By Jolene Sheldon in consultation with Richard Haynes.
Only the most intrepid CAWA members braved the march flies and bull ants to
attend this year’s full frontal assault on the slabs of Mt Frankland. This year saw blue skies
and hot temperatures in contrast to last year’s rain and lightening. Here is the truth; dry slab
is oh so much easier to climb than wet slab. Along those lines, sensei Ross had his ego
pegged back a couple of grades as the two climbs he bolted last year, were so much easier
when not dripping wet. Most climbers however concede that the requirement to shed steel
during vicious lightening storms, significantly influenced the grading system in 2009. While
the two climbs from 2009 were very enjoyable, it was the latest one just finished on this trip
that really won my heart. Sure, I was already knackered. It felt like 32 degrees, but I can’t be
sure of the actual temperature. All I know is that I couldn’t keep the chalk on my hands for
the sweat, so I felt challenged to say the least. A mixed route, yet to be named or graded, I
was fortunate to be the first to sample the taunts and delights that awaited after Ross and
Dena had done the first climb. I felt honored…. dang, I gave it a solid 17 and in my heart
named it “Grow a Pair”, though I’m sure Ross will come up with a much more appropriate
and genteel name. The climb is 3 pitches. I have to admit I only had time to lead the first
pitch, but it is a ripper! Once I reached safety, I realised that I had thoroughly enjoyed the
climb, and am looking forward to the lead when I am fresh and less distressed by heat
stroke. I would give the first pitch 3 stars!
Ashley List, one of the newest committee members was in attendance. Recently transplanted
from the U.K., he was heard to say, he is ‘more of a crack whore than a slab master’.
It was refreshing to get into some multi-pitch routes after all the local crags around
Perth, which are sadly lacking in height.
Amenities were in Fernhook Falls campground. A lovely place which provided a pool for
cooling down and cleaning up after a hard day of slab mastering. The intrepid group gathered
for dinner Saturday evening to enjoy the camaraderie and healthy appetite that only a great
day of climbing seems to inspire. The rum and coke/beer/wine, added to the comfortable
happy-tired feeling and joviality at the tables.
As the sun rose the last day, members of the group were off to pursue other areas, and activities.
We are indeed blessed to be living in this amazing area of Western Australia where
we are constantly awed by the beauty of the surroundings we climb in.
In the three years from 2004 to 2007 I was lucky enough to work, live and climb in the Sultanate of Oman. I must say that I headed over there with a bit of trepidation, expecting something of a hazardous backward outpost of civilisation at best. Let’s face it; Hollywood does not portray Arabs as kind hearted people with an aptitude for fun! Instead of the cliché terrorist I found a warm welcoming people, and an open wild country where camping was permitted anywhere, and acres of unclimbed rock abound.
At first I was on my own climbing-wise, there was no climbing organisation or web site, and the guidebook was woefully out of date. Then I found Kim and Bill the two itinerant English teachers at the local Sultan Qaboos University, then Patrick and Natalie the two French guides who resided in Oman in winter and in France in summer, then Soren the Danish geo-engineer building a new runway at the local airport, and Vincent the Dutch oil reservoir engineer. They all climbed! I was saved!! We started a small circle of climbers, centred around the ridiculously tiny bouldering gym at the Muscat Diving and Adventure Centre (MDAC), where we had to move crates of stuff out of the way every Wednesday just to get access to the 8m of bouldering walls. We would then boulder our asses off on problems set by ourselves, much to the amusement of the head-to-toe black clad Omani chicks at the reception, who were not sure what to make of our cries of wanton triumph and swears of pointless desperation.
There was also the sea side bouldering, where we would hire a fisherman, and every day could do new highball problems above the almost warm sea. Often it would be so stinking hot that falling into water was more a welcome
relief than an admission of failure. There were the wadi beds with their water-washed, smooth walls, covered with small pockets. And in Sharaf El Alameyn, I found the only place in Arabia where one could actually climb at the
height of summer, due to its northern aspect and 2000m altitude. I put up the first 3 multi-pitch trad routes there.
Between Kim, Bill, Natalie, Patrick and I, we bolted some 100 new climbs in those 3 years in three major areas, and really opened Oman to sport climbing. My PDF guidebooks to Sharaf El Alameyn, Wadi Daykah, and Hadash can still be found on www.omanclimbing.com . Of course life goes on and there are many new areas, guidebooks and climbs now.
