Sunday, July 24, 2011

Grampians Sunshine

Well if ya done read the previous post you'll be in the know bout my intention on heading on down south for a bit of bouldering action in the Grampians. I did indeed follow through with said intention and managed a glorious two weeks down in the sun kissed holy land, bouldering and generally enjoying myself with a posse of good pals and heros of yore.
Grant Rowbottom (hero of yore) putting his mono campus power to good use!

Although there was a bit of rain over the time we were down there only one days climbing was thrown seriously out of whack because of it and it was pretty darn perfect the rest of the time. Actually it was, on some days, colder than any conditions I've experienced in the Grampians ever in my history- too cold to quite, but cold.
Amanda on Hot Henry
Amanda again on Rave Heart

Most of our time was spent at Hollow Mountain Cave area and places like Ground Control Caves and Trackside. My buddy Daveth managed to climb a long term project on the Westwood boulder at trackside after taking many an unspotted fall from the top. He is quite a sturdy chap anyway but his resilience to some of his falls from up high, arse first on to rock were quite something.
Daveth busting chops on Nick Sutter's "Sick Nutter"

Lee, soft faced through the crux of Sleepy Hollow

Lee gave the Trackside scoop project (Scoop Du Jour; p.145) a bit of a tickle while we were there, almost but not quite stringing the five moves together. On a rest/rainy days we built up the landing at the edge of the ledge so that you can feel comfortable giving the last pounce some real curry without fear of tumbling off the ledge and falling down onto the track. This is a really ace project that will certainly be an ultra classic when its done. Thats not to say its not an ultra classic now. It was good to see Lee get so close to it, we had both tried it before but after hearing that Sam Edwards had been wholly thwarted by the technical cut looses and campus moves we thought "hmmm maybe it's harder than we originally thought", but as it turned out, after speaking with him, he has trouble linking more than 4 moves together and the addition of the 5th was too much for him, he actually has nightmares about such things apparently. Either way, its an ace project still waiting, as it will and only can. Lee spent a little time up in the Ground Control Caves having a frustrating time on Dead Heat V11. He was so close to it on the first day but ended up getting an infected finger, all puss filled and sore for a couple of days, so he had to leave it until the last light of the last day of the trip to send it packing while chewing a mouth full of anti-biotics. He also busted out Killer Dwarf V11 straight after it. He managed to show Dead Can't Dance V11 where to go in a hand full of shots and then did the same with Sleepy Hollow V11.
The Bop on Sleepy Hollow again
...and on Dead Heat V11

Ben Can Dance, trying to sneak through the crux of The Wheel

I didn't really do too much other than swing about in Hollow Mountain Cave. My main aim for the trip was to see how I faired against The Wheel Of Life, Dai Koyamada's full link of the cave. The first day of the trip I repeated most of the individual boulders, Dead Can't Dance, Cave Man etc etc, having done them before. On the second day I got reacquainted with the moves on Sleepy Hollow V11 and tried to link it through to the start of Cave Man, where SH finishes but I accidentally climbed through Cave Man and deep into the crux of Dead Can't Dance. The link from the start of Sleepy Hollow is whats known as Sleepy Rave and only differs from the Wheel Of Life by the addition of a steady V8 and a bomber no hands rest- essentially the same problem, certainly no grade difference by my reckoning. I was pretty psyched, the full link of the Hollow Mountain Cave is something that I've wanted to do for a super long time, since I was a wee pup still at the maternal teet, and to feel as though I'm on the cusp of sending it packing is pretty exiting. Alas, this trip though, I didn't manage to climb The Wheel of Life but I did get super close. I am hoping to get down for a day (or two) trip before Uni goes back, it feels like I could do it any shot and with a slight tweak to my sequence that I discovered at the end of my last day when I was far too smoked to give it another go from the ground makes me feel even more confident that an ascent is dependant only on me getting the bloody hell back down there sometime in my life.
Me on one of my burns of the full link.

