We have been informed by Parks and Wildlife – National Park Ranger for Wellington District – Collie that the Quarry rec site will be closed to the public for redevelopment works from Wednesday 23 July until completion of new facilities.
Access to the bottom car park will be blocked off to prevent unauthorized entry while works is undertaken to install a new access ramp, path and barbecues
During the period of works there will not be any use of the facilities and no abseiling or rock climbing will be permitted until further notice.
Please ensure you support Parks and Wildlife and comply with this regulation.
The expedition really started at Talkeetna as we made our way to the Kahiltna airstrip where we loaded the masses of gear, approximately 70 kg per person including group gear, into a small plane.Before the flight we visited the cemetery nearby to pay respect to the fallen climbers of Denali.As we sat tight during the flight, it took us up past the tundra and then skilfully close to the sharp ridge mountainsides of the imposing and seemingly never ending Alaska Range.It was magnificent scenery and we landed at base camp on Kahiltna Glacier at 2200 metres altitude on our June day.The visibility was poor when we landed and we were totally unaware of the surroundings.
After we set up camp, we were treated to an unusual shower of slushy rain, which rarely happens in Denali.All the gear became wet and heavy and we had to retreat to the cook tent to make the necessary modification to rucksacks, sleds and harnesses that are required to climbing and moving safely on such big and notorious glaciers, which we would soon experience over the next three weeks.Overnight the slushy rain turned into solid ice and was weighing our tents down heavily.The relatively warm temperature of the previous day had disappeared and we were really feeling the cold dry air, which meant we were going to move.But, as we were going to find out, this previous weather had a lasting effect on Kahiltna Glacier.Today we were going to attempt to negotiate the glacier and move up to 2400m, Camp 1, located at the North East Fork Junction.
For our first full day on the glacier the normal aim would be to carry a cache of food, fuel and equipment to Camp 1, at the North East Junction, then return to Base Camp.However, not wanting to get stuck at Base Camp, and wanting to take advantage of the colder weather (colder the better for glacier travel), we packed up everything and ‘single carried’ towards our second camp below Ski Hills at 3430m.The route initially drops down Heart Break Hill, aptly named I imagine for those tired climbers returning from the standard West Buttress attempt, who face one final uphill push.But as we were attempting to traverse and finishing off at Wonder Lake, we set off looking forward to our own, never to experience that particular ‘heart break’, or so we thought.
We set off in three rope teams of four (i.e.12 climbers in total) and after about three hours of moving across the glacier in white-out conditions, the air cleared and, despite our heavy loads, most of us were doing well.One climber however was already struggling badly and after some consultation with the guides it was decided that his trip would have to come to a sad end! As the climber would have to head back to camp, for safety reasons, an entire rope team of four climbers needed to accompany him back.I volunteered to join the team as I was feeling good and thought that I needed that extra training.
After we said our farewell to the retiring climber, we left base camp for the second time to catch up to the other teams at Camp 1.It wasn’t long before we saw some large holes in some of the ice bridges en-route, but we made good progress and arrived at Camp 1 understandably knackered after an extra 13 km on a single carry day.As we arrived we quickly learned that this was not the same fate for the other rope teams who had pushed on to Camp 1 earlier.They had experienced two big crevasse falls, one which took an hour and a half to get the climber out.Thankfully no one was hurt.Eventful but a small taste of things to come.
The second day we carried a load towards Camp 2 at 3430 m.The Hill to the head of Kahiltna Glacier, but we actually cached at Kahiltna Pass and returned back to Camp 1.This is ‘expedition’ style as it involves ‘climb high, sleep low’ approach and it is part of the process of acclimatisation.The only disadvantage is that you would have probably climbed the mountain three times in distance-wise when once you finally reach the summit.The weather at Camp 1, although cold, had not really been too bad but on the carry up we definitely noticed that we were moving into a different layer of weather on the mountain, as visibility dropped and winds picked up.We saw a small bird that had been blown up the mountain and flew around us aimlessly in the white-out only to drop down and die in the bitter cold.Tragic.Life is harsh.
Day three saw us move camp.Although the loads were lighter in our packs due to caching the previous day and some being on our sleds, it felt just as hard as a normal carry day as we had to take down camp and then put up camp again on arrival.The move today was still a tough one though, as a storm was brewing and when we reached Camp 2, the storm was peaking and wind was ferocious.
