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|Buffalo Aidfest November 2013
Buffalo Aidfest Nov 2013 Trip Report.
After the now-usual multipage organisational thread on Chocky, we actually committed to the weekend despite the somewhat pessimistic weather forecast involved. As it turned out, the weather prediction was pretty much wrong-ongoing for our time there, and we successfully dodged getting wet by going out climbing.
The eventual attendees were; phillipivan, huwj, Ben_E, Pat, Pei, The gymp, Thommo, Phil Box, Macciza, sbm, Bultitude + Rowan, plus myself; ... though Reg arrived late with a climbing partner after the main weekend events, to do some climbing.
At first greetings, it quickly became a running joke with the abundant introductions, that if you forgot someone’s name, then just call them Phil and you stood a better than even chance of being right, or it didn’t matter anyway!
Aaah enthusiasm; the elixir of youth...
I once thought I was keen driving from central-west NSW to do a route on Buff north wall; but to travel from places afar, such as West Aust., Qld, and even the mystical Blueys, to hear old timers rabbit on; and then to do the aid dance on mighty routes like Thanksgiving Crack, Cacophonic Crack and Cream Machine;... well that is true enthusiasm(!), ... and it puts the spring into an old aiders test bounce!
That pretty much covers Saturday.
Oh, want to hear more?
Where was I? Hmm yes,
rabbiting on breakfast session.
Phil Box filled a picnic tabletop with gear, and went through his evolution within it, with interesting insights regarding why certain bits work better than their predecessor counterparts, and inclusive of technique advances. Having tried all the various, his evolution has presently landed him at Russian stirrup/hook/tree-ring etts and adjustable daisies, due the efficiencies they give over other systems.
His informative presentation finished with load cells and anchor equalisation, or more precisely the lack of, particularly for cordelettes!
It turns out from testing he has been involved in, that the optimal anchor-angle is 60˚ – 90˚, and anything wider, or tighter than that, actually has an adverse impact on load tensions let alone forces applied.
Phil’s info session was followed by Macciza’s info session.
Macca elaborated on his experience/s of marginal gear reliability, and dealing with one’s headspace for optimum performance while climbing on thin gear, using real life examples (complete with body language mimes, and sound effects!), from his experiences on Dogface, ... amongst other exotic locations.
He also showed us how he too has personalised his equipment to suit his needs, with his minimalist approach being easily evident in the fact that his preferred aider setup only consists of 1½ ettriers!
The logic behind only having a half ett on the top piece (after it has been tested), is that you commit to it fully and thus automatically step up high to organise for the upcoming placement.
My presentation followed on Phil’s and Macca’s well laid baselines, and I re-emphasised some points they had made, plus underscored to the
admiring throng wannabee aidsters, that what they had been presented should become a part of the thought process / psyche, to be used by them to achieve their goals, particularly when the ‘process’ seems hard for whatever reason.
The whole thing was a good informal session, with plenty of questions asked and answered.
As a side note; I was intrigued by the subtle differences between what Phil, Macca, and I, had arrived at, as being system/gear that works for us individually.
None of what we differed in was huge, but it was obvious that our own innovation to common problems encountered, led to solutions that demonstrated there is more than one way to succeed at aiding, ... which I guess is the ultimate take home message, i.e. be innovative and you will find a solution to achieve your desired aims.
The group then went to Disabled Lookout (Cacophonic Block) adjacent the Gorge Rim carpark, and it would appear that not all the talking at breakfast intro-session went over the top, as the newer aid climbers diligently applied themselves to putting into action what they had heard.
I don’t think there was one amongst them that didn’t rip gear during testing (a good thing!), or indeed, take a fall when something thin creaked too much and decided to let go, although due to the aggressive testing of prior pieces it did however result in the next piece lower down catching their air time, and the sighs of relief were audible!
Even sbm who opted for Cacophonic Crack that takes big gear, wanted to get in on the falling act and managed to get a tipped-out #6 Camalot to pop after standing on it! Macciza who was belaying him at the time was not perturbed however; ... though he nearly had his flowing beard ruffled by a rope-stretch and still bouncing foot in the process.
“I think I will go back to the car and get some Tubechocks”, ... was the understatement barely heard over the paparazzi-like clicking of Phil B’s camera; ... that unfortunately happened to be pointed the other way at the time focussing instead on the climber (Pei) on Thanksgiving Crack!
sbm on Cacophonic Crack
The progress of huwj and Phillipivan who had left camp early to attempt Ozy Direct in a day, was an intermittent distraction from our own progress. I think our group viewing the human form on the North Wall found that it gave it an added perspective when viewed from afar to not only that wall, but also to what they as climbers themselves were doing on the opposite rim.
It is an interesting juxtaposition, as the moves are the same for both groups, only the scale being different.
Highlights of the day for me were the following;
• The Gymp ‘extending himself’ (and his sphincter pucker factor may never be the same again?), ... however he successfully used his wry sense of humour to overcome the adversity encountered in leading Cream Machine; ... a climb described by Ben_E as "hideous!" and "probably closer to M5 than M4 in grade".
• Thommo quickly adapting to thoughtful testing of thin aid without over-bounce-ripping-it in the process, ... due he is a heavyweight bloke to start with!
• Pei’s quiet and controlled approach to a new climbing experience was evident, and it impressively led to her easily leading Thanksgiving Crack, despite the hovering paparazzi trying to distract her by pixilating her moment/s of glory!
• Ben_E keeping his headspace together despite many nearby distractions of other climbers getting air-time while he roped-solo led Thanksgiving Crack, as roped-solo is mentally taxing enough; let alone with the potential for negative thoughts from those other inducements.
• Pat’s keen attitude built on his sound climbing experience, to overcome his initial hesitations regarding the scary element of testing thin aid. His analytical mind soon sorted the sequencing within his aid routine for maximum efficiency gains while leading Cream Machine.
