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The Moonbi area (Anteater Buttress and environs) presents many granitic cliff lines, mainly slabby in nature and much of which has now been explored. In the early years most of the interest concentrated on Anteater Buttress and the boulders above due to easy access and obvious quality. The slab routes are some of the best in New England and there have been no hang-ups with anti-bolting ethics here so most of the routes are well protected.
The town of Moonbi is located about 20km North of Tamworth on the New England Highway, in the heart of chicken country. The access arrangements have changed in recent years and general access is now not allowed. If you want to climb here you must go with Kevin Moore from Tamworth or with the UNEMC from Armidale. In addition you will be required to fill out a special indemnity form, requested by the landowner's insurers available only from Moore and Stephens. Failure to adhere to this procedure will see a total lockout.
The first routes were done in April 1975 by various Armidale climbers. The notable routes from these early visits were the classic 'Snakeskin Flake' 13 by Bob Killip and Phil Prior, the desperate jam crack 'Savage' 19 (now 23 due to a falling block) by Bob Killip and Max Smart, and the bold 'Slabba-Dabba-Do' 17,which was the first slab route to be done,by Robert Stazewski and Bob Killip. The last route was particularly impressive since it was done on sight (ie no brushing or bolting !) and it took many years before it had its second lead. Another route of interest was the popular 'Sorrow' 14 by Phil Prior. A total of eight new routes were put up that year.
Only two new climbs were completed in 1976, 'Laurel And Hardy' 15, above the slabs, by Brian Birchall and, on the Splitters Gully Road Slabs the multi-pitch 'Babylon' 12 by Laimonis Kavelieris, the only climb there to date.
The area continued to see visitors from time to time mainly to repeat 'Snakeskin Flake'. Early 1982 saw the first climbs at Goal Creek Slabs. Ed Sharpe led 'Trundle' 11 and Al Stephens did 'Protection Racket' 14 and 'Up For Grabs' 18. During the same year Kevin Moore completed the first route up high on the ridge at The Brothers, 'Can't Remember Her Name' 12.
However it wasn't until Mark Colyvan and Brian Birchall returned to the area to do the second ascent of 'Slabba-Dabba-Do' in early 1983 that the potential of the slabs was realised. Colyvan bolted and brushed an obvious black slab which he climbed a few months later with Paul Bayne and Paul Colyvan (Animal) to give 'New Romantic' 21 which was an instant classic. This route was Paul's introduction to slab climbing, a style which he grew to love and master very quickly. During the same year Ed Sharpe returned to Goal Creek Slabs to do the powerful 'Scare Tactics' 19. Later in the year, back at the Anteater slabs Al Stephens got into the act by doing 'On the Slack' 18, another route sporting bolts,and Paul Colyvan did 'Slap And Tickle' 17. Paul also did 'Green Spastic Chook' 11, on the boulders above the slabs.
Things were fairly quiet here until August,1986 when the Colyvan brothers returned for a long weekend and camped in a Kootingal motel so that they could eat Chocolate Bavarians and watch the footy at night. They spent most of the three days at the crag brushing and bolting. However they ended up with three great slab routes; 'Slow Fade' 22 by Mark,'Cock and Pullet' 17 by Paul, and 'Head Over Heels' 19 also by Paul!. Later in the year Al Stephens put in two half days bolting to produce yet another good slab in 'Buck Buck Bacaw' 21.
1987 produced only two new routes, 'Bantam' 17 by Larry Dixon, and 'Finger Lickin Chicken' by Stephens, both on the boulders above the slabs.
1988 was another quiet year with two shady climbs on the boulders above the slabs, 'Shady Bridge' by Gary Phillips and 'Shady Tactics' by Kevin Moore. Later that year Kevin Moore with Bob Murison began exploration of the Kootingal Tip. They found 'Scanties on the Chockstone' 14, by Bob, and Petticoat Corner' 14 by Kevin.
The next two years were boom years for Moonbi. During 1989 21 new climbs were recorded. Seven were completed at the Lookout Crag (now totally closed), the best being the classics 'Confidence Limits' 16 and 'Interative Process' 17 both by Kevin Moore. Eight new routes were conceived on the boulders below the slabs. The best being Larry Dixon's 'Faith No More' 21 and the classic 'Beak Job' 19, and Mark Colyvan's 'The Fosbury Flop' 21. A quick weekend visit by the infamous crag developer Andrew Penny with Carl-Joan Jagusch resulted in two new routes, the best being the very popular 'Henny Penny' 18 by Penny. Later that year Mark Colyvan with Jo Monaghan slogged their way up to the slabs on the Left side of Moonbi Gap and completed the very long, but easy access route 'Walking Back To Happiness' 4, as well as 'Promise' 16, a two pitch slab.
New route fever continued into 1990. Twenty-two new routes! John Wilde put up the last route on the slabs to date,the very bold 'Head Over Heels-Direct Finish' 24. Attention then moved to the Lookout crag. Eight new routes were completed, mostly by Newcastle climbers. The best being 'Sebastian's' Maximum Likelihood' 25 by Paul Reviere, 'Zoro Direct' 21 by George Fieg, 'Call Me Al' 24 by John Wilde and 'The Great Leap Forward' 19 by Al Stephens. During one of his visits, Newcastle climber John Wilde accidentally stole Paul Colyvan's bolt prepared route at The Fosbury Flop Boulder, 'Death Warrant' 23. Around the same time Kevin Moore completed 'Pluckin' Feathers' 21 on the boulders above the slabs. The other area of huge development was the boulders below the slabs. Seven new climbs were put up, the best being 'The Caponiser' 17 by Kevin Moore, 'Cock-A-Hoop' 22 and 'Kentucky Fried Rodent' 21 by Gavin Dean, all at Pecker Wall. Later that year interest turned to the two new areas up on the ridge. Kevin Moore led a tramline of climbers up the classic 'Boys Day Out' 15 at The Brothers, then moved on to The Minefield to do 'Hybrid Vigour' 20. With him was John Wilde who, at the same crag, completed the very technical 'Dambuster' 24.
In 1991 everyone calmed down. Kevin's son Anthony Moore led 'Play School' 7, his first lead. Al Stephens made the long trek to Moonbi Gap-Left Side to complete 'Perfect Skin' 15. Then during December when it was too hot to do any long lines, Kevin Moore ticked of three more at Kootingal Tip, 'No Refuse'15, Wasted Time' 9 and 'Laughing Litter' 10.
In 1992 Al Stephens finally cracked his long term project at Pecker Wall, 'Chicken Vindaloo' 25. Kevin Moore, Dave Worthington and Jim Morgan found another five climbs at Kootingal Tip, the best being Kevin's 'Scalpel' 19 and Jim's 'Dynamic Lifter' 21.
The Kootingal Tip produced one more climb in April 1993,'XPT' 20 by Kevin Moore. In October the same year Stuart Whitten launched a small expedition to Moonbi Gap-Right Side (the North side) and completed 'Up The Garden Path' 5, 'Sly Street' 12 and 'Shoulder Boulder' 16.
If you want to do new climbs, there's always lines between the lines. But if you don't, there are masses of great climbs to repeat. Anyone want to go to Moonbi next weekend ? Al Stephens........September 199
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