Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rock Climbing at Mt. Piddington

We were treated to a cool reprieve to the Aussie summer heat on Sunday, so we headed back up to the blue mountains for another day of climbing. Three of us went on the trip; Carrie and I took our new friend Markus along for the adventure. Markus is a visiting scientist from Austria, and he was excited to get out on some rock during his stay in Australia.

On the way up, we stopped for pie. Who wouldn't stop for pie?

Rock climbing with a party of three introduces some logistical challenges which slows things down, necessitating a lot of chatting and lounging at the bottom of the wall. Markus took a time-lapse video of our first climb, which nicely illustrates how three people climb a route. See his video here (thanks Markus!).  This was a relatively easy route (grade 13) named Joseph, at Mt. Piddington.

First, one person leads the route, placing pieces of protection in cracks to protect against a fall. Another person belays, and the third person sits about, looks pretty, and takes lots of pictures. The leader finishes the climb, builds a solid anchor at the top, and is lowered to the ground. Second, another person climbs the route, collecting the pieces of protection. Third, the third person climbs the route. Fourth (and most redundantly) the first person re-climbs the route, takes down the top anchor and rappels back to the ground.

Here are a few photos of Markus on the route, learning to hand-jam like a champ.

We climbed a few more routes, had a grand ol' time, and scrapped the hell out of our knuckles and ankles playing in the wonderful sandstone cracks of Piddington. Carrie even did some leading, which was fun.

Look Ma! I finally got a proper helmet!

I lead a fairly hard (for me- grade 17) route called Flack Crack, which started with 20m of heart-pumping strenuous lay-back climbing. Thank you, random stranger, for letting me borrow some big cams on the route. Have I mentioned that Aussies are friendly? They are.

Flake Crack
In the waning evening light, we trudged back to the car, only to find a flat tire. It was a small price to pay for an otherwise wonderful day in the mountains.

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