In early Februrary, I joined up with another local Canberra climber Peter Blunt and headed down to Mt Buffalo National Park in Victoria for a week’s climbing. With 50kg+ of climbing gear between us, we packed my van and set our sights on "Ozymandias", one of Australia’s biggest and proudest lines. It presents 300m of Yosemite style granite in a beautiful, alpine setting and goes by Aid at C2+ (M4), or Free at 28.
As a nice warm up, we climbed "Where Angels Fear to Tread", a beautiful grade 18 multi-pitch Trad climb with everything from finger and hand jams through to chimneys and a bit of off-width thrown in! We opted to climb it as the first ascensionists did, spreading out the pitches and enjoying one of the best crack climbs at the grade in the country!
After a rest day to let some light rain pass, and to sort and pack the gear (of which we had ample between us!), we were ready, with a nice three day weather window forecasted. We planned to spend two nights and three days on the wall of Ozymandias, bivying on the portaledge at the usual spots, Big Grassy and Gledhill Bivy. On day one our systems worked efficiently, and we climbed well - enjoying sharing the route and some beta with Sydney climbers Jacindie and Claire. They were on a trip to free climb the route in just two days, an inspiring goal!
After Peter aided the first pitch, I released “The Pig” (our 30+ kilogram haul bag) and hauled my way up the rope on ascenders, cleaning the intricate gear as I went. Pitch Two was straightforward for Peter, although some small pin scars proved more time-consuming to get right (think hollowed out finger sized pockets, that gear just doesn’t want to stay in). Pitch Three led to some uncomfortable lead falls for Peter, as our microcams kept un-expectedly popping out of the pin-scars. Unfortunately, Peter caught his foot in a fall on part of the steeper section of Pitch Three. Injured, Peter pushed on through the rest of the pitch and lead up Pitch Four, topping out onto our accommodation for the night, Big Grassy. A well-earned rest, warm cups of tea, dinner and a comfy night’s sleep in our Mont Helium sleeping bags was in order!
The next day, after watching a beautiful sunrise from 100m above the valley floor, we assessed Peter’s foot with the help of Claire and Jacindie (who were helpfully medical professionals as well as excellent climbers!). We decided that given the concerning look of some of the bruising, pain level and lack of motion, that it was best for us to bail on the climb and head down rather than push through another two days of climbing.
After some long hours of packing, rope-trickery and rappelling, we were safely back on solid ground. With the prospect of a steep hike out of the valley with 40kg+ of gear left to tackle, Peter took a smaller bag of gear and I opted to pack haul two loads out of the valley. Just on sunset, I finished my final load, with both Peter and I very glad to be back at camp for some well-earned tea and dinner! We later caught up with Claire and Jacindie, who arrived back after dark, following their up from Big Grassy to the lookout in a single day. Awesome stuff!
Peter and I both agreed the trip was a great success. Despite things not going our way, we had a great time organising and planning the trip, with some fantastic climbing to boot. Although we left battered and bruised, we know we made the right decision to bail, and we both learnt a lot in the process! Peter’s foot is well and truly on the mend, and he’s since been back on the wall at the local gym. Safe to say the next trip is not too far around the corner!
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Last year I rode my motorcycle around the eastern half of Australia, covering a bit over 10,000kms and luckily timing the ride perfectly to dodge the massive floods that hit outback NSW and surrounding areas.
This year the logical extension was to ride around the other half of Australia. I marked out a route that took me from my home state of Tassie to Geelong, Adelaide, Darwin, Broome, Port Hedland, Perth, Adelaide then back to Geelong and on the ferry back to Tasmania.