Scott's First Aid Climb – on Ozymandias Direct

A climbing partner of mine asked if I wanted to go to Mt Buffalo to do some aid climbing. Aid climbing? I had never tried it. And 'Ozy Direct'? I had never even heard of it. Phillip Ivan Pietruschka was certainly knowledgeable about the rope systems involved as well as how to use all the aid-specific gear. He had also already done Ozy Direct in just over 24 hours. About all I knew was that aid climbing was notoriously slow and complicated. Since I am always up for a new challenges, I happily signed on.

Ozymandias Direct, 270m, 9 Pitches. Photo Credit: Dave Scarlett.Ozymandias Direct, 270m, 9 Pitches. Photo Credit: Dave Scarlett.

The weather for the weekend was looking poor, with rain forecast for late Saturday night. In the car ride up Mt Buffalo on Friday night, we decided that we'd make the most of the good weather and attempt to complete Ozy Direct in a single day. It was an ambitious goal for my first aid climb, especially given that most aid climbers take between two and four days to complete this particular route.

04:00—My alarm pierced the silence of the early morning. We made a brew, donned our harnesses, slung our pre-packed bags, and walked down into the base of the gorge by torchlight. Near the bottom a branch caught my left eye, scraping my cornea. My vision was reduced to blurriness in that eye for the next few days. But I still had one good eye.

06:30—We reached the bottom of the climb and I took my first step upwards in an etrier. I took advice from Phil for the first 10 metres about placing temporary cam hooks for most moves instead of actual protection. This sped up the climbing significantly. I then proceeded to lead the following two pitches up to the first clear resting area, known as 'Big Grassy'. Phillip proved invaluable in helping me get my jumar tether lengths correct. The rest of the day's rope work was surprisingly smooth after this.

Phillip working his way through a corner.Phillip working his way through a corner.

16:00—Phillip takes the lead up through the big roof. Even seconding up this pitch was exhilarating. I couldn't help but revel in the sheer exposure of the climb, dangling on the rope with fresh air completely surrounding me.

Scott hanging in space. Photo Credit: Dave Scarlett.Scott hanging in space. Photo Credit: Dave Scarlett.

21:00—The promised rain caught us near the top, and continued in a steady shower. I was physically and mentally exhausted after struggling upwards through 'The Fang' – a particularly coarse crack with an acute angle that made all footwork awkward. At the top of the next pitch, the climbing got easier and became fun again, and we began to think about finishing the climb.

23:47—Thirsty, soaked from the rain, and happy, we topped-out at the viewpoint above the epic Ozymandias.

Aid climbing requires specialised climbing equipment. Bogong stocks a huge range of climbing equipment for all types of climbing. Make use of our knowledge and advice.

Check out the Buffalo climbing guide here.

More Articles