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Archive for October, 2010

Kangaroo Rock – article as submitted to “Australian Rock”

Posted by robjwall on October 27, 2010

Its March 1792.  The French Frigate L’Esperence (“hope”) is sent to the bottom of the world to search for missing sailors.  Its crew become the first Europeans to set foot on the amazing coastline of Cape Le Grand National Park.  Skip 214 years and we are there on a holiday. Something in the back of my mind can’t stop searching this perfect granite, hoping for a line.  Mostly its typical W.A. rock, either too slabby or too blank, but while paddling I see an incredible snaking crack splitting an enormous orange boulder. I snap a photo from the kayak.


You can see the “Kangaroo” and the crack line up its haunch.  The next day I’m up early to try the route on self-belay.  Its mostly a clean finger crack (my favourite!) but the start of the crack is too narrow for me.  Eventually I find an improbable move out right to a slopey undercling that solves the problem —  I vow to return.  That afternoon I chat to a friendly park ranger about climbing in the park.  It transpires they don’t have a problem with it, as long as we can’t be seen from the tourist tracks.  I don’t dare mention bolting…

After some failed attempts to lure climbers the 780km with the photo, we return in Easter 2008.   The crack route is hard to get to safely with my 10 year old daughter Demelza, so after some exploration I place 6 stainless expansion bolts in a stunning Arete further left.  The crux move is again near the start: you have to pull hard on an ‘ear’ with your left hand, smear high with your left foot, and cross your right foot improbably high over the left, then balance up on one leg.  (No-one has yet onsighted this bizarre move, yet everyone eventually does it the same way!).  Demelza has belayed me on TR before, so after a quick lead-belay lesson she clips in to shiny new belay bolts on the narrow ledge above the sea.  I don’t plan to fall off.  I fell off — snapping the ‘ear’ off.  The grey sky now delivers light rain, and we notice some blood on the rock.  I feel a strange mix of emotions, but Demelza assures me she is OK, so we decide to give it one more shot.  I barely manage it, yielding the area’s first route “Family Affair” 22.

In January 2009 I do a lightning trip down to meet visiting Kiwi guides Rachel Ryan and Ed (“I love a bit of adventure”) Nepia.  In a two day mission we clean and bolt the 3 excellent sport routes on “Kiwi Wall” to the right of “Family Affair”.   Ed can’t believe how easy the cleaning is compared with NZ (we just kick the rock a couple of times and pronounce it clean).  Ed also leads the hyper-classic grade 15 corner to the right of Kiwi Wall, naming it “Windjammer”
For some reason we laugh a lot on this trip, odd things happen:  Rachel has to climb in one shoe and for the first time in my life I rap off the end of a rope, falling two metres into a bush unharmed. On our last day Ed and I climb the crack I have been obsessing over for three years (take an 8 rock for the crux!), naming it after the question with the answer 42, because thats what it feels like.  The contentment lasts the whole, long drive home.

We can’t believe the quality of climbing Kangaroo Rock is giving.  All the routes so far have been twenty to thirty metres of interesting moves on clean, featured granite.  We’re also watching Kangaroos, Seals, Octopus, and wondering about the bouldering on the hundreds of boulders all over the park.   Ed and Rachel are in NZ now, but Shane Richardson agrees to come down just before Christmas 2009, “for a look”.  His family beat us there, and Shane transforms into a new-routing super-hero, doing 10 or 12 pitches on self-belay, and chalk-dotting the bolts for two routes on his first day. One follows an amazing series of flakes up the orange wall right of “Windjammer”, and is now possibly the best middle grade sport route in WA.  Bastard.  I bolt a steep line through the big series of wacos left of “Family Affair” and reckon its about 18, so I offer it to the kids.  Kira has a go, succeeding on top rope.  Demelza looks solid on TR, and starts thinking up route names!  But after she falls on her first two attempts (her first lead falls) she is less keen…

An hour later Demelza fights it all the way on her 3rd attempt, naming it “L’Esperence”, 18. We also came in  hope, and we found the lines we were looking for, and I feel strangely connected to those brave 18th Century French who trod here first. (But didn’t record any routes!)


The Routes L to R

Music Wall:
*L’Esperence, 18, 15m, 5 bolts.  DW 12/09. Steep fun.
UNNAMED, 21, 20m, 6 bolts + take one thread. SR 12/09.  Tricky move L near top.
Tingle in Your Fingers, 23/4, 24m, 6 bolts.  RW 12/09. Desperate at the start.
Kiwi Wall:
*Family Affair, 22, 28m, 6 bolts. RW 4/08. Crux at start.
Flying Kiwis, 18/19, 28m, 5 bolts.  EN 1/09.
There She Blows, 19, 28m, 6 bolts.  EN 1/09.
Dance on Fires, 20/21, 28m, 6 bolts.  RW 1/09.
*Windjammer, 15, 25m, Trad. EN 1/09.
Orange Wall:
*UNNAMED 22/3, 25m, 6 bolts. SR 12/09. 21 until the last move!
Universe Wall:
Ultimate Question, 22, Trad with 1 bolt.  RW 1/09.

All these 10 are stared routes (really, new route developers are never biased). The * means absolute classic!.


From Esperence head East, making an improbable number of consecutive right turns following the signs to “Cape Le Grand National Park”.  Once in the Park follow the sign to “Lucky Bay” (named by Matthew Flinders who sought refuge there in 1802), where you can camp for $8 per night and have free solar hot showers.  It does get busy in peak times as its a fantastic snorkelling and swimming spot.  To get to the climbing walk on the signed trail toward “Thistle Cove”.  After 1km, near a hilltop you will see a balancing croissant rock, just after this take a left fork and follow the fisherman’s track down for 50m.  You get to an obvious ledge facing “L’Esperence” , and can scramble down the gully (grade 5) to the climbs.  The climbs all reach top-bolts so you can belay on top and walk off.  Long slings are needed if you want to lower off.

