|Alex and Daniel (from Coffs Harbour) on|
the mega 60m crux pitch of Aqualung (21) at
Stacks Bluff... Alex is in the major corner near
Fortunately, however, I have had some other adventures that I'd like to share with you.
Amongst the more conventional climbing I've done in the past two months, I've spent some time at various places on the Ben Lomond Plateau, successfully repeating some classic testpieces at Pavement Bluff (Howitzer (22) and Road to Ballyshannon (22 - going on hard 23)), enjoying the long and varied Aqualung (6-pitch 21) at Stacks Bluff, as well as some of the more conventional Ben Lomond cracks at Frews Flutes (Rigaudon (20)) and Local Loser (Hidden Secrets (20)).
|Me on the First Ascent of Godhead's Lament (24). The camera|
angle doesn't convey the steepness (though it does show the
But then I decided to extend the route to remain on the underside of the arch in question, producing a 35m route which overhangs by about 15m over the course of it's length, producing an even stronger contender for the Steepest Route in Tassie award. Though generally consisting of pretty good Finger-Jugs the whole way, the 4 cruxes are all on sections of slopey holds or minuscule crimps, and the nature of the dolarite means that a lot of the moves encompass far less conventional thugging than the majority of the steep routes I've done. It's also -predictably- incredibly pumpy. It took me 7 shots to tick it, but finally Influence of a Drowsy God (26 - 35m) was done. Again, hardly the best climbing at Bare Rock, but incredibly entertaining, and no one can argue that it's not an amazing feature to climb.
|The pumpy traverse right, where Godhead's Lament and |
Influence of a Drowsy God separate.
|Influence of a Drowsy God (26) climbs the underside of the arch, starting|
at the bottom left corner (behind the trees)
and finishing at the hanging white rope.
|Eyeing off the top crux on the only "good" hold of the|
route. I skipped 3 draws on the Send, and took some
monstrous whippers on previous attempts trying the
|Mid-way through the top crux, pumped out of my mind|
and preparing for a big fall if I blow it.
|Me free-soloing Lace Thunder (50m gr12) |
at Whitewater Wall. The diagonal pink Aplite
Streak is Apline (70m gr12) which I also
Solo'd, and is possibly the best easy climb I've
The Sea Level Traverse
|Daniel on the first "crux" of the day.|
Departing the carpark at Sleepy Bay at 7am, we began the days adventure by starting up the Skyline Traverse walking track (which summits all 3 of the "Hazards" peaks), before detouring back down to sea level just after the "Underworld" microcrag. Initially, there is no obvious traverse line, merely some "angled walking above the sea", and we had a few false starts before finally recognising the first "crux" of the traverse as outlined in the Climb Tasmania guide: a friction slab traverse 8m above the sea.
|Another view of the first "crux". Daniel in the|
cave "post-crux", Alex traversing, and the
consequences of a fall here are now obvious.
Committed now to the traverse, we powered along. Most of the traverse can be defined as "angled walking on slabs", with many sections of low angle, polished granite slabs that necessitate some "cautious footwork", but without really requiring your hands. A lot of the difficulty is simply in the route finding (and the recent record-breaking storms meant that many sections of the slabs had running water across them, which necessitated moves more in common with ice-skating than rock-climbing), and identifying the crucial segments of "actual climbing" that crop up from time to time, without committing to something ridiculous. "Common sense pathfinding" is probably the best way to describe the route, except for the undeniable fact that a girdle traverse is -by its nature- kind of ridiculous, as is free-soloing on slippery slabs above the sea. And, well, when you encounter a climbing crux like the ones Alex is pictured on below (which is a part of the correct route) you start to wonder when exactly it was that common sense fell by the wayside.
|Alex, tempting fate on the "crux" of the entire route. True granite friction slabbing at about gr16, 15m (or more) above the sea. The running water didn't help.|
|Alex: still alive... Somehow.|
|Slabby! Daniel and I traversing, with the Star Factory|
|The grade 10 Offwidth/Chimney thing, quite some way above|
the sea. Daniel starting up, Alex at the top of the lower crack,
and Vladi following behind.
|Eyeing off the route The Meaning of Life (25) |
on The Gonk. We probably spent more time
staring at this than anything else all day.
