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|Castaway or When Nina can get it up
Well, she really can.
I had never met Neil Montheit. I have been on a few of his routes in the past but the man remained elusive. Didn't you bolt Screw Loose in Vietnam Neil? Recently, he sent me on Guillotine (Main Area, Sublime Point) and a couple of weeks after that, I jumped on another one of his creation – Subliminal (East Wall, Sublime Point) – and suggested afterwards to Dominik that we should go back to the East Wall and while he'd jump onto Subliminal with Nina, I would do its neighbouring climb Castaway with Cass (a talented photographer). Since the climbs meander side-by-side, separated by 30 meters of orange rock, it would have been a great opportunity for photos and a fun day out.
Well, the man is in love and its seems that his priorities have been slightly revised. He had other fish to fry or, as we say French, other cats to whip. So, instead of two teams of two, Nina, Cass and I decided to jump onto Castaway this last Sunday. The weather was uncertain but we took our chances nevertheless, drove up to Sublime Point on an overcast day, parked at the usual spot and geared up.
That's when Neil showed up with his acolyte Bundy: the two were finalising a couple of projects in the Main Area. I reckon, these two must be churning through tons of stainless steel per year. Respect. BTW, one of these project was Exile, which Bundy advertise on this site a couple of days ago.
After some chit-chat, the three of us headed to the East Wall. For those interested, the walk-in to the top of the climb is very short. Much shorter than the walk-down to Bentrovarto Wall or to Sweet Dreams for example. If you know where you're going, I'd say it's probably a 5–7 minute walk. Nothing. That get's you to the abseil point above Castaway.
We followed Neil's advice and tied in a 60 meter rope which allowed us to skip one abseil so that we could get to the start of Castaway in only two goes. Again for those interested, it's best to clip a couple of draw on the abseil as the overhang could leave you, well, hanging. The view from there is fantastic but nevertheless… Also, reaching the start of Castaway requires some pfaffing around as you have to traverse left 7 meters or so:
Nina traversing to get to Castaway first belay
Nothing serious though. Due to its orientation, the wall stays in the shade until early afternoon at this time of year. It was brisk and the climbing conditions were excellent and up we went. The following interviews were conducted last night at Newtown Thai over a tutti-frutti of curries.
First pitch (Nina)
Q: You decided to lead that pitch. Why?
A: I loved the look of the lovely red rock and since I abseiled last, I was in the best position on the belay ledge to get it up. [note: Nina, as her last name Chevalier clearly shows, is German]
Q: What do you think of the grade? (21)
A: Well, the beginning is easy, probably 18-19, then a pumpy stretch at grade 20 leads to a thin and reachy crux. So grade 21 is about right.
Q: Best/worse moment on the pitch.
A: No worse moment. The best moment is a sequence involving an undercling in a break and then reaching right to the arête. Loved it.
Q: Would you recommend it?
Second Pitch (François)
Q: You can't really interview yourself, can'ya?
A: Blow me.
Q: What did you think of the second pitch?
A: The second pitch weaves its way around a cave. I haven't decided if I enjoyed it or not. Either way it won't leave you indifferent. The climb is mostly on iron-stone bands and there is definitely some interesting exposure when traversing above the cave.
Q: What about the grade?
A: The grade at 20 is the right one but would deserves a 23 based on adrenaline levels. That pitch will require you to think twice during the traverse and to beat the pump to reach the belay. Neither Nina nor Cass had any problems with that.
Q: Any tips for the masses?
A: A couple of long slings will come in handy to reduce the rope drag. Actually, it's worth down-climbing to unclip the second u-bolt.
Third pitch (Cass)
Q: You hesitated to lead that one. What changed your mind?
A: After multiple stall tactics, I gave in to peer pressure. No seriously, I looked forward to the challenge.
Q: You mentioned it was "the easiest pitch". Do you still think so? Why?
A: In part because I didn't like seconding in a team of three: too much rope management. In comparison, leading seemed like a breeze.
Q: If you had the choice, which pitch would you choose to lead and why?
A Either the first or the third (mine) due to a combination of exposure and fantastic views.
Q: What's your favourite colour?