• Macciza; the sage old master of aid and also conversely minimalist climbing; being supremely confident and calm in fearful situations; ... this especially evident while belaying sbm! Heh, heh, heh. ;-)
• Sbm’s clever disguising of his secret protégé like status of Macca; ... by being the epitome of infectious enthusiasm all bottled up in a mild mannered superman looking for a wide crack to change within!
• Phil Box: Another sage of aid with more than enough gear to back up his experience, was the everywhere-photog with a particular flair for a different perspective! I am sure his quiet words of encouragement and clarification of technique where required, whilst hanging off a rope in near vicinity to aid-climbers having thin gear moments, was of benefit to them too.
Sat night was a mellow campfire affair on a cold evening, while we waited for an update from the team on Ozy. Contact was established at near enough the designated time of 9 pm-ish, so we all relaxed again, though it was evident that Phil and Huw were in for a long night of climbing still ahead.
Sunday morning came too early, as is the way on such weekends for those of us ensconced in warm sleeping bags; though team-Ozy were no doubt well pleased with the warming rays of sunshine as they topped out and updated us about same.
Peoples eyes tell such stories...
Despite weariness and adrenalin competing for centre stage in their psyche upon return to camp, they were obviously blown away when they received a standing ovation for their success, upon arrival.
What to do now as an anticlimax to that event?
Hmm. Why not go to Devils Couch and consolidate / build yesterdays skills further? ... So that is what we did, though Macca said he’d catch us up there as he was off to get some vegetarian food, which explains why he knocked back the spare can of dog-food I offered him from my scoff stash!
Pei and The Gymp clean aided the overhanging arch of Loose Fit, then turned it into an hypothetical leader-rescue scenario under the capable tutelage of Phil Box.
Initial belay on Loose Fit!
Pei belayed by The Gymp on Loose Fit.
The Gymp in rescue mode.
Meanwhile sbm, and later Pat, led Faust & Elizabeth, while Thommo belayed and jumar-cleaned it?
On Pat’s lead he kept the dreaded-krab-shift morph to falling-shuffle-dance thing going, by hanging around on a ‘progress-piece’ for a bit, then allowing it to spit him off before getting a chance to put in the next ‘good for pro’ piece!
Aah the education on these weekends is unrelenting, as I could tell they were having fun when I heard the rope zing while I was nearby belaying Ben-E!!
Ben’s lead of Damning My Soul involved more limit-testing when he deliberately left behind a hook taped to the face as pro to spice up his ascent.
So in the spirit of the occasion, I self-belay-aid cleaned his pitch while he made friends with a local lizard that was curious about his making of a well constructed belay.
After I arrived at Ben’s belay he kind of (sandbag?)-suggested I hook the first moves above it, instead of taking the easy crack option of the continuation of DMS.
After mentally conferring with the lizard who told me that the direct line above was a goer, I decided to play the sandbag game and turn it on its head, so seven or eight hook moves later I topped out the short 10 m headwall.
About half way through that lead, Ben enquired as to how it was going.
This brought a short connection back to the wider world for me, due the concentration factor I was applying to my situation of pretty much facing a FF2 onto Ben/belay ... and then beyond; had sealed it off quite nicely.
Interestingly I found that the mind-crux had already come and gone with a committing move about two hooks earlier, though the higher I got the thinner the hook moves became as the climb angle started rolling off to less steep. The key move remaining above me turned out to be a reverse palm-smear (mantle of sorts), physically on top of a tenuous hook to keep it in place for my right foot-weighting, while at the same time sharing bodyweight on my left foot with its own hook / ett combo; which incidentally though supporting my left foot, was the only hook-move that I wasn’t especially happy with during the lead, due it being the second less than optimal setting after the first blew-out...
Ben hook-aided the line as second, though his rapport with the Lizard might have been less strong than mine, as finding some of the upper hook placements took him a little time to determine which were the best non-ones to use!
Mind games are an interesting (and engaging), thing; and this was highlighted yet again to me after we had packed up the top belay and were sidling off along a narrow ledge back to the descent gully.
We were unroped at the time, and I noted that Ben who was ahead of me, was taking appropriate due caution while easing around a bulge above the ledge, that tended to put ones balance out towards the drop-off.
At the same spot I was uncharacteristically totally comfortable on this occasion, due feeling like I was on a highway compared to the lead I had just finished!
We arrived back with the others who were packing up under threat of immanent rainfall, as they intended departing directly back from Devils Couch to the far-flung locations they had travelled from.
We said our hoo-roos, and I noted that Ben, now better versed in the art of pain and suffering than previously, had taken the biggest loaded pack/haulbag of any of the group on day two to the cliff; ... obviously to extend his fitness, and this also demonstrates he has taken to the aid version of the game like a duck to water!
View of Cathedral / Hump from Devils Couch on the return to the cars.
Those of us remaining a further night at Catani, got back to the cars just as the rain started properly; and we spent the remaining leisurely evening at Catani hanging out in Pats ¼ acre T
aj ent-Mahal, till Bultitude + Rowan arrived with our pre-ordered hamburgers for dinner (thanks again guys), which included a vego one for Macca!
aj ent Mahal (background) and nearby slum area...
That evening I spent time observing the last minute Defender of the Faith preparations of sbm/Bult/Row; and amongst giving advice when asked for, I wryly thought to myself, this brings back memories of the start of my own steep learning curve, as I listened to comments they made about indecision-items, like “oh, throw it in the haulbag anyway, as it doesn’t weigh much”. Too bad they missed out on Maccas minimalistic-approach presentation of yesterday morning!!
A couple of ‘firsts for me’ on this w/end were witnessed by the assembled throng –
Saturday evening saw me forego my traditional end of day cheers-beveridge of choice, in case I was needed to drop down the North Wall and say hello to the party finishing their climb there that
day wee small hours of the morning!
Sunday morning saw me upgrade my 1960’s daypack to a newfangled padded waistbelt BD Stubby Haulpack, courtesy of previous selling connections made on Chockstone.
~> The Buffalo Aidfest continues to grow; and I look forward to the next one.
