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Heroes of the bolt

posted Jan 25, 2011, 6:29 PM by Brisbane Rockclimbing Club

 Next time you are out climbing, spare a thought of appreciation for the heroes (and heroines) of bolting without whose imagination, energy, courage (to solo climb) and commitment, the climb or whole area would not exist. I’d been climbing just six months when I met one such. When Wayne told me he set up climbs in the Glasshouse Mountains I had no idea of the history that was to unfold from that statement! Shortly thereafter, he invited me up Mt Tibrogargan – the face, that is, not the track at the back!

At that stage of my climbing career, I couldn’t even climb the path up Mt Beerwah due to my fear of heights. I had trouble negotiating the stairs at Kangaroo Point. Mt Tibrogargan?  I’d always thought people who climbed that monolith mildly unbalanced, while secretly harbouring a desire to join their ranks. I looked at my intrepid adventurer inviter with a mixture of awe and shock.

While silently screaming in my head, “ARE YOU NUTS?!” I managed to calmly explain,”But I’m scared of heights, and I have two children – what am I going to do with them?  And I can’t lead climb either...”

In fact, I had just laybyed, at Pinnacle Sports, my first ten quick draws with a view to start leading at KP in the future. The sky’s the limit, they say, but the Big Guy in the sky had decided for me that I was going to reach the sky at hyper speed instead of my usual slow crawl.

Okay, next stage in the process, Wayne took us up Mt Beerwah. Jed and Gabriel sprinted up and down. I hung on for grim death and slid down on my backside, with Roxy doing the same except she was roped to Wayne. I envied her. Not because she was roped to Wayne, but that she was roped to something!

 At the top, a kind gentleman in a different group took a photo of us on his digital camera, later emailing it to Wayne. He commented as we left, “A rock climbing family,” after we had conversed about our beloved pastime. Embarrassed, I corrected him saying, “No, two families.” But we now know the man was a prophet!

Next step: Wayne taught me how to lead at KP. Then he took me out and introduced me to Wayne’s World. I donated the money to pay for the bolts on a climb, got to name it and got to first ascent a few. Didn’t really understand the logistics of it all at that stage. Was not in the least interested in Wayne as anything more than a climbing partner.

It rained a lot at that time so Wayne’s World took a back seat. We went to Tinbeerwah to do some harder leading, eventually undertaking a two pitch climb. I would turn around on the cliff face to get myself used to the height by gazing out at the bush far below. Gradually I felt less terrified of it. One day at Tinbeerwah, I turned around to look, felt okay, so asked God to take my fear away. Soon after, we did Tibrogargan. There was no sign of it: the fear. From then on it refused to climb up the mountains or cliffs with me. I’ve not seen it in a while. It’s probably off harassing somebody else, someone without a Wayne beside them!

We called Sunburnt Buttress our ‘all the way’ climb. All the way to the top, that is! Then Wayne’s World captured our attention, energy and enthusiasm. For the whole sweltering summer I found out what it really meant to set up a climbing area: attacks by killer ticks; constantly surrounded by giant stinging flies; dragging each other up that last excruciating hill on the track coming out (we call it Cardiac Concourse); one time discovering we didn’t have enough rope to get down and running out of water to boot. The drill ran out of juice with a drill bit still in the rock and had to be left there until our next visit. We had to gingerly re-traverse back across the way we had climbed up without much in the way of bolts or anchors.

The most serious situation occurred while bolting The Nut. Wayne was cleaning Burnt Cookies next to it which he used to access The Nut. He threw a big rock down after warning me to move to the side. As the rock fell it hit the rope then broke into fragments, nearly bombarding his, by then, new wife. Wayne, about 10 metres up, noticed the sheath of the rope was cut. Briefly he hated Wayne’s World and wondered what he was doing it all for. It could have been much worse. He was saved from a 10 metre down climb by the fact it was cut only 5 metres from the end of the rope, so he was able to pull it up and retie it. That little happenstance did, however, necessitate us buying a new rope.

Wayne’s World has been an expensive endeavour for us, particularly for Wayne who was bolting it for a year or more before we met. He is grateful to everyone who contributed – anything – money for bolts; carrying the monstrous drill, batteries, rope and other bolting paraphernalia; belaying skills and wisdom (thanks, Darren) and clearing the ground in front of the cliff. That was often done by our children, Jed, Gabriel and Roxy. Also much appreciated are the climbers who give constructive criticism and encouragement. That is when Wayne gets most excited and wants to go back for more.

If you hear of a climbing area or climb being set up, tender support and encouragement to the bolting hero and imagine them soloing up that cliff to put in the first anchor. That’s when even the most experienced rock climber can suddenly become a jelly-legged acrophobic!

Debra Mieth