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 Page 1 of 2. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 23
TR: old/new (who knows?) routing

6:56:29 AM
It wouldn't surprise anyone that I don't get on ropes often. There's probably as many theories why someone wouldn't get on rope as there are climbers; no doubt some will claim stridently that I'm a wuss (which I don't deny) but for me, it's always been that I find the process of roped climbing so tedious. My ADHD self simply doesn't cope well with all the faffing about. And I don't care about a lot of things other people find really interesting. The gear holds me or not; I can't get excited about the numbers how many kN?? *shrug* Whenever I'm considering a climb I flash back to the cost of all the gear you have to buy and wonder why I'm not just getting out with a mat, shoes and some chalk. I love offwidths (oddly perhaps they should be called oddwidths??), but I would never buy as many pieces of gear as I probably need. And I'm not the one piece per 30 metre type. So, I'm not a natural Booroombite (a Canberran term for Booroomba-lovers).

That said, once a year or so, I'm feeling reasonably fit, my mind turns to a bit of adventure and self-flaggelation, and I get a hankering to go tradding. And it always seems to coincide with Alan arriving.

Alan's a brit who I'd dare to call a good mate who happens to rock up to Canberra once a year or so. We actually met on Chockstone after he put out some feelers about a climb in Canberra. I ended up meeting him for a boulder, and he didn't even seem to mind pebble wrestling. Since then, we've made a number of plans to climb.

The plans haven't always turned out well. We did get out to a day of climbing at Mount Keira once (going as hard as we could in 34 degrees on sandy undergraded choss on the south face and wondering if the gear would really hold) but the planned following week of climbing at Nowra and elsewhere got completely rained out. Alan's been pretty patient over the last couple of years, what with me getting over a broken ankle when he turned up once and then managing to tear my back to bits in late 2011, just before he was due to turn up and spend a month or more climbing with me. So I felt I owed Alan something better this time around.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Alan really wanted to get Integral Crack (40++ metre gr 20) done, well within his capabilities, having had an aborted attempt some time ago due to circumstances out of his control. I'd offered to be involved. With Alan's exhortations to stop injuring yourself in mind, I'd also been trying to find some old established boulder problems around Canberra and attempt only those that weren't likely to do any long-term damage from falls or eyes-bigger-than-stomachitis. In looking around, I found an area that seemed to be heavily fire-affected (like, heavily), with way bigger boulders than you'd expect to be climbing with a mat if you're halfway sane. 6-20 metre lines. I'm not bouldering that! The crag itself is packed tight, with small 'hallways' between each boulder. It'd be a kid's playground, romping around and over and under, into caves and squeezes.

I sent Alan a message and asked him - do you want to have a go at some possible new lines?

To Paraphrase, HELL YES.


The line on the right was done by Chris Warner (of Flaming Dinner Plates on Mount Thor fame), at A2+. Up close it's even more impressive than from afar; it overhangs 4 metres in 15 and is seriously flared. It's the kind of crack you look at and wonder how it's possible at all. But it's way above my pay grade; in fact if I had to guess I'd expect a free grade to have a 3 in front of it, or be in the very high twenties. Looking around, I saw a few potential lines and put out some feelers as to whether the lines have been done before. I'm still not entirely sure what has been done, so please don't take offense if you've done any of these before because I've done my best; what is pretty obvious is that other than Chris, no one's roped up at this area since the Canberra fires, and the lines that may or may not have been done are exfoliating like crazy. CRAZY.

Which is part of the adventure...

Sunday 20 January

Alan rocked up to the car park at near to our meeting time, having been delayed by a late arrival from Port Macquarie to Canberra. The forecast was for 29 degrees and we'd been hoping to get out early, but sometimes it's not to be.

After much faffing about with ropes to get anchors and other such boring things set up, we decided to have a go at the rib you can see off to the left of the photo above (next to the crack), as a warm-up. On top-rope, because there's no gear at all and because you could fall off the ledge below the climb and right bugger up an ankle or wrist. It looks like it should be a simple matter of laybacking to the top, cruisy moves...

