Once Again, This Trip Saw A Record Breaking Attendance!
After not being able to organise and run a CAWA trip to Peak Charles last few years, with the last one cancelled because of COVID, a visit to Peak Charles was looking more and more out of the way. That was until a climbing session at Urban Jungle back in July when Jiri came up with an idea of going there later in the year opposed to going over Easter Weekend as previously. After quick weather research, we noticed a small window somewhere between mid-September and October when rain is easing, and the heat is not as bad yet. Hurray, the Queen’s Birthday long weekend it is then.
As soon as the trip was advertised, a few devoted members started applying, despite Peak Charles being all-trad, no facilities and being over 8 hours drive away. Over 15 people come on board in the end, and the trip went ahead.
Patricia and I drove on Thursday afternoon all the way to Lake King planning to spend the night at the local Tavern. After pitching our tent and a great steak, we were ready for the freezing night. Bruno and Tim arrived later that night and pitched their tents so quietly that we only noticed the next morning.
With zero degrees and very windy morning, we entered the Lake King-Norseman unpaved road to drive the 190 km separating us from the Peak Charles campground. The drive was easy; the road was actually in such a good condition this time that it could be easily suitable for a conventional car. We arrived at lunch-time, followed by other members who stent their night around Lake Grace.
In a few hours, we were all heading to the wall to face the first climbs, most of us kicking off at the Central Gully. Bruno and Tim jumped on Sickle (3 pitches, 14) while Patricia and I set up for Mogadon (2 pitches, 11). I noticed during the first 15m that carrying a big backpack and big rack would not work for those full-body chimneys. Therefore, we had to retreat, leave the bag behind and attempt another route. This time we climbed the first pitch of Birthday Party (2 pitches, 18); a great way to celebrate my birthday, which was the day before. Enjoyable climbing on loose blocks finishing with laybacks and mounting moves.
Meanwhile, Jiri and the rest of the crew were on the other side of the gully climbing Office Workers Rules the World and Last Tango in Widgiemooltha Trad (4 pitches, 13).
Our party finished just before dark, and the others got very good use of their head torches.
The second day we split the crew into a few groups so we could mix the less experienced people in teams and all have fun. We all headed towards the Northeast Buttress and Karakoram Wall. Some jumped on Conquistador others on Stormbringer and Riders On The Storm.
Patricia, Hyeseon and I wanted to climb Kwelaman but ended up walking too far northeast, resulting in a long bushbashing back to the Central Gully which took us over an hour. After finally reaching the wall we started the first pitch when a few clouds and thunders decided to bring a bit of rain over our heads. At the same time, other teams experienced a bit o hail. Rain and hail thankfully lasted only a few minutes, and we could keep moving. After the second pitch, we realised that the climb would take longer than we expected, so we decided to retreat. Luckily this is the only long route at Peak Charles with bolted belays, and as we were climbing on double ropes, the abseil was no drama.
What more did we expect when choosing a route called “Stormbringer”. The daily adventures began with weaving through the bush to the base of the wall. On day 2, thunder echoed through the national park, but a little rain wasn’t going to stop the CAWA team. We progressed through the day with epic pitches with interesting features, and a variety of moves which reaffirmed the stars awarded on The Crag and CAWA guide. Spectacular views were seen the whole way up. A warming camp fire was much appreciated, as we made it back to camp, benighted, wind swept, but with smiles reminiscing about the days antics.
A great big thanks to the organisers
We got back to the camp in a reasonable time for a freezing bucket shower, a pre-dinner beer and heaps of time to discuss the plans for the last day. Once again, we looked up towards the peak and saw headlamps shining in the darkness. Some people got back quite late that day.
The last day had Jiri, Paul and Jesse battling the long approach to the Farside and climb some challenging sport routes there. We went back to Central Gully, this time with Dave joining us to climb Office Workers Rules the World. By mid-first pitch, I wasn’t too sure which way the route went and decided to go to the right following a clear ledge with vegetation. Dave seconded bringing the news I was off the route and probably at the second pitch of Raindance. Not a problem I noted, the second pitch will be better. After a few metres, the headwall, which Badile goes under, was clear above and I decided to go there (a bit runout but easy ground). From there on, the climb was only fun, including a little attack from bull ants. We could also hear other teams climbing not far from us. Connor was climbing something to the left and Anna, and her crew were below us climbing Badile. Worth mentioning that this was the first summit Dave completed in daylight, and could finally enjoy the incredible views.
Overall, it was a great trip with perfect weather and lots of fun.
Thank you all the members who joined the adventure and made it very enjoyable.