Clearly, there is a lot more to Oman than climbing: namely religion, desert, camels, goats, castles, festivals, warm sea, great beaches, halwa, dates, markets, crowded roads, excellent super cheap restaurants and the friendly Omanis…….. I will be giving a slide night upstairs at Rosy O’Grady’s pub in Northbridge from 7:30 to 9pm on Wednesday 26th May, so if these stories sound interesting and you want to see some pics that are not on the internet as yet, come along!
100 Climbs in 100 days, a fundraising event for Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA) has added another dimension to climbing for a dozen of (mad) West Australian rock-climbers since the 1st of January 2010. The challenge
aims to raise funds to support FARA in its quest to achieve World Heritage Listing of the Dampier Archipelago (including the Burrup Peninsula) in Western Australia.
Most climbers who signed up in December 2009 started their challenge on the 1st of January at West Cape Howe during the annual CAWA Trip to Albany. Since then the climbers have been outdoors most weekends attempting to tick as many climbs as possible in a day. At the time of writing this article, it appeared clear that only a minority of the participants would complete their 100 climbs.
Dedication and time commitment was needed. We had to wake up at stupid hours and/or climb in extremely hot weather. While some forced themselves to climb despite sickness, others finished climbing at night with head torches! Along the way, we got bitten by ticks and mossies, attacked by bees, ants and kangaroos, and were even threatened by tiger snakes! One climber freaked out after his only protection fell off, at least two others took some serious falls, a few scared themselves on precarious run-outs while too many injured themselves (a knee, an ankle, a wrist and lots of finger tips). Toward the end of the challenge easy to moderate routes become difficult to find in the vicinity and we had to either climb harder routes locally or explore new crags.
The intensity of climbing over the last 3 months has resulted in several climbers achieving their personal best grade. We’ve all got to know each other better and helped each other to achieve their goals. Climbing is fun and it is even more fun when it’s done for a great cause! As of day 90, climbers have raised a total of $2278. Donations are still open online until the 30th April 2010 and a presentation on the Burrup Peninsula will be given at Rockface on
Sunday 2nd May 2010 from 6pm to 8pm. Participants will be rewarded with special prizes!
Come and congratulate the participants, get a better understanding of the rock art of the Burrup Peninsula and check out the best pictures from many crags visited during the 100 days!
Thank you to all who offered belays to the participants, sponsored them and understood their anti-social behaviours during the last 90 days!
Register your interest for 2011 by sending your contact details to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The coming long weekend will see a CAWA trip to sample the slab delights of Mt Frankland.
Mt Frankland is about 5 hrs from Perth and this year we will be camping at Fernhook Falls. It is not possible to book camp sites. There is a camp kitchen and toilets but no showers (you can have a wash in the river).
Some of us will be heading down late on the Friday night.
Hot on the heels of the largest, and one of the most prestigious, mountain festivals in the world, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour has hit the road, with stops planned in more than 285 communities and 30 countries across the globe.
This year’s tour features a collection of the most inspiring and thought-provoking active, environmental, and adventure mountain films. Travelling from remote landscapes and cultures, to up close and personal with adrenaline-packed action sports, the 2010 World Tour is an exhilarating and provocative exploration of the mountain world. The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is produced by Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre, and features award-winning films and audience favourites from approximately 300 films entered in the annual festival in Banff.
Join Paddy Pallin when the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour brings the spirit of outdoor adventure to Australia in May and June.
The 2010 AGM will be held on 17th February, upstairs at Rosie O’Grady’s in Northbridge. We ask that everyone arrives at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.
If you are a member and unable to attend, please return your proxy (preferably by email) as soon as possible so we can be certain of achieving quorum.
The main item on the agenda this year will be election of a new committee. We are very keen to have some new and enthusiastic faces in these roles. There are four specific positions (president, vice president, secretary and treasurer) and six ordinary committee positions. Included below are links to job descriptions for all of the positions. It is important to remember that the ordinary positions are general roles critical to the functioning of the organisation and that committee members filling these places will need to be happy to undertake a variety of tasks. Ordinary committee members have, at times, taken on particular roles that have been relevant to the organisation at the time (for example, trip officer). We want to utilise particular interests and skills, however, the needs of the association determine any more specific roles that ordinary committee members may be asked to fulfill during the year.