(Many thanks to Phil Box for the use of his photos for this Trip Report)
Lizards and Talons are your friends.
From the belay at the top of pitch one on Damning My Soul, continue straight up headwall on hooks. The line is slightly left of the flake located above the continuation P2 starting crack of DMS, and 3m R of DoL.
No pro worth having for the 7 or 8 run-out hook moves above; ... and that is why Talon-hooks are indeed your friends.
FA done in etts and approach shoes - Rod, Ben_E 24.11.13.
Hey sbm, could you please repost your Defender Trip Report to this thread(?), ... so others can more easily find it in future.
Post edit 4/12/13;
Just saw it come up on this thread.
2nd Post edit;
X-link back to the Find Climbers thread, covering the background to these Trip Reports.
Thanks M9! Great mornin read.
(Here's the trip report!)
Got back to Sydney this arvo after spending the rest of the week climbing on the plateau. Great trip and very intense at times, guess that's what you go to Buffalo for! A trip report here, I will write something better edited in a bit, and James (Bulti) has video footage to sort through.
So we did Defender Of The Faith over two days last monday/tuesday. We rapped with all our gear to Fuhrer Ledge and didn't leave any fixed ropes at the top because that's boring. Plus to keep it more exiting, we opted not to do things like scout escape routes or read the route description (one party member was surprised that there were hanging belays, the other thought you could walk off of Fuhrer Ledge as mentioned before). We also forgot the zip line and the fuel canister for the jetboil, just to be sure.
The abseils took quite a while and put us behind schedule (James in particular had a hard time with the pig). Plus we didn't have the brightest start.
Touching down on Fuhrer Ledge
Anyway I think I was grovelling up the slimey wet chimney to start at like 11am. At the top of the slimey wet chimney I remember placing a #4 in a puddle before back cleaning it, like it was actually submerged under water.
I made my way up the rest of the ramp and corner, stopping to glance around the arete every now and then to see if the bolt was getting any closer, finally placed a couple of good RPs and was able to lean around and clip the shiny hanger. Awesome!
Peering around the arete
However after the bolt I got a bit stuck. Finally I placed a wonky cam in the flaring flake above. Progress! But it popped and I fell. I eagerly batmanned back to the bolt, and this produced so much slack for the belayer that Ro apparently nearly fell off of Fuhrer Ledge!
I didn't notice this as I had spotted a #1 RP placement between two crystals out to the left that I was sure would hold. It didn't and I took a fairly nasty swinging fall and took a gouge out of the back of my hand (wasn't wearing gloves for some reason). There was a slight scream of frustration at this point, things went a bit red and I tensioned left and did two hook moves to finally gain the crack. Hooray!
Unfortunately I reached the first (hanging) belay and it was appalling. Literally the worst fixed gear I have ever seen outside of the sea cliffs, this appalling drooping 5mm carrot and a rusty piton which apparently has a crack in the eye. For the main anchor (I remember this well because I was VERY glad when we moved off it) I placed an ok nut and an ok #0.5 camalot to back up the rust. For the hauling anchor I placed a good nut and a yellow C3 and backed it up to the piton. We also placed another #0.5 sized metolius cam as another backup. It was all ok but lacked that comforting cliff towing piece....
Ro's view as he approached the first belay
Everyone and everything came up and we argued about the belay and clusterf'd about and eventually James started on the next pitch. He reached the roof and placed an RP and then hand placed the Tomahawk (our special secret aid weapon) and was able to get around the roof.
However at this point he was out of steam and lowered off. We sent up our "Ro"pe gun to french free the rest of the pitch, however he ended up improvising some sort of aiding system to finally crawl to the bomber, shiny bolts of the second belay.
At this point the sun was setting, I had been standing in slings for hours and was getting cold and mentally drained...I persuaded James that cleaning, jugging and hauling the second pitch was not going to happen today. James set up the portaledge while Ro fixed and rapped the second pitch. He thoughtfully backed up our anchor to the fixed line...however I didn't find this out until afterwards.
I tell you what, there's trusting your gear placements...and then there's hanging three guys, a portaledge and a haulbag off of a trad anchor you built while everyone bounces around eating and getting into sleeping bags.
Around this time someone was yelling and flashing a light at us from the lookout on the south side? It sounded like Macca? We debated whether yelling and flashing back would be asking for rescue (which we were...pretty sure...we didn't want) and eventually did just a little bit of flashing and yelling.
Three guys on a two person portaledge is not comfortable but it was alright (the hammock for the third was a dumb idea and didn't happen). I slept but I was cold.
End of day one
The next day we got up and I actually clipped the portaledge to my harness and jugged with it to the second belay which is also hanging (James assured me that it's a thing people do). We set it up again. We hauled.
Then I got on lead again. The third pitch is straightforward, bomber gear but it is loooong. 45m apparently. It was a very long time and I had to fight down the Fear a few times and keep going. After a while the guys ran out of rope to tag up more gear so I did a couple of bigger back cleans.
Setting off on pitch 3
The classic layback technique
Right at the top you have to move right towards the ledge. I could see the final carrot that would take me to the ledge, with one crack between it and me that I had to move in to. From a high piece I reached way right and was able to blindly place a big ol' metolius cam. It felt solid so I moved onto it. As it moved into view i was horrified to see it was the mankiest cam I have ever placed. Every single lobe was at a different angle and every single lobe was barely touching the rock. I stopped breathing and was able to place a half decent #3 camalot above it. Oh god.
I clipped the carrot and mantled to the ledge, built the bestest and most well-organised anchor ever, fixed the ropes and sat back satisfied that my job was done.
After we were all established at the ledge, Ro and James racked up and free-climbed out the variant finish. It was apparently quite exiting, Ro did a couple of very good leads and James apparently had a brutal time trying to second, he said something about sideways jugging.
I didn't listen too closely as I was settled on the ledge, with a beer and plenty of water on hand enjoying the view. A frantic scream or two from the others interrupted the serenity occasionally, but the waterfall drowned out most of it and I even had a little snooze.
