17 Down Under:
17 DOWN UNDER. "A celebration of moderate grade climbing in Victoria". 184 pages. 285 images. Father & son team, Steve & John Morris, embark on a journey to climb and photograph 50 of the best rock climbs in Victoria, grade 17 & under. Inc bookmark $50.00
Quick trip report. After negotiating 1024 round-a-bouts to circumnavigate Canberra we made it to Booromba Rocks on Saturday night. For future reference where is the 'alive' part of the city during the day? We wished to purchase a sit-down lunch and couldn't find anything that appeared open or inspiring. There must be a cafe strip somewhere? We camped up at Honeysuckle Creek which was nice enough until the SES contingent arrived and asked if we minded if they fired up their generator to run a flood light. I reminded them it was supposed to be Earth Hour in 15 minutes and that maybe we didn't need a 1000watt light in the camp. They got the hint.
Next morning we lept out of bed early and hiked up the hill to the crag. The last time I was at Booromba was 1993, and nothing much seems to have changed. I've grown much older and fatter though. Or maybe my rack had quadroupled and slowed me down? I pondered the top campsite and decided the only people who would camp there would be climbers who only had to carry up the hill a hemp rope and a few biners, leaving plenty of room for a tent and bottle of Stones Green Ginger Wine.
First climb was Integral Crack 48m 19, the most famous route at Booromba. What a line! A sinuous crack up an imposing slab which seems to get steep the higher it gets. Interestingly the route climbs more like a slab than a crack route. I hardly touched the crack, instead padding up on chunky crytsals and small dyke features. The trad gear was 90% small to medium wires, something I didn't have many of as my usual crag (the Bluies) doesn't inspire confidence on small gear. There were several quite commiting sections on Intergral, the last bit of gear was well below and the moves were delicate and sustained. Its one of those routes that you need to make an extra effort to place gear at every opportunity least you suddenly find yourself in a surprise crux, cursing the fact you scampered past a bomber bit of potential trad below. Its a proper 3 star route - one of the best granite pitches in Oz IMHO.
Next up I decided to step it up a gear and onsighted No Beans for Bonzo (45m 23) which is the partially bolted mega slab just to the left of Intergral. My old 90s guide says it was done with no bolts, but these days there appears to be about 6 of them. Quite spaced and airy, it's still a magnificent climb. It weaves around a bit finding right holds, and just like Intergral it's sustained right up to the end. A fantastic route - again worth 3 stars. The only downside was the jiggery pockery of cleaning each of these routes since my belayer decided it was a reading day rather than a climbing day. Lastly I did African Walking Tree in the gully to the left of Intergral. Another awesome route with bomber thin wires the whole way up. Its a series of horizontal jugs that trend left up a rampy feature. Really fun climbign and a bit pumpier than the usual granite slab in these parts. By the time I reached the top I was out of wires and the sun was hitting me hard. It was time to head to crag two of the day, Red Rocks in the outskirts of Canberra.
After a 40 minute drive back down the hill and through 1024 round-a-bouts we made it to the carpark. We chatted to a guy who was pealing the remains of his window out and dumping it on the ground. The whole carpark was filled with piles of glass, each heaped on the ground next to a car. Thievery appears to be a problem! I seriously considered abandoning this climbing area, but we ignored logic and marched off into the sun. 30 minutes later I was burnt to a crisp and cursing this walk. 30 degrees and walking in the sun is not for me. I also had to allay a mutiny when Kathy decided she couldn't take another step, so I cut our losses and checked out the closer (and alledged infinitely inferior) crag of Kambah Rocks. The locations was nice, the Murrimbigi River swirls by amoungst waterwashed boulders and a little gorge. The climbing wasn't great however. I did a couple of easier route then tried the most chalked line in the middle of the cliff - Missionary Positions (23). I failed to get past first base. Shithouse bolt positions, potential ground fall clipping the 2nd bolt and a pretty solid sandbag. It's quite a nice route - very sustained using lots of desperate sideclings and flakes with little for your feet. The rock is frictionless (water-smoothed) and my new found Booromba friction skills were totally useless. My feet skidded out more times than I can remember. After dogging on every bolt and cheating through one section by silver jugs I decided to call it a day. Went for a quick dip and trudged back to the car (which had miraculously not been broken into) and drove 3 hours back home.