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Alpine climbing July 2018

Posted by robjwall on August 13, 2018

The warm up was a weekend of crack climbing at Ettringen in Germany.

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Ettringen

Then a week later Konstanze and I headed to Switzerland.  We used the excellent “Schweiz Plasir Sud” guide to work out where to go en-route to Ivrea.  Intially this led us to Freggio in the Italian part of Switzerland.  We attempted to find a (~16 pitch, with a walk off after 10 pitches) route called “Via del Pivello”.  The first pitches of slab seemed a lot harder than the book suggested,  and then the route ended after only 3 pitches.  After an hour of bush bashing including the slippery fern slide pictured we think we found the actual route and traversed in about 4 pitches up, and completed it to the end of pitch 10.

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Lost

The rock was good, and the views of the valley extremely pretty (if not the noise from the Autostrada).

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Looking down “Via del Pivello”

The next day we climbed some single pitch routes in a great little crag area called “Valle di Gorduno”, then travelled to Ivrea to see Kira, and watch Demelza race in the Junior World Slalom Canoe Championships, (where she made it to the U/23 C1 Semifinal) and eat a lot of nice food :).

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Demelza and Kira at Ivrea

During the kayaking event K and I climbed 8  pitchs in the sun in Valle d’Aosta to climb “Bucca d’arancia”.  This was lovely but I was very happy to get back in the shade, and made me think we needed to plan to climb at much higher altitude.  Another day we did a couple of pitches at “Traversella”, where Demelza joined us for a great walk and very refreshing “swim” on the way back.

 

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Refugio above Traversella

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Secret swim spot

After the Kayaking was over we drove across to France and the wonderful Ailefroide climbing area where I had been two years previously.  On the first day we did a great ~7 pitch bolted 6a next to a waterfall called “Petits meutres entre amis”. I wish all routes had waterfalls – it was a constant debate to work out how much water to carry.

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Petits meutres entre amis.

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Happy climbers.

Nearly all the climbing to this point had been on bolted routes, and we both were feeling fit, so we wanted to push ourselves a bit and test out route finding and gear placing skills.  So we headed further up the valley above Ailefroide to the Glacier Blanc hut for a few nights.  (An inexpensive hut with good food!).  We managed to get slightly lost walking up the trail to the hut in the evening, we were not meant to cross this stream.

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Lucky its summer!

The next day we were up early and walked an hour to Pointe de Cineastes to climb the 200m “Chasses Croises” 5c (obl), which was a mix of bolts and traditional pro.  The descent was to down solo half of the “Arete Sud Classique” (3a) which was probably the sketchiest thing we had done so far.  Cineastes had a real remote Alpine feel with tricky route finding and less than perfect rock.  A lot of the pro is to put slings around rock spikes.

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Pointe des Cineastes

The second day here we attempted to find a crack line (“Eperon Ouest”) on the left side of the Cineastes, which was supposed to have bolted anchors.  There was a forecast of afternoon storms, so we wanted something we could retreat off.  After several pitches we never found a bolt, but the weather was ok, so we decided to ‘fail upward’ to the ridge at the top of the route and pickup the abseil line from the more popular ridge traverse.  The last long pitch (60m) up to a spire was magnificent exposed alpine climbing about grade 5a, with enough stable rock to sling little pinacles or place cams from time to time.  This was one of the best pieces of climbing we did on the whole trip (and its not impossible it was a new route!).   The descent was a really dirty couple of abseils and then some fun snow sliding off the backside.  We took no camera.  That night I was tired, and it was raining so we had another hut meal, and walked down the following morning in gorgeous sunshine and saw a few Marmottes.

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Marmotte

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Really, a Marmotte

 

 

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Chamonix Aguilles from the town (Peigne on R).

