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Frog Buttress 27th March 2010

posted May 25, 2010, 10:53 PM by Brisbane Rockclimbing Club
How did I get here?  by Glenn Hohnberg

‘How did I get here?’ I thought as my right arm muscles started to burn,  whilst with my left hand I scrabbled increasingly desperately across my body for the right sized cam on my sling. The cams were on the wrong side and too far back. I was a metre and a half above the last piece of gear. I was up and out on the overhang with two reasonably strong moves but needing to get that pro in. I was feeling very committed, in fact, over committed at the crux of Electric Lead. Sweat was pouring off me and my left foot started to get a burn going that matched the right arm. ‘Don’t think about how you got here. Just get that piece of pro in the crack.’ I tried to focus myself.

How did I get there? As we wondered out of the car park in the morning Graham asked the question of the day. ‘What are you planning today?’ Last time I was at Frog I’d lead a 14 and a 15 with no trouble at all. Admittedly these climbs were not sustained crack climbs but I’d been climbing well and getting stronger since then so I responded, ‘I’d like to lead a 15 or 16 today.’ ‘Glenn, the hard man today, leading 16s!’ Graham responded. This surprised me a bit.

As we walked toward the cliff I muttered to Michael, ‘Okay, maybe not 16s if Graham is calling that being the hard man.’  Graham is a stronger and far, far more experience Frog Buttress climber than me. So if a veteran of Frog reckons 16 is the hard man attitude I started to feel more wary.

Sure enough, feeling wary was entirely appropriate. Three of us tackled ‘Shit Heap’. You can cheat and face climb and layback a bit to get up it but we were here to lead some crack climbs. And we tried. Or, at least I tried and failed. So we top-roped the sucker and tried to crack crack climbing. Michael moved up it with his easy panache and Veronica sweated her way to the top. But I busted a gut on the bottom without much to show for lots of sweat, aching shoulder blades and burning toes. Whoever named it seemed to have a similar experience to myself.

We decided to move on. Veronica zipped up the nearby Electric Mud on lead. It looked like a fun lead so I led it as well. It was fun. There was heaps of protection: great wire placements. I climbed it easily with not even a sweat and hooted at the top as per the guide book. 

The next lead around the corner was just one grade above that: Electric Lead. I looked it up and down and it didn’t look all that hard at all. It looked a little overhung but then I’d just climbed the previous lead without a sweat. And besides I was here to lead some climbs. So, with all the gang looking on, I racked up.

The rest of the gang had been climbing Materialistic Prostitution, with Graham leading (badly, he lamented) and James (a new member) and John (let’s just say a veteran member) seconding up. They had also climbed Iron Butterfly and Wizard’s back. Though this was James’s first visit to a real crag he proved to have the makings of a natural climber. They were now lying around having lunch.

Their lunch time entertainment was watching me be humbled at Frog Buttress on Electric Lead. I got there in the end but not without some heckling, gear placement advice, gear placement rebukes and some desperate words of prayer for pro to hold.

I came home victorious on Electric Lead, not climbing it clean, but I did climb it without a fall. I also, came home with realisation just how much I need to learn for quick gear placement and better assessment of a climb from the ground.

In the words of Graham, ‘Frog humbles you.’, but not so much, that I don’t want another crack.
Climbers on the day: Graham Baxter, Veronica Forde, James, Michael Battaini, John De Bont, Glenn Hohnberg