Sunday, October 4, 2009

Integral Crack (19+), Booroomba Rocks, ACT, Australia

After climbing Mt. Kosciuszko we drove to Canberra, the capitol of Australia, to visit Uncle Guy. He was so kind to offer to take care of Sofie while we went climbing in Booroomba Rocks - a great granite slab just outside Canberra. In order not to waste precious time on the approach we actually go there with Sofie and Guy the day before the climb - it is also a nice hiking area.

My goal was to climb the famous Integral Crack (48 m, 19+) which turned out to be an absolutely fantastic pitch! As it is stated in the guidebook "A classic by any standards. The best line at Booroomba..... with sustained face climbing and excellent natural protection". An excellent line which follows a thin crack in the solid granite. It is sustained throughout the 48 meters of climbing, which is a rare quality.

Next, we climbed the line Roy's Crack (50 m, 14), 10 meters to the left, which is infamous for bad protection and has been the scene of one death and several serious accidents. I didn't find it that hard to protect but in particular the lower part was an awkward off-width crack, which I think could scare beginners and thus cause them to quickly put pro into less than perfect places. Anyway, I found the route to be a bit loose and vegetated and not near the quality of Integral Crack.

A great way to welcome climbers!

Sofie and Hans on top of Booroomba Rocks scouting the approach to the base of the climbs.

The South Buttress with Integral Crack in the middle and Roy's Crack to the left.

Hans leading Integral Crack - one of the best crack routes I have ever climbed!

Hans just above the off-width start and approaching the vegetation on Roy's Crack!


Ascent of Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia (2229 m)

Mt. Kosciuszko (2229 m) is the highest mountain in Australia and has gained fame a one of the peaks of the original Bass list of the Seven Summits. Many mountaineers aspiring for the seven summits thus come to The Snowy Mountains to "climb" Mt. Kosciuszko. This is quite a joke given that it is a hiking summit which anyone with even a minimal degree of fitness can "climb". Nevertheless, it is actually a beautiful area as the alpine vegetation is quite unique (in particular the snow gum trees are beautiful), and it is thus a worthwhile hike - in particular if you come off season to avoid the massive summer crowds!

On March 26, 2009 Sofie Frederikke, Elvira and I hiked to the summit. It was not the best weather as it was quite windy, but we had a great day - and now Elvira and I have both climbed two of the seven (Mt. Kilimajaro and Mt. Elbrus, respectively), and Sofie has her first!

Snowy Mountains seen from the parking lot. Mt. Kosciuszko is hidden in the clouds on the left. Mt. Clarke is the peak in the middle and Mt. Lee is the peak to the right.

Closeup of the beautiful bark of a snow gum tree.

Elvira pushing the pram with Sofie towards the summit.

Sofie and Elvira on the summit of Mt. Kosciuszko :-)

The Seaman Hut is located halfway between the parking lot and the summit. We took a break in the hut on the way down to get a rest out of the wind!


Creon/Tales of Brave Ulysses, Left Watchtower Face, Arapiles, Australia

On March 23, 2009 I got a chance to climb a multi-pitch route in Arapiles as David Morse and Jack Scott had found a partner (John) for me. John turned out to be a great partner as he had climbed in the area since the sixties and thus knew more or less everything about Arapiles and The Grampians!

We decided to climb a route on the famous Watchtower Face and choose the route Creon/Tales of Brave Ulysses (110 m, 18) which turned out to be a great route!

The Watchtower Face. The Watchtower is the pillar in the middle of the picture. The "real" fire watchtower is seen on the top of mountain, which was actually were some of the terrible "Black Sunday" Victorian wildfires were spotted from on February 7, 2009.

Closeup of the route on the left. We also climbed a route on the Kitten Wall on the upper right side of the Watchtower Face.

John leading the first pitch, which was a slab with an interesting traverse on flakes.

I led the second crux pitch which goes up The Siren Buttress seen here. The crux was the initial overhang - after that the pitch got a lot easier.

The last pitch is quite short (< 10 meters) going up an interesting crack corner.

To get more out of the day I led an excellent grade 15 crack on The Kitten Wall which is located above the Watchtower Face. Here John is abseiling the route which goes up the crack to the right of the rope.

Finally, we abseiled the Watchtower Face with an excellent view of Mitre Rock and Mitre Lake.


Grey and Green Wall, Mt. Stapylton Amphitheatre, The Grampians, Australia

Both The Grampians and Arapiles are renowned for their trad protected multi-pitch routes, which is one of my favorite kinds of climbing. Unfortunately, it is not really possible to climb such routes with a baby onboard and I was thus lucky to bump into David Morse (Wales) and Jack Scott (Australia) in The Pines Campground, Arapiles. They were happy to bring me along on a multi-pitch climb in The Grampians as I had the car to bring us there - and they were psycked to try this area.

On March 19, 2009 we thus drove to the Mt. Stapylton area to climb on the Grey and Green Wall. It turned out to be a fantastic day with three great pitches in the most beautiful surroundings.

David Morse on the approach to the Mt. Stapylton Amphitheatre. The famous (and very hard) Taipan wall is the orange rock in the right. The Grey and Green wall is just left of the Taipan wall.

The forrest below the walls sports many boulders which are used for bouldering. Here Jack Scott is praticing his off-width chimney skills on a funny looking boulder.

The three pitches we climbed on the Grey and Green Wall:
1) Spillway (18)
2) Navarre (17)
3) Sweet Dreams (19)

Our first pitch was Spillway (18), led by Jack Scott, which was a slab route protected by the Aussie carrot bolts.

Next I led the awesome pitch Navarre which followed a left-trending diagonal corner. I thus had my feet on small ledges on the wall while using the crack of the corner for my hands (and Friends!). Super position!
Here Jack Scott is cleaning the pitch.

We had to abseil halfway down the wall to get to the start of Sweet Dreams. David Morse led the pitch which started out with delicate slab climbing without a lot of protection. The route then changed character and became an overhang which looked quite hard. However, once you got the feet up on the overhang (as Jack Scott shows here) it was surpricing easy and a lot of fun due to a lot of hidden holds in the crack.

Jack Scott abseiling the wall. Great view with the approach route on Flat Rock seen in the backround.