We ‘rested’ a day or so (pack, drive, unpack…) and headed to the Refuge Plan de L’Aguilles above Chamonix which is only a 10 minute walk from the cable car middle station.  The weather on the first day was *perfect* so we left the hut at 3pm, and started a route “Eperon Nord” 6a? (chosen from my old Piola guide)  at 4.30pm.  Not best alpine practise.  The weather continued to be warm: perfect golden sunshine with no wind, so we were lured up going almost to the top of the excellent 8 pitch route.  Oddly there were bolts on the first two pitches only, and after that we found no anchors!   I was really enjoying being acclimatized, having perfect conditions, and being on this magnificent Chamonix granite, — it felt like I was just floating up it.   Just before the top Konstanze led a long, and quite loose left traverse to attempt to find the bolted Abseil line used by some more popular routes.  She found it, and we completed the abseils and down-soloing just as it got really dark, and, sharing our one head torch got back to the hut at midnight.  It was probably pretty close to a forced night out.  (I don’t *think* it would have been too cold, but I’m glad I didn’t find out!)

DSC01360.JPG The next day it rained, so I ate cake while K went for a walk, and then Andrew Mitchell arrived in the evening.

The following day (Sunday) we were out from the hut from 6am until 10pm completing the magnificent  “Voie Contamine Vaucher” on the Aguille du Peigne, which at 15 pitches (400m alt gain) was the longest route we did.

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Andrew on one of the early pitches

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Pretending to be scared

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Looking up the line from about 5 pitches up.  We are heading for the giant ‘razor’ and chimney

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Konstanze leads the incredible chimney pitch

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Near the summit

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All we have to do now is Abseil for 3 hours, go down the snow and walk back to the hut for DINNER

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Looking down one of the many rapells

 

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Andrew shows us the poses in the fading light

This was a great climbing day.  We did the route in good style despite getting lost quite a few times, and we all enjoyed every move.  My personal favourites bits were the airy 6a traverse under the roofs (crux), and the 6a layback protected by  stuffing cams into the moss, lower down  (you will never find that, we were off route!).

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The way down –  9pm

 

We were all pretty shattered to be honest,  but the following day K and I went back onto the “Eperon Nord” and completed it properly this time AND made the 6pm cable car (we were only 30 min late so it was still running).

The final route of the trip was a few days later at Barberine: the bolted 8 pitch “Magician d’Oz”.  I was really struggling for energy and happy to have bolts.

Thanks Konstanze for an inspiring trip, and for calmness and route finding.  And thanks Andrew for making a 3, and sharing your confidence on the Contamine.  Salut.

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Albany Sea Kayak

Posted by robjwall on January 29, 2018

Albany Sea Kayak. Jan 26 to 28 2018.

Rob, Indi, Bryan.

Day One (click for map – then choose google on down arrow bottom right, then satellite on top left)

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We left Emu Point at 9am after staying in the Caravan Park which was annoyingly almost but not quite at the put-in (we should have just slept on the beach).  This day had the best weather forecast of our planned 3 day trip to Waychinicup, and it turned out to be perfect paddling weather — calm and warm, but not hot. We had thought to start at the whaling station, but transport logistics made it easier to start at Emu Point, so we paddled across Frenchman’s Bay past a tiny island (“Seal Island”)  for a very short rest, then to the northern end of Flinder’s Peninsula. (I think there are or will be 2 or 3 really good looking Trad climbs here that I am keen to check out another time).  The next leg was to Michaelmas Island where we paddled along the rocky seaward shore, very aware that this would not be so friendly most of the time.  Today we saw lots of the most wonderful large grey sea-birds with very slender wings.  They would swoop and glide along the sea surface coming very close to us.  I am pretty sure I have seen them before, but not in such large numbers, and I don’t know what they are called.   This was definitely a highlight for me!

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The amazing sleeping rock

There was nowhere to land a kayak on the south side so we rested on the leeward  (northern) side for a bit and had a swim from the boat. The last leg was across to a very small east facing beach on the mainland at the western end of Nanarup beach where we had a decent sized lunch.  We contemplated the long crossing of this beach to take advantage of the good weather, but thought it was better not to overdo it on the first day although we all felt pretty good after about 25km of paddling in just over 3 hours. I slept under this amazing rock in case it rained, but insects were a problem!  I also had some fun making a barrier to the waves like I used to when I was ten.

