A little adventure is good for the soul
New routing in the Bungles…
“You’re here again you idiot, how many times do you put yourself into these situations?” The voice in my head is telling me off again…. “Downclimb, DOWNCLIMB!!!”. But the OTHER voice in my head retorts “you’ll be ok, don’t listen to him, just shake it out a bit and chill”. And so it goes for the next few minutes.
My contorted toes are sore, stuffed inside my climbing shoes. Maybe I should have worn those other shoes I think as I dip my dry hand into my chalk bag once more. My arms aren’t pumped anymore, and I don’t need more chalk and yet I don’t move. I cling here in this stance pondering the next moves, the gear below me, the lack of gear above me and the fact that my partner is probably getting annoyed now. Hurry up, make a decision.
The ballsy voice in my head justifies my next move. “If I fall off, the last bit of gear will definitely rip, it’s a micro cam with two lobes contacting. BUT I’ll probably get high enough before that to kick off the wall and miss the ledge, so really it’s a clean 20m winger. The second last piece was definitely bomber, I’m pretty sure.” My sane voice interrupts, “pretty sure hey? I’m pretty sure you’re going to die!”
Well, this is what we are here for isn’t it? This is why we deprived ourselves of sleep, drove for hours after work on Friday and force fed ourselves muesli at 5am this morning. Make the decision, don’t be a pussy, go for it. Anyway, it’s Pete’s lead next and that next pitch looks bloody hideous.
Probing into the unknown is really the essence of adventure. It’s probably the main reason I love big long multi pitch routes more than any other type of climbing. A lot of other climbing has moved towards removing as much of the unknown as possible, removing the adventure! Huh? That doesn’t make sense. You get into climbing because it’s a bit different, it’s a good challenge, it gets you outdoors, it scares you a little bit, and it’s an adventure. But then you become part of the scene, you coat yourself in cotton wool, sugar coat your climbing experience. Come on. Poopy pants are much better for the soul than hangdogging every weekend for a soft tick 27. And I can onsight poopy pants consistently at any grade, even without climbing.
Everyone’s line in the sand is drawn differently though. What’s an adventure and what’s down right unsafe? Top roping in the gym could be enough adventure for some, being run-out above an RP just the right amount for others. Ice climbing, alpine climbing, base jumping, wingsuit flying or un-tethered high lining naked, yep there are plenty of ways to get your fix these days and plenty of places to draw that line. But I still love getting my fix the old school way, a little multi-pitch trad.
So enough ranting, what have we been up to?
Well, the Bungles. North face of Bluff Mountain is one of the best long trad cliffs in Australia and we desecrated it… We placed bolts. But in our defence they were all placed ground up, on lead, generally hanging off a skyhook.
Our new route wanders up some pretty amazing territory, between Bastion Buttress and Stonewall Jackson. We have climbed A LOT in the Bungles and the crux pitch of this route in unlike anything we encountered thus far. It climbs through steep bulges on featureless rock, slapping from sloper to sloper isn’t something I would usually be comfortable with up in the Bungles, but the route can’t go any other way.
So, over a few trips we investigated this steep, awesome wall, did some climbing, fell on some knife blades and RP’s, decided aiding and placing a few bolts would be smarter, and finally sent the route. Stoked to have finished it, and more so that we managed to stick to the traditional ground up style of the original first ascensionists of the area. In sticking with those early pioneers we will give a grade of 21. There are some harder more spicy looking lines which could straighten out our route, but they will have to wait until we need another fix.
Corinth – 235 m – Grade 21
P1 – 50 m – 18 – Start between BB and Over and out. Straight up to slab with a left facing corner on the right. Through bulges in the corner above the slab on good finger locks. Belay on ledge.
P2 – 40 m – 14 – Traverse diagonally right for 25m until at the base of a prominent V. Climb the right facing corner which forms the left side of the V. Up short face to ledge. RP and bolt.
P3 – 25 m – 21 – Start left of piton, up to rail, traverse right, bolt, to corner. Up corner then left onto ledge, bolt, up past bolt to hard move to gain ledge. Traverse diagonally left to base of prominent corner.
P4 – 25m – 20 – Up corner to ledge. Up to sloping ledge at base of corner.
P5 – 55 m – 16 – Up corner until possible to traverse right for 10m. Up through roof and corner to easy ground.
P6 – 40 m – 10 – Up easily.
FFA PG PK 15/9/2012