The storm that had greeted us on our arrival to Camp 2 had subsided by the morning of day four, and comparative warmth in out tents has been replaced with a cold but calm camp.We easily retrieved the cache from below Camp 2 for this active rest day.
The objective of day five was to set ourselves up for a light move day by carrying a heavy load up to just past Windy Corner (4030m).Before reaching this notorious place, the plateau itself provided us with a taste of things to come.I got my first sign of altitude sickness here: slight nausea with a light headache.This is normal for me as I know from previous expeditions on Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua and Elbrus, 4000m to 4500m mark is the most delicate stage for me.While we rested on the plateau, I took off my left mitten to reach into my pocket to get an energy bar and a gust of wind blew the mitten away and, as luck would have it, this was into the direction of one of the other climbers 15 metres away.My expedition would have been over if I had lost that left mitten as I surely would have gotten frostbite without it.We cached around Windy Corner and were quick to move into a safe area as a climber was killed here last season when a big chunk of rock landed on him.
The following day (six) was a beautifully clear and my altitude sickness had gone.In fact it was pretty hot, particularly when we got moving.The extremes in temperature on Denali are just that – two extremes, obviously incredibly cold most of the time, but on occasions also really hot, particularly when moving up- wards, carrying loads and in the sun.It seems climbers have to spend most of their time trying to react to the changing weather and temperatures than actually being appropriately dressed.
We packed Camp 2 and moved increasingly slowly to Camp 3 at 4340 metres at the base of the Headwall.This is a big established Camp with a feeling of community due to the number of climbers here all waiting for a weather window.This camp has a permanent ranger settlement during the climbing season to mount rescues and other missions, not to mention that it is the main springboard for summit attempts.The site is on a huge plateau and is on sage ground.Although the village of tents and the community makes it feel safe, it is at 4340 metres which on Denali feels higher due to a lower barometric pressure caused by a thinner troposphere at the ‘latitudes’.
The start of the second week on the mountain saw us go back down to Windy Corner to retrieve our supplies but some of the team were starting to feel the effects of altitude and needed a rest day.Drinking at least three litres of fluids during the night helps to reduce the symptoms.The temperature got down to minus 33°C.
We cached again just below Washburn’s Thumb at 4950 metres, where the Traverse starts to stand out as a much tougher expedition than the standard West Buttress attempt.The loads carried from now on are considerably heavier than any other parties on the Buttress and we also had sleds, we needed everything to make it up, over and out to Wonder Lake.We lost three climbers from the group on day 10 due to altitude sickness, despite the rest day.It was a bad day for the team taking the number down to eight.On day 11 we were pushed into action up the headwall onto the ridge and towards Camp 4 at 5180m.I struggled at first.It was spectacular with steep fixed rope sections and sharp knifeedged ridges with sheer drops to the glaciers.Ambitious plans were made for day 12 with the psychological relief of reaching Camp 4 where most summit attempts are made from.Hardly anyone, if anyone, had summitted throughout the previous month (May).There was summit fever!
The following morning was cold but clear.The plan we had previously made was looking slightly less doable as we all awoke feeling groggy and tired.Our ambitious plan was to return down the ridge to retrieve our cache and then continue up with the carry past Camp 4 and up onto the ‘Autobahn’ and over Denali Pass (5550 metres) effectively doing two days in one.After completing the first half of the plan, the lead guide Chris came to me for a one-on-one chat.I previously asked for rest day back at Camp 3 and was showing signs of tiredness.He was under the impression that I too should retire from the expedition.After a brief and somewhat heated ‘discussion’, he agreed that I should continue.Despite the little disagreement, I really liked Chris with his hard core approach, strict nazi-style method and the fact that he knew exactly what it took to tackle the whole climb.The other six climbers made the carry while Chris and I rested at Camp 4 and prepared dinner/hot drinks for their return. It got extremely cold (minus 36°C at 6:00 p.m.) with exposure to the harsh winds.But day 13 proved to be even colder!
It was ‘traverse or bust’ from now on and the eight of us were totally isolated in finding our own path.We were met by the ferocious winds and temperatures dropped considerably as we crossed to the north side on the Upper Harper Glacier, and big Denali storm was building around us.We were walking on un-trodden, unprobed ground and as conditions rapidly worsened to a full arctic storm, with gusts up to 100 km/h and temperature and wind chill at their lowest yet, we were looking for a place we could make camp quick smart!
