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Topic Date User
Offwidth appreciation society 6-May-2015 At 10:59:30 PM harold
Time for a mini trip report on the offwidth extravaganza. So I'm at my local climbing gym Thursday night, all the regulars are there, "who's coming out to offwidth day at the Youies"... mmm do I hear crickets chirping? Anyway, Friday night a mate messages me he's in. Cool. Although I think maybe he just didn't have anyone else to climb with and wanted to get out of the house for the day.

We get out there mid morning and the VCC crew seem keen on heading around to top rope 1984 - an 18 with such a smooth, flaring, body width start that it can seem impossible to get off the ground. A couple of guys have just backed off Santa's Last Entry due to a dubious block halfway up (more on that later).

We decide to stick to Northwestern's wide offerings. We start off on the easiest offwidth there for a bit of an introduction. Michael leads off and sketches and struggles a little…it’s a grade 6… this will be interesting. Next we go to a grade 14 called Grunt. I’ve always wanted to do this but never had the big gear. Today I have a No 5 old syle Camalot and the biggest size HB borrowed off a friend. Actually standing at the bottom I wonder if the Camalot will even fit. Its super wide the whole way. I stuff my body in there and start chicken winging 4-5m until I can just reach high enough to get the Camalot to stick. My mates laughing so much he just has to get a photo before he puts me on belay.

Of course at this point I suddenly wonder why I thought it a good day to wear shorts to climb granite offwidths.
I throw in the big HB cam as well and chicken wing/cam shuffle my way to the top. Classic. A 12m schooling in the art of the chicken wing. An interesting moment happens a few metres from the top when I shuffle the HB up one time too many, the rope jiggles it and it flops out and slides down the rope leaving me with just the Camalot. OK, lessons learned – 1. big HB cams are sooo floppy they’re totally rubbish. 2. Better to leave a big cam behind in a good placement than shuffle for the endless toprope.

Next Michael jumps on Tozanton’s flaring fist crack. Some swearing ensues, a bit of a fall, but he fights it out to the top. Then its time for Phlebotomy 17, another diabolical flaring start requiring a fairly strenuous mix of thrutching and chicken wing to get up to the nice hand crack. Michael’s turn to follow, I take in a couples metres of slack, there’s some grunting and cursing, the rope goes tight. This repeats for 10 minutes or so. “So maybe I should just lower you back to the ground”…. “I am on the ground!” I crack up laughing, hilarious.
So with that we depart for some more sensible face climbing on the Exam Technique wall. Great day out.

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