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West Aust. Wine and Climb 14-Dec-2004 At 10:52:33 AM Robin
I briefly visited WA a few years back. Last month I returned with my partner (Tuesday) to complete 'unfinished business'.

We set off early in November in an old, borrowed car that a friend left behind a few years back. A slight detour took us to the Clare Valley on day 2. Here we stocked up with a boot load of wine. Another slight detour took us around the Aire Penninsula before we headed accross the Nullabor.

Our first climbing stop was Peak Charles, just south of Norsman. Peak Charles is a massive granite dome, rising some 250-300m. We had planned to climb Trout Dentures (280m 16) but a suspect looking first bolt changed our minds. Instead we climbed Mediteranian Cruise (170m 17). This had some interesting moves on the short second pitch and a committing yet easy step left for the third pitch. The other 150m was a rambly, low angled peak bagging exercise. Great views from the top and great place to climb.

Next stop was Stirling Range. More big peaks, up to 300m. The rock was generally solid slatey gniess but there was heaps of detached rocks on the ledges, and protection was sometimes sparse. After much frigging around route finding we set off to do Charlies Dog (165m 11), but we ended up doing what could be better described as 'Lost Dog'.

Pitch one was OK but pitch 2 saw me traversing left without gear and clipping a piton that fell out under the weight of a quick draw. A good cam placlement was found allowing me to pull up through steep rock (about grade 17) onto easier ground. We continued up, on and off route. As time ticked by and we felt we were more off route than on we decided to ramble to the top easies way possible. This saw us crawling up steep, loose, vegetated slopes, often slinging small shrubs for protection. Final pitch was nice bridging up an offwidth corner crack.

Next stop was Albany. First day here we climbed at The Gap. These were all short climbs up beautiful rounded granite cracks and faces. We started on Thinker Sinker (18), Black Russian (14), and Whaletooth (15), all of which were quite desperate for the grade, slippery jam cracks. Tuesday then lead the fantastic and bold Surfs' Up (15) while I got showered with sea spay on the belay ledge. We finished the day on Over Indulgence (19), another layback/jammy desperato.

The second day we climbed at Peak Head. This is another granite dome set back from the sea. The rock here is sharper and more angular than that of The Gap. At Peak Head we climbed Baylec Direct (96m 18). First pitch was a bouldery start followed by sustained finger locking up a 30m crack. Second pitch was up an easy corner and third pitch was secure climbing accross a slab with very spaced protection.

From Albany it was accross to West Cape Howe (WCH). WCH has wicked 70m dolerite like cliffs, protruding straight out of the ocean. Here we climbed the classic cracks The Climb (18), and Take The Plunge (19), both of which we thought we 2 grades easier than the 18 & 19 cracks we climbed at The Gap. Tuesday then led the 50m rope stretching face climb Carosel (15). On the final day I we climbed Planar Craving (21), a 50m slab pulling through steep bulges to finish. Tuesday then onsighted the classic Vulture Street (50m 17).

Hot tip for WCH: if you have a 4wd there is a great camping an snorkling spot at the nearby Dunsky Beach.

From WCH it was up to Margret River for more wine and climb. First couple of days were spent at Willybrup. Yet another beautiful sea cliff, with more great rock, more slopy holds and more Victorians (giday Joe). Here we climbed Stainless Steel (21), Mob Job (20), Fat Chance (20), Waterfalls 2nd Folley (15), Gutted (16) and Heavy Metal (24).

Next cliff to visit was Bobs' Hollow. This is a steep limestone sports crag overlooking the sea and frolicking whales. First day we climbed Shaved Cat (20), Lovers Nuts (17), Burswood Road (18), Constructive Vandalism (20) and I cleaned Dependence Day (23) on my first lead attempt (had 2nded the climb before). Next morning we returned where I had a rare 25 onsight on Hollow Promises. I'm guessing this route is closer to 23 but what the hell I'll tick it anyway.

On the final day before departing we slipped in a couple of hours at Wall Cliff. This is a nice piece of limestone with awesome looking bouldering. Unfortunately the cliff was over-run with bee hives. On our first climb we tip-toes past a bee hive to complete The Sting (18). Next I had a quick ascent up the short funky roof climb Life According to Gimp (22). That rounded off our 2004 climbing trip.

Trip summary:
Km's travelled - approx. 5000
Best Climbs - Vulture Street (Tuesday), Baylec Direct (Me)
Best Camp Spot - Dunsky Beach WCH
Best Wine/Winery - Salitage reserve Pinot, Pemberton
Biggest Fall - 0m, can't have been trying
Biggest Epic - 0, dito
Travel Tips - 4wd with good clearance almost essential. Goggles and flippers a good investment. November great climbing weather.

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