Ahh, granite. Sometimes things look easy, and often you convince yourself they're easy. Pretty often they're not. Alan and I both have a go at the climb and after tearing off massive amounts of friable rock come to something approximating a possible climb. But the thing is, after one particular flake got torn off, the climb got hard. The climb felt like a hard (for me) boulder problem. Not a good start. I get to the anchor after giving off the wail of the ban sidhe, and then realise there's a much harder move above if you want to top out. This climb suits me, but screw that. I can't do that unless I have a team helping me to top-rope dyno. Time to move on.

We take a crack at the crack to the right (of the rib), all of 13, 14, 15 metres? And this is where the fun really starts. Alan wants to use his doubles and I am a single (but married) man, unfamiliar with double ropes and using Alan's weird clicky belay device to boot. It clicks up and protects Alan from going down as well as any gri-gri. It also protects him from going upwards. Good thing the crack has solid hang endlessly gear.

The crack is slabby or overhung, depending on your point of reference. It seems like it should be a walk up a steep face using the arete. Unfortunately, the arete crumbles continuously as we climb. There is no arete/spoon. It's jams or falling. Technical, insecure jams.

The tape we have is inadequate to the task of protecting every square inch of our bodies from being sandpapered by granite, unsurprisingly. It's hard, but beautiful. An E1/5b move right off the deck, smearing to help you reach the rail. I'm glad of my (outlandish) habit of bringing a bouldering mat to crags, because both Alan and I fall off the first move at some stage and there's enough flaked granite to do some serious ankle damage below. After trading goes at it, I've gotten just around the corner, about 34 mm above Alan's high point, and we call it. Too hard, sun's on the crack boiling us off, it will go but not now. Super-duper-crack-project for the moment.

Finally, we take a crack at one of the boulders behind the main bloc, in hopes of doing something at all. At 2 pm, I'm roped up, pumped, sunburned, tired... Ready to go! First bit of gear goes in at the 4 metre mark, after some worrisome smeary moves. It's okay to fall into a chimney/crack isn't it? Surely you won't hit the ground. A few more bits of gear, then I'm off... Then, &^%&^. I don't have anything big enough for this crack. It's an offwidth and I'm sure I could do it first go, much as anyone without any knowledge is sure of their ability to do something. But in recognition of my advancing age, I back off, and top-rope it easily enough. I get a good ego boost at the end of the day, as Alan seems to find it more difficult than me. I think he's playing possum. I leave with an impressive amount of sunburn and scratches all over my back courtesy of super-duper-project-crack.

The crux of the day was still moving all the gear. It's amazing how you can walk 100 metres to move ten metres in space.

Alan at No Warmup


Ok, Alan, we're getting out early this time. Are you okay with a 7 am start?
Sure mate, I've been climbing three times this week and heat stress is too much to deal with, let's get the best of it in the early morning.
Okay, meet you at the same spot.

A short drive from where we meet, we decide to warm up on some fairly easy looking cracks behind the super-duper-crack-project. They're short, and look like they'll go quick.

Spider House Traverse and others

Yeah, hmm. Significant pieces of onion-skin continue to come off the rock. That said, for once we were right the warmups were warmups and were reasonably quick to climb. Nice too there's something to be said about a smeary traverse where the scoops in the rock are right where your feet need them to be. Shorties need not apply.

The main prize for today is the crack. I'd been thinking 23 to the point we attempted, which is very difficult for a boulderer like me, holding onto consecutive goey moves. Actually, I pump out on 12s, but don't let on.

Scoping the moves
(Alan plans ahead)

The epic battle is undescribable. It felt like the last day ever to try the thing, and for Alan at least, it was the last day this year he'd be able to give it a go. Alan led the way and attacked the crack with gusto and verve. Cleanly climbing it to well above our previous high point, it looked like he might pull off an alzheimer's onsight. Until... he hit the real crux. Turning the corner was bad (as I said, 23 or so), but it's nothing compared to the real crux. Alan hits the high point and falls/takes, I hit the high point and can't get up... it's atrocious. Soft V6, hard V5 move to top out, after all the increasingly difficult moves that came before. Stacked hands, right foot in crack, falling upside down, no place at all to put your left foot, where do I put my bloody left foot? WHERE??

