I had a day in leiu from offshore so I decided to make an extra long weekend out of it to Kalbarri. I teamed up with my buddy ol’ pal Nish and off we went after work on Wednesday!
The weather was supposed to be a sunny 19 degrees everyday however what we overlooked was the freezing cold nights which went down to about 2 degrees!
Instead of lugging our camping stuff and supplies down the gorge, we decided to base ourselves at the carpark which had locking toilets, an abundance of picnic benches, shelter and rubbish bins. That way we didn’t have to lug everything in but as a trade off, we walked in every day.
Wednesday night we stayed in Dongara before completing the second leg, arriving at the gorge around 11am. We kicked off the day warming up and getting used to the steep sandstone at the Pit before moving onto the Promenade. We each found a climb to work on over the trip. Nish got on “Fuck The Law” whilst I jumped on “Root Canal”. Both of us worked out the moves, Nish basically nailed his sequence in the first go but got knocked back on the final hold and myself pumping out and trying to get my head around the exposure.
We went back to the car park for dinner and they are definitely my favourite part of climbing trips! Just sitting around having a yak, knowing you’ve got yummy food waiting for you and a cold beer to wash it down =) I really enjoy these dinner time talks where we just blab on about random things and cool stories.. Usually not climbing related which somehow makes me feel like I’m no longer on a climbing instead at a social gathering =)
Like I said, the nights were super cold and I was freezing in my puffy down sleeping bag… Poor Nish accidentally brought his summer bag so he might as well have been naked judging on its lack of thickness.
After a nice relaxing breakfast and some hot drinks to warm our jiggly bodies, down the rabbit hole we went. We warmed up in some trad lines in the Pit before we crossed the river to get on Kalbarri Gold.
To be honest I really didn’t expect all that much from it. I just wanted to get to the base of the roof and see if I’ve shat my pants by that point. I did the delicate traverse up the fragile death flakes where I had to lock off on some dodgy looking flakes with a heel hook, up to some sandy ledge and lock off whilst looking for a hold… Any hold would do … I was about to fall 5m and die but at that moment I managed to find a hand jam at the base of the crack. I pulled myself up and slammed in the #4 cam that my life depended on. That first section definitely set the mood and I was just super nervous and feared for my life as if I was sitting next to a man with bombs strapped to his G-string, hand on the trigger, sitting next to me on the bus on a Monday morning. I slowly made my way up to the base of the roof and found some holds but wasn’t sure where the gear was and if it was any good. Combined with the accumulation of shit weighting my pants at that moment, I decided to aid the roof. It was the first time I’ve ever aided and I have new found respect for those old folks who aid… It ain’t easy and they must have some serious core going on cause I sure didn’t and I was knackered.
The roof consisted of some jugs, huge moves to more jugs, some deep hand and fist jams, more jugs, shit holds and then the light at the end of the tunnel which I failed to see. It was super cool to suss it out and see how I felt about. Coming down my immediate feeling was that it’s way beyond me, more mentally than physically.. But as I brewed over it for the next 3 days, I knew I’ll be back sooner or later, it was just a matter of time, psych and people to share the journey with.
The rest of the day was back at the Promenade. Nish got back on “Fuck The Law” and dialled in the crux. I gave “Root Canal” another burn and we figured out that there are two rest spots that I needed to milk to get max value. The first one on the ledge to the right of the crack between the first and second bolt. The second on the ledge to the left of the mushroomy looking hold. For me that was an uncomfortable knee bar / chicken wing rest before the final section through the jugs and roof.
We returned to the car park for great food, laughs and beer o’clock.
Saturday was our final full day and Nish being a fan of more adventurous climbs, we ventured to the Amphitheatre for “Quedge” a 4 pitch, 1 star climb. Getting there wasn’t a walk in the park. Just before the river crossing was a low traverse on the ledges quite close to water.
We left our packs and went lightweight to suss it out. Once we got to the other side, there was still the river to cross. Upon first assessment, Nish said we’d have to come back and be better prepped with walking poles as the river was flowing relatively fast. I knew deep down he was keen so I egged him on an nek minit he’s breaking large sticks off dead trees on the beach for walking poles. He took his pants off unnecessarily in an attempt to show who’s the bigger man and crossed the river =S.
The water got as deep as his knees and he ended up making it to the other side without falling in! Woohoo! The psych we had.
So he came back, put his pants back on and we traversed back to get our gear, traversed again and rolled up our pants to cross the river. The crux of the crossing was this section where we were knee deep and walking along the ridge of a huge rock. One slip either side and you were gone. I was sooooo close from losing balance and slipping.
So glad I made it to the other side dry. Got to the base of the climb and lucky me, I got the first pitch.
It was quite good with a few sketchy unprotected moves getting back very ledges. I made the pitch harder than it was and went straight up… Instead of following the ledges trending left… Nish had the second pitch which had this run out section before a committing move over a ledge… Scary =S the third pitch was a walk around the corner…I felt ripped off… And the fourth had some tough unprotected moves to get up past the cave. There was some loose rock on the last pitch which I managed to dodge. The descent via the gully on the left wasn’t too bad at all and we couldn’t wait to get back into the freezing cold river after spending the whole morning in the sun.
We started the walk to the Amphitheatre at 10am and got back to the Prom around 3pm due to the faffing around. At the Prom, we just chilled out and soaked in the rays.
Nish got back on the Project and smashed it like I smash banana bread. Woohoo!
I got back on my project, milked both the rests and hung around long enough for the send! What a day!
On Sunday morning, we headed straight to the Promenade and did some traversing to warm up before Nish onsighted “Heavy Petting”! We then packed up shop and headed to the Runway to jump on “Dropzone”. It was a rather short climb but had cool moves. Nish was inches from an onsight until he fell at the anchors… Noooooooo!
What a weekend plus 2 days it was! I’m really glad that we didn’t spend the whole trip at the Promenade, I wasn’t psyched for it on the first day let alone 4 days of same same. Crossing the river and getting on a multipitch was really fun and I really enjoy that kind of climbing where it’s not just about me pulling moves, instead I’m thinking about the other person when placing gear and feeling their presence and support along the way.