Finally Ro reappeared, having rapped back down from the top rap station to set up the final haul. I jugged out last, pushing the haul bag and ledge past the trees. The lengths were all wrong and the jugging was fing brutal. I was destroyed when I got to the top, back at the rap station where we had started.
We got everything over the lip and safe and trudged back to the car with a little daylight to spare. I remember I saw a sign saying "Danger Unprotected Cliffs" and broke down laughing...."but I got so much good protection..!"
Added some more pics (my own) to my TR. They are not the best quality, but convey the idea anyway.
I was stoked to read your TR sbm, and reckon you have an engaging way with words, as I very much enjoyed it.
>It sounded like Macca?
>Three guys on a two person portaledge is not comfortable but it was alright (the hammock for the third was a dumb idea and didn't happen). I slept but I was cold.
... Likely it is still better than two large blokes on an undersized home made single ledge, ~> Though it is pretty amazing how wall-wearyness helps sleep in less than ideal conditions eh?
Did Rowan try the hammock and reject it, or didn't try it due to complications / time of day etc., setting it up?
I'd also be interested in hearing what other gear you fellows took and consequently would not take again on a similar sojourn.
>I'd also be interested in hearing what other gear you fellows took and
>consequently would not take again on a similar sojourn.
Sure. Been thinking about it a lot myself. I reckon the next trip (i.e. Ozy) will be a lot easier packing wise...
>... Likely it is still better than two large blokes on an undersized home
>made single ledge, ~> Though it is pretty amazing how wall-wearyness helps
>sleep in less than ideal conditions eh?
Yep. I actually slept with my helmet on, that was uncomfortable and this is probably the only thing I'd change. No sleeping mat, it was lining the haul bag and couldn't be bothered to pull it out! James anchored one corner of the portaledge directly to a crack which I think helped a bit.
>Did Rowan try the hammock and reject it, or didn't try it due to complications
>/ time of day etc., setting it up?
Well yes we didn't have enough time to seriously consider setting it up, after dark we couldn't be bothered. At the hanging belay where we bivvyed there were no easy options for it either. There was an idea that we could hang it from corner to corner underneath the portaledge...that wasn't going to happen. Dead weight in the end IMO.
We took too much water. 2L pp/day would have been enough. I poured out like 6 liters at least (!!) before the last haul.
Too much food. I brought like 3 little tubs of Two Fruits, didn't touch em. We of course forgot the fuel for the fancy hanging stove which meant the hot soups James and Ro had been planning on were useless. Dinner ended up being mostly baugette and cream cheese which was actually excellent. Heaps of cream cheese is the go.
Photocopy and laminate the route description and topo (with clip in loops). Plus everyone needs to go through all of it together! There were some arguments...I was right, of course...but I could have communicated better.
Bring a better knife.
We *could* have been more confident in the weather forecast and ditched the portaledge rainfly and some rainjackets. But that's probably down the list...when you want that stuff, you really want it.
A big thing for me will be making sure that everyone has their OWN ascending setup and that it is tested! We've all done vertical caving (including the 50m pitch in Drum and Argyle Hole at Bungonia) so had an idea, but we kept mixing and matching ascenders and footloops and it was a mess.
The seconds need to practice cleaning traversing/overhanging terrain more. Straight up is trivial, it's the sideways stuff that needs practicing!
Abseiling with the haulbag is awful. Even with a grigri and with the 'riding the pig' trick.
So what DID work...?
Grigris. So glad we borrowed a second one. Cleaning with a grigri and an ascender is the way to go.
Those green canvas supermarket bags actually make half decent ropebags! (you can see them in a few of the photos). Although one did end up splitting a seam, they're recommended.
We had an adequate rack, Atlhough I would take up James idea of racking the hooks in some sort of little bag to prevent them from catching on everything. And more free biners. Never enough free biners!
We didn't loose much gear (although there were some very close calls including a lucky catch or two, James joked we should give up climbing and start a cricket team). Final lost gear list was one RP left high in the initial corner that wasn't cleaned, the plastic bottle rope protector was dropped, and one dropped biner...I think that was it? Maybe another nut dropped somewhere along the line?
Hauling was fine. We used a mariner's hitch to dock the bags. Obviously it was work but we had no real hassles. Ben_E recommended I throw the microtraxion in the bin but I thought it worked great.
Finally although having a party of three adds a lot cluster and weight...don't underestimate the huge psychological benefit of having an extra person to talk to! Although it's a little annoying when you're sketching on lead, and the others are having an easy chat down on the ledge at the belay...
looks like fun.
excuse my complete lack of knowledge re aid climbing but what is the deal with the clove hitch through the reverso in m9's first TR post? I'm thinking releasable self belay system?
On 5/12/2013 a_stevo wrote:
>looks like fun.
>excuse my complete lack of knowledge re aid climbing but what is the deal
>with the clove hitch through the reverso in m9's first TR post? I'm thinking
>releasable self belay system?
Correct re a self belay system.
It is simple and uses gear that you are already likely to be carrying (ie applicable to more than just aiding usage), if you need to do an improvised self-rescue for any reason.
It works equally well with ATC / Sticht plate type devices.
The second krab inserted through the clove on the belay device, acts as a handle for quick-easier pulling through rope to slacken it to re-adjust.
Note the backup loop cloved on its own krab, as extra safety/redundancy.
Comments on sbm's recent post;
If you had been cold enough the helmet and sleeping mat would have come into their own for improvised sleeping, however I have always found wall bivvies to be a balance of suffering and practicality, and each situation is assessed on merit at the time.
Regarding the hammock idea, it too has merit, but a practice test-session overnight on the back fence is a good starting point!
The water requirement thingy can be tricky too.
3 litres per person per day is a good starting point generalisation, but having said that, I have been dehydrated off the wall after doing 9 litres per day (extreme heat conditions), and needing more(!); and like you, have found 2 litres per day to be sufficient in cool to cold weather.
