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Mini TR: The Grand Traverse at Narrowneck
9:24:29 PM
G'day all,

About a month ago Daddy-to-be No-Chalk Rob Burton and I Climbed The Grand Traverse (15) at Narrowneck for a bit of a retro laugh. The GT is more or less 210m of traversing Right, Right and more Right across a mostly juggy wall in a pretty interesting position. I thought it might be worth posting this, as quite a few people have been asking me about it (apparently a lot of people THINK about doing it, but never get AROUND to doing it, for whatever reason).

Rather than go into too much detail (since neither of us thought to bring a camera, the inevitable hilariousness of the affair just isn't as punctuated as it should be) I'll give it a quick run down. If you don't want to read my pitch-by-pitch account, just skip to the 1 paragraph summary at the bottom.

P1 & 2 - I lead, linking the first 2 pitches of Guico Piton. After some initial trouble getting off the ground (I totally blame the wet rock), it was a few funky moves to an easy traverse left on a ledge (much to Rob's surprise: "doesn't the Grand Traverse go right?"). Pretty safe, good pro, easy climbing.

P3 - Rob - Rob went up Pitch 3 of Guico Piton, then traversed right into the gully and down to the cave. Kind of unmemorable with average gear. Maybe the odd interesting move or two. Care to elaborate, Rob?

P4 - Me - I didn't know where the pitch went, so I just climbed right, and down, then up, then down some more, before finally just downclimbing to a random bash-in carrot that I found and setting up belay. I'm pretty sure the only gear on this pitch were slung chicken-heads (on questionable rock) and maybe the odd dubious cam. Easy climbing, but ironstone dinnerplates for hand and footholds translate to DELICATE climbing.

P5 - Rob - Again, not too sure where the pitch went, Rob traversed right beneath a vegetated gully, slung a tree, and then downclimbed 10m or so to a ledge, then continued traversing along that ledge to a gear and single bolt belay. All good and well for the leader, but on second once I unslung the tree and started the downclimb, and fall was going to be massive, followed by a huge pendulum. The climbing wasn't hard, but it was vegetated, dirty and loose. In hindsight, there was a small corner BEFORE entering the gully that looked difficult from above, but once below it I could see that it was actually pretty juggy and would have been an easier downclimb. At any rate, our solution was that Rob built a bomber anchor, and didn't actually clip in HARD to the anchor (but rather hung onto it) and clipped the rope through it while belaying off his harness, with the idea being that I fell, he could jump off as well and hopefully shorten my fall. Fortunately I didn't fall, but I have to admit it would have been a once in a lifetime experience to TRY the validity of Rob's solution.

P6 - Me - The world famous BUM TRAVERSE! - Alas, I didnt do this pitch justice. I jugged my way along the ledge to the first corner-thing (rather than bumming it), then on the main part of the traverse I decided that Leopard Crawling (on my stomach) was more viable. I'd argue that it was, except for the cam and hex shaped scars now permanently etched into my skin (check it out ladies!). No camera means no pictures, hence Rob can't shame my technique any more that I have by admitting to it. Suffice to say, according to Rob it was bloody hilarious. Considering the rather massive runouts (punctuated by Rob telling me, mid huge run-out "You know, Paul, if you fell off now I'm not sure I'd ever get over the trauma of it") I'd call it a "conservative" method. Rob, in typical Rob fashion, did the bum traverse correctly (sliding along the rail on his bum, hunched forward (with the bulge behind you necessitating it) looking over his feet and trying not to overbalance. Admittedly, he also did it in fine style.

P7 - Rob - More traversing right, followed by a cool move past a bulge (where the ledge ended) to get back up onto the ironstone dinnerplates. I'm not too sure how long these pitches are supposed to be, but Rob did a full 50m of easy traversing (after the initial funkiness).

P8 - Me - Yep, 50m more easy traversing. Just a ledge until the end of the traverse (next to an enormous drop), followed by a dirty mantle on slopers and loose rock.

Normally you do some gardening and walk right through some shrubbery, and either walk up an easy gully (original finish) to exit, or climb a corner system with a huge cairn below it (I'm not sure what climb it was, but the cairn was pretty big) but Rob decided to go all the way to the edge of the vegetated ledge, and do a "new" climb up a huge, chossy, detached block (which had formed a double flake system). Suffice to say, with flake disintegrating all around as he climbed it (and the wire placements mysteriously becoming hex-sized placements as he fiddled with gear), it was scary enough belaying him on it, never mind CLIMBING it. After the first 8m or so of flake, Rob turned a little rooflet (by stemming off a nearby corner), and the rest of the climb was a pleasant corner system to the top (I think we said grade 17 or 18, at a guess).

To exit from there is like forcing your way through a WALL of sharp shrubbery for a hundred metres, before popping out on one of the many access tracks that criss-cross this part of narrowneck. Not much fun, that part. Kind of masachistic, really. But such is the nature of adventure climbs in the Blueys.

Anyway, my overall impressions: Retro fun, with a "serious" aspect to it due to runout, sections of dubious gear, and very friable rock, but not exactly "dangerous". Kind of like Margerine Ridge, I'd say not to approach it with "it's only 15, I can climb 15 on trad, I'll be fine", but rather in the light of "I'm solid on grade 19 trad, so I'll tackle this old-school grade 15 trad adventure to be challenged in OTHER ways than mere climbing ability." Worthwhile for a laugh and a bit of a novelty, (and the Bum traverse is awesome in itself) but not something I'd be in a hurry to repeat (though I'm glad I did it in the first place). I THINK it took us about 10 hours car to car all up, though neither of us weas hurrying.



9:44:25 PM
Haha, that sounds like a pretty rad day and almost makes me want to get on it:)

10:33:14 PM
Yep, well done on taking 'a route less travelled' in what sounds like fine style . . .
It's definitely on my list, as is The Masterpiece, 850m at Piddo

Edit by my decision somewhat due to the request of OP . . .
11:43:56 PM
I have the old guide listing The Masterpiece, and know roughly where it goes along Piddo. I'm inclined to think that monster might be beyond me.

[This Post has been edited in the interest of keeping this thread on-topic].

12:11:24 AM
I'd possibly be keen for either of those adventures, if you are up for them . . .
I had a scan of the old,old,old guide, but lost the original, and can't find the scans . . .
PM if interested or ca help with a new scan . . .

6:23:28 AM
Nice TR, and good on ya for trying out the path less traveled!

In my experience Narrowneck definitely has some of the worst prickly heathy unnavigable scrub anywhere in the mountains. Made the mistake of going in there in shorts once... ...never again.
9:11:29 AM
Nice TR! Sounds like a good "fun" adventure, particularly good for terrifying seconds. Might pass on this until I'm solid on trad 19s....

10:07:22 AM
On 8/04/2013 PThomson wrote:
A good TR.

Thanks for resurrecting the lost art of the girdle traverse and posting us about it!
There are many fine examples still awaiting you, not to mention the longest in Oz, recently put up by M. Jackson and S.Toal recently.

Your pitch by pitch description contained the meat for me as I would've been short changed just skipping to the paragraph summary.
It was a good read, and thanks for posting it up.

Post edit:
Yep ajf. Details are;
>Australia's longest route is now Red Tide, 1,013m grade 17 (19 pitches).
>M. Jackson, S.Toal, 2-3 February 2013.

10:20:05 AM
Red Tide.

There are 9 messages in this topic.


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