Freaky climbing on the Moon
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Above: Alice leading Hanging Fred Bonnet

Spooky shit on the Moon
Me and Alice went to Moonarie for a week of sunshine, nice rock and friendship. However before this happened we got completely freaked out. It wasn’t the climbing, which is often sustained, direct and steep, it wasn’t the odd bit of rock that broke off. It wasn’t even having to dig a poo hole every morning. We drove up there in a mammoth day of driving from Melbourne (14hrs), arriving where we thought we should be at around 9pm. We kind of knew where we should be, but drove around in the forest on unmarked tracks and paddocks for a bit just to make sure. After setting up the camper trailer (+++ luxury) we retired for bed to a breezy spooky night; lots of funny noises outside, a branch scraping on the roof of the trailer, and to top it off, around an hour later a vehicle drove up. Two individuals got out, walked up and said “hello in there, it’s the Police”. They also told us we weren’t allowed to camp there and that we would have to move on in the morning. Apparently there were some missing bushwalkers or something and they wondered if they were part of our party. So completely freaked out we once again retired to bed. We did eventually get the camping situation sorted, but it took a bit of frigging around. The first day was windy and a bit showery and quite cold. We did the 4 pitch ***13 classic “Garden Refuse Removed Cheaply”. Alice got a bit freaked out by the relatively hard moves (perhaps grade 14) on supposedly easy pitches eg. grade 9. Having been to moonarie once before I knew not to trust the grades, especially on the easy climbs. The climb its self was good fun, albeit cold and a bit wet. The next day the weather cleared and we launched up the mega classic ***15 face climb of Pagoda. Moonarie grading again featured here, with the crux pitch being very out there for 15….anyway, it was great fun. Next up we did some fun single pitch stuff, **16 Tim Tam and 19** The Prince which were both exciting, steep and fun. I had done Tim Tam on my earlier visit, but 2nding it after Alice, I definitely didn’t remember it being that hard last time! The next day, more quality including Alices epic 60m lead of Roaring Fourties *18, my lead of the mega mega classic Downwind of Angels ***19. We finished the day off with Outside chance **16 and Buckley’s **17.

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Above: Alice leading Outside Chance

The next day we headed back to Checkers wall where Alice led the exposed traverse and face climb of Hanging Fred Bonnet ***18, and I thrashed around on Mr Ordinary **21. I completely buggered it up and could hardly clip the crux bolt let alone pull through. Alice styled it on 2nd. On the way down, we headed to a small cliff called Goat Crag. I hit up Billy the Kid **19 which was fun, and Alice almost smashed her teeth when she snapped a foothold mantling over the final move. The next day we carried up our camping crap to the Top Camp. This is a big flat area with drystone rock walls constructed by climbers over the decades and an awesome place to camp. The next day we were up early to watch the sun rise and went over to hit up Thor variant pitch 1, a **16. Next I led the mega classic ***19 Pine crack pitch one. This was fucking awesome, a mixture of fun facey crack climbing and delicate groove climbing. Alice led the next pitch, another solid 19, taking a fall when she muddled up the sequence out of the roof, she had good gear in and got through next go. Of interest is her approach – being exceptionally flexible, she was able to do the full splits between the wall and lip of the roof!

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Above: Tim Prussicking

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Above: Alice leading the excellent first pitch of Roaring Forties. She also climbed the much less nice 2nd pitch combining the two in one 60m megapitch.

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Above: Alice at topcamp

We rapped off at Thor ledge and headed over to the suspiciously graded classic ***15 Flying Buttress. We were moving fast but mucked a couple of bits up and ended up topping out in the dark. It took around an hour to get back down including descending the sketchy southern descent gully (which apparently has seen deaths…).

The next day Alice led the bloody hard one pitch *18 of the Seduction. She took a decent fall of the slightly undergraded crux before getting it next time – probably at least hard 19…Next up I led **21 Crawling in to Acid Rain – an excellent sustained face climb high up on Checkers Wall. It was quite steep and it found it very pumpy – luckily there was a small alcove halfway through that I could sit in to rest!

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Above: Me on Dryland

On our final day we knocked off some great climbs – Tomorrowland **18 finishing up Boltarama **19. Next up I led Fatal Flame **21 finishing up 16 With A Bullet **16. Finally I led ***22 Dry Land, a fantastic thin face climb that fires up the guts of the Great Wall. I was quite pleased with this lead a) cause it was an awesome climb and b) cause the gear was crap (lots of micronuts and RPs) and I didn’t fall off. It was almost 5 by the time I got up we didn’t have time for Al to second it, so I rapped off and got the gear. Unfortunately the ropes got stuck when we were pulling them….so 35m of prussicking and another abseil later, we got our ropes and scampered back to (bottom) camp in the dark…

The next day we packed up the considerable amount of crap we had brought and made the 14hour trek back to Melbourne. A fantastic trip allround. Definitely put it on your list. Sorry about the “and then we did this and then we did that” form that this report has taken – I’m hungover and couldn’t be arsed.

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