The idea started in Brodie’s head first.
“Imagine climbing a route for every grade at Arapiles, from 1 up to 21, to celebrate my 21st birthday“.
My initial two thoughts were what a great idea but what a terrible choice of location. Sure Araps has all the routes and there are some classics at the lower grades but Moonarie is really where it’s at it when you consider how much time we’ve both spent there in the last two years. Heck, I love the place so much I moved to Quorn…
Coming up with an idea that we are both psyched on is the hard part of adventure. Once the idea exists though, working out how to actually go about it and making it happen is what separates the people who are ‘gonna do stuff’ from the people who actually ‘do the stuff’. I prefer to sit in the latter category.
Throughout the first few months of 2022, Brodie was all head down bum up at university whilst I was head up, bum down on a plastic chair by the pool deck at Quorn earning some money for myself. Both of us were consulting the guidebook working out the best set of routes to climb every grade. The original plan had climbs at Moonlight Buttress, Point Bonney and even some boulders (to get a V0 in) to really stretch out the adventure. There were no hard and fast rules set because this was our adventure and we could really make it up as we go along but the general guideline was that for each grade we had to have a seperate climb for it. This quest was also a test run to see what it’s like doing arbitrary link-ups of climbs that no-one cares about individually but collectively, create a nice set.
As Easter approached, like many Australians, we were both looking for a holiday from a busy start to the year. The thought of thrashing ourselves in the pursuit of 21 routes was a little bit like rubbing your back against velcro. Great if you have an itchy back, but if you don’t it could be slightly unpleasant… It was with this common mood between ourselves that when Brodie arrived on Saturday morning (after a late Good Friday shift at Beyond Bouldering and getting in the car at 3am on Saturday morning) the weekend’s outlook was shifted to:
‘Let’s just start and take it one climb at a time. We’re here to enjoy ourselves first, it’s Easter after all, and if we get it done, good on us, if not, well at least we can say we had a good time’– One of us, or maybe both of us… or maybe the climbing gods of Moonarie?
Off we went then on our little adventure amongst all the other frivolous climbers up at the Moon for Easter. The first day saw us swagger up some classics such as Nervine, Vortex, Outside Chance and the best located grade 6 in the country, Chaullay. Sitting on the right hand edge of the Great Wall, Chaullay gives you a front row seat to the best face at Moonarie, something that not most grade 6 climbers would ever dream of climbing.
As we ticked off our metres for the day and bumped into mates up at the cliff, everyone seemed interested and quietly stoked for the cool little idea we had. This was nice to hear and definitely kept the mood positive. While for us on the other hand, some of our easier routes also gave us grandstand viewing for people jumping on harder things. The highlight of this occurrence was getting to watch the ultimate master of Australian climbing, Malcolm ‘HB’ Matheson, stalk his way up ‘Downwind of Angels‘ like a panther. I botched my attempt at a conversation though but did get to climb next to him for a bit. For those not in the know, this would be like rolling down to your local tennis court and having Pat Rafter hitting up beside you or Kelly Slater joining you at your local surf break. Stuff like this happens in climbing quite frequently which is why it is such a great sport.
Any who, once we’d come back from fan girl-ing over HB it was back to business for the rest of the weekend. By business, I mean, enjoying ourselves on climbs titled ‘Pretty Fucking Intense‘, a 30m grade 3 that was pretty fucking fun actually. To help enjoy the weekend I ensured Brodie did not go without knowing the latest AFL scores thanks to the trusty pocket radio I carried. Hearing Carlton hang on to beat Port Adelaide while we were high off the ground ticking our last route for Sunday was a pleasurable moment.
To keep things moving swiftly throughout the day, Brodie was the leader and I was the belayer/route adviser. Usually on climbing trips there’s always the ‘is it your lead?, oh no, you can lead now’ back and forth that chews up time. Frankly, I’m so focused on my running at the moment I was happy to take a back seat and come along for the ride as a belayer first, climber second. When we realised this set-up was like a golfer and their caddy cruising up and down, in our case, a 21-holed course, that was a nice moment. I went full pro caddy mode after that. My job was rope management, ensuring Brodie didn’t wander off route and kept his spirits high. All Brodie had to worry about was grabbing the rock and getting to the top… and then belaying me.
Come Monday morning we were finally within touching distance of completing the quest. A cherry on top was getting the second ascent of Rob Baker’s new variant to Thor‘s second pitch titled ‘Freakshow‘ to start off the third and final day. He gave it Grade 18 just so it fit into our set, what a nice man! As we came down from that route and headed over to the final series of climbs, it was like we were finishing an ultra marathon. You’re not really focused on the finish line and soaking it all up in an ultra like they make out in the movies. Instead, you’re just on autopilot mode looking towards the finish. For Brodie, his final route was a Grade 19 called ‘The Prince‘ that he once hoped to ‘onsight’ (climb it first go) but fell off due to a silly mistake. As his caddy I advised him that if he fell off this time I’d kill him… we had to finish this in style! Sure enough, Brodie had learnt from that mistake he made last time and topped out with ease, thus completing our quest. Cue the ‘We are the Champions’ music.
Two years ago neither of us had climbed at Moonarie and so this Easter weekend adventure was a very fitting cap on what has been a great start to our career’s at the Moon. For Brodie especially, he’d only really started climbing two years ago so this weekend represented a great celebration of all he has learned about climbing in that time. From the physicality required, to operating in a successful ‘belay-tionship’ and to route finding, Brodie has developed more skills than most in the past two years and has laid himself a great foundation. I only hope that as his caddy, I’ll be around for when he turns maybe 30 or 32 and I’m giving him a catch on some climbs at that pay grade…I don’t know if I’ll be seconding him up those though…
What next then for the team of Brodie and Fraser? Back to climbing hard routes at the Moon? Or maybe re-creating big wall routes, like the Nose on El Cap, in more link-ups? Or what about a real round of golf?! Who knows really. Like I said at the beginning, sometimes the hard part is getting the idea for an adventure. Other times though, the hardest part is trying to work out what cool idea to choose to do next!
21 Holes at the Moon by the Numbers:
Grade 1: The rock-step on the approach to Top Camp. 2 metres
Grade 2: Southern Descent Gully. 150m
Grade 3: Pretty Fucking Intense. 15m
Grade 4: Vandals Delight. 112m
Grade 5: Might Maggot. 20m
Grade 6: Chaullay. 73m
Grade 7: Attunga. 70m
Grade 8: Yanama. 45m
Grade 9: Oedipus (Pitch 1 only). 30m
Grade 10: The Mouse that Roared. 57m
Grade 11: Bangachang. 35m
Grade 12: Nervine. 115m
Grade 13: Gargoyle. 40m
Grade 14: Shangri-La. 105m
Grade 15: Flying Buttress. 105m
Grade 16: Outside Chance. 40m
Grade 17: Vortex. 45m
Grade 18: Freakshow. 30m
Grade 19: The Prince. 33m
Grade 20: Epicol. 30m
Grade 21: Crawling into Acid Rain. 25m
27 Pitches. 13 abseils. 2.5 days.