or “Why Impromptu Climbing Trips Are Awesome” – a trip report
I had no plans for yesterday and figured I’d spend the day cleaning the house, gardening, doing washing, just the normal weekend things that needed to be done. It was a beautiful day, sunny and still, the air was cool, but the sun was glorious. Really it was the perfect mid-winter day. It was also the first day of my holidays, so I was planning on relaxing my way into my 3 week break, maybe with an afternoon nap before going out for drinks with friends to celebrate a very good friend’s 30th birthday.
So I was pleasantly surprised by a phone call from Hayley’s younger brother, saying he was picking up Richard, and was on the way past us on the way to the You Yangs for a climb. If we wanted to come along, he’d be by in about 15 minutes! After a quick consultation with Hayley, our answer was an enthusiastic “YES!”
I hadn’t been on real rock since April on a trip to Black Hill, so I was actually quite nervous about it. I had sweaty palms for the entire 1hr drive out to the You Yangs. Had a look through the guide on the drive, and decided on Urinal Walls for our climbs for the day.
- Urinal Walls – west face
We arrived at about 1:30 and scoped out the walls, about 20m high granite sloping gently upward in a curve, going to an almost vertical section in the middle third. Not a lot of footholds, a couple of tufas, but basically very thin edges and a couple of marble sized crystals here and there. This was going to be a granite slabbing day.
You can easily see why it’s called Urinal Walls, because it’s looks like a disgusting pub urinal that’s never been cleaned, yellow and black streaks of colour from top to bottom. It also curves up away from you for about 5m before easing up somewhat and curving back over. All the climbs are titled with a urinal/toilet themes including names like “Busting For Relief”, “When The Need Arises”, “Dunny Door” and “Pissing In The Wind”. The rock was dry and cold, which made the friction brilliant!
With 2 ropes and 4 people, we were able to simultaneously climb 2 climbs at a time in pairs. This meant we were able to knock over 4 climbs in one short winter afternoon. I really didn’t feel very comfortable with leading and neither did Hayley, mostly because we hadn’t had real rock time for many months, so we both followed in pairs, Hayley with her brother Luke, and me with Richard.
The climbing was on VERY (1-2mm) thin edges on all the climbs, with only 1 tufa on the easiest of the climbs we did. Attention was on friction, ass over heels, and there was a consistent call to “trust your feet!” The hardest climb of the day was “The Royal Flush” , which was the only climb to pull up to fully vertical.
Both Richard and Luke found this challenging but well within their capabilities. Hayley was climbing strongly as usual, but I found myself a bit wobbly on my feet. Just goes to prove, no matter how well you can climb in the gym, when it comes to outdoor, frequency of climbing is paramount for performance.
It was strange that by the time I climbed “The Royal Flush” I felt really strong on my feet, and 20 minutes after that, I was sure I could lead it. Seems like the others were just a warm up, and had we more time, I would have lead it.
I must say, I always hate the idea of slabbing, I hate doing slabbing, I hate the feeling of slabbing. However I love slabbing, as soon as I’ve finished doing it. I’m sure if I did it more, I’d come to love doing it too. It’s the best thing for improving your technique and your trust in your feet.
This was a brilliant day, and has inspired me. We are all going to get outdoors as much as possible this spring/summer. It’s too good to miss out on.
I love climbing.