Regarding too much food. I agree, and it is the first thing on my chop list when cutting down the weight of a haulbag.
Regarding route topo. I thought Ro photographed it with his phone camera?
You are right however that having a laminated photocopy is easy to solve any hassles.
Overkill imo. I take a 25 mm one for removing tatt and find I seldom use it!
>We *could* have been more confident in the weather forecast and ditched the portaledge rainfly and some rainjackets. But that's probably down the list...when you want that stuff, you really want it.
>A big thing for me will be making sure that everyone has their OWN ascending setup and that it is tested!
Essential!, ... and fine tuning it to personal specs = major efficiency gains.
>practice cleaning traversing/overhanging terrain more.
You are right.
This was done by various on the last two Aidfest weekends.
... and you have now arrived at the same point through your recent experience!
>Abseiling with the haulbag is awful. Even with a grigri and with the 'riding the pig' trick.
Yanking on a long sling tether connected to the base of the wombat, helps guide it over obstructions.
Your wombat was relatively light in my opinion so I am surprised a bit by your experience with it.
When you take water for more than 3 days, you will -
>So what DID work...?
>'Cleaning with Grigris'.
A personal preference item, amongst other systems that work well.
>green canvas supermarket bags actually make half decent ropebags!
Good to see your improvisation paying dividends!
>hooks in some sort of little bag to prevent them from catching on everything.
I have found judicious racking placement* to be sufficient, after trying the ditty bag trick. The ditty bag proved to have it’s own hassles when selecting a particular hook from it in my opinion.
*Racking high and forward on a two loop chest harness, minimises hassles. The lower they are the more they seem to snag. Having said that, I keep the worst offenders (Talon hooks), permanently one of each, on each aider; which keeps them handy and out of the way at the same time, if you negate the extra weight on every reach-up...
>And more free biners. Never enough free biners!
... always a premium item on a wall, and even more so if soloing.
>We didn't loose much gear
For tricky finangled placements like equalised matrixes and copperheading, where you don’t seem to have enough hands and keep balance too, ... I have found a shoulder tether off the chest-harness, of lightweight bungy cord tied to a dog-clip, for clipping to the placed piece to prevent it dropping while placing, is a useful trick.
Horses for courses re system used, and nothing beats experience!
>party of three adds a lot cluster and weight...don't underestimate the huge psychological benefit of having an extra person to talk to!
Party of 3 should be quicker than party of 2, provided systems are well dialled, and tactics like short fixing and block leading are used.
Re the psychological benefit. Solo has its own rewards too, amongst them being no arguments!
Heh, heh, heh.
Sorry this has taken so long, I'm calling it done because I've had enough of writing.
This is not an epic
First of all, yes, we took 24 hours to complete Ozi Direct. 24 hours 23 minutes by the time Huw jugged to the anchor. Longer than expected, or it ought to have. Yes, we were physically wasted from dehydration and fatigue by the end of the route; in the first case much earlier than that. Mentally we both cracked at some point during the route; fortunately not at the same time. We did not epic though. We knew we would finish under our own steam, that things had not gotten beyond our control; when nine pm rolled around (our scheduled check in time) and we were behind schedule the decision to relay 'At Gledhill Bivy, All's Well' was unanimous. I don't believe that climbing slowly and dehydration constitute an epic.
An Unfamiliar Ceiling
I awoke in a strange room to unfamiliar voices circling the windows and entering via the back door. Dressed in a flash, despite the groggy haze, I am liaising with tradies about the work to be done on the bathroom. I've spent the night at the house I will be moving into next week, after Buffalo, because my climbing kit had already been moved, stashed with other valuables away from view in the ceiling.
Over the next few hours I split my time between packing Udo (a '96 Townace, worse the wear for my shitty driving and inability to clean it), and negotiating the details on the works on our house. f---ing everything up. The skylight ends up in the wrong place, I forget to pack sunglasses, a fork, a lighter, and probably some other shit I've already forgotten.
By 11 or 12, I'm leaving Woodend. Driving to ABC classic until they play jazz, then I put on something that doesn't sound like shit being sucked through a straw.
A brief stop in the afternoon at Myrtlefood, for lunch, groceries, and a fork, then I'm on my way up the mountain.
Encouraged by Huw and the good late afternoon light, I turned off to the gorge for a quick solo-tr ascent of The Cream Machine on cam hooks. A shiny DMM locker and dyneema sling are already there for an anchor. Climbing the line on cam hooks is exceptionally quick and easy, and offers absolutely no protection in case of a fall. With the security of a TR, it takes ten minutes, probably less. Then Im back in the car and on to Catani.
Later on, I found out the booty is probably Huw's from when he did the same thing a week or two earlier.
Huw is driving up after work, so after dinner and a dram at Catani with the early arrivals, I roll back to the Gorge carpark to meet up around 10pm. Sorting the rack, packing the bag, and generally discussing the route and tactics sees us bedding down around midnight for a four am rise.
The plan was this: climb Ozimandias Direct in a day. We would short fix with Huw's silent partner to keep the leader moving, and do away with a haul bag altogether. Instead a light day pack with food, water, and any excess rack, would be worn by the second who would jug with it. There were some unknowns. Huw has climbed the route before, but I have never aided anything longer than a single pitch, or short fixed. I don't think this is a big deal.
After hitting the snooze button once, we are up at four oh five, still dark. A quick brew up, a bit to each, sleeping bags in the car, dash to the toilet, and we are walking down by twenty to. Darkess and drowsiness confuse me at Mushroom rock, despite having done the walk several times, at least as far as Angels. We waste a few minutes before I recall that you trend right and drop down before swinging back left. The rest of the walk down is uneventful. The river is healthy and flowing well. At the second crossing, near the bivvy site, we fill up and have a drink.
Gearing up by the river
By six thirty I've tied in and am climbing up an aider on the first carrot. I will lead to big grassy then Huw will lead up to Gledhill bivvy. By six thirty two Im hanging from the rope, from the second bolt, my first, and our only fall on the climb. Pulling back on and over the slabby bit is no big deal.
