climbing at mt rosea

The long weekend meant a trip to the Grampians with the Vic Climbing Club for three days of long, multi-pitch trad climbing on the stunning yellow and orange sandstone of Mt Rosea, about 20 minutes drive from Halls Gap. A hideously early start got us there on Saturday in time for a romp up Diane (120m, grade 18, 3 stars) on one of the busiest club trips I’ve been on. The walls were swarming with climbers and every available ledge was home to another belayer.

The wall is a massive cliff on average 100 meters high, with some places topping out at 150 meters, and so long each end is like another country. The altitude is also fairly high, and changes from typical Australian bush at the bottom to more wind-swept alpine scrub on top. The climbing was awesome. Lots of amazing crack lines, sculpted features, beautifully positive holds all on the cleanest sandstone. Diane was a trip. It’s been a while since I did any outdoor climbing, even though I’ve been at Jiulong the past two weeks, it’s not since before I left that I’ve been climbing regularly. So four pitches of sometimes really gymnastic moves and excellent exposure reminded me how unfit I am right now. A night in the camp, with chocolate, wine, beer, good food, and people I haven’t seen for months was the perfect end to the day.

Sunday started with a run up Knick Knack, a 33 meter grade 19 crack in three parts, the middle being a funky smooth left-leaning split in featureless rock, immediately after turning into a disturbing, slightly overhung off-width. Getting suckered in by the deceptively helpful holds out left only served to dig a big hole as the only way to do it was straight up the crack.

Come late morning, the sun moving around and the southern-facing parts of the wall moving into shade, it was time to head up Debutante, 117 meters, grade 15, five pitches and worth every bit of its three stars. This is one of the finest climbs I’ve ever done, despite my whining before the insanely exposed traverse at the end of the fourth pitch, where following a corner crack takes you out as the face begins its massive overhanging ascent to the top.

Absolutely genius climbing and made all the better by looking straight down during the traverse. We stopped for a small lunch at the start of the third pitch with the sky iridescently blue and the sun saturating the wall with colour. We should have waited till we got to the start of the next pitch, where the ledge was big enough to build a house on, or a small shed. We topped out as the sun was setting, unlike the previous day completely alone.