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Pendulus Progress
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Jul 17, 2002, 6:20 PM
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Pendulus Progress
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   This trip report has already been submitted to rec.climbing newsgroup so forgive me if any here reading this have already seen this on another forum. It`s all my own work too by the way, I particularly draw your attention to the headspace stuff later in the trip report.


It`s been about five years since I saw this huge roof for the first time suspended a full seventy metres above the tallus slope. I had been searching for cliffs to explore in my local area and having gotten a topo map of the Helidon Hills I noticed some curious lines coming together which would
indicate something fairly significant.

I rounded up one of the locals and went a searching, we stumbled on a disused logging access track and when we thought we had gotten to around the right ridge we set off overland merely using the topo map to follow the contours out to the end of the ridge. We observed that the scrub ahead abruptly ended and the sky could clearly be seen through the trees. Excitement overcame us as we aproached a magnificent vista of plummeting
cliffs with fantastic gargoylesque embellishments dripping all over it.

A walk around the bottom revealed a few obvious trad lines which in the fullness of time would subsequently be done. Gazing up with awe we see a superb prow which is immediately discounted as a line for the likes of me to attempt. I had much to learn about how to climb on this beautiful cliff.

I anxiously await the onset of winter as this crag is a definite no go area as it is in the sun the whole day and it is absolutely baked and roasted in the summer. A few of the chossey full height trad lines are sent without cause to enthuse one on just how superb the rock really is where the
higher grades exist. But of course my eyes wander over to the high prow, sadly it is not to be yet.

I take a couple of abseiling groups to the cliff and after a lot of instruction I feel they are ready to take the challenge of going solo over the nose of the prow and dangle like a spider on a silken thread for at least 40 metres overhung and about 4 metres out from the wall. Be still my beating heart, yes I will conquer the fear of this exposure.

Scroll forward when I invite Lee Skidmore (manacubus) and a few others to come and have a go at developing the cliff with me. Upon arrival the guys agree that yes it`s a pretty cliff but welll maybe there is probably only a half dozen wothwhile lines to do. How wrong they were as we now have a guide book with 48 climbs in it with as many or more to go. The awesome slab climb on crimpers and 85 degree flat wall rock is put up and called Mythologica 40 metre 19. The prow looms over to the left and beckons us, we abseil down the top face to the lip. Lee goes down further and sees the entire underneath of the roof but chicken livered me being afraid of exposure can`t bring myself to go below the lip. Oooh yesss, I do have much to learn.

Second trip out with the boys sees us putting up more outstanding lines with the three star Desperation Prow 30 metre 21 exceeding all expectations. All the while my head for exposure is improving with the amount of work we are putting in at the cliff and the huge ring bolts that are being installed as well as the rock itself revealing how solid it really is. The whole cliff apart from a couple of flat walls looks like a choss pile and parts even
look like a vertical beach however it seems that one merely has to walk to the top of the cliff, chuck a rope, over clean it, place the rings where there is no natural pro and hey presto we have a new and outstanding classic.

Third trip we get serious and put up a climb which skirts around to the left of the the roof on some huge almost cave size hueco`s. Mummy, I whimper, this is so scary as I edge my way around with my toes inches above the lip. One rest on the rope and I see myself to the top. Ahh yessss, I am
improving. Twelve months ago I would not have been caught dead doing such a thing as I have just done.

Okay time to get serious, we spend almost a day equiping the roof route by way of aiding and hooking particularly so for placing the ring in the roof. Next day we had an initial skirmish with our goal. Lee came off after strenuously placing the draw on the ring under the roof. He coulda sworn
that it wasn`t that far out when he placed the ring. I look up and quail in fear and the chicken inside sqwarked too loud for me to overcome my fears. I`m ashamed to say that I didn`t even get to the first draw. Ah yes I still have a lot to learn, sigh.

I might add that the start of this route is 66 metres off the deck. Belay is a ledge that is gained on rap. Although it can also be accessed by way of another climb which comes up from the third height verandah traverse.

Meanwhile Lee pushes me to follow some of the other less overhung routes that he has put up and I put up another overhung no feet sidepull then bridging and then one finger lock yard up onto a walrus ledge climb. All of which is beginning to cure my dread of exposure.