I've never rope soloed before with a silent partner, or anything else, so once Im at the first anchor, it takes a little while to get sorted before starting up the next pitch. I'm probably only four metres up when Huw gets to the anchor. This wasn't much, but in retrospect was still a very good thing. It kept the belay changeovers very prompt, and the anchors were never crowded. At the start of the third pitch I was only two placements off the anchor when Huw arrived.
Mostly the climbing went fairly smoothly and efficiently; though in a long sleeve ice breaker shirt I was over dressed for the full sun I was climbing in. Even on the first pitch. There are a couple of rusty pins that flex ominously, but the rest of the gear was fine, lots of cam hooks and small cam placements. Still the work and sweating was getting to me; at eleven thirty when I fixed the rope to the big grassy anchors I had to use my right hand to extend my left thumb. Fortunately, that was the only cramp I had then, and I had a good long rest ahead of me. Plenty of time to eat, drink, and recover.
As Huw approached the ledge, I could hear a stream of muttered expletives wafting up. Was my gear that hard to remove? I became a little self conscious. No, Huw was struggling to jug the route with our pack. In retrospect Huw found his jugging setup was all wrong and wasting a lot of energy. But thats in retrospect, now, and for the rest of the route that he followed, he paid for it in miserable, exhausting work.
We slowed down after big grassy, incrementally first, exponentially later. It was around six when I arrived at the anchor below the impressive roof. Huw had not begun to short fix at all. The silent partner was not used again. Due to fatigue and lack of experience I elected to cease short fixing for my next leading block.
Do you want the next lead? I'm cramping pretty bad.
Nah man, this was the one pitch you really wanted; have a drink, have a gu and get on it.
Well, there is a bit of a technique to leading roofs. Huw didn't have it, and later on, it turned out neither did I. I watch him flail for forty minutes or so on a green totem cam plugged in the middle of the roof. Stay low, fifi from a chest harness Rod later tells us; for now I unhelpfully sandbag him with encouragement to fifi in as high as possible and stretch out horizontally. Oh yes, it can be done, but it's hardly a good way to conserve energy.
Belaying brought new challenges. Extended periods of inactivity made me increasingly aware of time - of our slowing pace - fostering a rising anxiety as nightfall approached. I tried a variety of mental games to suppress and control this, hoping Huw wouldn't notice, or feel responsible. There is nothing to be gained by spreading anxieties to the other end of the rope. Ultimately once it got dark there was nothing left to worry about. Turn on the headlamp and keep going.
Its around nine when Huw calls fixed, and I turn my head lamp on for the first time since the walk in. This is the only part of the route we had planned to haul the pack, just through the roof, so I put in on our tag line and lower it out. Hanging in space with just a small circle of rock lit up by the lamp is some wicked exposure.
At the lip of the roof a number eight Wild Country nut is set very solidly, after a few minutes effort I take the draw and leave it behind.
By the time I reach the Gledhill Bivvy its after 9pm. Our check in time with Rod. Huw sends an All's well message, and I take the lead again.
Handing over the rack at the Gledhill Bivvy
After The Fang
At the belay above the Gledhill, my first lead since big grassy, I clip the anchor, fix the rope, and call. I climbed the fang badly, getting too far into the nasty little chimney rooflet thingy. I really f---ed my self over.
All the gear on Ozi is fine, really, Rod's talk of mind games and delicate movement on thin aid, that applies to lines on the left or right, but not this route. So there is no reason not to march on up your aiders. Except, Phillip, you don't totally believe that, not in the case of old tat and fixed pins. Get over it buddy.
There was old tat hanging off a rusty pin and a wired hex in the guts of the fang. I tied that off to another fixed wire stood up on that, fifi'd in close and placed a big cam over my left shoulder. Once on the cam, I couldn't unfifi myself from the blasted fixed mank. There was huffing, sweating, swearing, flailing, and calls from a concerned and perplexed belayed, as I tried to move my hips back up and into the roof of the chimney to take tension of the fifi. It took five minutes, I don't know, more perhaps and by then I was shagged. The rest of the pitch is a flaring crack, which whilst presenting cam jugging safe as houses is a prime example (as with the fang) of how aid grades tell you very little about the difficultly or awkwardness, only the security of a pitch. Our deceleration had become exponential, I was no longer able to smoothly and swiftly climb the aiders until the piece was below my hips. Instead I had to rest, often twice, on my way up the ladders.
All that sweat was an evaporative cooler now I had stopped moving. We had one warm jacket (my idea) and Huw had it for the belay. The shivering set in almost immediately. Hanging at the anchor I shifted trying to adjust my trousers and harness so they did not cut into me, then huddled into a position that seemed the least cold. Shifted some more, huddled some more. Gradually the shivering got more and more violent, until, suddenly, it ceased as did any sensation of cold. I acknowledged this was probably bad, but after a minute the shivering resumed.
The moon hung, almost full and exactly level with me, just behind my right shoulder. I contemplated than if an angel, or Rod, should descend right now and offer a downie and water I should refuse. I needed these things, but was only prepared to contemplate receiving them from Huw. This is what we came for... Right? This dialogue relaxed me, since I knew that I knew that I was still able to finish it.
Still, when Huw arrived I snatched the jacket from him, and the last few mouthfuls of water.
Then I asked him to lead the next pitch. Begged. Moving was exactly what I needed, but not what I was ready for. He looked uneasy, and conceded he was intimidated by the finishing moves of the pitch. Hmm, I was too tired to be scared, but knew any free climbing was likely beyond me. There was five minutes of awkward silence, punctuated by my chattering teeth, before I offered to take the lead.
Do you mind if I take the jacket?
f--- man, it's the least I can do. Bullshit, Huw, that jacket was your's and you should have called me on it. I'm sorry. It was my jive ass idea to take one jacket between the two of us, you were belaying, I was being a sock coft.
