This winter’s been a long one for me. My wife is pregnant - due very soon - so I haven’t been off to the mountains since May.
Trawling through photos from previous trips is all I’ve got right now to sate my rock related urges.
Even though it’s been a year since the following events transpired I thought: why not put together a belated TR?
Light on actual route beta, but with plenty of pics and vid: This TR is for anyone like me stuck in an office dreaming of places you’d rather be...
Seventh Pillar Portaledge Party – Trip Report – July 2010.
Words by Ben.
Photos and video by Ben, Karl, and Phil.
Karl, Phil, Adam, and I had all been itching to get out and climb together for ages. We’d been looking for an excuse to bust out the ledges and have a Portaledge party somewhere big. So I convinced the guys to jump on the Seventh Pillar for a weekend. The weather forecast was awful but we headed up to the Grampians on Friday 30th July 2010 hoping for the best.
It was Phil and Adams first attempt at aid, and also their first time in a ledge. The rough plan was to camp out on the Taipan Wall and see whether we’d get good enough weather to climb the whole line.
On the way up from Melbourne, storms where carving paths across western Victoria. The highway was cut by fallen trees between Ballarat and Ararat and the SES had us detouring all over the place. Power was out in Beaufort, police in Ararat told us there’d been significant hail damage there, and we later learned that it would snow the following night in Woodend and Ballarat.
Head home? Never!
We camped the night at the flat rock picnic ground only discovering the ‘warning falling limbs’ sign at first light the following morning – s#it!
We hiked up flat rock into the amphitheatre to discover that the whole mount was covered in cloud. The Taipan Wall only showing a little leg out from under her white skirt.
*Walk in – Flat Rock.
*Never thought I’d see cloud like this covering Taipan.
With no rain in sight and conditions pretty dry I lead off up the fantastic opening flakes of the first pitch. Dispatching the bolt ladder quickly I was having a ball and mantled across to the tiny stance at the belay. I tied a cordelette to take the first Portaledge and settled in.
*Racking up with Phil.
*Off and running up pitch 1.
*Amazing flakes on otherwise smooth rock.
*About to switch to aid.
*The bolt ladder.
*Cordelette for the ledge.
*Such incredible stone.
Karl seconded and cleaned, and the other two gents popped their aid cherries on the bolt ladder.
*Phil learning to aid.
*Adam learning to aid.
*Karl chilling at the belay.
We all hung out for a bit in the ledge and at the belay but with the weather looking promising it was time to press on. I freed through the bulges that open the next pitch, the rapped back to the ledge to switch places with Karl so he could jug then finish off the pitch. He jugged the line but the chest cold and the pseudoephedrine he was taking got the better of him so rapped back to the belay and we switched places again.
I jugged up and finished the pitch in light rain. Conditions were chilly and I longed to be hanging out in the ledge with the others listing to Splendour in the Grass on Triple J.
*The best pitch.
*Why can’t I be doing this right now?
Man it’s a good pitch too – for anyone who hasn’t tried the Seventh Pillar it’s overhanging slightly the whole way, and cuts proudly up the middle of the wall. With the exception of the bolt half way, the whole pitch goes clean and crosses thin flakes, traverses under a small roof, then blasts up a thick, bomber flake to glory. The gear is excellent.
It started to rain when I reached the belay at the end, and Phil jugged up to join me. We fixed a line and rapped back to the ledges to set up for the evening.
Just after dark a storm rocked in and lashed us with very heavy rain and strong wind. At the time we didn’t have out Jetboil stoves so used to cook at height with a Trangia hung from hanging pot plant chains. With the metho involved we’d hang it outside the ledge fly at arm’s length.
*Our early bigwall stove (pic taken the following morning).
Despite the steepness of the wall, the rain came in at an angle and cascaded off the wall. We had to zip up the fly and watch the stove blow out several times. The thing was bouncing around all over the place in the wind. We could do nothing but