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June 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Situated on the south eastern rim of Wilpena Pound, Moonarie is not just a climbing destination, it pervades your soul. One visit to this ancient range and you will never want to leave.

Probably the favourite place for SandBaggers to visit, from the moment you arrive at the campsite you not only feel removed from civilisation by distance, but also by eons as this timeless land engulfs your soul.

To the newcomer viewing the cliffs for the first time from bottom camp the cliffs appear small and inviting, however this impression soon dissolves as you make the 40 minute hike uphill while the bright orange faces stare down at you and their true size becomes apparent, filling you with a sense of awe and wonder.

From Top Camp as you catch your breath and attempt to gather the courage to gear up and climb the intimidating faces, you look out over the valley far below you and off to the Chase Range on the horizon and feel as though you have left your old life behind forever...

Once you have committed to your route and started on your adventure you soon find that Moonarie is not only removed from the rest of the world by distance and spirit, the grading seems to have a set of rules all their own. If anything is certain it is that the first time you check your guide to confirm that you are indeed on the correct route and that it is indeed the grade that you thought it was, will not be the last. This harsh land seems to have given rise to harsh grading.

From time to time the drone of a sightseeing plane breaks the silence, and reminds you if only for a moment, that there exists somewhere out there another world, one that you have left behind somewhere in your distant past... Looking above, you fail to see anything in the sky, and then it occurs to you to look down; you are so high that more often than not, the planes are below your level. The sound fades and you are once again isolated.

As you summit you experience the joy of having successfully completed a route, and say a silent thanks for having survived yet another epic, for regardless of the grade, every route climbed here is special. There are no easy summits, and the climber who visits without a sense of humility soon learns the meaning of the word.

As you walk over the top to make your way to the descent gully these ancient cliffs offer you a final reward for having successfully survived some secret rites of passage: A view of Wilpena Pound so breathtaking and yet so precious that it is only ever revealed to those who dare to climb her most challenging aspect, the south eastern rim that is Moonarie.

Once back in camp you soon learn another aspect of the spirit of Moonarie, something that does not exist anywhere else in the way it does here: a camaraderie between strangers as if you have known each other for years. Equipment is lent by people you have never met with the trust that you will return it once you return home; camp fires are shared and stories of ascents of all grades are  listened to and enjoyed by all regardless of ability. Moonarie is not just a destination it is a family.

When your stay is over and you leave Moonarie to return to the reality of the day-to-day world you gaze back upon the cliff-faces knowing that your heart is staying here, and that you will count the days until you can return and live again.

 

 June 2004

 

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