Saturday I managed to convince a group of “guidebook research virgins” – well Steve G should have known better – on a trip to explore “Western Wall”, a group of cliffs near Bundaleer. After a suitably late start involving coffees at Royston Rd we headed up and parked in the predetermined location, and headed into the bush.
Well the directions in the old guidebook – to stay on the flats for the first few hundred metres then ascend – were apparently written before spikey wattle was invented. So we slugged it out, with a fair bit of sawing and scratching, before eventually finding our way to the cliff via GPS.
Once there, the existing lines were soon found and some other unclimbed lines identified. James was keen on the orange crack leading to a steep arête, so I scrambled up about 8m on the buttress next to it while they racked up. Then I decided I really needed a rope, so Paula (and others) threw me up the end of a rope and I hauled up a few cams to protect myself, then traversed over to take the prime viewing spot.
James made it up the initial crack OK (see photo), then launched up the arête, protected by an RP and small cams. Post-crux there was some huffing and puffing and complaints about the gear, resulting in a sit and some rejigging of protection.
Meanwhile I decided the buttress I was on was worth finishing, so pulled up some more rack and headed upwards, resulting in *Photographer’s Bluff (30m gr 10). Quite nice, steep climbing on good holds.
James meanwhile finished his line by heading left around the arête, now named When the West was Won (26m 22M0). Notable, in being James’ first new route on trad!
We sorted out a descent via an abseil tree, had some lunch and then I lead *Black Hunter (16m 19), great little route. Paula and Steve G followed.
Nina meanwhile was being coaxed into leading up an unclimbed arête, resulting in “When the West was Fun ” (20m 14) and also getting a star.
Paula led us up “Left in the Lurch”? 20m 13, now 14, but headed left up the final wall resulting in a variant finish at about 16 and an improvement on the original.
I headed off down the hill to find the far western crags. By the time I got back the others were all packed and ready to go. We stuck to a higher line this time, with far less spikey wattle (but still some), found a large, ancient cairn and the eastern buttress of the cliffline, which also looks worthwhile.
Sunday the predetermined plan was sport climbing at Red Rocks, almost the antithesis of Saturday. Paula started up Anniversary Equation (*19) but backed off above the 2nd bolt. SG led with some serious dogging, pulled the rope and I also found it stiff and fairly sandbaggy for the grade. Paula toproped it, blowing off a foothold in the process. Hardly what you’d call a warm-up!
Paula on Anniversary Equation
A shower came through just as Paula was finishing and we retreated to shelter. It passed quickly and dried, so we took on Spanish Sahara (**22) via some dodgy sport-climbing stick clipping of the second bolt,
then SG led through with some rope-swinging technique to get across to the jug on the left. The route starts by climbing a small tree, unfortunately SG fell off the tree, resulting in this:
Steve G leading Spanish Sahara (22)
I toproped it, working the moves and finding a higher sequence to gain the jug. Paula then followed suit, but SG and I decided we wanted another shot, so she lowered off. SG found the sequence across this time, and (gloat warning) I then jumped on and made it all the way no rests no falls. Inspired by that, Paula jumped on for her second shot, but it didn’t go how she hoped. Let’s just leave it at that.
James and Nina meanwhile had done Conflict of Interest (20) and now James was lining up to do the steep arête of One Ring To Bind Them(23), so we thought we’d watch.
After that we all lined up and had a turn seconding. The wind was blowing through the gap, so it was pretty cold sitting around.
Nina explained that the best method she’d found to warm up her hands was to stick them in her bra, but I can’t imagine that becoming popular. Besides, I can’t see how it would work that well, but I guess I could carry one in my pack and try it next time. =:o
After James’ sterling lead, we had a bash on toprope (none clean), then SG, Paula and I left to attend to domestic duties in Halls Gap and return home.
Postscript: Perhaps this boulder could become a tourist attraction? Then at least we'd get a good track into Western Wall: