|My Buffalo Aidfestival TR for 21-22 November 2015.
(It is broken into 3 parts to prevent Chockstone shortening it later with its anti-spam measures further down the track!)
~ If you see anything mysterious or unusual, just enjoy it while you can. ~
This is my topsy-turvy trip report being an unstructured collection of perspectives of it as I thought of them. It is a bit 'different' and I doubt it will read as everyone’s preferred flavour reflecting as it does, certain mindsets at the time. If read slowly it will perhaps enable others to savour some life moments and hints of life being about more than climbing...
Perspectives: [L per through + specere; look] Of or in perspective; a specific point of view in judging things or events; the ability to see things in a true relationship; the appearance of objects as determined by their relative distance and positions; the art of picturing objects so as to show relative distance or depth.
Granite Rain: [L granum grain + OE regn] Hard Person Wall-climber Supplement particularly useful for overnight bivouacs; rapid falling of many objects - generally anathema for wall-climbers - sometimes but not always accompanied by pleasant sensations; a charm-spell in a can!
Again for a Buffalo Aidfest, it was an interesting blend of people with their associated skills and ambitions who attended the 2015 event. Numbers were slightly down this time with seven involved; possibly due to a different focus for this years event as it was biased towards intermediate/advanced, rather than the strong introductory component of previous Aidfests.
This shift in focus resulted in a fair bit of behind the Chockstone-scene Private Messaging, as people teamed up, decided on their objectives, and strategies for tackling them.
PI & M75 took on Lord Gumtree in 'fast as possible style', hoping for a sub 24 hr ascent but not being fussed if it took longer.
We have since seen from their further elaboration that the non-fussed component extended to a minimalist backup plan if their objective was thwarted for any reason...
~> An interesting perspective when viewed from both sides of the event!
MonkeyBoy & Dave_S teamed up for Ozymandias Direct in 'preferably three day style', though four wouldn't have phased them. A fuller account of their adventure is forthcoming, though with the benefit of hindsight they may for their next attempt, tighten up the 'what if' components to reduce the spiral that inevitably arises out of having flexibility (read too much gear), built into plans.
The spiral referred to, goes along the lines of; covering for a 'maybe four day' ascent necessitates carrying more water, food, contingency wet weather gear, etc; which in turn increases the load and makes for guaranteed slower going, thus achieving the time-frame anticipated!
I think that they too acquired a dual perspective from both sides of their adventure...
TimP covered all bases by combining a family holiday weekend with getting some specific aiding objectives dabbled in. These included time on the gorge north wall to dial high exposure into his repertoire, along with solo top-rope aiding the roof of Country Road on the south side wall, to add the nuances of the roof-game to his growing bag of tricks.
From post event conversation I have had with him, I know he has learned a lot from the weekends experiences about the mental components (mind games/strategies), required when dealing with, as he labels it, the 'false mental models' (I call perspectives), that can be involved.
His bag of tricks has certainly grown, and his identifying 'adaptiveness' as a key coping-tool will stand him in good stead for not only climbing, but also in my opinion, for life in general. Indeed the mental components of climbing is a perspective that has captured me long ago; and I look forward to comparing mental notes with him down the track as he explores this aspect further.
Euce set herself the objectives for this Aidfestival of expanding her previously limited experience of clean-aid climbing, jumaring, and 'walling' in general. This she achieved in great abundance by descending to the 5th pitch of Defender Of The Faith (includes the couple of pitches below Fuhrer Ledge), aiding back to the belay above it, then bivouacking the night on the minimalist ledge to be found there (more on this later).
After this the jumaring of fixed ropes to negotiate/avoid the wandery and often slimy/vegetated pitches 6 and 7 (of Emperor) out of the gorge, also expanded her knowledge bag of tricks in great abundance.
Background is everything; aaaaaaaaaaarererere yououyoyouou okayayayayaya(?); so here is the elaboration of it:
With a background requirement of scheduling our topout to coincide with her transport arrangements back to Melbourne that day, she asked me while we were packing up our bivy, "How long will getting to the top take"?
After quick consideration I replied, "Two hours".
The quizzical half raised eyebrow expression this elicited, warranted further elaboration on my part, as it was probably not the answer she was looking for, due to having an expectation of hopefully doing more aid climbing before departing. I commented further to effect of; "All things flowing smoothly it will only take an hour for us both to jumar to topout and retrieve our gear, but if it goes awkwardly then it could take three, so I split the difference and called it two"!
Communication on a wall is important, as efficiency is helped greatly by all concerned knowing what the plan is, and having the same perspective.
The plan we devised was for euce to jumar out first wearing the back-pack wombat containing the lightweight but bulky bivy gear, with lead-rope strapped on top, plus dangling the ablution bucket, insulation mat, and empty water bottles underneath.
I was to follow, wearing the heavy rack and trailing the equally heavy mini-wombat containing excess 200 m static rope. My following would allow me to keep some tension on her jumar line to make it easier for her, due preventing it riding up with each of her upward movements.