An eternity or a short while later, on the proverbial last go of the day, Alan sent, with the benefit of a kicked-sideways cam jamming one of his doubles and giving him motivation to not fall right at the crux move. He wanted to name the (new?) line Smart Going, in honour of John Smart of Canberra fame and his teachings when Alan learnt to climb with him. But after a few sessions, much blood, serious amounts of skin, and a reasonable amount of danger, he decided to name it 'Flypast Crack', in honour of the Australia Day celebrations we viewed while attacking this monster.

I won't go into the shenanigans getting the rope unstuck. I'll just say in this case Alan was right about needing doubles - and I got to learn what it's like to second on an 8.9 mm rope rubbing across rock. I still don't like doubles though, at least for pretty straight-up-and-down lines.

Some of the damage

Fun times.

PS: If you've done or know anyone who's done any of these before, please let me know so I can update the record accordingly. I've asked many, but you never really know with these older areas.

7:14:10 AM
We were a bit worried about the chance of a storm, but nothing seemed to eventuate... And then it struck last night in about 10 seconds flat and took out half of Canberra's power. Very glad we didn't get caught in it.

A view from below. Innocuous looking - the offwidth finish isn't clear in this photo, nor is the chimney start. Note all the exfoliating rock!

View from below - Flypast Crack

11:45:30 AM
On 27/01/2013 ratherbeclimbinv9 wrote:
>We were a bit worried about the chance of a storm, but nothing seemed to
>eventuate... And then it struck last night in about 10 seconds flat and
>took out half of Canberra's power. Very glad we didn't get caught in it.
>A view from below. Innocuous looking - the offwidth finish isn't clear
>in this photo, nor is the chimney start. Note all the exfoliating rock!
>View from below - Flypast Crack

That crack looks rad. Sounds like a few days of fun climbing. Thanks for the stoke-worthy TR.

11:55:46 AM
Great TR. Who said trad was dead?
3:38:28 PM
So you get a visiting route climber out here in January. Everyone else in Canberra would have taken the dude out for a shady morning at Booroomba, some cragging up on the ridge, or an afternoon at Red Rocks. Instead you taken him out to an obscure area with more exfoliation than a leper colony.

I should be putting in the boot in. Hard.

But I can't. Looks like you guys had fun. Well done and congrats on the first ascent.

3:55:40 PM
Cheers Estey. PMed you ;)
5:46:16 PM
Just curious whether this was out in Pierces and whether you found a funny piece of wood plus trailer rope on top of the boulder?
One Day Hero
12:24:59 PM
Bump! Davidn, any chance you could answer the question above?

1:01:48 PM
Sorry, I didn't see the question earlier. Yes, it's in Pierce's; no there was nothing at or around around the top of the climb or that boulder - but that's probably no surprise as the chimney behind the crack shows evidence of a huge flame-out having reached the top in the fires - looks like it drew hard. I haven't looked over the other side above Chris' line.

Has it been done before and if so, name/grade etc?
One Day Hero
1:41:58 PM
So how did you get down off the top of the boulder? Was it a walk off? The photo of your "25" looks awfully similar to Mercenary Swine (15m gr21) on page 228 of the granite guide.

While I have the granite guide open, allow me to share this prophetic quote from the Pierce's Creek page;

"This is a good rallying area and an ok bouldering area with a few short climbs. Most of the climbs here have been engulfed by pine regrowth and are only recorded to stop some passing c--kroach's pathetic attempts at glory"

Fuching brilliant!

White Trash
3:30:58 PM
On 7/02/2013 One Day Hero wrote:
>While I have the granite guide open, allow me to share this prophetic
>quote from the Pierce's Creek page;
>"This is a good rallying area and an ok bouldering area with a few short
>climbs. Most of the climbs here have been engulfed by pine regrowth and
>are only recorded to stop some passing c--kroach's pathetic attempts at
>F---ing brilliant!

would you say that the only thing worse than a c--kroach, is a c--kroach with a drill that's looking for glory?

