Passchendaele V1 Bouldering Festival

A couple of weekends back Scotty Dog Resoles and Pinnacle Sports put on the inaugural Passchendaele V1 Bouldering Festival. Stephen Thompson has put together a report on what sounds like a great weekend of Granite Belt bouldering.

All uncredited photos by Set In Stone Photography

The Set Up
On Friday the 7th of October, the Passchendaele V1 Bouldering Festival kicked off in the beautiful Granite Belt region of South-East Queensland.

Pinnacle Sports and Scotty Dog Resoles teamed up to host this celebration of bouldering. The aim was twofold: first, to introduce people to the Passchendaele area and, second, to introduce people to outdoor bouldering in general. With the opening of two new boulder-only gyms in Brisbane, there has been an influx of new climbers into the community, many of whom have only ever climbed indoors.

Hungry climbers getting into the delicious food provided by Symara Organic Farm.

Hungry climbers getting into the delicious food provided by Symara Organic Farm.

Passchendaele was originally established as a bouldering area by a small, but committed, group of climbers, with Peter Crane putting together the first official guide (available here http://www.peter-crane.com/passchendaele/). Over the last few years it has seen an increasing amount of traffic but this festival would bring, by far, the largest contingent of climbers to the area.

The festival, nicknamed “Pdaele V1”, attracted close to 80 attendees from Brisbane and the surrounding areas and a further 20 staff and volunteers. The campsite was a paddock provided by Symara Organic Farm, who also whipped up delicious meals for Friday and Saturday dinners, meaning that festival-goers had a home-cooked meal waiting for them after the long drive down on Friday and again after a big day of bouldering on Saturday.

Even geriatrics were encouraged to have a crack.

Even geriatrics were encouraged to have a crack climbing.

In order to make life easy – and to minimise impact on the forest – buses were provided as transport between the campsite and the bouldering areas. There were two runs for the buses, allowing a bit of a sleep-in for those who weren’t too keen on an early start.

Before the buses took off, campers (those who felt awake enough) were provided with an invigorating morning yoga session, led by experienced instructor Jena Buchan (Salt + Soul Yoga), and were able to follow that up with award-winning coffee from RASA, who had brought a portable stall down from Brisbane.

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Everyone has their own campsite traditions.

The Bouldering
Before the buses left the camp, festival staff were sent out to their designated areas in order to hide away a few ping pong balls, which could be redeemed back at camp for a prize. For some reason, the majority of these were found by the younger festival attendees.

As the masses arrived, they were directed to sector maps that highlighted a few of the best problems to sample, as well as general guidelines and important information.

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The sector maps were pretty comprehensive.

The bouldering on Saturday took place in three of Passchendaele’s main areas: The Lane, the Engineering Sector, and Yuri’s Place. The Lane hosts some of Passchendaele’s best lines such as Wild Honey (V10), a tough compression problem, and Explorer’s Club (V4), a short but committing slab.

Engineering and Yuri’s are home to a few quality problems themselves, with standouts like Gravity and Consumption. Seasoned boulderers and total beginners alike threw themselves at the pristine granite throughout the three areas. The Passchendaele rock is known for its sharpness and it wasn’t long until taped fingers became a common sight. But the crowd was unrelenting. Send after send went down and each one seemed to fuel the vibrant energy in the air.

Despite the buzz, exhaustion did eventually begin to set in and boulder pads turned into makeshift sleeping mats as climbers lapsed into post-climb comas to wait for the buses to return them to camp.

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You can’t have a bouldering trip without tape.

Evening Entertainment
Upon returning to camp, entertainment and food were provided in plenty. Things kicked off with a dyno competition on a purpose-built wall, followed by a three-rounds of pub-style climbing trivia. After that, it was time to get a plate (or two) of food and head over to the outdoor cinema for a presentation by Australian Bouldering Champion, Tiffany Melius, and then kick back for a screening of Reel Rock 11. There was even a massage tent where local massage therapists eased the pains of battered climbing bodies – at least those bodies brave enough to take their shirt off at temperatures approaching 0°. For those that preferred a quieter evening, there was the traditional bonfire circle for campsite bonding. Needless to say, festival-goers were not lacking in things to do.

Australian Bouldering Champion Tiffany Melius addresses the crowd.

Australian Bouldering Champion Tiffany Melius addresses the crowd.

More Bouldering
Sunday once again began with yoga and coffee before piling into the buses and heading to Passchendaele’s most developed area: Middle Sector. Boasting more than 60 established problems and many more yet to be discovered or climbed, this area has something for every climber. Visiting crusher Simon Parton set his eyes on a long-standing project that sat just ten metres from the car park. The hard, committing line had spat off all of the local climbers who had tried it but Simon was not to be defeated. He was able to dispatch the project in a single session, establishing one of Queensland’s hardest lines. Barely a second after topping out he was being asked to grade and name the problem, so he gave it the rather fitting title of: A Name and A Number at a grade of V12.

Simon Parton on the first ascent of A Name and A Number (V12).

Simon Parton on the first ascent of A Name and A Number (V12).

After two big days of rock climbing, by early Sunday afternoon people were reluctantly beginning to succumb to their body’s urge to start heading home. As the buses rolled through, tired but happy climbers loaded themselves in for the trip back to the campsite and then to home.

Big thanks to everyone who helped organise and support this event! Stay tuned for the video coverage of the festival!

You can purchase photos of the event here.

Going for the big move on Blue Moon (V4) in Middle Sector.

Going for the big move on Blue Moon (V4) in Middle Sector.

 Some of the festival organisers and staff – photo by Adam Sebastian West.


Some of the festival organisers and staff – photo by Adam Sebastian West.

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