On the Rivet
Near the end of the pitch after stepping up off a fixed friend I was sure would be there until it disintegrated (but Huw cleaned easily), I clipped the rivet, and contemplated the dirty mantel that had scared Huw. Brushing away dirt and grass, I found a good cam high on the crack the borders the left side of the ledge and stepped up onto it, and the problem dissolved. From there its an easy scramble to bolts. Nonetheless, it took me a few minutes to find them as I had not comprehended Huw description of their location. It was with great relief that I could call fixed, and sit on a comfortable ledge.
Don't fool yourself, I've been assured the short chimney before the final pitch is a doddle. You can safely unrope for it (I don't know who told me this, but in retrospect, Im not sure this is a swell idea). After Huw arrived, he proceeded up the cleft to the base of the chimney proper. Removing the the pack and placing at the base. He was going to free up it. A step or two up, predictably enough, he knocked to pack which proceeded to tumble towards me and the cliff edge. Fortunately I caught it before it was launched on a spectacular flight into darkness. Ok, yes, we are tired, we are making mistakes tired people make. Huw came back to the anchor, it was my turn. Free climbing? Oh yes I aided everything I could. With difficulty . I fixed the rope to the Strange Ritual anchor, to the left from the final pitch of Ozi Direct. Then I passed out next to the plaque. I still had the puffy. A slight depression in the rock made an extraordinary pillow.
I was vaguely aware of Huw reaching the ledge, but didn't rise. He obviously liked the idea of my impromptu bivvy, and wandered round the corner to find his own flat spot. My alarm was going off, but my fingers kept finding the snooze button. In the dark I can't tell the snooze and stop buttons apart.
Sometime later, perhaps an hour, I was awoke by a ghastly, shivering Huw. With just a soft-shell, the cold had really gotten to him. Overwhelmed by cramps and dehydration he wanted off, now, and started scrambling round to see if he could find the finish of Ozimandias Original. Comfortable, to a degree, in a warm jacket, I wasn't keen on that. I had suffered my way up nine tenths of the route, and we were going to finish it.
We had run out of water ages ago, but still had plenty of food. Food we hadn't eaten, wouldn't eat, but had carried up the wall. I tried to consume a small handful of almonds and sultanas. Without any fluid to lubricate the mouth, mastication was a laborious and hateful business. I had to will myself to swallow, it was hard. The story goes that when sufficiently hungry anything will taste good; the reality is when sufficiently thirsty anything tastes bad.
I had the wild privilege of leading the final pitch as the sun rose across the gorge. Towards the top I whipped out the six camalot I had brought just for this pitch. Rod had assured me it was essential. We hadn't clarified if we were talking old or new sizing. Much earlier, like the night before, Huw suggested they had done the route without a number six. I dismissed this since it contradicted what I already knew. So, on its second placement on the entire route, I got the green boat anchor over cammed and stuck. Five meters from the top, if that.
I fixed the rope to the hand rails at the lookout, Fixed! Ditch the harness, what relief. Six twenty seven in the morning I was sprawled on the rock, basking in the sun. Letting all the pain and stress float away. Huw arrived at seven to seven.
A slow trudge back to the southside carpark, where we sit down to brew up and feed. A text to basecamp We've topped out. Two hours later we pack the cars and drive out to Catani, slowly, like pensioners who ought have their licenses revoked.
A standing ovation greets us; I don't even recognise most of the people clapping. A Chockstone roll call of misfits, miscreants, and misanthropes. Well I guess we got an A for effort. Thanks guys. Thanks a lot.
It took me two days to mostly recover, I spent much of that talking to Macciza and Pat, who helped me retrieve the stuck cam, and a few dropped nuts respectively. Macciza and I spoke much about being parents, and I was very impressed he knew who John Meyer was. Pat indulged me in royal treatment, offering a spare queen sized bed in his Taj Mahal Trailer Tent or TMTT™. In my sorry state I had to lift my legs over the lip of his tent one at a time, both hands on one leg, then the other.
Huw drove home a few hours after we topped out; the craziest thing anyone did all weekend.
Thanks also to M9 for abstaining from an evening nightcap just in case, that's quite a favour.
For those who care.
We took the following (errors and omissions guaranteed):
Single Camalots (or equivalent) from #6 to #4 (should have left the #6 behind)
Doubles with some triples from #3 to #very small
Small cams were a mixture of master cams, C3s, totems, and a few offset mastercams. The blue totem is ridiculously useful.
Mostly the very smallest master cam and C3 were seldom used, I would only take one or the other in the future.
The totems where overwhelmingly excellent.
It would be quite manageable with singles from #2 to #5, but would require quite a bit of back cleaning, which whilst all on good gear, would expose you to some exciting fall potential above the fang.
A single mixed set of WC & DMM
Set DMM alloy offsets
2 Sets DMM Peenuts
Mixture of Metolius and RP Brassies. Probably nothing smaller than a #2 RP.
The Peenuts are great. Depending on your confidence with cam-hooks, you could take fewer small nuts.
3 Cam hooks, 2 Normal, 1 Wide (I'm not convinced the wide is necessary, but Huw disagrees)
1 Tomahawk, Size 2 Blue (Should have taken Red)
1 BD Skyhook (the bigger one)
The skyhook and tomahawk saw only occasional use, and could be considered non essential. I can recall using each exactly once. At the end of pitch 3, you with either need to make a hook move, or free climb.
8 Bolt Plates (give or take). It would be easy enough to get by with fewer and back clean/hero loop/use wires.
Approx 10 draws, 6 Single length slings, 2 double length, two triple length (rack with lockers for anchors).
Didn't need the long slings as all the anchors have shiny well placed bolts.
1 Reverso (in case of bailing)
1 Silent partner
1 Gri Gri
Pair of Ascenders
1 Microtraxion (self minding back up)
1 Belay seat
1 Day pack w/ water, food,extra rack, warm jacket, phone.
60M Lead Line, a 50M would be fine for our strategy. 60M allows you to link some pitches or bail from BG in two raps (as I found out when trying Lord Gumtree with Miguel75).