We eventually found a safe area just above the Harper Icefall at about 5315 metres and visibility was down to about 10 metres.We probed the area for hidden crevasses and then began to cut out a ledge for us to pitch our three tents.The wind chill was about minus 60°C.
The storm had not eased overnight, and the wind outside was blowing in 80 to 90 km/h gusts.We were not going anywhere on day 14.Everything froze (including sunscreen) that was kept close to us in sleeping bags or down jackets.The storm died a little on day 15, but it did not feel like a summit day.We retrieved gear from our cache and returned to camp.On descent, the conditions worsened and we were again in minus 35°C to minus 40°C and 80 km/h gusts.Visibility was down to 5 metres.My left crampon suddenly gave way as we approached the camp and I fell awkwardly in the hard ice.I was lucky that this happened only 100 metres away from our camp and I hopped to camp with my right crampon.Fortunately it was fixed easily.
The following morning was greeted with great views and cold beautiful start meaning just one thing, it was ‘Summit Day’.We set off early and pushing up hard to the summit with our light packs of 10 to 15 kg.
From Denali Pass, the route breaks right up a very long but low-angled snow and ice slope, between rock buttresses to Arch Deacons Tower on the edge of the summit plateau.A short descent leads onto the ‘Football Field’, which itself is just below the final couple of obstacles before the summit.It is followed by a steep snow slope around 100 metres high called Pig Hill, intersecting the summit ridge at Kahiltna Horn.There was a final cornice crossing that proved interesting as one of our team members caused the whole cornice to ‘whumff’ and shudder as he moved across it (but thankfully it did not break off and we all made it).
The job was far from done.Our plan was to descend to the 3000 metre camp at Muldrow Glacier in order to avoid getting trapped at a higher camp during big storms.We were confident but it turned out to be an epic with snow conditions under foot starting to break-up and a few crevasse falls around the Harper Icefall punching through the ice bridges up to the waist.
The top of Karsten’s Ridge was a steep and tricky crux.I found myself not keeping the same stride as my other team members due to different a smaller size.I found myself almost running down with a full pack and sled to avoid being dragged along by the faster member in front in deep powdery snow.This was tough with just one trekking axe and carrying a 35 kg pack and having a 15 kg sled.Sections of steep ice became pleasing.The snow suddenly gave way and I took a massive tumble for about 10 metres down the 65 degree slope.I ended up facing down on my stomach with the huge pack on my back and the sled dangling off the pack looking straight down into the void and glacier below some 1000m down! I lay there for a little while being shit scared and wondering how the hell I was going to get up and out of this predicament.I managed with some twisting and turning, taking around 15 minutes to rejoin the team.It was cold in the ‘night’ and we set up camp on the compression zone of the glacier at around 3025 metres, resting the following day while really appreciating just how active and dangerous the Muldrow Glacier really is, as we heard it constantly cracking and popping all around us.
The Muldrow Glacier has been described as a Disneyland of huge crevasses and tricky icefalls.We felt privileged to be where so few people ever go, but as we were about to find out, the day quickly changed from a Disneyland of ice, to a very serious and potentially deadly game.It felt otherworldly as we set off, in and out, up and down, over and around the obstacles.Whiteout conditions ensued and we could smell burning pine from probably forest fires in the distant tundra.We came to a section called the ‘Hill of Cracks’ where crevasses start to run in every direction rather than parallel to each other.Tension was very high.It was too dangerous to set up camp and wait.We had crossed a particular crevasse a few times, and had then fallen through the snow on the other side in a number of directions and about the size of half a football pitch.This meant one of two things: we were either standing on top of a huge pillar of ice, or we had unwittingly found ourselves dangerously and precariously above a giant sinkhole.Our judgement suggested that the ice could not hold our weight.Then all of a sudden, before anyone could react, we all sank instantly.‘Whuunmmft’ and it echoed all over the valley of ice.It was eerie and scary, like the sound of a huge lightning strike at close range.The whole platform of ice that we stood on dropped at least 20 cm and then came to rest.There was no reason why the platform could not get more unstable.We all turned and ‘ran’ without hesitation back over the original crevasse, with no probing or question of what we were running over.That had just been answered.Phew! At one stage I honestly didn’t see how we would get off the Muldrow Glacier alive.
