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A quick trip to the Grampians 23-24 Jan 2004

10:17:02 AM
Jerry and I met up at stupid O'clock on Saturday morning and headed for the Southern Grampians. The weather was fine from what I could discern through bloodshot, half-shut eyes, and traffic was negligible so we made good time. We were on a mission to 'rescue' John Stone who had been callously abandoned in the wilderness by his climbing partner of the previous couple of days under the lame pretext of having to get back to work or something equally implausible. I'd earlier told John we'd be up on Friday night, so when we found ourselves in Dunkeld at 10 am on Saturday morning I figured John would have by then, given up on us and started to hitch a ride back to Melbourne. We topped up with fuel at the petrol station - fuel and a bottle of orange juice brought the total to the sum of $23.75. As Jerry is walking out the door he looks down at his receipt and sees he has just been charged $237.50!! Curse that decimal point. Back in he goes thinking this should be simple enough to get sorted right? I paced up and down the forecourt while the frustrated attendant rang 13 different tech-support numbers at Caltex to find out how to reverse a transaction. Jerry remained remarkably calm through all this, and I went back to the car to read the paper. About 20 minutes later Jerry came running back to the car throwing in a bottle of orange juice, waving a fist full of $237.50 in cash and yelling 'Lets get out of here...go go go go!'. Despite his assurances that they'd 'come to an arrangement', I'm quite sure he robbed the place, after all, he's a pretty dubious looking character. As we sped out of town I had more than a cursory glance in the rear view mirror, waiting for the inevitable flashing lights to appear. They didn't, and we soon found John at Strachans Campground reading a book and looking quite unconcerned with our tardiness. He was probably spewing, but you'd never know.

A quick cuppa, and we were off to Crystal Palace, which John said was 'just up the road'. Twelve kilometres of sump destroying, warranty voiding, steep dirt track later and we arrived at the parking area. A quick stroll through the sword grass swamp and on up the hill got us to a grassy Banksia filled glade in a saddle above the cliff. Very pleasant. Lazing around in the sun seemed like a reasonable option to me, but no, the others wanted to go climbing. Down to Tim's Gully Wall we went. Jerry promptly set off up 38 Special a rather steep grade 17 wall climb up an intermittent flake system. I bravely opted to 'bring up the rear' and attend to any stuck placements. A great climb and very worthwhile. Well done Jerry. Now Jerry suddenly likes my idea of lying around in the sun, so John and I are off down to the main cliff to find something called Chuun Chuun Buung Ak. This apparently means 'shaking leg' according to the guidebook - so, not being an Elvis fan, and knowing that John is, I generously offered him the sharp end. This climb gets progressively steeper through its two pitches until a very dramatic finish is reached as you bridge across the top of an open book corner a long way above the ground. I had to confess this was a good lead by the old fella. Well, not to be outdone, I bravely offered to lead the 5m scramble out to the top of the cliff. This dangerous and loose ‘pitch’ was undoubtedly the most serious thing we'd done for the day. Jerry met me at the top and congratulated me on my bravado while John cursed from somewhere below, bashing away with the nut tool on one of the 12 pieces I'd just placed. I'll have to teach him a few easy removal tricks for the future.

Back at the camp, I was delighted to see that Ashton's Circus had set up the big top next to our campsite and had kindly begun to use up the firewood John had collected that morning. 'Carnies' can be a bit feisty, so we all averted our eyes and struggled to keep warm round the Trangia for the rest of the night.

Next day dawned bright and clear, unlike my eyes, which had the look of raspberry cordial with the added texture of sand. I climbed out of my tent, rubbing my neck, cursing my flat Li-lo ™ and promising myself I would whittle a better stick to use as a Li-lo™ plug before next trip. I love camping. Off round to Tortoise Wall we went and along the way enjoyed the newly improved scenery right along the range. The scorched black tree trunks are now a good contrast to the occasional spot of green.

Well the boys were a bit slow this morning, so I grabbed the first lead of the day. John pointed me to a great looking corner called Little Escapes which at grade 16 looked interesting. John even said he'd done it years ago and it was good. The Mentz/Tempest guidebook said 'well protected' so I stepped up for the challenge. Stemmed out wide above the little rooflet halfway up the climb, I was wondering exactly where all this good pro was hiding. Things were looking just a little grim. I have an unfortunate tendency to tug things when I'm nervous, (old habits and all that) so I yelled down to the guys that they might want to bring up the nut tool. A small amount of blubbering later and I made one of my textbook bellyflop exits onto the ledge at the top. John and Jerry arrived a short while later and John sheepishly told me he'd never actually done the climb in his life. Later I find Kieran's guidebook has the climb described as 'poor protection and loose rock'. Sandbagged by John Stone. Who would believe it? It’s a great little climb though.

After lunch it was John's turn and he was all fired up to hit Tortoise (20), this is a fine looking blunt arête that was crying out to be climbed. John started up and climbed up and down a few times before committing to the crux, then just cause I think he was trying to really impress us, he managed to flick out his last piece of gear which then left him looking at a good 8-10m fall. I stopped shouting encouragement at this point and reached for the camera. This was gonna be something to see!! But as it turned out he was just showing us how it was done and a short time later Jerry and I battled our way up, both blown away by the quality of this particular pitch. Like everyone before us, we took one look at pitch 2, muttered something in unison about it being late in the day and all headed off for Pizza in Ballarat.

10:51:33 AM
Beautifully written Rupert. Thanks for giving me a good laugh!

10:58:20 AM
Nice trip report, except what type toppings on your Pizza do you get?
11:09:15 AM
On 28/01/2004 Rupert wrote:

>Later I find Kieran's guidebook has the climb described as 'poor protection and loose rock'.
>Sandbagged by John Stone. Who would believe it? It’s a great
>little climb though.

The tradition continues Rupert... great trip report.

11:16:49 AM
On 28/01/2004 Dalai wrote:
>The tradition continues Rupert... great trip report.

Ha! I guess it does - well spotted.

PS Rod - I'm partial to the odd piece of Marg with Mushrooms and Garlic. You?

1:30:31 PM
>PS Rod - I'm partial to the odd piece of Marg with Mushrooms and Garlic.

Meat, meat and more meat...
8:19:35 PM
Great report Rupert. I think we ran out of time/daylight at the top of pitch one on Tortoise, or perhaps it was the daunting looking second pitch with what looked to be spaced protection? Has anyone here done the second pitch?

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