Eventually though, we arrived at real crux of the route: the ocean swim. You see, it gets to a point where it's no longer possible to traverse under the enormous arete at the far left-hand end of Flowstone Wall, and so you have to wack all your gear in a waterproof drybag, put on your Speedos (something you'll remember I've been getting good at while down here in Tassie, if you've seen my previous Blog Update) and swim around the arete and towards a "ramp" on the far end of another inlet. Thinking that we wouldn't be able to traverse any further, we chose the "ideal" spot to launch, bagged up our gear, and plunged into the water in unison.
|Downclimbing one of many small "inlets" beneath Flowstone|
Wall. This whole section is a "choose-your-own-adventure"
routefinding process... Unfortunately, these guys were stuck
following my chosen adventure.
|Looking back on flowstone wall, with Alex waving (or|
drowning) in the sea.
|Selfie at Sea. Harder than you might think.|
|Swimming (really?). Daniel and Vladi in front, with our |
goal (the ramp) in the distance between the two.
|Alex continues swimming (read: drowning), while|
Vladi waves for the camera, and Daniel does his
best to keep it tasteful (Statue of David, style).
At this point, we believed that the challenge of the day was more or less over, and it was now merely an "angular slog" to Wineglass bay. Unfortunately, it was at about this time where it all went to shit.
|Aaaand out comes the ropes and gear. A |
rather dubious trad-belay on half-placed
cams and wires in dug-out seams running
The next inlet is normally traversed about 50m above the sea, but this section was also wet, and with no gear (or possible belay) at either side. I attempted to solo a flake feature near the sea-level , but was eventually stymied a few metres up, and had the arduous task of reversing the moves to the ground. In hindsight, we should've just jumped back into the sea and gone for another swim, but we decided instead to head higher up, to try and traverse across at the treeline above, and hopefully downclimb back to waterlevel afterwards.
|Low angle, sure... But also running with water and mud. |
Vladi traverses tenuously across my fixed line, while Daniel and Alex watch, and I serve as the bodyweight anchor at the other side (while taking photos!).
|Alex staggers onto the beach at Wineglass bay (his shoes had|
completely disintegrated by this point).
|On the beach at Wineglass Bay... finally!Vladi, Daniel, Alex and Myself.|
So, ignoring our little misadventure (yes, we had headlamps, so it wasn't as much of a potential epic as it could have been), what of the Sea Level Traverse itself? Well, it's not so much rock climbing as it is extreme bushwalking, which isn't to say that I would take someone who wasn't a climber on it. By the time we'd managed to reach the coastline after our little detour up Mount Amos, I'd almost forgotten the fun aspects of the day and was instead focusing on the negative. My words at the time -perhaps a bit harsh and obviously tainted by that specific experience- probably still ring true:
"The Sea Level Traverse embodies all the best and worst parts of a big Canyon in the Blue Mountains -think: Bell Canyon, for example-... It involves some walking on slippery rocks, a whole tonne of scrambling, a bunch of swimming and getting cold, a bit of ropework, a fair amount of general sketchiness, some creek bashing, and an epic bush-bash through wall-of-tree as far as the eye can see."
Having said that, there's a reason I've done Bell Creek Canyon and most of the other published Canyons in the greater Blue Mountains Area: There is reward to be found in the masochism that embodies adventure. And even without our inadvertent detour, there is definitely adventure to be found here.
|My interim home in the Bare Rock|
Shipping Container... Classy!
I just finished a week of catching up with my folks, who swung by to visit while on their own trip to Tassie. I did a whole bunch of hiking in Freycinet and on the Tasman Peninsular with my Old Man, and took him abseiling 200m down the face of Bare Rock after he belayed me on the First Ascent of Influence of a Drowsy God.
Today I bolted a new companion route to Obsidian Obsession (as both an easier exit route, and as belayer bait to entice others to belay me on the Proj) which is tentatively called Amber Allure, and feels about grade 25 or so.
|Stephen: the Guardian of Bare Rock.|
(He's on a fad diet at the moment, I'm not sure it's working out
The following day I'll hit up the Mersey Cliffs near Lorny with Isaac Lethborg, before heading back to Bare Rock for 2 more days of climbing here with local Tasmanian frothers. Within the next 2 weeks I'm hoping to do a trip out to the epic Tyndalls, to climb some hard multipitch on immaculate conglomerate.
|Selfie with the inspiring view from|
the Summit of Mount Amos
behind me. Awesome!
And besides, the Obsidian Obsession is calling...
|A spotted Quoll, photographed at Ben Lomond campground.|