Fitzroy 1.1 – The Blueys

30 08 2009

So I’m at the Blue Mountains climbing now. Claire has graciously let us stay at her place and us = John, Anna, Deano, Simon, Liz, Simon(Young), Merry & Jesse so yeah it’s a little crowed but feels like home 🙂
We’ve been mostly cragging, slowly getting back into form, it’s been great. This is my first time here so exploring all the different areas has been amazing.
I haven’t really climbed on carrots much so slowly getting used to that.
Managed to find some cracks in amongst the sport routes though. I did this route called Janiceps (21) which was a 25m about 3-5m overhanging crack with every kind of style of crack climbing in it, was awesome.
Friday was Claire’s bday and we had an awesome day. I did my first multi pitch sport climb and I was great, just a rack of quick draws. Claire and I did “the west face of the mirror ball” (19)  and we flew up it so we did “Disco Dancer” (22) as well. but I fell on the crux 😦 Then we did “Mirror Ball” (21) was an amazing day.
As Claire was working fri night we went out on the town (Katoomba) on sat night to celebrate hers & Deano’s bdays. After going to 4 different pubs we found one that was playing Jazz and danced (well i jiggled) the night away 🙂 Its been ages since i’ve had a big night and had a dance. Was a great night and today I’m hungover so I’m going 2 sit around and talk about it.
Simon, Liz and Deano have left us today, there heading up the coast, destination somewhere near Brisbane. Claire, Simon, John Anna and I are going to spend the next 3 days at pierces pass doing some more multi-pitch routes 🙂
I think Anna said it best. “Sport climbing vs Trad climbing, it’s like cooking your dinner in a microwave, it’s quick and easy but it taste so much better when you cook it in the oven” 🙂

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Back in Aus off to Nowra

30 08 2009

Nowra
Arriving back in Aus early meant I had 3 weeks left of my trip and no idea what to do, I quick look at the bank account quickly showed me that I wouldn’t be making any more flight and NSW it would be.
So the text message and phone calls started to flood out and I had solid plan within hours. The second person I got hold of was Crazy John and by sheer coincidence he (and Anna) were landing in Sydney the next day. So I unpacked the haul bag left all my cams behind (at my uncles) and I had a sport climbing rack of quick draws and a Grigri packed.
I meet John in the CDB of Sydney, we went straight to the but for a just 1 quiet jug and by the end of the night we had polished of the 1litre bottle of Jamerson that duty free kindly supplied.
The next day was a short 2 hour bus trip. Deano was waiting for us when the bus arrived and we made our way to the Ski Resort (I don’t know why its called that) caravan park. This camp site is good because the cliff we wanted to climb at was directly across the river and the caravan park has canoes.
The four of us with all our gear jumped in a canoe and about a meter off shore John, Deano and I were peaking out that the canoe was going to capsize. To add the amusement Anna had taken out her hearing aid so if we did capsize they didn’t get fried and she was at the front of the canoe paddling away no fear and no idea that we were yelling, shit, fuck we’re going to drown… So I grabbed the oar out of here hand and she gave me a confused look as I tried to explain to her that we were scared, I think she thought we were a bit soft 🙂 So the second plan was to do two trips across the river and we were clipping shinny metal things with the rest of the weekend warriors.
As I walked along the cliff I stumbled across Crystal who I had meet a few months earlier in Frog Buttress and I soon had plans to go to the Blue Mountain with her in 7 days.
Deano had already been at Nowra for a little while so he was on a rest day and was happy to be belay bunny as I climbed a few things.
I’d never been to Nowra and I’d heard mixed things about it but it’s a pretty good place to get some miles done.
The next day saw some more climbing and that evening Simon and Liz tuned up as well. Pretty wet in Tassie at this time of year so rather than go home to see friends, the friends where coming to me it was awesome. We hung out at Thompsons Point for the next few days, John hadn’t been climbing in 7 weeks (probably his biggest break off climbing ever) but he soon warmed up and ticked a few 24’s. I managed to tick a 23 but got pumped stupid on the 24 and fell and fell again.
Next we moved onto Rossie’s climbing area, Deano called rossies from Rossies I thought this was funny 🙂 My goal on the cliff was to do a climb called Mega Mac a really cool 25 but after dogging up it and putting all the draws on it I knew it was going to be hard to me to get. It is around 7-10 meters overhanging which ment I was getting even more pumped and falling even more. I worked on it over the next few days but to no avail, “I ain’t got the pump” something to focus on in the near future… John got it second shot 🙂 Merry turned up while we were hear but had a pulley injury. He still managed to figure out a crux sequence that used an off hand jam so he could do the move without hurting his finger, it was pretty impressive but he also got pumped and didn’t end up sending it.
On the last day we went to the Grotto and did a some cool routes walked back to camp in the rain which was perfect timing really as the next morning. Simon, Liz and Deano drove to the Blueys and John Anna and I headed back to Sydney to get a lift with Crystal the next morning to meet the others and Clair at the Blueys.
 
