Monday, 30 March 2015

The Conflagration

Some New Routers like to be the first to find an inspiring piece of rock and put up new climbs on it. They like the exploring to find such places, the challenges of putting together viable access routes, and the effort (and prospects for new climbing) of developing a new crag.

I, on the other hand, like to repeat existing climbs on inspiring (and preferably almost untouched) cliffs, and then try and find a way to contribute my own vision to these places. I guess I'm better at riding someone elses coat-tails than crawling through Wall of Tree to find these amazing places.

The Top Crux of Cicada (24/25) at Pierces Pass.
 Grasshopper at Pierces Pass is a great line, and is almost untouched from a climbing perspective, so I added Cicada (24/25), Cricket (23/24) and Green Grocer (Project) to it. Bentrovato wall at Sublime Point is my favourite single wall of sport climbing in the Blue Mountains, so I contributed The Road Not Taken (26) and Diamond Falls at Katoomba is always a thing of beauty, and I was lucky to be able to do the First Ascent of The Family Jewels (26).

 What can I say, I like to build my houses on prime real estate before The Mob gets there.

A sit-down rest before going into the crux.
 After climbing The Wake of the Flood (23) at Medlow Bath Lower (one of the true Blue Mountains crack classics) and having had a shot at Mixed Business (25 - har har) on the same wall, I'd spotted an adventurous looking grand line that stretched up between the two on beautiful looking rock. Before I left for my trip, and on my first day of unemployment, I rapped the line, top rope solo'd it to make sure it would go, then bolted it. I named it The Conflagration Project for my feelings on that particular day (the world as I knew it for the previous 10 years had come to an end, and I was a pretty turbulent bag of emotions).

Now that I'm back it was time to go for the Send.

The climb is a true adventurous line of mixed climbing. 50m long, 9 bolts and (at least) 6 bits of trad gear. An easy slab, hand crack, steep angular dihedral, bouldery fingerlocking, steep jugging, cruxy super-thin face section, awkward mantles and a small rooflet to negotiate on finger-jugs. All of which is broken up by 4 no-hands rests. It's no sustained sport clip-up with continuous climbing in a specific style and 100 bolts to make it safe. This thing is old school.

Victory! Celebrating at the anchors after the First Ascent.

On Tuesday last week (24th March) I managed to convince my Old Man to come out and give me a belay as I went for the First Ascent. After getting shut down on the techy crux at about 2/3rds height, I managed to put together a viable (though tenuous) sequence, and scored the First Ascent on my 2nd shot. At first I'd thought it was solid 25 solely for the rather cruxy thin section, but it went so easily on my 2nd shot that I ended up giving it 24. It hasn't yet had a repeat, though I'd be keen to see if a climber shorter than me could do the crux at grade 24.

Thus we have The Conflagration (24) at Medlow Bath Lower. The real question is, why aren't all you guys out there repeating it?

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