All of the above brings us to last weekend. Saturday we only get in a couple of warmup climbs before the weather man proves that he is right for a change and we spend the afternoon playing cards at the now very comfortable camp courtesy of a very large fly taken along for just such an eventuality.
It also rained half the night before a dry westerly sprang up and a clear day dawned upon us and after a leisurely brekky taken to give the sandstone time to dry out I sauntered down to set up the rap line for access to the start of our roof route.

I`ve been psyching and training myself in expectation for this day for a verrry long time and frankly I was at peace with myself absolutely no qualms about exposure which amazes me no end. Getting to the belay I was all business and after having won rock paper scissors I was up first. Now as with most of the climbs now on the cliff this line starts off with almost no opportunity to place feet due to the wind worn undercut strata. First move after clipping the first ring is a high reach to a small crimper ledge and yard up to a footer on a sloper smear and reach out wide to a side pull all the while being slightly pushed off by the slightly bulgy nature of the terrain. Whew up to the second clip, thankfully sanity prevailed when we
debated on whether we would put this ring in or not.

Hey hey another side pull, mantle up on my right hand, reach up with my left and slap the sloper and inch my hand tenuously up inch worm fashion to find the divit, rearrange my feet and bring my other hand up and then foot up and rock over to a rest spot. Err this is the way I did it the second
time, the first time I looked at the first moves and reckoned that I`ll just run up the easy corner to establish myself under the roof. I clipped the draw under the roof and did a couple of exploratory moves before succumbing to the pump.

Lees go, look at him monkey out there, pull the lip and stuff around and plop he`s off. After a well deserved rest hanging out at the lip he practised going through the lip to work out more of the puzzle. It certainly doesn`t look that hard.

Hey hey, I`m up again how hard can that be, I know that I can do this, my heads in the groove, I`ve trained at the gym for this type of climbing heck I`ve even built my own roof to simulate what I`m about to do. Clip the roof ring then out into unchartered territory all the while with Lee shouting
beta up at me that I ignore and find my own way through the puzzle. Keep those feet in contact with the rock, I remind myself as I swing out to the horn and drop down onto the edge of the horizontal hueco flake which I can cuddle with my forearm draped over to form an awesome elbow skeleton rest hang. Spear the feet up into the other side hueco and lever my body up in to the roof hueco and get a no hands rest with only my butt sticking down below the roof ceiling line.

Rest, ahh, recuperation, mmm, time to make a move, reach around to the hole in the face of the lip and hey woddya know I can see my fingers from the inside of the roof hueco, yess, welll, this is all very good but I`m hanging my butt over seventy metres of air and three and a half metres out
from the wall. I pause for a moment of introspection and for just a fleeting
moment I remember the exposure demons before committing my every thought to sending this problem. Lee screams up at me that he`ll be mightily cut if I do send this climb before he does, I laugh at him in the face of adversity ha ha haa. ( yeah right lame I know).

Reach up whilst using my right leg as a lever under the roof to gain a higher ledge, match hands and then lay off to the left and bring right foot to about boob height being the position to place foot in vertical crack in lip, Ohhh Nooo, quick draw sling has gotten in the road, I`m about to step on it, instant panic flash pump, forearms flame out, dead, take up, sploogey, I`m off. Lemme hang here for a bit and I`ll do it from here fresh. This tactic greatly enhances my subsequent and successful attempt after Lee gains the FFA. Mate I was this close to getting the ffa and if I hadn`t stood on
that stupid draw I`m sure that I woulda stumbled my way up that thing.

The most valuable lesson I learned out of the whole exercise was something that I knew already as head knowledge but I actually physically learned it and that is that success is a learned behaviour. Didn`t matter
that I failed a number of times because I gained strength and knowledge each time I failed. I can atribute my success to failure. Also learned, never a truer word was spoke when that wise old sage said the the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. When getting into unknown territory I let fear of the unknown ovecome ability. This last thing is something that I will have
to continue to deal with for the rest of my life perhaps.

Pendulous Progress was performed on Pendulus 20 metre grade 23 Ffa Lee Skidmore and Phil Box at Redcliffs in the Helidon Hills near Murphys Creek which is located just over an hour from the outskirts of Brisbane in South East Queensland Australia. Players were Lee Skidmore and Phil Box. Written and produced by Phil Box. Soon to be a block buster Hollywood smash hit
coming to a theatre near you and starring Chris Sharmer as the irrepressible
Phil and Tommy Caldwell as the enigmatic Lee, Dr. Pete makes a guest appearance as the demonic voices of doom.

...Phil...


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