Please feel free to contact us for more information.
This New Year, as on many others, a group of CAWA climbers headed down to Albany to sample the multitude of sea-cliff climbing delights and other delectable treats available in the area.The group took time to gather so it was only a small band of most eager climbers who headed for West Cape Howe early on Monday morning.Kylie led Carousel (15***) with Lou seconding, while Ang led Andromeda (15**), seconded by Blair, and Phil jumped on Wire Flake (16***) with Steve seconding.Later Kylie and Lou moved on to Andromeda while Ang scaled Planar Craving (21).
That evening the groups numbers swelled and it was a veritable crowd that made their way to the Gap the next day; a late start due to rain.Fortunately Ross and Dena had arrived the previous night, bringing with them the CAWA rain shelter which was providently erected one minute before the rain started.Everyone huddled under it to enjoy a leisurely breakfast.
Once the rain cleared up climbing commenced.Providing an additional attraction to the many tourists swarming the top of the Gap and Natural Bridge that afternoon, the majority of the group spent time on the Whales tooth wall, climbing Black Russian (14*) and Whalestooth (15*).Kelly, Kylie, Lou and Conrad climbed Surf’s Up (15***) and some were also persuaded to venture up Over Indulgence (19***), getting in some early prep for New Years Eve.
That evening the group gathered for dinner and Kylie, Ang and Kelly treated us to their version of baseball – using a wine bottle and/or plates as bats and anything to hand as a ball.The saner/sober parts of the group hastily retreated from the pitching zone.Heavy rain and strong winds swept through the camp overnight, prompting Blair and Lou to hurriedly collapse the rain shelter at 2am before it could take off for greener pastures – or land on their tents.The weather failed to significantly improve with daybreak and Wednesday climbing was rained off all along the coast so the majority of climbers took the opportunity to sample the delights of Albany’s coffee houses and shops.Dena and Ross did venture up to the Stirling Ranges where they braved the strong gusty winds and a lengthy uphill approach to climb Nailbite (15) on Talyuberlup.Up for an epic of any sort; Kelly, Blair and Mario decided to hike the Stirling Ridge Walk in one day.Arriving back at camp they wowed us with tales of derring–do, intrepid bush bashing and peaks summited before admitting they had bugged out down the “Loser Track” at 3pm with Bluff Knoll still off in the distance.They may have lost the battle but the war continues with a return engagement planned for March.
The weather brightened up on Thursday, ready to end the year on a high note, and a large group headed back to the Gap – this time congregating at the Amphitheatre.Phil and Jolene splintered off and met up with Caroline to climb Albatross (15***) at Peak Head.Back at the Amphitheatre Ang, Kylie, Dave and Paul all led Rattle (15) while other’s top-roped Shake (16) and Roll (17).Later Dave, Kylie, Mario and Paul climbed The Red Terror (16) while Ang worked her way up Listen to the Wind Blow (22).
And that brings us to New Years Eve.A democratic vote had crushed the protestors who were lobbying for a visit to the local steak house so it was business as usual at the Golden Town Chinese.Several hours later with their MSG cravings fully sated the group returned to camp with just over an hour left until 2010.It was at this point that Blair chose to introduce everyone to the concept of Picnic Table Bouldering, demonstrating the table-top traverse.A fierce competition ensued with Remi and Phil putting up several new problems for the rest to play on.Remi was declared the eventual winner, scoring an extra grade for the innovative addition of a burning sparkler to the system.Moments later it was midnight and the rest of the sparklers were lit up while Kelly popped the cork on a bottle of bubbly.A few minutes later everyone dispersed to bed, getting ready for an early departure to West Cape Howe.