Photographers and Climbers

RW Rob Wall
DW Demelza Wall
KW Kira Wall
KV Kate Vyvyan
SR Shane Richardson
EN Ed Nepia

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Squamish – long routes

Posted by robjwall on October 12, 2010

Well the climbing season is at an end now, but I’ve been able to do some great long routes over the summer.  Here they are as I remember them (in order, more or less)….

Snake (5.9).  A great 5 pitch route on the Apron done with Pad.  I recall it feeling runout on the top slab!  We did a couple of great single pitch routes on top of it including “Memorial Crack”.

Diedre (5.8).  Six pitches.  One of the world’s great easy routes I think.  Several pitches in a row of immaculate low angled corner crack.   A great day out in the Sun with Australian Dave, and Kira.  This was Kira’s first multipitch route

Birds of Prey(5.10a) on “The Squaw”.  Six pitches done as 3 with a 70m rope.   Not my favorite long route – but you get a good look at Pipeline (Arrrgh).  I would like to get back on the Squaw to try “The Great Game” to the right — it looks awesome

Rock On /Squamish Buttress.  (5.10c)  A good way to get to the top of The Chief.  A lot of rambling pitches up high, but the top pitch is especially fine,  I struggled, but made it in the end when someone from a party above told me I was “almost in the promised land”.  Rock On felt quite greasy to me, and had one scary move.  Did these last two routes with visiting Sweedish Filmmaker Sean.


Calculus Crack. (5.8)  A very exposed route.  Demelza and I slept at the base, and got up early.  This is the  first time I had attempted something like this with the kids with no other adult in the party.  Demelza climbed quickly and efficiently and didn’t’ seem to notice the exposure, which is very real on this route.   She seemed to have no trouble taking the belays apart and making all the right calls.   The couple of 5.8 handcrack pitches that are the core of this route are absolutely brilliant.

Borderline. (5.10d)   This was a fun day.   I led the 3rd pitch which has some incredible, technical and exposed climbing (with lots of bolts thank god), and the fourth pitch (which I fell off seconding) has the most amazing wide hanging chimney.  It was the first time I had climbed with local ex Ranger now Nurse Aaron, we decided impromptu to finish by climbing the Angels Crest.  Unfortunately we got about 4 pitches from the top when the rain poured, so we had a very long wet series of Abs to the gully.  Neither of us could remember when we had last had to retreat!

Angel’s Crest. 5.10b, 14 pitches.   A few days after backing off the top of Angles,  Peter Larose drove up from Vancouver nice and early, and we got on the full Angel’s Crest.  The climbing is not hard, but there is a lot of it!  Its a fun day out, rather than great climbing.  There are  some great positions, and a few pitches of good climbing, including the last.  You have to muck around with a short rap and some walking on the ‘towers’ in the middle.  We were a bit slow in 8 hours, I’d like to do it quicker.

Banana Peel. (5.7, 6 pitches)   Tarquin’s turn for an adventure.  We slept under the route (in colder weather) and did this in the morning cool.  Tark found the crux section hard.  I had a rope stretching lead linking pitches at one point, and we actually had to simo-climb for 5m!  Tark led the  last 5.5 pitch, and placed some good gear (he forgot to clip the rope into one piece which is something we can tease him about when he is dragging me up 5.12 one day).

Vector (5.9, 6 pitches).  Kira and I snuck this in one Autumn afternoon (Kira wanted the full dad and kid experience too), after a rainy morning, and the obligatory coffee at the Squamish Kite-surfing shop (best coffee in town)  and a quick visit to climb-on to buy a #4 Camalot .  We had intended to do the parallel route “St Vitus Dance”, so didn’t think we’d need my new #4, but we ended up on Vector.   The long off-width pitch is an amazing clean crack.  I had my shoulder and knee in at the crux, and  found my new Cam very comforting!   Kira and I had a rest on memorial ledge and then walked off just making it back to the bikes on dark…

Sunblessed. Got its own post 🙂

Generations apart: John Fantini and Kira Wall.

The Grand Wall. (5.11a, 10 pitches).  This is an incredible route.  I was due to do it with Fantini, but had to pull out because of my bike crash.  I was very sad about this.   Most difficult climbs  are either long or hard, but this is both.  I was lucky to have a strong partner (local lad Marc-Andre) so I knew I didn’t have to lead my half, but I wanted to, so I didn’t feel ‘guided’.  We had a really warm day, after a long wet spell. Marc  got us two pitches up via Apron Strings (hard start), then I linked Mercy Me in a 70m pitch, with about 6 bolts and small waterfalls coming down… mentally tough!.  I got to lead “The Split Pillar” which I really loved.  I fell off seconding “The Sword” (insert wet rock excuse here).  I got to lead “Perry’s Layback” in the usual way (resting on the bolts!).  By the time I got to my last lead, the magnificent “Sail Flake” I was so tired I couldn’t hold onto the top jugs, and took my first real whipper in Canada:  “About time” I  remember thinking as I fell some way onto a good Camalot.  TheBrew pub beers tasted especially good.

Dancing in the Light (5.11b, 6 pitches).  Marc and I did this the next day which was also a rare fine day.  He hadn’t been able to find a partner for it.  Not surprising with 10m or more runouts being the norm.  I only led one pitch of this!  The crux is maybe not as hard as they say (I can’t climb 11c slab).  Its quite a journey, but suffered a little from damp rock and moss.

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