Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Girraween in July

New Boots (16) with Wattles at Turtle Rock
Date: 23 - 29 July 2012

After a busy first half of the year I was really looking forward to a bit of time off from work. The frequency of my bushwalking posts has diminished this year mainly because the majority of my spare time has been taken up with rock climbing instead. It is just another way to enjoy the bush and the outdoors and often includes walking as well. So basically it's win win as far as I'm concerned.

So during the last week of July, Tom and I decided to get in a solid few days of climbing at one of our favourite places no matter what the activity: Girraween.

Day 1:
We managed to have camp set up by about 11 on the Monday. We chose a spot in the Castle Rock Campground near the track start. The whole place was quiet but we had this particular area all to ourselves for most of the week. Tom was sleeping in the Scarp 2 and I chose to use the hammock.
Our campsite. Scarp 2 in the foreground, Warbonnet Blackbird in the background.
Castle Rock was our first destination so we set off along the track for the first of many times for the trip. The wattles were in bloom and they made every outlook even more spectacular with the patches of bright yellow breaking up the canopy.
Wattles
Before long we reached the summit and after a quick lunch stop we headed back down the track to try and locate the various climbs in the guide. We eventually settled on an unnamed crack on a giant boulder on the side of Castle Rock.
Tom on the unnamed crack

Success! Now how to get down...
From here we headed round the Eastern side of Castle Rock and found the rest of the climbs in the guide. We headed up an interesting grade 15 called Dribbly Drop.
Myself on Dribbly Drop. Not much protection, but not very steep either.
We packed up as the sun was setting and headed back under torch light (also the first of many times for the trip). We were expecting low temperatures but they didn't get as low as Girraween is renown for, probably not getting to zero.

Day 2:
After convincing myself to get out of bed and get ready we set off along the Castle Rock track again, this time heading for Turtle Rock. Once arriving we spent more time exploring the area locating climbs from the guide. As usual we headed straight for the first crack we could find. This was called New Boots and was quite a small crack with a tricky start.

We then headed for the top of Turtle Rock and abseiled off the back side to the start of a few climbs. We eventually did an 18 called Losing Face on top rope. Great climbing and graded with the sparse protection in mind. Finally Tom decided to have a crack at the absolute classic New Paths at grade 24. He had a great crack at it and eventually made it to the trad gear placement below the 2nd last bolt before he pulled a hand hold off and snapped his thumb nail. This was the end of the day for us and with the sun setting we quickly got back up Turtle Rock via the squeeze route, retrieved our gear and headed back.
New Paths

Tom on New Paths as the Sun was setting

Sunset from Turtle Rock

Having fun getting down the squeeze in the dark with packs
Day 3:
After the events of the previous evening we ended up leaving all our gear up the wall on New Paths so we had to head back to Turtle Rock again to retrieve it all. We made the familiar trek back out there and set our minds to getting through a few more routes than previous days. The wind had been fairly strong most of the week but this day in particular it was blowing hard from the East. Once again the weather was spectacular though.

Our list of climbs for the day was:
 - Staircase
 - Wading Ape DS
 - Summerbreeze
 - Millions of Dead Punks
 - Strenuous Layback Crack
 - Unknown route to the left of the layback crack.

The variation of climbs available at Girraween is awesome. Everything from slabs, to cracks to steep juggy stuff. Definitely not a one trick pony. Once again we were enjoying ourselves too much to leave before the sun went down so we carefully climbed off the top of Turtle Rock and headed back to camp and a nice warm fire.

Summerbreeze and Millions of Dead Punks

Layback Crack
Day 4:
For our last day of climbing before Tom had to head home we decided to head back out to The Sphinx as we knew from our last trip how good some of the climbs here were. Unfortunately the weather finally broke and we got a few showers when we arrived. The rock didn't take long to dry out though and we hopped straight on The Queen of Spades. Tom lead this with great composure and skill. I seconded with much falling and moaning. It was another classic Girraween climb though requiring levitation abilities in some sections and great balance.

To finish off the day we climbed Vagabond for the second time. Yet another awesome climb.

For the rest of the week and weekend Maree came down and we did some more walking and visited some wineries capping off an amazing week.

Curious Kangaroos

Rock Formations