Some of the better routes I got on a Nowra
21 Fist Full of Steel – OS
21 Mosquito Slap – OS
22 Murdoch the Horse Fucker – OS
23 Still Life – 2nd shot
24 Betty Blue – Got pumped, didn’t send – Mantel at the end was interesting =/
25 Mega Mac – Got even more pumped, didn’t send – Project for next time…





USA Trip – Part 5 – The Third Pillar of Dana (Tuolumne Meadows)

30 08 2009

USA Trip – Part 5 – The Third Pillar of Dana (Tuolumne Meadows)
After a rest day in Bishop we drove up to Tuolumne Meadows managed to get one of the last camp sites in the area for free 🙂 During the rest day it got pretty hot and melted the body wash container and it leaked on the back shelf which smelt a bit so I setup some bear deterents around the car (see video) but none came.
The next morning I got up at 6, woke Garry with a coffee but I had misunderstood him the night before as to when we were going to get up and he wanted to stay in bed a bit longer (and dream of Anna) so a few hours later we eventually got up.
For the last time we backed up the tents and the car (a tedious task) and went to climb the Regular Route on the Third Pillar of Dana – 5.10b – 5 pitches (lead pitches 2,4)
The approach wasn’t that well described in the guide but after a 2 hours we made it to climb. I was pretty bloody good, each pitch got better and better. The 2nd pitch I lead had a tight hands (1 camalot) crack witch was cool. The 3rd bitch that Garry lead had this funky chimney. The 4th pitch I lead had a cool finger crack and crimpy 5.10b crux with a piton backed up by a RP to protect it. The 5th pitch and by far the best pitch had a few different things. It had a kinda layback crack with a bulge, then a thin reachy section then finished with hand cracks that ended on mantels through to the summit. Pretty good climb 🙂 We ended up doing the whole thing in around 7 hours I think.
And that’s pretty much the trip over, we were on the plane to Sydney the next day, no epics getting to the airport and everything including all the extra gear we had brought packed perfectly into our bags.
I was supposed to spend 6 weeks in the states but I was glad to be coming home. I was felling tired and I was looking forward to catching up with some friends back in Aus.
I’ve had some pretty cool trips in the last few years, Frey in Argentina, Arapiles, Frog Buttress, Darrans in NZ and I love all the different styles of climbing but its always the longer mutli pitch climbs that stick in my mind and this trip had the most of them by far. Pretty damn pleased with everything we climbed and psyched to get back there again one day. 2 guide book I did get when I was there was Utah which will be happening in May next yeah and the Bugaboos which looks awesome so that’ll be another trip one day. But till then back to cragging and getting strong again 🙂





