Trip Report
(considerably less than) Epic Trip Report: Black Hill (Australia) 3/20/2010
Sunday March 21, 2010 4:28am
Being a compulsive Supertopo lurker becoming slowly but increasingly jaded with the various political/religious/"Thomas the Tank Engine $$$$$$$$$$hole of Supertopo" threads, I thought it time I posted a trip report to at least contribute something to the climbing content of the place.

The only problem? I recently shifted from California, where I had Yosemite, Tahoe, the Pinns and J Tree in my backyard back to Melbourne, Australia, where I have, er, a little less climbing in my immediate backyard. Still, when faced with lemons etc, and now that the shipping crate with the ropes and rack has arrived, I am pleased to present the epic Black Hill trip report, with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that. Please enjoy.

The mighty and majestic peaks of Black Hill (arrow) as seen fr...
The mighty and majestic peaks of Black Hill (arrow) as seen from the road on the way in.
Credit: Ben Emery

Black Hill, ~1 hour from Melbourne, is a slight hill with a stack of granite tors (known as “blobs”, to the less geologically inclined of us) overlooking surrounding farm land.

Does it have mighty and majestic cliffs to scale? Er, no. The longest climb in the place is 30 meters, and most don’t even make 20 meters.

Does it have a proud history of climbing stretching back almost a century and encompassing many of the great names of climbing? Um, not really. From what I can tell from the guidebook, most of the climbs were put up in the late ‘80’s by some guy named “Ferret”.

So what’s the attraction? Because it’s within 10 minutes drive of my parents house, meaning FREE BABYSITTING for the little tike! So, Naja (my partner) and I dropped Jo (the said little tike) off with my mom for a few hours and headed for the hills. Well, the Hill, anyway.

Our first port of call… Hollow Rock! We flaked out the 70m rope (overkill, but we’ve only got 70 meter ropes. Can’t be too prepared…) and climbed Facing Page, a grade 16 (~5.8-5.9) climb that heads up 8 meters past 2 carrots (hangerless bolts) to a 1-carrot-and-as-many-nuts-as-you-can-shove-in-the-crack anchor. Apparently these carrots are all the rage in Australia, presumably so the first ascensionist can save a few bucks by buying ordinary bolts from the hardware store and shifting the cost of the hanger onto the climber. I guess they are slightly less visually noticeable to non-climbers, but I don’t quite see the attraction.

Hollow Rock. Facing Page climbs the face on the left caused by the spl...
Hollow Rock. Facing Page climbs the face on the left caused by the split in the rock.
Credit: Ben Emery
Naja about to follow Facing Page
Naja about to follow Facing Page
Credit: Ben Emery
Typical carrot without and with hanger. For lack of a better system, I...
Typical carrot without and with hanger. For lack of a better system, I'm carrying the hangers in my chalk bag.
Credit: Ben Emery


Next off was the enigmatically named climb “Half Man Half Biscuit”, a 15 meter grade 17 (~5.9-5.10a) crack. I figured given crack climbing is less popular in Australia than California the climb would be easy for its grade and for me (“Hey, I’ve climbed in Yosemite and J Tree, I’m the crack-meister, right?”). Wrong! Took me a few shots to get the crux, a bulge at the top of a water polished hand crack. Judging from the frantic calls of “TAKE!” and jerking on the rope, I’m guessing Naja had some trouble with that bit as well. Ah well, we’ll get it clean next time. After that the climb mellows to a nice traverse and great finger crack.

Half Man Half Biscuit. Hand crack to the crux, then a traverse and up ...
Half Man Half Biscuit. Hand crack to the crux, then a traverse and up a finger crack.
Credit: Ben Emery
Start of Half Man Half Biscuit
Start of Half Man Half Biscuit
Credit: Ben Emery
Naja at the comfy ledge at the end of the traverse about to come up th...
Naja at the comfy ledge at the end of the traverse about to come up the finger crack. Are clumps on grass "on" for hand and footholds?
Credit: Ben Emery

Finally, Milawa, a 23 meter grade 17 slab past 4 carrots. Great quality rock and a great view from the top.

Milawa. The climb starts off on the left side of the rock and heads up...
Milawa. The climb starts off on the left side of the rock and heads up to a carrot. Once this is clipped you downclimb around the arete and then head straight up.
Credit: Ben Emery
Proud "summit" shots at the top of Milawa
Proud "summit" shots at the top of Milawa
Credit: Ben Emery

Then, back to the parents' place to pick up the indefatigable Jo. This was the first time myself and Naja had got to climb together with just the two of us since she got pregnant ~2 years ago; our last trip together was to Yosemite. Black Hill seems a bit of an anticlimax after that, but it’s still great to get outside together again.

A welcome back from Jo
A welcome back from Jo
Credit: Ben Emery


  Trip Report Views: 1,663
Ben Emery
About the Author
Ben Emery is a trad climber from Australia via the Bay Area via Australia.

Comments
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David Knopp

Trad climber
CA
  Mar 20, 2010 - 02:41pm PT
sweet and short (the climbs). I am glad you got out after the little one came around, finally, cause my main partner is about to be father time three and we have a bunch of sh#t to do this summer.
Ben Emery

Trad climber
Australia via Bay Area via Australia...
Author's Reply  Mar 20, 2010 - 10:27pm PT
Yup, I can see how being a father of three might cut down on available climbing time... Good luck getting him onto the rock.

I've still managed to get a bit of climbing in with one, we've taken Jo on day trips to Skyline and the Pinnacles a few times with friends, and Naja has been very generous in letting me head off and climb with other people (I even got to do the Nose of El Cap before leaving CA, which was a blast). This was the first time in a while we've got to go out and climb with just the two of us, though.
Zander

climber
  Mar 22, 2010 - 11:04am PT
Looks like sweet fun to me.
Z
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
  Mar 22, 2010 - 03:02pm PT
Good times.

(and btw, it was almost four years after the birth of my first child that my then wife and I climbed together again, so be happy with a two-year break)
Jingy

climber
Random Nobody
  Mar 22, 2010 - 03:42pm PT
Good enough for me!!!

Cheers!!!

Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Mar 22, 2010 - 08:25pm PT
thanks for posting! Good for you. Fight back against the political threads!
L

climber
California dreamin' on the farside of the world..
  Mar 26, 2010 - 06:46pm PT
Niiiiiiice Ben!

Way to claw your way out of Lurker's Closet and into the full Monty of TacoMania with an awesome TR. Great pix--'specially the little tyke. ;-)

Thank you.

Keep 'em coming, please.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Mar 26, 2010 - 07:09pm PT
Them are some exotic blobs y'all got out there, down under and in between the branches.
Rock quality actually looks pretty good!
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