Monday, November 16, 2009

This Boys in Love

Here is the trip report of a new route I climbed a wee while ago, but have only just got around to writing it up! Enjoy…

So I’d had a fun time in the last few weeks away on my trip. Learning how to ski and hanging out with my parents was all good fun but I still had the burning desire to head out into the wilderness and suffer. Earlier I the year my good friend Garry and I had climbed a new route up the intimidating east face of Mt Anne in Tassie south-west. We had both commented how it would be amazing to come back and solo a new route up the face.

The forecast for the weekend was good so I readied the battle gear midweek and left after work on the Friday night. Arriving at the trailhead well after dark I set off for the 2 hour slog up to the hut. Recent rain meant the first 200m soaked my pants, lucky I had my synthetic bag. With the tunes cranking I trudged ever upwards with a pack full of rope and climbing gear. I had gone pretty slim with food and fuel, leaving little breathing room if something went wrong. I arrived at the hut shortly before midnight and flaked the rope to make a sleeping mat.

Shortly after falling asleep a strange scratching sound woke me. It must be the resident hut mouse. I tried to scare him and he finally settled down. That is until I heard him a foot from my head.

‘don’t you dare!’, I thought to myself.

Next thing I know he’s jumped into the small opening in my bag and going for my face!! After a quick struggle he jumps back out and hightails it to his hole in the corner. I think we were both shaken! Luckily he didn’t bother me further and I was soon catching Z’s till my alarm sounded at dawn.

I struggled to stomach some porridge and tea before setting off to make my way across the plateau. The track was covered in ice. With every footstep I climbed, the self doubt grew stronger. The talus(scree) was covered in snow and made going slow and treacherous. It would be too easy to break a leg out here on my own. Everything I saw through the eyes of a coward. Everything was an excuse to go back to safety. Lack of food, the cold, how dangerous this all was. But somehow I kept that little voice quiet and battled on.

Halfway across to the wall I broke the ice of a lake to drink, having run out of water. I filled the bottles here, unsure as to where I’d find water next. Soon I came to the descent gully to the foot of the face. I barely recognised it from summer, being filled deep with snow. Not having crampons or an axe I gingerly made my down. With only 10 metres left till the 30m abseil I slipped. I had enough time to think, ‘this is it, im gone.’. sliding down only a few metres to go, my leg caught in a bergshrund and stopped me going the distance. I sat in the snow for 10 minutes to compose myself before abseiling down, pulling my ropes, and committing to the looming face above.

I stopped to brew up and guzzled as much food and water as I could spare. I knew the hard time I had ahead of me! The hardest part was deciding on which line to take. With only one route on the face a had a lot to choose from! I spied an obvious corner system and set off toward that. The first fifty metres were short steps of vertical rock, all capped with wet slippery mantels to gain the next crack. I finally made the base of the corner to learn it was fused for the first 5 metres or so. An awesome free route, but not so good for solo-aiding! I traversed left to the base of a thin seam that appeared to crack to a crack up high. I only had one 60m rope, so that meant jugging and cleaning every pitch with my rucksack on my back.

With the belay organised I started up the next pitch. Hooking for a few moves off the belay I tentatively climbed higher on some good peckers. Finally I made it too the wider crack and some good gear. I say wider crack, but it never grew above half camalot size. 40m out from the belay I was back on dodgy A2 gear without a whole lot left on the rack. A small roof blocked my view of where the crack went and the gear was running out. Starting to get pretty scared that id be left out hanging in the middle of no-mans land without retreat options, I had no other choice but to keep climbing and hope for the best. Luckily as I hooked over the roof, a thin crack led me upwards. Finally arriving to a detached column I slung the top of it to clean the pitch.

After jugging back up to the pillar I faced a rather big problem. All around the pillar was fused, not allowing any gear to make an upwards pull anchor to belay myself with. I felt fairly confident that the number 4 behind the pillar would push the pillar off the cliff if I fell. After 15 minutes of trying to get anything from upside-down hooks to peckers an idea came. I slung the rope around the middle of the pillar so it cinched down tight. The whole column would be my belay. I prayed I wouldn’t detach it completely. Straight off the belay I had to made awkward moves of average pecker after pecker. Soon I was looking down past a rattly cam into the deep abyss of the face. I came to a ledge that felt wet and slippery. Another adrenaline fuelled mantel saw me standing precariously on grass and dirt. I reached high and plugged in a good piece. Relief washed over me. I was some plugging and chugging my way up the final A1 cracks to the summit of the first wall. I found a good belay to clean the final 40m pitch and faced a tough decision.

The true summit lay beyond a labyrinth of ledges and steps. Time consuming ground when your on your own. I sat down to take stock. I had enough food to see me through the day, but no more. And my fuel would run out at breakfast. Feeling my sleeping bag, it was still soaked from sleeping in it with wet clothes the previous night. All these factors made it an easy decision to traverse off and make tracks home. Slogging my way up the steep snow back to the tracking was back breaking work. After gaining the flat track I was able to move fast, glad to be back in the horizontal. It grew dark as I was reaching the hut. Realising I wasn’t too far from the trailhead I continued. Arriving at the car, beaten, tired, but with the biggest shit-eating grin of my life. With a new 140m aid route completed I was one happy camper. I finally made it home 18 hours after waking that morning in the hut and collapsed into bed, my mind full of thoughts of the conquered dream.

"This Boys in Love, 140m, 16 A3"

1. 50m, 14 A1. Up steep broken ground heading towards the base of the large Left facing corner on the left of the face. At base of corner head left 5m to belay beneath thin crack in middle of face.
2. 50m, A2+. Hook up off the ledge to gain the thin crack. Much small gear leads you up and up before belaying on top of large detached pillar.
3. 40m, A3. Spicy peckers off the belay lead to mantel into base of A1 crack to the summit. belay up and right in obvious crack.

FA Simon Young(solo) 3/10/2009

From here traverse off left along back to main walking track, hairy in places! is possible to continue rambling up to the top buttress, time, cold and lack of bivy gear led me out back to civilisation.

Suggested Rack:
doubles of cams from teeny micros to #2 camalot
singles #3 & #4
double set of wires
all sizes hooks(cam hooks useful)
selection of pins, mostly blades/peckers
testicles, preferably large(had none on FA, but would have been useful)

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