USA Trip – Part 4 – The Incredible Hulk

30 08 2009

The Hulk was the only thing we did this trip that was planned. The guide book read “The best granite in the High Sierras” so we had high expectations.
Before getting to the Hulk the story begins at mono village camp site… I’ve never seen so many RV’s in one place, it was crazy. Some of these things we nicer than Fitzroy (Which isn’t saying a lot I know) they expanded out both side on hydraulics 3 different sections that is. They had massive LCD TV’s inside. Outside they had lawns with gnomes, it was a bit much really…
So Garry and I setup our tents in the middle of RV city. When paying for the camp site they warned us not to leave any food in the car as they have bear problems, they had no bear boxes to store our food and we we’re instructed to wrap our food up in a tarp. I didn’t really take much of this warmer, surly if they had real bear problems they’d have bear boxes… At around 7pm a guy walk past (quoting “the bears’ll here soon, he he he” and I didn’t take much of this either, just though he was talking the piss out of us tourist. You know where this is going right… I had wrapped the food and our eski/chill-bin/cooler in the tarp right next to my tent and then at 1230 he came. Crash! Bang! Russell Russell, I hadn’t actually got to sleep yet but I sat up quily & was instantly wide awake. I knew what it was straight away. I thought FUCK what the fuck do I do and the first thing that popped to mind was grabbed my camera, turned on the flash, unzipped my tent, stuck my head and my camera out the vestibule and click! The flash lit up a big bear 5m away from my tent with our eski in tow. By this stage Garry had stuck his head out of his tent. He looked at the bear then looked at me
Garry “What do we do”
Me “Fuck, I don’t know”
Garry “I’m getting in the car”
Me “yeah I suppose that’s a good idea?”
Garry “Right, you keep your head torch on the bear while I find my key”
So as my torch lit up the bear then Garry’s arse poaking out of his tent then back to the bear again all I could think was fuck if that bear comes this way we’re fucked. That was as tense as the situation got though. Garry found his key and went for the car and as we got out of our tents the bear left the eski and ran away. There was food everywhere, I was surprised that no one else in the area had even stired. We cleaned up the mess and decided that we would put all the food that had any odder in the eski and put the eski. The rest of the food we just put under the tarp again and attempted to go to sleep. 230… We were woken again by the shit. We weren’t really worried about the bear this time, just got up, he ran away again but what was left under the tarp was again everywhere. For fake sake this is bullshit I though. We retrieved whatever food that hadn’t been mauled, wrapped it up in the tarp and put it all in the skip with the eski. 430… The fucker was even louder this time. The only food that we had left out was in a 10l mini bear box that we were using when hiking. When I stuck my head out of the tent this time there was 1 bear had just finished down climbing out of a tree and there was another bear still up in the tree making a hell of a noise. At first I though that he had taken the bear box up the tree and was going to through it down in an attempt to break into it but we saw the bear box had been moved around 10m and it was just the bear climbing the tree that was loud. After a little while it also started to down climb the tree and when it was a couple of meters from the ground Garry and I had our head torches on it and it noticed us and latterly pissed all over the tree and ran back up it it was so scared. Eventually after turning our head torches off it came back down to the ground and ran away as fast as it could and thus ending the bear epic. We tried to get some sleep but there was none to be had. Garry had got up soon after and retrieved our food from the skip before they emptied  the trash and after making me a cup of coffee he eventually got me out of my tent. I felt like shit, no sleep and now we had to walk up to the Hulk.
The walk in wasn’t that bad actually, I was so tired that I would randomly burst into fits of laughter as I though back on the night that had just passed. We had to cross some beaver dams near the beginning of the walk, slushy muddy rivers of water but after that the track was pretty easy to follow and after 3h we were at the base of the hulk. For the rest of the day we slept and watched a party of 2 climb Positive vibrations 5.11a on the left side of the Hulk. It looked amazing and I defiantly want to get back there and do that route one day.
2 other climbers arrived later in the day and they had the same plan as us but they said they were in no rush to get up early so we knew we would be in front climbing it the next day.
During the night we again heard noises outside our tent, I thought another fucking bear, please no but when I stuck my head outside the tent it was only a dear munching on the grass, thank god!
The next morning we got up and went to climb the Red dihedral 5.10b – 11 (12) pitches (lead pitches 1,3,5,7,9,10) It was pretty damn good, Garry lead the Red dihedral pitch, it was pretty cool but I thought that Mithral Dihedral was better. Garry also lead this pitch which was a splitter tight hands crack which was cool also. The last 2 pitches to get to the true summit start from the back of the peak as we scrambled around there I found a brand new booty nut that someone had equalized with an old piton to rap off. The last pitch was fun, go up a chimney then at the top squeeze through this tight hole that I had to take most of the gear off my harness and the pack to fit through and when you pop out of the hole you are on the summit 🙂
The decent was straight forward, scramble down the summit ridge a little, make one 30m rap then scramble down the gully. We were back at our tents in 9 hours from leaving.
We had planned to stay another night and climb another route the next day but we didn’t have much time left in the trip and we had 1 last peak that we wanted to climb before leaving so we decided to pack up camp, walk back down the hill (around 2 hours) drive to Bishop (another 2 hours) get some food and it was 11 before we got to bed, I was rooted. I slept well for the first time in days.