A: As a colour enthousiast, that's a particularly difficult question. I'd be a toss between (1) deep charcoal, varying in different light while displaying hues of brown and folk black and (2) coral orange like the rustic rocks of the Blueys.
Fourth pitch (Cass)
Although the guide book say 15m, 15 and 8 bolts, there are no bolts on this pitch and what you should expect is a scramble to the starting abseil point. No interview for this one.
We got back to the car after a rather pleasant picnic overlooking the Jamison valley at 3:00. Earlier on, Neil wanted us to come back down into the Main Area to check out is latest creation Exile (85m, 23 max) but I figured that we were a little short on time and decided to head to another new-ish area: Pole 28 where we wrestled with Beta Male (10m, 20) and Shoalhaven Mayor (10m, 22) before a group of hardcore climbers came down the gully: Hi Neil, hi Bundy.
So now, I've met Neil. Twice. In one day.
Castaway (80m, 21, 20, 20, 5) Neil Monteith & Jason Lammers, early 2011.
P.S. And here are a couple of pics for your enjoyment.
Nina as a small speck leading pitch one. I like this one.
Cass leading pitch 3, a fun arête.
That's what Cass meant by "too much rope management".
Picnic overlooking the Jamison valley.
On 28/03/2012 f_ladou wrote:
>We followed Neil's advice and tied in a 60 meter rope which allowed us
>to skip one abseil so that we could get to the start of Castaway
>in only two goes. Again for those interested, it's best to clip a couple
>of draw on the abseil as the overhang could leave you, well, hanging. The
>view from there is fantastic but nevertheless… Also, reaching the start
>of Castaway requires some pfaffing around as you have to traverse
>left 7 meters or so:
One way of adding an extra (grade 22) pitch and not having so much abseil traversing is to actually climb Subliminal pitch 1 (the big traverse) as the first pitch - then at the last bolt lower-off down to the ledge where Castaways pitch 1 anchors are. That probably sounds confusing.
I didn't suggest Exile on Sunday BTW! I said you should do Saccharine Nightmare (22, 21, 17, 15)
Nice work. But man, that really is a clusterfsck of rope. I'd sort that out sooner rather than later.
yeahhh and what a good route, well done guys and good suggestion to climb pitch 1 of Subliminal which may avoid the pfaffing and will add even more fun!
True, remember Neil suggested Saccarine Nightmare, but both Exile and Cynics sound pretty awesome...anyone keen to drag me up the 24 pitch :)
On 28/03/2012 nmonteith wrote:
>One way of adding an extra (grade 22) pitch and not having so much abseil
>traversing is to actually climb Subliminal pitch 1 (the big traverse) as
>the first pitch - then at the last bolt lower-off down to the ledge where
>Castaways pitch 1 anchors are. That probably sounds confusing.
Yes, it does sound confusing but I think I get it. So, basically climb up (or rather traverse) pitch 1 of Subliminal until above the first belay of Castaway, then ask your belayer to lower you a few meters to reach it. Cunning.
Doesn't that just replace some pfaffing around to the left by some faffing around to the right?
On 28/03/2012 nmonteith wrote:
>I didn't suggest Exile on Sunday BTW! I said you should do Saccharine Nightmare
>(22, 21, 17, 15)
Sorry about this Neil, I could not remember the name so I took an artistic license. More than happy to jump onto Saccharine Nightmare, though. Might bump into you next Sunday...
Nice work François; what a great day out and awesome to meet genuinely nice/helpful stellar climbers; thanks for all the advice.
I love the obviously back-clipped/wrong direction on the first 'quickie' (another nina-ism:)) on my lead pic..although from memory that wasn't my doing and was one of a few thwarted stall tactics to correct that.... ;)
On 28/03/2012 f_ladou wrote:
>Yes, it does sound confusing but I think I get it. So, basically climb
>up (or rather traverse) pitch 1 of Subliminal until above the first belay
>of Castaway, then ask your belayer to lower you a few meters to reach it.
Yep - that's it! It doesn't save time - but does add an extra pitch and you don't have to mess around trying to abseil sideways.
There are 9 messages in this topic.
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