65M 7mm Tag Line. Given our use of it (pulling up the rack, one brief section of pack hauling) it could have been almost arbitrarily thin.
3 to 4 L of water each.
More food than we needed.
fantastic trip report Phillip, thanks for the detailed notes on the gear too
On 5/03/2014 phillipivan wrote:
>Sorry this has taken so long, I'm calling it done because I've had enough
~> An excellent Trip Report, that was worth waiting for!
Who’s this Rod bugger?
Heh, heh, heh.
Interesting that the first pitch slabby start can also be a bugger.
I guess it helps keep the reality-mentality in check, but it sucks that the move/s can be harder than expected on the ‘easy ground’!
>Stay low, fifi from a chest harness Rod later tells us;
To clarify; it is better to have an extended fifi off the waist of your harness, passed up through a chest harness/bandolier-gear loop, to keep you upright, but supported down low...
>The rest of the pitch is a flaring crack, which whilst presenting cam jugging safe as houses is a prime example (as with the fang) of how aid grades tell you very little about the difficultly or awkwardness, only the security of a pitch.
I also marvel at the consistency of the difficulties on Ozy, and the fact that they constantly change in nature, but remain equally awkward nevertheless!
Another observation I have is that the amount of fixed gear on Ozy has changed yet again, not only in quantity, but also in location. Everything you mention in your TR was not there 10 years ago!
Re the ‘On the Rivet’ paragraph;
This sounds like a new rivet, and/or the paragraph refers to the moves just below Big Grassy (with a new rivet to boot)?
Your description of the last pitch (Lord Gumtree actually), sounds amazing.
I have never heard of it as non-rope free-able before. Not impossible I guess, but I don’t personally know anyone with that size cajones!
>Towards the top I whipped out the six camalot I had brought just for this pitch. Rod had assured me it was essential. We hadn't clarified if we were talking old or new sizing.
Hmm. Another incremental-whisper? I talk in ye olde sizes..., but I remember ye olde No 5 (red camalot) being sufficient...
>So, on its second placement on the entire route, I got the green boat anchor over cammed and stuck. Five meters from the top, if that.
... at least it was good for more than one placement!
~> Didja notice the bolt on the left wall at about that point?
... and what is wrong with jazz music?
On 6/03/2014 IdratherbeclimbingM9 wrote:
>On 5/03/2014 phillipivan wrote:
>>Sorry this has taken so long, I'm calling it done because I've had enough
>~> An excellent Trip Report, that was worth waiting for!
>>Stay low, fifi from a chest harness Rod later tells us;
>To clarify; it is better to have an extended fifi off the waist of your
>harness, passed up through a chest harness/bandolier-gear loop, to keep
>you upright, but supported down low...
I remember quite clearly. I was glossing over details in an effort to be less sententious. Something I did several times in the report. Anyone reading the TR for actionable beta for future ascents take note (which is to say, I hope it's helpful, somehow, but if you believe everything you read, well you'll get what you deserve).
>>The rest of the pitch is a flaring crack, which whilst presenting cam
>jugging safe as houses is a prime example (as with the fang) of how aid
>grades tell you very little about the difficultly or awkwardness, only
>the security of a pitch.
>Re the ‘On the Rivet’ paragraph;
>This sounds like a new rivet, and/or the paragraph refers to the moves
>just below Big Grassy (with a new rivet to boot)?
No. Looked like an old rivet. Near the end of the pitch above the fang. The crack trends left, and as it pieters out there is a rivet on the right. From this there is a mantle (or a high step to a red camalot), to the ledge with bolts below the chimney.
>Your description of the last pitch (Lord Gumtree actually), sounds amazing.
>I have never heard of it as non-rope free-able before. Not impossible
>I guess, but I don’t personally know anyone with that size cajones!
I think this is a case of me hearing or remembering incorrectly. Still I approached the chimney with the 'knowledge' that it should be easy enough to comfortably solo.
>>Towards the top I whipped out the six camalot I had brought just for
>this pitch. Rod had assured me it was essential. We hadn't clarified if
>we were talking old or new sizing.
>Hmm. Another incremental-whisper? I talk in ye olde sizes..., but I remember
>ye olde No 5 (red camalot) being sufficient...
>>So, on its second placement on the entire route, I got the green boat
>anchor over cammed and stuck. Five meters from the top, if that.
>... at least it was good for more than one placement!
The first time it was placed was in the fang. Where it is also unnecessary. By the time Huw came to clean it, it had completely fallen out of the crack and was jus hanging off the rope.
>~> Didja notice the bolt on the left wall at about that point?
Pretty darn sure you told me to take a six! Anyway, yes from the stuck new model six camalot I was easily able to clip the rivet on the left. We were that close to the top.
>... and what is wrong with jazz music?
On 6/03/2014 phillipivan wrote:
>A Chockstone roll call of misfits, miscreants, and misanthropes.
I can see how aid climbers fit that demographic.
>The first time it was placed was in the fang. Where it is also unnecessary. By the time Huw came to clean it, it had completely fallen out of the crack and was jus hanging off the rope.
So when are you going to learn how to place aiding gear for the minimum requirement of aid, ie bodyweight without failing?
On 7/03/2014 phillipivan wrote, then deleted, now wtf would he do that?:
>Now that ones easy, Tuesday. I have it written here in my diary.
Another one day learning curve?
Awesome shit Phillip. It took me four days to get up that thing the 1st time, what you did is impressive.
Thank you very much Nick. The longest aid route I had climbed prior to that was Faust and Elizabeth or Stone Believer. It was quite a big jump in magnitude.
Cheers for putting the effort in with the TR Phil... happy memories! Exactly as I remember it.
I'm gonna keep a copy of this so I can read it again in years to come and reminisce about our big day out on Ozy :)
Nice work phillipivan - a good effort and a good read.
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