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Mt Buffalo: Noblesse Oblige Oct 2010.

12:00:38 PM
Mt Buffalo: ~ Yet another ascent of Noblesse Oblige ~ 03/10/10.

~> ... but more a trip report dealing with thought processes than climbing!

Note: N O is variously listed as Gd 11 and Gd 13 depending on the age of your guidebook, with the higher grade applying since it has been retro-bolted!

~> Hmm. Revision of an older climbers thoughts; ... a corollary to a PM I received recently where the sender stated;
>”most climbers I have come across are self taught, taught by mates or via things like Chockstone, there is such a mixed bag of skills, ideas and approaches, and the women I have climbed with bring a different (additional) bunch of issues such as lack of confidence in their abilities and physicality.”

~ ~ ~

Some friends from interstate visited us recently.

I asked my mate if he wanted to go for a climb again, as many years ago I had introduced him to climbing in an obscure location (Pine Rocks), near Orange in NSW, and he indicated that this would be a good thing.

Considering that this was effectively his second rock climb in about 15 years, I took it that he had remembered the basics, and although 10 to 20 m vertical routes of yesteryear did not equate to 300+ m of slabbing, I reckoned he would handle Noblesse Oblige OK, based on what I had previously seen.

When asked how long it would take by our better halves I answered “about four hours at a leisurely pace, so meet us at the top four and a half hours after we start, which gives us a margin to picnic along the way and enjoy the sojourn”. I thought this timing was pretty conservative since I have done the route a number of times with various ability partners in less time, and also had free-soloed it on my initial ascent of it in under two hours car to car which included the bush-bash to find it...

This time the route took us 6 hours! ~> which has given me serious cause to reflect on this ascent...

My friend (older than me), although keen, was quite unfit due to health issues that had taken a toll on him over recent times, and I underestimated this; however I was patient and prepared to rest as often as necessary in order for him to enjoy the experience; ... which we did.

A happy mate.

The aspects of the climb that struck me most were (1) his implicit trust in my advice/instruction on technique, that I found myself wondering if I would be so trusting of, if I was experiencing the difficulty he had in the climbing; and (2) his determination to succeed despite the obvious difficulties he was having, which re-demonstrated to me that learning technique/trusting ones feet/balance, are not necessarily skills that are easily come by.

Hmm. Where is this TR going? Nowhere really, as I am simply musing on the fact that what I take for granted based on my climbing experience, is not necessarily appropriate for others to apply in their climbing journey.

Some other reflections I have had about this ascent ...

Despite heavy rain of 256 mm over two days about a fortnight ago, and some intermittent showers since, the route was surprisingly (both pleasantly and unexpectedly), dry.

We did the route using a 50m rope, but a 60 would be a much better choice if you have that option.

The original belay stations are adequate, but for the confident, they can do the climb in less pitches by running out full ropelengths and belaying off the occasional single bolt (stainless mega-Trubolts), or nutted belay, or manky shrub and loose block if necessary! (Anathema I hear the safety conscious saying!! ... ~> well each to their own judgement – fate? Heh, heh, heh.)

He found the start of this (pitch 3) the most difficult though the guidebook crux pitch is pitch 2 !

For inexperienced slabbers new to leading and setting belays, I now think the upper pitches of this climb would be adventurous for them, as although the angle eases off considerably, so too does the psychological security of finding bolts for belays, as they are hard to locate / non-existent!
In fact I think it is a bit of a shame that the bolts lower on the route tend to dictate the line to follow, when in fact natural belays can be made if one varies the line a bit and carries a minimal rack of gear. This shouldn’t really be an issue unless one is a purist, as it ascends a broad sea of slab and it is all much of a muchness?

Anyway, my friends experience has opened my eyes to be more receptive to what the climb actually entails for people who may be unfit and unsteady on their feet, and/or have minimal climbing experience. I now regard the climb more as an intermediate level rather than beginner level of undertaking, due to the fact that it can be a big day for them if not comfortable with adventure, or they find themselves exhausted late in the day; ... though from a technical standpoint if it had easy access, and was shorter(?), it would still fit the beginner leader (of that grade) category very well...

An enjoyable experience with fantastic background scenery.

My friend is still my friend, ... and will still climb with me; although my consideration of the needs of such climber/s has improved, and I will now try harder to better match their experience in order to make the further experience they gain more digestible, instead of not realising what I take for granted!

12:18:04 PM
Interesting TR and takes me back to a time I took a non climbing mate on a multi many years West wall up the second sister....grade 13 too mostly a bush walk TBH with a few climbing sections in btw.

He too had had one day with me climbing (at Barenjoey) but I knew he could do it. No real epics but took a long time as sections I didnt think about worried him...were others I thought would give trouble did...also on a multi you can't just lower off and move adds to the game..especally for him the higher we got.

Now many years past...though he dosnt climb anymore as has other interests...he still recounts that day as one of his best adventures (and mine for that matter)...generally its not the climb but the moments on that climb that make it great.
12:21:03 PM
Very interesting. It's always humbling when a beginner trusts that you know what they can do, when you're not feeling that sure
12:53:43 PM
...and climbing with less experienced people is also a journey of self-discovery -- we see how we once were and how much we have changed through the years. Your mate must have had a great day out too.

2:20:26 PM
Great report Rod, and I love the photos. It brings back treasured memories of Christmas 2008 when you led me up N.O., along with Steve, Ti and Adrian. That was a great day, and I was only a beginner then. I found it quite confronting but at the same time absolutely loved it. I looking forward to going back there at some stage and doing it again.

4:56:16 PM
Yes, that was a good day.
I look forward to reading a TR from your leading it next!
5:10:34 AM
G'Day Rod

Nice TR that brings back a few memories, not of N.O. but trying to pick entry points for people new or way off the game.

Had a ripper 1 pitcher day with Mrs Rod and a 2nd timer who kicked arse on steep stuff a week prior so several weeks later we took the logical next step into an 11 pitch route...simple seconding of a few slab pitches ='d WAY too hard a day out but the killer was about 3 hanging belays in a row which though accompanying easy routes enabled plenty of freak out moments for those afraid of heights. Had not done this route prior and though the relatively easy climbing was OK the height thing, which had never even occured to me as an issue, caused some probs.

She was a trooper though...kept it all to herself and only piped up once we were back at the car. Hats off to the deb's.

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