USA Trip – Part 3 – Mt Russell & Mt Whitney

29 08 2009

USA Trip – Part 3 – Mt Russell & Mt Whitney
Permits to climb now there’s a funny concept that I’ve never had deal with before…
Well it wasn’t really a permit to climb but rather a permit to walk up into the Mt Whitney area.
Mt Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 which basically means the higest peak in the USA not counting Alaska. For this reason every man and his dog wants to peak bag it. So they limit the # of people walking up there to 100 walkers per day. We weren’t actually walking up Mt Whitney and were only going to be on the main Whitney trail for half an hour so I got a bit pissed off that we couldn’t get a permit that day.
The next day we went back to Lone Pine to get the permit. Had to do a lottery to get the permit, I drew 4 out of 12 so we were in. Got the permit which ended up being free, we could stay as long as we wanted and we got free muesli bars. So I’m still confused as to why we couldn’t get it the day before.
The permit was for the next day so we spend the rest of the day hanging out in Bishop which is an awesome little town and has a great gear shop  and that afternoon climbed the West face of Cardinal Pinnacle – 5.10a – 4 pitches (lead pitches 2,4) cool climbing, a bomber hand crack, cool finger crack up a slab and some off width.
The next morning we woke up early to walk up the hill before it got to hot. We started walking at 730. We didn’t really know how long it was going to take but after walking through some beautiful forest and through some shitty scree we made it to Ice Berg lake (out base camp) in 3.5 hours. For the rest of the day we just chilled. I fell asleep in my underwear in the sun and got a nice tan (burnt) Ice Berg lake is at the base of Mt Whitney and I was Psyched to be there. It’s been a while since I’d done any alpine rock routes and alpine rock is the reason I started climbing. I remember my third ever trad lead was the North East corner of Federation Peak. I had walked in with a friend (Richard) our packs we’re stupidly heavy 30+kg and it had taken us 3 days to walk in but that’s not what I remember about the trip. I remember waking up and walking the sun rise over Fedders getting racked up and swapping leads to the summit. It’s such a great sense of achievement climbing a mounting in this style and I’m always my happiest in life when I’m up in the mountains with a friend climbing in this style.
So the same as Fedders the next morning Garry and I woke to a beautiful sunrise and started our approach to Mt Russell. Up at 6 and started walking a 7. Mt Russell is slightly lower than Mt Whitney but it has much better rock and some steller lines. Our first route was the easiest on the Mt, Fishhook Arete – 5.9 (5.8?) – 8 (9) pitches (Lead pitches 2,4,6,8) Awesome line hocking up a long arête. It was cold, really cold on the 1st pitch but it got warmer and warmer as the pitches went on. The most memorable bit for me was at around pitch 4 I had to climb down from the belay then back up again over this overhang, no gear in yet because I didn’t want to cause rope drag I look back at Garry and the rope was hocking out horizontal between him and me blowing in the wind  The decent was down a scree filled gully, the worst part of alpine rock climbing in my opinion, I hate it, sliding here tripping there. I have a gimpy ankle so I have to be careful of that. Every second step your shoes full up with dirt. It doesn’t take that long to get down and the memory’s of that shit soon fade as you think back on the awesome climbing you’ve done. From tent 2 tent it had taken us 7 hours so we had the rest of the day to chill.
Slept in till 7ish this morning and left camp at around 8. Back to Mt Russell again this time we were to climb the Mithral Dihedral – 5.10a – 5 pitches (plus some 3rd class) (lead pitches 1,3,5)
O.K. so I haven’t been climbing for long but to date this is the best route I’ve ever done. After 2 pitches you look up and you’re at the base of a 100m dihedral, this corner is awesome. I jumped on the sharp end and headed up. Spend way to much time groveling up an off-width before realizing that it was much easier to lay back the smaller crack on the other face. The sun was about a meter out from the corner so I could streach my left hand out and warm it up but my right hand was mostly stuck in the cold crack for most of the pitch, then when the rope ran out setup a semi-hanging belay. Garry seconded up and lead up the rest of the dihedral through a short overhang to a massive ledge. 1 more pitch saw us at easier ground and we were soon on the summit again. The same decent and we were back at the tent after 6.5 hours after leaving. Some other climbers had turned up so we sat with them for the rest of the day talking about it and watching the sun set over the peaks meant the end of another day in the hills.
Our last day up here we had decided to climbed the East Buttress of Mt Whitney – 5.7 – 9 pitches (plus some 3rd class) (lead pitches 2,4,6,8) the climbing on this peak wasn’t anything compared to Mt Russell but it was fun and being the highest peak in the USA (14496 feet (4421 meters)) it was the highest I’ve ever climbed and we wanted peak bagging rights  Apparently everyone else that was around had decided to climb the same route that day but we were first at the base which was good as we weren’t held up by other climbers or the possibility of climbers above us kicking rocks down on us. Garry even managed to get a booty cam out of one of the belays  It was weird arriving on the summit with like 20 tourist there. So we didn’t spend to long up there quickly walked (scrambled) back down the mountaineer’s route back to camp, packed up camp and walked back down the hill which only took just over 2 hours.
We drove to Bishop that night and decided to fork out for a steak dinner but arriving at the restaurant the 2 climbers we had meet at Ice Berg lake where here too and graciously paid for our meals 🙂





