year ghosts! ;-)
~> The stuff some people write; ... sheesh!
Heh, heh, heh.




Post edit:
I wonder how long Clark153's enthusiasm will last once that poster gets a response from some other chocky characters, as it is hard enough to understand some posts in a language first hand with the lack of internet subtleties, without having to put it through a translator beforehand.
What we need is some direct posts, cue-

Miguel75
2/10/2012
9:44:46 PM
Hey Clark153, welcome to Chocky. If you get a chance to climb in the US feel free to share any trip reports. We're seriously lacking here at present:)

There are 13 messages in this topic.

 

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