Rock trip in the Grampians
Invited by some friends to join their 8 days rock climbing trip to the Grampians in Australia, it didn’t took me too long to take my decision and two weeks ago, found myself drinking coffee on the terrace of our cottage in Halls Gap quickly welcomed by all our hungry neighbors.
Also welcomed by rain, we spend the first day, visiting around and getting our bearings. Season wise it is one of the most rainy in the Grampians but it is not the worst to climb. The temperature are cooler and more appropriate for climbing and in 8 days, despite frequent rain, we still managed to climb 7 days in a row.
This is how we ended up going to the Black Range the second day to avoid the rain. Geologically speaking I think it is outside of the Grampians range but distance wise, from Halls Gap it is as far as going to crags in the Victoria Range and it does offer very nice crack climbing with a lot of jamming compare to the Grampians trad climbs which are more face climbs with occasional jamming. In the end it was a very sunny and hot day on a crag with a good concentration of very good climbs.
The next day the weather forecast was rain showers so we decided to go to the Summerday Valley crag which is very close to the Hollow Mountain parking so we could retreat easily. We did experienced some small and short rain showers but nothing that stopped us from climbing. It was also a good place to get a taste on easy climbs of protections placement on Grampians routes.
After adapting for two days we headed to the Bundaleer crag, not too far from Halls Gap, to warmup on the classic short-three-pitches Gerontian route (grade 17/5.9) before tackling one of my friend’s objective: Blimp, an amazing 25 meters (82 ft) long corner graded 20 (5.10c). One of the most beautiful corner crack I have ever seen which surprinsigly turns up to be almost entirely a face climb with the crack being just good for protection.
Cave and Wave
A storm with strong winds was forecast to pass over the South of the Victoria State with warnings issued. So once more we headed toward Hollow Mountain area to go to the Cave and Wave crag, which is not too far from the parking so we could retreat quickly if need and overhanging so partly protected from the rain. We ended up climbing just two easy routes before retreating as the weather was deteriorating. But I have to say I was happy to get half of the day to rest.
Mount Stapylton Amphitheater
As we wanted to do some multi-pitch I chose the Simpleton route on Mount Stapylton amphitheater. Another classic it seems as the topo is saying that it might be the most climbed multi-pitch in the Grampians. But that’s not why I chose this climb. What attracted me is the amazing looking 60 meters tall corner that the line follows. I ended up leading both pitch 2 & 3 and got my ass kicked taking tension on the rope at the beginning of pitch 2. It also took me quite a while to commit to the last pitch traverse. If I ever got the chance to go back climbing in the Grampians, I’ll definitely got back climb that route and some other multi-pitch in the area.
The close-by Taipan wall looks truly amazing and appealing but I would definitely had to step-up my game my two range of climbing grades.
With some time left, we decided to go to Hollow Mountain as my friends was interested in the uncommon Golden Showers and Group Sex (grade 20, 5.10c), where you have to crawl through a huge hole to go from the left side of the arete to the right.
With a good weather window we headed to the Victoria Range to target another of my friend’s project and Grampians‘ classic: Twentieth Century Fox (grade 20/5.10c), an amazing line starting by a crux crack climbing and then a slab climb protected by what is still for me one of the scariest protection possible: the Australian carrot bolt. Was a nice onsight from my friend who onsighted all his projects in the Grampians with that climb.
Then came the last day of the trip. Despite the iffy weather, we managed to have our seventh climbing day in a row. We headed to the Mount Rosea to do an easy multi-pitch before driving back to Melbourne in the evening.
Yes, except some indoor bouldering few weeks before the trip to the Grampians, I hadn’t climb at all for 7 month and was out of shape and endurance and out of the trad climbing mind game, but the climbing was up to its reputation: bold.
We didn’t climb in all the crags, but from what we experienced and what I could see, except some areas like Mount Stapylton amphitheater (where the Taipan wall is) and Bundaleer, the crags in the Grampians are not that amazing in the sense they don’t have a lot of very interesting routes. However, each crag has few routes which are pure gems with stellar climbing.
I would love to go back climbing in the Grampians in better shape to be able to redpoint some of the classic trad routes I couldn’t onsight, be able to tackle some hard sports climbs and have more time to also discover Blue Mountain and Tasmania.