The highly anticipated Beulah annual rock climbing festivus was held over the Easter long weekend and‘went off’ as was the expectation of its loyal followers. UNEOAC (aka ‘the Armidale crew’) has been attending the festivus since its beginnings back in 2007, and was there again this year in strong numbers to support, join in and soak up the festivus spirit.A record 237 people from all over and somewhere in between turned up in droves to be part of the unique climbing experienceand bear witness to the biggest and arguably the best event to date. Temporary tent cities sprung uparound the Donger and old woolshed, both the administrative stronghold and beating heart of Beulah’s night time shenanigans, housing events such as: Cliff’s famed woodfire pizza night, the slack-lining competition, camp fires and live music, the dyno comp and of course the opening and closing ceremonies where Todd (the organiser) entertained the masses with his quick wit and prize giveaways.And so now some of our climbing highlights……………………….
Day 1: The Armidale crew roll out to Beulah at daybreak in a dusty convoy. After being greeted and signed up by Todd, Greta and Steve, we selected a P-mount camp site above a dam and under an old rough-barked apple tree which we’d call home for the next three days. Armed with brushes, pads, guns of steel, and a tight-knit posse we set out on our first bouldering mission, our target – Rolled Quad Boulders. Highlights of the day included Liz’s ascent of the highball classic ‘walk in the park’, for which she won the highball award (pair of Bufo shoes), courtesy of Pete’s entertaining story telling. With Ili, Daph, Pete and Chi having all given it a good warm-up, Deb, George and Nathan then nailed the same problem soon after. Slap Happy was resent much to the delight of Skip, while Andrew and Chi tackled a previous years problem just opposite. Ben, Skip, Nathan, George and Johl shared a special moment with their discovery of overhung and potentially epic problems on the aptly named ‘freekin big boulder’, and decided that it was definitely something to aim for next year. The afternoon was spent admiring the view from the castle boulder, to which George added the popular route ‘knob of your choice’.
Day 2: A search and send mission was unleashed early this day with the crew tracking their way down to the creek area below Waterfall Dome. After an initial flurry of finds in all different directions, we regrouped and did what we came to do – climb. Debbie, Daph, Liz, George and Johl, found creek boulder and listed several quality first ascents, while Ben and Skip obsessed over and then landed themselves a sit start classic. Daph and Johl observed a Red-belly Black snake swimming around for breakfast frogs and named a sweet boulder route for the experience, and Andrew came up with a juggy classic yet-to-be-named climb just up from the creek bed. Lunch was taken to watch the sender of the slab competition and we then got the rope out and took a break from bouldering with Ili, and Daph both leading ‘Saturdays route’. A few of us then took a moment to appreciate Alan’s seriously staunch hill problem before calling it a day.
Day 3: Started out at Swamp Boulders. With a crowd of people gathered around the favourite route ‘swamp thing’, George, Brendan and Ben all chalked-up and made comfortable ascents. Darcy too sent it however even with the removal of his shirt he couldn’t get the sit-start to agree with his muscle-up style and so will have to come back to that one in 2013. Alan again found the hardest problem there and nearly got it, while everybody else split-up on a swamp sending frenzy for the remainder of the morning, completing classics such as Rhys’s Crack, and Socially Just F**ker. Komunist block was where we decided to employ the last remaining shreds of skin on our fingers, and we were happy we’d saved as much. Everybody got in on some rock action with ‘the right wing is the right wing’, and ‘Banana Republic’ the most popular routes. Thor, who had been distracted winning events at Sydney’s Royal Eater Show, eventually graced us with his presence and got straight to work sending a flurry of classics in the area with Darcy, Brendan, Carol, George and Ben in-tow. But the best was saved until last when Daph stumbled upon the Bermuda Boulder and made the first ascent of ‘Need More Skin’. Two additional routes were added here to compliment the first, but the crowd favourite was Daph’s three-star classic. Johl came nail-bitingly close, as did Wae-Jae, to nailing the problem, but alas it will have to wait until next year.
In between Beulah’s evening events each day for the Armidale crew ended with an (optional) evening swim in the dam, a warm meal and a few beverages around our camp fire of good company. It was here where reflected on the day’s adventures, shared good (and sometimes bad) stories, and just enjoyed being out and amongst it, forgetting for the moment about alarm clocks, jobs and text books.
Cheers to the Axelson and Free families for putting on and running such a great event. Bring on Beulah 2013!
If you’d like to get more detail of the climbs at Beulah, jump onto www.thecrag.com and search for Beulah under Northern Tablelands. If you’d like to learn more about Beulah head to their website http://www.beulahrockfestivus.com/7/Main.html