After 20 hours, numerous occasions jumping across holes, building anchors to protect the leaps, probing every step of the way, we had covered only around 10 km or so.We camped just short of McGonagall Pass at 1795 metres.Solid ground.
The final two-day push required carrying and dragging our sleds (50 kg to 60 kg per person), over rocks, shale, scree slopes and snow patches.We climbed up and over McGonagall Pass and clumsily down the boulder-ridden other side.This was followed by a 45 km trek over untrodden tundra vegetation with billions of unrelenting mosquitos, a hole in my sled gathering rocks, an icy cold crossing of 20-odd braids of glacial river water to reach our destination of Wonder Lake (640 m) at 2:00 a.m.triumphant after three weeks, having ‘Summited and Traversed’ Denali.
Steve Morris from Rock Hardware on karabiners and removable bolt hangers
I am confident that most climbers know not to use wire gate kara-biners on removable bolt hangers. There is not enough mass in the wire gate to keep the bolt plate captive on the bolt head. These stainless steel bolts in the rock are often referred to as “carrot” bolts. 3/8” use to be common; however, 10mm appears to have taken its place. Solid gate karabiners are the preferred option when you find carrot bolts and have to use removable bolt plates for protection.
In the last few years it has come to my attention that some straight gate karabiners can come off removable bolt hangers. Particularly, karabiners with a key lock nose. The reason for this is because the nose of the key lock karabiner can be quite thin. In the same way a wire gate karabiner can come off with the removable bolt plate, so can a straight gate karabiner with a thin nose profile. I recently tried a dozen or more different straight gate karabiners on a carrot bolt and most hangers came off. Scary stuff!
One option is to clip your straight gate from the front of the hanger, instead of from below. You then rotate the body of the karabiner until the bottom basket of the karabiner is sitting in the bolt plate, keeping it captive on the bolt head. In other words, the nose of the karabiner is well away from the carrot bolt and hanger.
Another option is to use traditional straight gate karabiners with a solid hook type nose that has a solid mass and is not tapered.
This controversy only applies to carrot type bolts and removable bolt hangers. You can use wire gate karabiners in fixed hangers and this practice is common in Europe. Think about how you can safely protect a climb at all times.
I trust this information may assist in keeping you safer while climbing.
Steve Morris from Rock Hardware talks about looking after your screw gates.
I am often asked if you can clean karabiners and if so, is there a safe method? My standard reply is rather conservative. Clean as little as possible and only when absolutely necessary. This basic principle applies to any climbing gear, including ropes and harnesses.
It is easy to use too much lubrication, which attracts dirt and may contaminate nylon slings. Petroleum based lubricants are to be avoided at all costs. Lubricants of choice are WD40, which is fish oil based, or Inox. Remember to use them sparingly, only the smallest amount is required.
Squirting toothpaste into the hinge of a sticking gate aluminium karabiner and working it back and forth can help remove corrosion products and also lubricate the hinge area. Ensure that all the toothpaste is washed out with water.
Simply lubricating aluminium karabiners will not repair mechanical damage; however, it can help with corrosion. Aluminium corrosion products tend to be very bulky (chlorides, carbonates, oxides etc) and so all lubrication with an oil does is make the bulky corrosion product sticky. It needs to be removed as suggested above.
Steel karabiners are a totally different matter and a light lubrication is often all that is required. Always thoroughly air dry your karabiners after washing or the spring will corrode. The less that is done the better.
(NB. Thank you to Philip Toomer for teaching me this method)
Yet another great climbing comp from the Rockface stable! Liana Morgan scooped the chix, Jay Girdlestone the men and Pete the masters. For three hours the main competition was on, including bouldering, leading and speed climbing, with top roping an option for the newer climbers. Then it was time for the pizza and dyno
competition, followed by the bouldering finals. The effort of the day was Logan’s lowball traverse, followed by a drop into a corner body stem, followed by a dyno to the
finishing jug. Remi sprinted up the speed climb in 6 seconds flat – an incredible effort!
Thanks to all the Rockface staff, in particular to Gareth and Gerard for putting in days of work on the problems. There were no nastymoves, no sharp edges and no greasy holds. Thanks to the sponsors, Rockface, MD’s,Paddy Pallin’s, Mainpeak and others, alost all competitors walked away with a bag of goodies or some kind of prize. Well done.
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
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.