Day Two (click for map)

The forecast was for 25 knot S to SW winds by noon so we got our shit together and were paddling by 745. On the first 12k  crossing the wind picked up to 20 knots or so and was an almost tail wind. This made it pretty easy going, but I found it hard to keep directional control at times.  It would have been hard (impossible?) to going into the wind. We stopped briefly in the shelter of a cool rocky island with *amazing* cliff jumping potential (Tarky), and then scurried for the shelter of the headland, where the wind continued to be extremely gusty varying from nothing at all to 25 kts. We stopped at the first beach we could which is apparently called “Waterfall Beach” and setup camp just as it started raining.

Waterfall Beach

Another amazingly beautiful un-spoilt campsite with clear warmish water, perfect white sand and rocks to cook on.  Paddling in it was disappointing to see a large resort building – jarring in this otherwise remote feeling location –  but at least it was out of sight of our camp. A bit of napping was needed after a quite tiring paddle. 22km, 4:15 in the boats.

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Routes at Secret South Coast Spot…

Posted by robjwall on January 1, 2017

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Kira Wall on the FA of “No Hoes”.

Crocboating Area:

The following 3 routes share a two bolt anchor on top of the “Croc Boat” boulder.  The starts are all normally  separated by fresh flowing water! To get off, leave crabs on the bolts or solo off via a tree on the back (easy but exposed)

Left. Croc Boaters 10m, 3 bolts  (grade 17). Kira Wall April 2011

Middle. Just a couple of crimps 11m, 2 bolts (grade 18). Rob Wall April 2015

Right. *No Hoes (grade 18, easier if you stay right?).  12m, 3 bolts. Kira Wall April 2011.

The next route is on the face of the big boulder to the left (downstream). ie in the Chimney.

**Aladeen 12m, 3 bolts (grade Aladeen, but harder (prob Aladeen) if you don’t lean back on the Croc Boat boulder).  Tarky Wall April 2011

Further down the creek on the right side is an excellent bolted arete/chimney 12m  (grade 20???). **No name.  FA by S.

On the other side of the creek is a really good hard short 7m finger crack (grade 21?)  *Crime.  FA Rob Wall April 2011.

 

 

 

 

Magic Faraway Tree area

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Rob Wall near top of  Sandcrawler, 20

To get here walk past ‘Crime’, uphill on river left (ie East bank) on a sort of track, under a tree and over some rock to an obvious cliff about 80m uphill.  You know you are in the right place when you see the most amazing tree (and some bolts shhh).  From right to left the routes are

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FA of Magic  19

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Bolting team hard at work.

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Bolt man

Sandpeople 13m, grade 17, 3 bolts to rings. Starts on top of the flake/block. FA T Wall Dec 16.

*Sandcrawler 18m, grade 20, 5 bolts to the same rings.  Sustained. Bring spare fingertips.  R Wall Dec 16.

big blank section then:

Magic 15m,  grade 19, 3 bolts to a two bolt belay

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Tasmania

Posted by robjwall on January 12, 2016

We are in Tasmania for a  couple of weeks again so the kids can compete in the Canoe Slalom National Champs.

We (Kira, Tarquin, Alf and I) started with a couple of days mountain biking in Derby (see http://www.ridebluederby.com.au/) and this 2nd visit confirmed it really is one of the best areas in Australia.  All the trails (mostly blue) are worth riding – it was especially good in the morning cool.  You can also swim in the river, camp for free, and buy good coffee.  Its worth the longish drive.  This is Tarky’s edit showing why you should use a camel back not a bottle…

 

 

Next was a 2 night bushwalk up to the ‘Walls of Jerusalem’ which is the name given to a whole area of interesting alpine terrain.

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We parked at the signposted trailhead near Lake Rowallan and started walking up at about 7pm.  This late start turned out to be a good idea, as it was a very hot day and the first 2k is a steep uphill.  After about an hour or two we camped on Lake Loane  (the first lake on the right fork (less people)  past Trappers Hut).

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Alfie at Trappers Hut

 

The water is of course great for drinking and swimming (its Tas.) but we did get eaten by Mosquitos and probably should have taken a tent instead of the Tarp.