5:27:47 PM
Why on earth would I actually respond to such drivel, in the face of such fun memories? Of course I'm still interested in hearing from anyone who's actually *climbed* the route.
One Day Hero
10:22:30 AM
Don't shoot the messenger Dave, that was written (by chockstone's grangrump, I believe) about 15 years ago.

Anyway, if the boulder with your "25" required a rap off, and there was a crack all the way through the boulder, I strongly suspect that you've climbed the established route (Mercenary Swine, gr21, f.a. 1980) which I climbed with uwhp50 last year.

That's why I asked how you got down. If your boulder has a walkoff it isn't the same one, so you've almost certainly bagged a new route. If you'd seen the piece of 4x2 hammered into the crack and tied off with trailer rope, that would have confirmed that the route is indeed Mercenary Swine.

11:06:32 AM
I meant your drivel, not his - in assuming I was seeking some kind of glory.

After asking around a large number of older and bolder climbers than I and reading the guide a few times over I concluded it was almost definitely not MS, based on the lack of an offwidth on the Canberra side, no signs of a flake on the left nor the remnants of one, and the route description being quite different (a chimney start to hand crack to spicy offwidth finish rather than fierce fingers/hand crack).

Actually it's a *lot* closer to the description of Matricide and it looked 20 to start with, but the crack 'next to it (Matricide)' per the ACT Granite guide is definitely not 19, unless the FA did a mikl-style sandbag of something like 9 grades or more (remembering Chris Warner did it at A2+); and that crack is on the right of the one we did, not the left as the guide says about Tarred and Feathered.

If you are feeling strong, I would actually recommend you take a look at Chris' climb. It would be a stonking, scary, hard and easily 3 star free route I suspect. It just flares so much...

Yes, it's a walk/scramble-off; nope, no 4x2. In fact it would be impossible to lodge a 4x2 up top, it's a huge chimney slot through the middle of the boulder. It does have two lovely large chockstones to belay off though.

Re: '25' - Alan gave it e3 6a. I consider it his FA if a FA was achieved at all; I was just around at the time to cheer him on. As I'm a pebble wrestler and knowing/caring nothing about route grades, that's how I've left it in the online guide. I still think it's possibly been climbed; most things around Canberra have.

White Trash
11:23:26 AM
On 8/02/2013 ratherbeclimbinV9 wrote:
>I meant your drivel, not his - in assuming I was seeking some kind of glory.
davidn , my post was directed to one day hero. i think he would agree that there are too many c--kroaches with drills looking for glory thse days.

i liked your tr though and is good to see yo on a rope sometimes.

11:43:55 AM
Sorry to have misconstrued then WT - nice to hear some positive feedback from you.
One Day Hero
12:25:08 PM
Wow, that's amazing. If you walked down it is definitely a different boulder. Your photo really is a spitting image of Mercenary Swine, and the description of the climbing would fit as well except for one point. A year ago there was a very disturbing loose flake wedged in the upper wide crack, but I wouldn't be surprised if this 100kg belayer cleaver had spontaneously fallen out by now.

Anyway, I'm pretty keen to go and check your route out when conditions are actually conducive to climbing granite cracks. Sounds like a sweet addition to the local collection of gnarly cracks.

1:10:51 PM
On 8/02/2013 One Day Hero wrote:
>Anyway, I'm pretty keen to go and check your route out when conditions
>are actually conducive to climbing granite cracks. Sounds like a sweet
>addition to the local collection of gnarly cracks.

I thought you hated those little poxy routes?

1:47:01 PM
Thread resurrect - went out exploring today and found what must be Mercenary Swine; is this it Damo? (can't imagine many cracks in Pierces with 2x4s in the top!) I can see why you thought it was the same one... but it looks like the arete is already denuded on it. And in comparison the start is way way smaller, the one we did had a full on cave you could camp in at the bottom through to a full chimney. Was MS still 21 when you did it?

Merc Swine

Merc swine 3

Merc Swine 2
Massive detached flake and all... Lovely bushbash to get there too. You'd certainly have to be keen for it.
One Day Hero
9:44:35 AM
Yup, that's it, still 21 but I reckon it needs a crowbar job on that wedged flake up the top (very disturbing). Got yourself a chopper, eh?

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