USA Trip – Part 2 – The Needles

29 08 2009

No guide book was in print for this area but we had heard great things. At around 7500m it was much cooler & climbing in the shade in shorts was perfect.
The walk in takes around an hour (through some real nice pine forest) which seemed to keep the crowds away (the walk that is, not the forest) there was only about 8 other climbers there. Once I arrived at the cliff I was instantly impressed, 100-200m granite spires with some great looking lines. Mostly trad climbing & long pitches the standard rack became 2x set of cams with 3x 1,2&3 Camelot’s. We spent 5 days here with 1.5 rest days. The camping was free which is always good.
I think Thin Ice was my favorite route, Great crack line (like most of the needles) the first pitch had a 5.10b finger crack crux, the second pitch was 5.10a (but felt a little harder than the first pitch) it was a weird v like crack were I had to do get these deep jams with a heal toe jam and inch your way up. Garry lead this one (thank god) he did it a bit different, pinched the arête with 1 hand and jammed with the other. 3rd pitch was less step and easier.
1 day this guy Josh turned up, he had been to Tasmania
Josh “oh yeah, I climbed the totem pole”
Josh “do you know I guy called crazy john”
Jed “yeah yep, good friend”
Josh “yeah I stayed at his place”
Jed “oh you stayed at my place”
🙂 I love Fitzroy & my friends 🙂
We spent the rest day getting supplies from Lake Isabella, the only way I can describe this town is like a poverty stricken Queens Town. It sucked, don’t go there or if you do make it brief!
It was some of the best multi pitch climbing I’ve ever done but… It still felt like cragging & we were both keen to head higher again and climb some alpine rock routes so we packed the car again, destination Mt Russell.

Below is a list of the routes I did at the Needles.
Igor Unchained – 5.9 – 3 Pitches – lead 1st & 3rd pitch
Thin Ice – 5.10b – 3 Pitches – lead 1st & 3rd pitch
Airy Interlude – 5.10a – 2 pitches – lead 2nd pitch
Fancy Free – 5.10b – 3 Pitches – lead 1st & 3rd pitch
Ice Pirates – 5.11b – 2 pitches – lead 1st pitch





USA Trip – Part 1 – Yosemite

29 08 2009

I had had aspirations of climbing El cap, 1000m high. One of the biggest & most well know pieces of rock in the world. But it wasn’t meant to be…
After 16hours of flights we (Garry & I) ended up in San Francisco. We grabbed our gear jumped in our little hire car & proceeded to waste the next 3 hours looking for the REI gear shop. Driving on the right hand side of the road in an unfamiliar city was mentally draining, every corner I turned chanting right side right side but after finally finding REI I couldn’t be fucked with it & just ended up buying some chalk and left San fran.
We eventually got to Yosemite at 9pm unloaded what food we had into the bear lockers (fucking bears) and slept near the base of El cap, 2 avoid rangers 🙂
Next day was bloody hot, around 38°. We spent most of the day walking around organizing food & gear and by mid afternoon we were walking up to Washington column, hauls bag packed, ready to climb the south face & get our shit sorted for something bigger.
By the time we walked up and climbed 2 pitches it was dark.
We setup on a ledge 4 the night, had some food & tried 2 get some sleep.
2am still hadn’t got to sleep, stupid cricket in a crack was chirping all night & it was still bloody hot. We’d had enough! Fuck it, lets get the hell off this ledge! At 3am Garry jugged & cleaned the pitched we fixed in shorts & was still sweating. We rapped back 2 the ground & walked back to the car by 530am. We packed the car and left Yosemite by 9am, destination altitude & hopefully less heat.
Yosemite looks like an awesome place 2 climb but in the heat of August its just not that enjoyable 4 me. I’ll go back one day for sure, it ain’t going anywhere 🙂