By Francis Butler
Sometime back in July Ashley List, the esteemed trip organiser, placed a comment on the CAWA forum trying to arouse interest between the usual long weekend adventures for a short trip to Eaglestone Rock. Many showed little interest given the short notice, but of those who did most said, “Eagle what?” Well fortunately in the week preceding the trip a bit of hype brought many out of the woodwork eager to scale this mysterious rock out in the middle of the WA Wheatbelt.
Those that found themselves at Eaglestone did not form the usual CAWA crew. Excepting Kylie, Ang and Mario, it was made up of an unlikely bunch including many newbies. There was Mark the young geologist, who chauffeured Manuel the Spanish gourmet chef, and his humun-gous esky, in which we all suspected either carried an awful lot of beer or perhaps a body on ice! Then there was Ash and Tamsin who arrived nice and early to take in the scenes, fol-lowed a little later by Pete the Kiwi, and finally came Ben the true Aussie larrikin. The re-cently formed French foreign legion (Remi, Delphine, Loic, Melody, Kevin and others whose names escape me — formed during the Kalbarri adventures) were noticeably absent on this trip, however Kevin crawled in late Saturday morning in his slow and steady chariot, carrying the foreign legions strongest supporters, Eleanor and Emma. Coincidently, the crew was joined by Logan, Scott and company who had ventured out on a separate expedition yet ar-rived at the same place. The suspicion was that Logan had turned up with the primary goal of making his first free ascent of Jason’s recently completed project Buried Alive (31).
Although some climbing had been achieved by the few who trekked out early on Friday, most did not start anything serious till Saturday morning. Ang started out on the recently bolted chimney just to the right of Levitation. With a bit of shuffling and a determination Ang made it look quite easy. Inspired by something fresh and the fact that it had looked easy I attempted to lead the same climb shortly after, only to find that it wasn’t so easy after all and swore I would never do another off width climb again!!
As all this was going on, the Emu wall had become littered with ropes as many scaled the great face climbs there. Around the corner in the Bitter area Mario was intently trying to scale the hardest climbs he could muster and having a good day of it as he later recalled with Kylie patiently belaying. On the far right of the Emu wall and into the Fidget Gene area Logan and Scott were setting the standard on some tricky moves up Emu Walking and Full Throttle, edging their way closer to the difficult problems around the corner.
Later on in the day Angela’s introduction to classic trad on Jaundice left me a bashed up and bleeding mess, though I was ultimately pleased with the experience. While all this was going on Mark and Manuel were taking a beating on Ithica, both bowing out defeated. Once again Logan and Scott were just around the corner working another terrifically difficult problem Whiplash. Of the many who had finally scaled every inch of the Emu wall, there was Bitter in the Bitter area and Wishbone on the Wishbone wall to be completed.
Once the evening crept in, closing out with a beautiful sun set, everyone headed down to the camp to think about food. Many were content with a little pre-made food even pre-packaged in some cases but certainly not Manuel our gourmet chef as he brought out all the cooking gear and opened up the esky to reveal what was inside. The esky was loaded with vegetables and seafood ready to be prepared on his huge gas heated outdoor cooking pan into a delicious traditional Spanish Paella ready to feed all fiftenn people present (perhaps more I started drinking early and can’t remember!!).
With everyone eating better than ever before, the evening started off well with Logan and Scott involving everyone in brain teasers. Before long everyone was content, though a little confused by a few of the brain teasers as the alcohol began to sink in. This was about the point that we all saw the funny side of Emma, Eleanor and Kylie (to mention just a few) in-dulging in peculiar accents and role playing as they poured port and brandy into each others mouths rather than wasting the energy to first pour it into a glass then again into their mouths. Logical, surely! Even young Pete the Kiwi initially feigning ignorance, somehow ended up taking part in such antics that carried on well into the night.
Eventually the numbers dwindled as all the alcohol wore off and everyone crashed, or so we thought. It turned out that all the sugar in the drinks had gone to Emma’s head so she appar-ently went for a run in the pitch black night to burn off some energy! She arrived casually at breakfast so thankfully she must have found her way.
Sunday was expected to be another big day like Saturday arvo, however reality sank in as many battled sore heads.
Francis and Mario hopped on Nudie then spent nearly an hour on Juice It Up, a slippery slab with me whining “these shoes just can’t cut it” when really I just couldn’t make it! Manuel and Mark decided to do something easier and fly up Bitter, while Ben was taking his turn on the Emu wall with Tamsin. Ash seemed content to take photos, mainly because his camera provided better vision than his eyes as a result of his epic Saturday night. In his travels he captured a few shots of Scott having a go at Fidget Gene, the best crack climb in the area.
Later on Pete had a go at his first trad climb on Mini Me. He looked quite perplexed as Ash and Tamsin spun ropes around him like a web in an effort to set up a top belay for his fol-lower. While this was happening Mario and Francis were dismally failing to ascend 21 Jump Street nearby. Defeated, they decided to convince Ang to join them on an epic struggle up Cold Nights, which was an inspiration to Francis after his introduction to trad the previous day.
The morning quickly turned into afternoon and people started thinking about having to head off. It was about this time that Logan got serious and ripped his shirt off to have a go at this new problem announced by Jason. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and it would seem that Logan had finally found a problem that he had to concede defeat on, at least for the time being. So around that time people started to wrap things up and all headed off after a satisfy-ing weekend, vowing to do it again soon.