West Cape Howe has to be one of the best places possible to start a new year.To make things even better, this time around there were enough four wheel drives to get everyone in to the crag with minimal effort.Consequently we arrived bright and early and ready to go.Adding extra interest to the day was the start of the 100 climbs in 100 days challenge, initiated by Remi and joined by several others on the trip including Delphine, Mario, Ang and Kylie.This challenge is a fundraiser for Burrup Rock Art preservationandyoucantrackthe participants’ progress on: http://www.facebook.com/l/40cf4;www.100in100days.com.au. Friendless (15**) saw some traffic with Remi, Delphine, Kylie, Kelly and Mario all climbing.Ang, Dave, Paul and Lou climbed Carousel and Shitsky Variant (18**).Ross, Dena, Phil, Richard and Jesse headed over to the Raft Area while Blair and Jolene climbed Andromeda.On the way out some four wheel drive drama saw one of the small Suzuki’s reluctant to leave, but fortunately a large crowd of climbers were on hand to ‘encourage’ it to move onwards.
The last weekend of the trip saw small groups climbing at a number of crags.Ross and Dena headed to Peak Head for a first ascent of Ross’s new route Transformer (18 M1).Jolene, Paul, Mario, Blair and Dave headed for the Porongurups with Rehearsing the Fates of Absalom their target.After some intense bush bashing they encountered a mossy slab and a distinct lack of features to aid them in locating the climb.Unwilling to be deterred after the epic approach Jolene began her ascent.Those on the ground watched the air around her turn blue as she dug dirt and moss out of cracks to make way for gear.Discouraged, after one pitch she and Mario returned to the ground and the group retreated.Also wandering around the Porongurups was Phil, who, emerging somewhat later than others from the shower, found himself alone at Gibraltar Rock.Who exactly was to blame for this breakdown in communications remains disputed.All were envious of Kelly, Ang, Richard, Remi and Delphine who’d had a second good day at West Cape Howe.
The return journey to Perth began on Sunday.A few die-hards, and the 100 climbs gang, headed for the Gap to get a few more ticks in.Others chose to enjoy breakfast at the Middleton Beach Café or lunch at the White Star hotel.Standout moments were relived and plans for next year put in place.See you all there.
There has been much recent discussion about the Albany Adventure Climbing Zone and whether it is still relevant and hampering the development of climbing in the areas that it applies to. So, at the committee meeting on 25 November 2009, after consultation with local climbers, a resolution was passed and the AACZ amended to the following:
The Albany Adventure Climbing Zone (AACZ) is henceforth redefined as including the following areas only: The Gap, Natural Bridge, Blow Holes and all areas within or between any of these locations; also Stony Hill boulders, and any location within the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve. These areas are either highly environmentally sensitive areas or have high tourist traffic. No further fixed protection may be placed in the AACZ. The CAWA Code of Bolting and New Route Development and the CAWA Code of Conduct are to be applied to the South Coast, same as per the rest of the State.
For those unfamiliar with the ACZ concept, I would refer you to the thread at the following location which give a great deal of background and explanation: adventure climbing zone bolting.
How many of you have one? How many of you wear them even if you do have one? I have a helmet. A pretty blue Black Diamond one. And I really dislike wearing it while I’m climbing because I seem to bump my head on things a lot more often. Most of the climbers that I see in the great outdoors don’t seem to wear this basic piece of safety equipment.
But you know what? After having an extremely close call with a moderate sized rock at Churchman’s just a couple of days ago, I will be making sure to wear my helmet which is really what everyone should be doing. In this case, I was belaying a leader who found herself hanging on by one hand when the rock she was holding onto parted company with its buddies. I didn’t even have time to move and my shoulder took the full force of the rock. So, it missed my head by only a few inches. And yes, it hurt. A lot. Granted I didn’t have my helmet on because I was trying out a new neck brace. However, this would not have helped me if the rock had struck my head rather than my shoulder. It really scared me, gave me the kind of warm tingly feeling in my arm best reserved for other parts of my body and could have put an end to my Arapiles trip before it even got started.
I will certainly be a lot more diligent about wearing my helmet from now on, even though I do hate how it feels. If that rock had knocked me out, I would have let go of the rope with disastrous consequences for the climber. Think it won’t happen to you? Think you are too cool for a helmet? If fashion is really that important to you, there are some really sleek funky designs around. Consider that your decision not to wear a helmet will potentially impact (no pun intended) not just on you, but also on your climbing partner. And let’s face it, it won’t be much fun if one of you ends up unconscious or worse. Climbing partners are hard to come by, so make sure you look after yours.