I think the only problem I did was a V11 called Tantrum at Hollow Mountain Block. Its an awesome little pouncy problem on black slick rock and basically involves a few easy set up moves on good holds and then a high footed pounce to a jug ledge. Very good. Another thing I managed to do was gouge my left index finger real good. It was from the undercling on Cave Man, and the more I climbed on the cave problems the more it'd open up. I would tape it and re-tape it but the tape would tear and more blood would would drizzle down my arm and splash onto my belly mid attempt. It started getting infected and puss would leak from it and I could squeeze my finger and all this grotty, yellow, foggy filth would leak out. Not perfect, but funny, quite sore the whole trip. With a splash of whiskey though, every so often, just whenever I was wetting the whiskers, the infection and swelling cleared up capitally and crimping the left index finger emerged from dreamland hopes and dreams into the light of possibility. I was overjoyed...
My gyz finger

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back to Bungonia

Well just before heading off to the Grampians for two weeks Lee and I rolled on back down to Bungonia to jump back on Bergurk, our super, mega, uber classic limestone project on the Chicken Wall. As you'll read in the previous post it is the single greatest thing in the world. Steep limestone stretching almost 150 metres split into three pitches. Our goal for this day was to explore the upper extremities of the route. We knew the bottom two pitches went, but it was the very top pitch that still held all the routes mysteries.

As we do with Bungonia, we drove down the day before and slept the night in the private cabin they have down there for us. Heated bedrooms, BBQ's, a thoroughly modern kitchen with self-cleaning oven, the whole bit. It was freezing though, 1 degree, and the heater didn't work, neither did the stove and we only had bacon and eggs for breakfast. What to do but to chuck a Rocky on the egg's and bacon and throw it all back raw and wriggling. After all, it was gonna be a long day and we were gonna need our energy.

Back down at ground zero, the base of the route, it still seemed steep, long, and altogether dominating of our minds. A formicating fear started encroaching upon our otherwise sturdy demeanours, but we were there, and yes we may have been feeling a gulping worry crawl in but there was nothing for it but to suck it up and tuck it away into our back pocket and get on with what we came here for.

The first pitch wizzed by as any super classic, 60metre 27's do in the middle of winter for a warm-up...Fun but with a hidious cold pump that kind of lingered for the rest of the day. Next up was the big middle pitch. All the moves went as they had done on the last trip but upon taking step back and thinking about it, it seems really more like 33 rather than the previously thought 32. Which is pretty cool, a 3 pitch 33. 27,33,31.

The top pitch was the unknown for the day and after we had both had a good hour and a half work session on the second pitch we were feeling a little tuckered and it was one of those days when you never actually warm up, every time we pulled on it seemed as though we we stone cold. It was howling with wind and it was about 5 degrees tops. It was the day when all the pine trees in Blackheath tried to escape from their dirty ground shackles but only managed to get as far as the neighbours garage or the 4.28pm train from Katoomba... So twas quite windy and brisk. So yes, we had a good work session on the middle hard pitch and then got stuck into the top pitch. We realised when we got to the top pitch that we hadn't actually had a chance to clean the begger so instead of us both getting a chance to tussle with this whale only Lee got to. He brush and he scrabbled all the way to the top of this 35 metre pitch which overhangs maybe 12 metres.

It's funny when you're sitting in your harness bolting away, you are much braver than when you are on the sharp end climbing between the bolts you've paced. On the top pitch, just off the belay, was a hidden crux we hadn't noticed when bolting and now Lee had to climb on through a hard and not quite yet cleaned section, threatening to land on me and sever the rope on a serrated edge just off the belay. Once through we both concurred the others opinion of placing one more bolt on our next visit so as to safe guard against death and high wall stranded injury.

Lee had a bit of a struggle sorting the sequence of the very top of the top pitch. It seemed like the wolf was waiting at our doorstep if you know what I'm saying. Waiting at the door step rather than somewhere midst the woods on the road home or by the tulips at the front gate. What I'm attempting to convey is that there, just below the anchors waited potential disaster. This wolf seemed more ferocious than it twas however. Once sorted, the sequence through the top roof resembled an insane 360 degree woody problem. The moves to the anchors are a series of pounces with big, sweeping cut looses on slopes on the very, very top of the cliff. Absolutely crazy!

After Lee finished on the top moves we had to hurry to get on outta there before it got dark. We wrapped off from the top of the second pitch and then rapped quickly down the slabs below and strolled out in the dark with full winter woolies on, such was the state of the chilly weather.

And now we go off to the Grampians to leave Bungonia, via Hungry Jacks for a couple of weeks of bouldering in the forecast wetness of the south.