lunedì 25 maggio 2015

Grampians. First part.

Many thoughts spontaneously appear in mind when you hear rumors about Australia. For European people it is certainly one of the further destination where to go and one of the most iconic country we usually desire to put foot on. Kangaroos, Outback, deserts, coast life, Ayers Rock, koalas are just few of the images which spring in our  mind once you think about this land. The charm of the coast is also great to think; Life and green nature on the border, wilderness and desert inside the huge continent.  For a totally focused boulder person like me, Australia also means Grampians, which has been one of the longer “must” places at the top of my list.  I have been waiting many seasons to see this well-known type of rock and after few years of postponements, 2015 seemed to be a proper year to make my first check.  

After a quite long but comfortable flight, I reached Melbourne last 4th May in the evening, where Ricky, a friend of mine who is staying here since October 2014, picked me up and lead me to Stawell.  This little village, located East just outside the Grampians National Park, has been our home since 3 weeks and  it will lodge us for the rest of our trip.

Since I planned this travel in March, I immediately promise that this trip would have been just a first check down here; I wanted to give a first look at this early world class spot, in order to get another trip in the future, knowing a bit better the logistic. I knew many good sectors would have been close after the fires and I knew that I could not visit more than a half of the Northern “old” area. It is definitively a bummer to be here and know that it is not possible to check some locations like Hollow Mountain Cave, Project Wall, kindergarten or Andersen. But nature has to make its own loop to recreate what has been lost and this priority is actually much more important than seeing some stones. Besides this little negative fact, even the weather has been pretty ugly during the first weeks: many rainy days or days where we saw all the 4 seasons in 12 hours. The weather is of course bizarre; the sun shines and you go out, you place the pads, you put some chalk on your hands and then the rain usually comes. After 5 minutes the wind blows, the rock dries up quickly, you put the pad, you start climbing and a new shower comes again. We saw these routines many times in a row in many day; but as we all know, there is nothing to do to remedy  the bummer of the rain; just a good dose of patience and hope can calm the disappointment. Some days the wind anyway let us some windows of opportunities where we managed to climb some problems.

Trackside, the biggest northern area where the climbing is allowed, is the place where we mostly have been to. The rock is nothing special, just normal quality sandstone. Some boulders stand out from the mediocrity, but sure there is only a little range of nice things among the drop-offs or the many gym-lines under the roofs.  One really good problem that surprised my senses is “On the beach” V13. It reminded my thoughts to a well known problems of Font, “Noir Desire”. Looking at it, it seems that someone has shot against the wall some cannonballs, making some perfect holes which contain perfect sculpted edges, pinches and slopers. This brilliant problem starts with a tricky toe hooks section which leads into the crux part with an intensive lock off to the last positive hold. After that, you only have to climb safely into the no-fall terrain. It sits on a ledge, and it is basically forbidden any mistakes once the hardest is done. Another really good problem in the North is Killian Fishubber’s  “Wave Rock” V12; A super pure line with only the necessary  poor holds located in the middle of the shaped wave. Unfortunately, I am still fighting to catch the proper beta and some moves are still missing. “Ammagamma” V12, the super world class famous problem, aka the icon of Grampians bouldering, is quite good although the first part is pathetic and heinous for the tall climbers, since your ass is really close to the ground. This is pretty bad. My expectations for this problems weren’t so high, but at least the rock and the holds are pretty nice to climb.

We also spent some days in the Southern part, during the only periods of good weather. This part of the Grampians is basically split into two big sectors, Mont Fox and Buandik.
Mount Fox is the place where everyone would probably like to go. There, you can find the famous cobwebs sandstones, which at first look are pretty amazing. The boulders are impressive to watch cause all of these features and textures. Unfortunately, most of them don’t climb as good as they look in my opinion. The features are everywhere, especially in relief, and this fact makes a lot of holds and structures which make the lines less pure. Despite this, some problems are anyway worthy. I have spent two sessions  trying “Owning the weather”, which might be my favorite one in the area. For its beauty, I am locating it at the top of my goal projects, even if it seems to be too tough for my skin. The first day on it, I was able to do all the single moves, while during the second session my soft skin split on the medium finger tip and the game quickly came to end.  I would definitively like to work a bit more on this one. The right side of this prow is simply incredible and it would be the best thing to bring at home once the travel will be over. I hope to recover my split and grow up a tougher skin for this one.

During the last weekend we spent 2 days in Buandik as well.  The hiking is pretty long but definitely worthy once you reach the top of the hill: great orange/grey sandstone balls and breathtaking landscapes behind your back. It might be my favorite area here in the Park; The rock has not  a great look as in Mont Fox, but it climbs better and I appreciate more the holds it makes and the grain it has. “Cherry picking” is one of the world’s best for sure and only this problem would be enough to make the hiking worth. If you reckon that beyond this, there are other good hard lines to attempt, the things become even more exciting to go up. We only checked half of the area and during the next days in the south, we might go to check the other problems that have been put up.

Beside climbing, the life we are making here is nothing too exciting. We bought low-cost food, we eat it, we saw amazing sunsets and we always try to avoid kangaroos which cut off our way. They are as cute as crazy.

Here the list of the lines I climbed in the first part of the trip

Occam’s Razors V13/14 ***
Cherry picking V13 *****
On the Beach V13 ****
Ammagamma V12/13 ***
Last resort V12/13 ***
Zeus V12/13
Kate Upton V12 (flash) ***
Red Mist V12 **
Lost for life V11/12 *
The Outsider V11 ****
A puzzle about belief V11 ****
Love boulder V11 ****
Butcher Choice V10 (flash) *
Mad Max V10 (flash) 

A puzzle about belief V11, Grampians (AUS). Screenshot from the video

Ammagamma V12/13, Grampians (AUS).  Screenshot from the video

Cherry Picking V13, Grampians (AUS).  Screenshot from the video

The Outsider V11, Grampians (AUS).  Screenshot from the video

On the Beach V13, Grampians (AUS).  Screenshot from the video

Occam's razor V13/14, Grampians (AUS).  Screenshot from the video

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