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Wombat

On the 2nd morning we walked along to the hut on Lake Ball (restored recently) and spent the  last afternoon of 2015 reading and relaxing on the Lake shore.  “Gorillas in the Mist” is my holiday read – I am in awe of Dian Fossey’s intelligence and determination.  It was an extremely beautiful place to camp (but also had Mosquitios).

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Camp on Lake Ball

On the third day we left the (‘right fork’ on map)  trail we had followed and walked around Mt Moriah to the “Damascus Gate” for Lunch One.  Some of us did the half hour return trip up to “Solomons Throne” for the view (and phone reception).  From there it was a fast couple of hours back to the car and the start of Slalom training (with Demelza!)  at 4pm.  Kira and Tarky ran ahead and rode down the road instead of driving!

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Walking near Mt Moriah

 

The Canoeing on the Mersey was great with many medals inluding  Demelza and Alf doing C2 together and getting a Bronze.  Now Kira is looking very likely to be selected for the Australian Jnr team for Poland,  being ranked 2 of 3 for both C1 and K1 after 2 of the 4 selection races.

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Alf Dead after C2

 

See http://canoe.org.au/2016/01/06/fox-outguns-senior-men-to-record-fastest-time-in-tasmania/ too.

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Slalom

I manged to come last in the K1 mens slalom, but was actually happy to get down the tricky course getting all the gates!  I also did rescue for Slalom and DR and was actually able to help one girl in DR who was sitting on a rock in the middle of the river after coming out of her boat.

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Tark preparing for his C1 race at the Forth

It was then more paddling on the lovely Forth river with Alfie while the big kids went to Brady’s Lake before joining us for the ‘schools’ slalom competition on the Forth  river.   Tark and I had a fun MTB at Penguin one day also.  Alfie did amazing well to do an almost clean C1 run (he has only been in C1 on flat water a couple of times) – I think Demelza has a video of this

 

Thanks to Paul Black for lending me his slalom  boat, and to these guys http://www.roaring40skayaking.com.au/ for lending me a car; finally thanks to all the volunteers who make the Slalom races possible.

Last night I caught up with Owen Davis for a quick Tronsight (a new word he taught me) of Neon God  [http://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/mount-wellington/organ-pipes/route/123749

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View of the ‘pipes from Reg and Jen’s house

 

23]  L1 and another 23 (?) on Mt Wellington .  In true Owen style he ran up it on lead in  mist, semi darkness, and some light rain. It was great!

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Bye…

 

 

 

 

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Lower Murray!

Posted by robjwall on August 28, 2014

melz play boat

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Perth Slalom training camp – Charlie’s Video

Posted by robjwall on August 19, 2014

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Kalbarri National Park draft management plan 2014 Public Comment Submission

Posted by robjwall on July 22, 2014

The Dept of Parks and Wildlife is seeking comment on a plan for the KalbarriNational Park.  By 20 June 2014.
 
It does not prohibit climbing.  But it does not plan for it in any way.  It also does not allow camping in the park, nor allow for vehicle access to climbing areas(eg 4-ways track will only be for commercial use).

The link is the submission I made on behalf of “W.A. Rock Climbers concerned with the Kalbarri National Park”

 

KNP download.

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Lunch on the trail near Pemberton WA

Posted by robjwall on May 27, 2014

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Esperence Sea Kayak

Posted by robjwall on January 23, 2014

17 – 23 January 2014.

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Remote Rocky Islands – Strong Winds – The Southern Ocean – Three Men – Sounds like an epic doesn’t it?  Actually it was a remarkably straightforward and beautiful trip.

We left Freo on Friday, and after a delay while Rob welded my trailer rack after Bryan broke it, were on the road.  We arrived late and crashed at the launch site at Lucky Bay (leading to the predictably grumpy ranger the next morning.  After way too long putting things in and out of dry bags, we paddled off at 10am around to Thistle Cove for morning tea. (Taking in the sights of the by now famous Kangaroo Rock climbing area :)).  Then it was time for a long fast downwinder around past Cape Legrande itself (it looks to me like there would be some ok Trad Climbing here) to an unnamed cove.  It was hot and windy so I wasted a lot of time putting up a tarp using lots of tension to stop it flapping, and paddles as supports.  Then the paddle broke!  We had been wondering if we should take one or two spare paddles and chose one (bad decision).