Further background; euce was using borrowed equipment of jumars, mini-traxion, two ettriers and daisys; plus the jumar out involved passing two rope protectors and a re-belay, along with a couple of free-hanging-ish overhung sections. Her perspective of jumaring was based on one previous experience of a relatively short jumar that included a minor overhang, but without the third ascender to facilitate resting if required.
Ok, plan communicated, and final nuance dialing of her jumar system to her size requirements inclusive of Parisian Baudrier chest harness with mini-traxion attached, she set off...
It soon became evident that the heavy lead-rope secured atop backpack-wombat was not the best arrangement for her efficiency, as it tended to pull her away from the fall-line, causing the min-traxion to rise uncomfortably up under her chin and tighten/twist the chest harness equally uncomfortably. She wasn't far above our bivy ledge so I climbed up to re-jig her load by relieving her of the lead-rope. She continued higher but the dangly bits were hassling her progress. I again climbed up to help out by relieving her of those, and again valiantly she set off higher but found the whole backpack-wombat to be quite unhelpful for efficient ascent!
"Can you down-jumar and I'll get the wombat off your back, plus shorten your chest-harness connection back to your sit-harness, to make resting easier"...
Hmm. It was then that we found mini-traxions are not the best devices for reverse-ascending with. I don't own one, so my previous familiarity with same was minimal...
"Hang about (heh, heh, heh), and I'll come up again to sort you out".
Ahh, perspectives. Bear in mind readers, that all this is taking place in a deceptively exposed location with not much in the way of natural features to facilitate two people trying to half stand on, and take weight off, loaded rope devices. Deceptive because the start of that ascent is in an open groove-like feature, the rock masking the true sucking nature of the real void below... A perspective that doesn't bear too much dwelling upon if freaking out is not desired...
Upon my arrival at her location she asks, "Can you get the wombat off"?
"I can, but am reluctant to do so, as I can't down-climb easily from here with it, and I'm fearful of dropping it"; (with first bounce likely being 150m lower, and all spare connecting slings & karabiners to prevent same being packed away already) ...
We disconnected the mini-traxion and this enabled a strenuous descent for euce back to our bivy ledge, where it was short-reconnected to her sit-harness and chest-harness.
Repack backpack-wombat into full wombat mode, and I gave euce the option of trialing a short distance of ascending with it trailing-connected to her sit harness, but she declined the offer, as I think a touch of tiredness was starting to set in. It was about this time that we heard the;
>aaaaaaaaaaarererere yououyoyouou okayayayayaya?
So, after about an hour of faffing around with aborted attempts and strenuous retreats to our starting point, my reply of, "What are we going to tell them? 'Give us 10 minutes, guys'?" had a meaningful perspective that euce immediately saw dry humour within; breaking out into a beautiful infectious laugh, that I too found beneficial in relieving the morning tension that was building from the frustrating exit events.
You really should've been there...
I'm glad I was at that moment!
Hmm, too bad we had emptied our excess water out earlier, in anticipation of departure; as the morning sun was warming up, and we still had the task ahead of us...
Ok, new plan / change of perspective.
"I'll jumar out first taking rack, dangly bits, and trailing the lead-rope ready-connected to haul the wombat. In the meantime could you please retrieve the tail of the 200 m from it's wombag, reverse-flake it so it pulls to topout without snagging, after which you follow me; and bring the broken down belay with you when you come, ok"?
"Ok. When do I start up"?
"As soon as I haul the wombat. When it leaves this ledge you're free to follow (in case it snags). I don't know if I will haul from the top, or the re-belay. It depends on if the trailed haul line reaches all the way to the top".
The scene of euce's learning to avoid jumar-epics session. ☺
40 minutes later (I faffed around at the re-belay that was located on slimy ground), I had topped out, and a few minutes after that I had the wombat sitting beside me.
To my surprise about that time, PI and M75 arrived to join in the fun. Conversation arose as to our delay getting off, and I indicated that euce was probably feeling a bit wasted due to the mornings efforts.
This resulted in another perspective change, and you should have seen the swiftness of it!! ...
With an unencumbered exuberance akin to a Firey in training for a fitness challenge and given the opportunity to rescue a damsel in distress, M75 was full on for an assisted hoist as a minimum response!
Even with a bit of tiredness and dehydration on my part I still noticed that our combined three-way 'how to' best-facilitate this (amongst other options), conversation, waxed and waned, but undaunted M75 set off downwards on a mission, no, it was euce's lead rope if I recall correctly(!); where, lo and behold, euce had already ascended to the re-belay located 15 m below us. She had made excellent time that I knew she could do but wasn't expecting, due I was in cruise mode myself.
Ahh, the frustrations of our walling were truly off our backs and transferred elsewhere now... Thanks anyway M75. Heh, heh, heh.
Soon after we were all atop Defender and basking in the warm afterglow of sweet weariness that accompanies a physical weekend away from our normal routines; ... even though the Granite Rain was now in need of replenishment, ... which brings to mind events referred to earlier.