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Grampians, March 2003
[ Summerday Valley | Van Dieman's Land | Black Ian's Rocks ]

Grampians Overview

Ben leading "666" grade 17 on the Back Wall.Another Gramps trip was definitely on the cards with the Labour Day long weekend approaching. Saturday was sacrificed to various tasks, and instead the team (Myself, Ben and Kent) assembled in the wee small hours of the Sunday morning. We made Summerday Valley in record time meeting Owen on the rocks of this ever popular little crag. The place wasn't as packed as I'd have thought. We jumped on OverKill (17) on the Back Wall for a warnm up without having to shoulder past the usual throng. The delightful lead was as good as always. Ben lead 666 (17) beside it, finding the pro a bit scarce above the cruxy start. 

Right: Ben leading "666" grade 17 on the Back Wall. A reachy move leads to an easier finish right of Over Kill.Kent top roping Fritz And The Cyclops, grade 24.

Kent as usual was bounding with energy, so we decided to find something to slow him down. Top roping Fritz And The Cyclops at grade 24 barely took the edge off, with a successful ascent on his second attempt. The rest of us, however, flailed helplessly at the crux mid-way point where a horizontal break leads into a sloping layback.

Left: Kent top roping Fritz And The Cyclops, grade 24. (See: Summerday Valley Images for the rest of the pics).

After a late lunch we felt primed for action once more, and decided to walk in to Van Dieman's Land for some sport climbing. The track in seemed less arduous than usual, with most of the scrub bashing clearly defined. On our arrival I lead the little grade 18 warm up route "The Dope Man" (pictured right), which basically is only tricky for those with less reach. A massive under-cling with the right, then dyno the lip with the left - quite fun.Michael pops the dyno on "The Dope Man", 5m grade 18

Right: Michael pops the dyno on "The Dope Man", 5m grade 18

Two of the party had never been to Van Diemans before, and Kent's embellished recounting of my comical attempts on the always fun sport route Terminal Insomina (22) lured the others into trekking to it's base. On this prior occasion I'd been talked into the lead, only to dog every bolt and whimper my way up, with the culminating act of submission being to hang from a sling over "the horn" - a prominent little feature that marks the last of the hard moves. Totally wasted, with a light rain arriving I flailed to the top vowing never to lead the route again. This weekend, Kent was to lure another victim onto the steep rock, talking Owen onto the sharp end. Valiantly Owen struggled up fairing no better than I, though at least he managed a bolder no-hands rest, by standing on the aforementioned horn and jamming his head into the chimney! (pictured below).

Owen leading the wickedly pumpy sport route "Terminal Insomnia", grade 22Owen leading the wickedly pumpy sport route "Terminal Insomnia", grade 22
Above: Owen leading the wickedly pumpy sport route "Terminal Insomnia", grade 22. A minor crux guards the opening moves, despite the huge bucket like holds. In the first frame, however, he's about to enter the main crux, a high reach to a horizontal break. Above Right: Forearms screaming he milks a head rest! (See: Van Diemans Images for the full sequence).Michael leads the warm up route "Decree Nisi" grade 16.

With the benefit of Owen's belay from above the rest of us scampered up the route in varying degrees of style or lack there-of. As darkness approached we hiked back to the car park, and promptly drove around to Staplyton campground. Having never camped here before, I was surprised at it's popularity. The place was packed to the gills, though the majority of inhabitants were probably not climbers judging by the volume of expensive 4 wheel drives and lack of clinking gear and fireside antics. We squeezed into the last remaining campsite, and cooked the usual mountain of pasta, before retiring to our tents.

Above Right: Michael on the crux moves of the warm up route "Decree Nisi" grade 16. (See: Black Ian's Rocks Images for the rest of the pictures). Below Left: Kent top roping Prosecutor, grade 18.Kent top roping Prosecutor, grade 18.

The morn saw us ready for action once more. The day before we'd started out as trad leaders, then fallen prey to the safely of bolts. This day the transition would be complete with most of it spent top roping. The destination: Black Ian's Rocks. For those that haven't been there, the crag offers a wealth of quality single pitch routes all with easy access. I lead "Decree Nisi" (pictured above right) at grade 16, to kick off the proceedings. This is a hoot of a lead, with a fun little face section in the middle providing some interesting moves.

Next we threw a top rope over "Prosecutor" (pictured left), which I must remember to lead next time. This route was my favourite of the day, with the threatened hand jamming never actually presenting itself, despite the overhanging cracks. Just when you think you'll be forced to into a skin tearing jam, a delightful crimp will appear on the face, or a nice edge within the crack. Well recommended!

Owen top roping Ok I Confess, grade 23.To the left of this line, we found Zuma, at grade 22, very hard, even with the benefit of the top rope. There was no avoiding the jams this time, with the crux moves requiring some hard hauling over a smooth overhanging bulge. Pumped, but invigorated, we cast about for something else to attack. It was obvious now that no one was going to lead anything. We'd sunk into top rope mode and figured we may as well wallow there for the remainder of the trip. 

Right: Owen top roping "Ok I Confess", grade 23.

Further left again we rediscovered "Ok I Confess" at grade 23. On previous trips we'd taken a crack at this delightful route, and remembered it's cruxy moves, with myself failing to gain the summit. On this occasion, however, I was thrilled to get up it with only one dog on the last move, caused by general fatigue. The others also fired up the route and we were well pleased with ourselves for solving the line. In the picture (right), you can see Owen entering the crux. The key hold, hard to spot otherwise, is chalked and high on his left. Utilising this hidden gem you can torque into the smooth scoop, pop another two moves and gain the victory jug above.

We finished off the day with a quick run up Gallows Pole (17) and Chancery Lane (18)  in an attempt at improving our jamming skills. I swear the grades of these two routes should be reversed. Chancery has bomber hand jams, while Gallows requires slippery finger locks.

Three hours later we were home again, with only the usual abrasions and tired muscles to remind us of the fun adventures we'd had. All up and great trip!


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