 

DAY ONE MAP

We all slept well until the 5am Mosquito alarm clock, and were back on the water about 930 for the 11k crossing to the island “Sandy Hook”.  I am paddling a Mirage 530, lent to me by Yvonne (Rob’s Wife), its nice to paddle despite my overloading.  Bryan is in my Lettman Speedliner (impossible to overload), and Rob has a borrowed plastic sea kayak (would be slow but he has a sail!).  The crossing was long but pretty quick being almost downwind again.  We spent a nice afternoon listening to Kelp Gull, and took a short walk up to the Ridge before sunset.  We are on the one beach on the island (pictured) which is the most beatifual place to hang out and contemplate nothing much.

 

DAY TWO MAP

In the (monday) morning we left at 9am and paddled around the West side of the Island which was out of the wind, and had some great rock formations to look at. (No picture – you will have to go there yourself :)).  We landed at one point because I didn’t want to pee in the boat!  This proved to be difficult, even in calm sea…  Then we had some quite difficult cross wind paddling through a gap, and on to “Woody Island” where we got an actual bed, and all slept for a couple of hours.  For an evening walk I went over the main hill and then rock hopped / bush backed back to base (hard).  The permanent camp on the island is looking very run-down which is a shame as its a great spot and deserves to be a popular “Eco-resort”.

 

DAY THREE MAP

On tuesday we got up at 6.15am and got a scheduled forecast on Marine VHF 72 (this was the only time we used the radios, I’m not sure we could actually have reached anyone) which was not good.  The wind strength was forecast to pick up to 40 Knots by lunchtime which could make our craft uncontrollable, so we decided to take the less risky option and paddle 17k downwind to Esperence town, not 10k upwind back to the bike we had left on the shore as planned.  This was a long but uneventful trip – my mid-morning pee was accomplished by climbing out of my boat in the middle of the sea to the amusement of the other guys.  My back was sore by the end of this day (perhaps because this is the day we did NOT do yoga?).  The taxi back to our car was $230 – Ouch.  The kids texted me and are having fun at the National Whitewater champs at Penrith!

DAY FOUR MAP

On the final day I abseiled down some climbs I want to do at Kangaroo Rock, but the wind was 30 Knots, so I gave up looking, and went for a walk up Frenchman’s Cap instead with Rob and Bryan.

Lessons.   Water bags are better than bottles.  Take fewer smaller dry bags.  Take more spare paddles. Take printed Satellite photos (these are better than charts for finding beaches to land on).  Make sure your charts cover enough that you can see Islands in the distance as well as close ones as they make very useful landmarks when navigating (my compass broke, and I don’t trust the one on my watch).

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Cape to Cape

Posted by robjwall on October 28, 2013

Is the name of a bushwalk (which I have to complete one day too…) but more recently a popular mountain bike race in SW WA.  I picked it as this years ‘hard’ challenge, and was not disappointed.

http://capetocapemtb.com/  Its a stage race of about 210km of single track, soft sand and gravel road over four days.  The highlight for me was racing my friend Ewen over the magnificent single track close to Margaret River on day three.  We spent two hours trying to lose each other, only the cross the line together!  He was ahead of me on the other days by 2 to 10 minutes, so I was less motivated, and hence slower.   I was really happy to finish in the top 1/4 of entries overall.  I liked the way it was run, so that there was no real queuing for the good bits of trail.  I’ll keep riding in WA, but am not sure that these long races are really for me as they are a big commitment of time and cash.

Lessons learned (I’m writing this down so I remember if I do something like this again).  Day one: I probably went too fast, but did get my best result, and a good seeding for the starts on the other days.  Day two: I should have started using chafe cream, and forgot the sunscreen.  Day three, remembered those, but couldn’t find my GPS, which is good because you are not distracted, but bad because I didn’t get a track of the good trail!  Day 4, forgot the ‘gas’ which I didn’t need (no flats all race!).  Also: take a bandanna for the sun…  One good thing I did was eat fruit while riding (tastes better than goo, less litter, and has water in it!).

Here are some photos I stole off the facebook page to give the feel.

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