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|A TR from Araps mostly about Kachoong
It’s somehow appropriate that although I’ve had some amazing climbing adventures in beautiful corners of the country (Freycinet, Moonarie, the Blue Mountains, the Glasshouse Mountains) my first chockstone TR is about a two week stint under a tarp in the baking dustbowl of Arapiles.
Araps is where I learnt to climb and where I try to find a flat spot for my tent on Friday at midnight on any weekend I can get out of town. All the routes that I daydream about when I should be working are scattered on that sandstone, and I planned to finally take the time to tick a lot of them in a two week visit around cup weekend
I won’t go the day by day account of all the routes that I climbed and other campsite shenanigans (who else on cup weekend had a Stumpy shuffle up behind them for a cuddle in the middle of the night?) I’ll just focus on the two most memorable routes, Kachoong(21)*** and Seventh Pillar(18M2)***, which we we had a crack at on the way home. If you’re tired of hearing about these two routes, as they both get a lot of attention on this forum, then go join a bolting debate or something.
I’ve thought a lot about Kachoong during my years of climbing. But when I started getting 19s under my belt on a regular basis, I realized that an attempt wasn’t far off. So it became the end goal of this trip. I’ve never climbed a twenty-one and I have zero experience with roof climbing, but it’s only “Gym 18” anyway, right?
I actually spent the first week ambling up easy classics. Or what some people call easy classics – Arab(15)** had some tricky moves on the third pitch and Libretto(15)** should never have lost a grade for those horrible finger locks on the second pitch.
We climbed the easier routes to make sure my girlfriend’s recently broken wrist had recovered and that my other climbing partner wasn’t too scared after a few years of too much surfing and not enough climbing. By the end of the first week the hardest climbs I’d lead were Togrul Khan(19)*, which had some great technical moves, and Tarantula(19)** which pumped me senseless.
So a week had passed and my last chance to reach my goal was only a couple of days away. The responsible thing to do would have been to prepare a bit on some easier roof climbs like Jens Roof or Pilot Error, but I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want to find out that I was crap at roof climbing and that I should leave Kachoong for another day. So I did the opposite, climbing low angle stuff like Wall of the Afternoon Sun (19)** and my second ever grade 20, Electric Warrior(20)**. In the meantime I wasn’t getting any sleep. I lay awake imagining the roof flake, picturing myself pulling the rockover move on the lip, and replaying the YouTube clip I’d seen of someone barreling off the crux and swinging upside down, barely missing the wall. I was scared. But I’d talked it up so much, thought about it so much, that I had to give it a go.
So I found myself standing below the bolt on the initial wall under the Kachoong roof, nervous as all hell. My girlfriend was lashed to the belay and I’d spent hours picking the minimum gear required, then second-guessing myself and racking up with a double set of everything anyway.
I shuffled out to the edge, pulled up on the big flat hold, promptly reversed the move and shuffled back to the belay.
“The start feels hard” I told my girlfriend.
“Chockstone said it was easy”.
“It’s probably just nerves”.
I pulled up again, clipped the bolt, and reluctantly climbed the rest of the initial wall with trepidation and absolutely no style. The stance below the roof has been described to me as everything from a “Vague Rest” to a “Picnic Ledge” so I was horrified to find it much more like the former. You can rest, sure, but you can’t RELAX. Or at least I couldn’t, not until I had a nice nest of gear clipped. That gear was the peg, a cam near the peg, and a cam out on the flake. I stood there for what felt like half an hour, probably was half an hour, complaining about the lack of a decent rest and trying to figure out whether a fall at the crux would take me past the wall or into it.
I eventually decided it would take me past the wall, and before I realized I was climbing I had pulled up onto the flake and walked my feet up after me.
“Crap, where’s the feet!” “Crap, where’s line!”, “Crap, where’s my energy!”. My feet blew off and I slumped unceremoniously on my well placed and solid nest of gear. Crap.
I chilled out for a bit, and pulled back up onto the flake. My feet blew again, but with enough gym climbing training I didn’t need them, not really, so I put my toes back on the rock near where my heel hooks should have been and moved out to the lip. With my legs at full stretch (“Where am I supposed to put me feet now!”) I reached for the jugs.
They were everywhere.
A nice jug at the lip for my left hand. I reached higher to a lovely flat topped jug for my right. “I can fit both hands on there!” I matched with my left hand and moved my left foot, which, I’d momentarily forgotten about, onto the bucket at the lip.
“This is the rock-over”, I thought
“This is the crux”.
I reached out higher on the left for something to pull up on, correctly assuming that this would make the rock-over so much easier. There were twenty different hold there and they all felt amazing, and all of a sudden I realized how easy it was going to be. I chose one, cranked on it, stood up and screamed with delight.
Done. Ticked. No big deal.
Thanks for posting your TR bones.
I am one of many climbers who have not yet done Kachoong, and it is good to hear first hand accounts of the climbs that feed the psyche.
This kind of raises a dualism for me. Although the adventure of the climb is diminished by the unknowns becoming relatively known through other's accounts, this climb being a short, well documented affair, kind of has a different status to me. Test piece? ... maybe; icon of adventure? ... probably not, ... due lacking other ingredients of that term that I savour.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your account though, and it never ceases to amaze me how many ways a similar act/event can be percieved (and told), due to the fact that everyone who has the experience are individuals, and bring to that physical/mental challenge their own interpretations.
I like your downplay/understatement of
>Done. Ticked. No big deal.
... as it kind of puts one up the nose of the mental preparation you had gathered for the attempt beforehand!
I still remember belaying one of my friends on it. he dicked around at the "rest" for ages
and then went for it, monkeyed out lost his feet and essentially had to chin up off the holds
on the lip. he made a half hearted attempt before looking down, then at me and then it
dawned on him he was going to get some air time. His facial expression at that moment
On 13/11/2009 bones wrote:
>Done. Ticked. No big deal.
Have you done it? Sounds like you did it after resting on the rope.
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