After 13 continuous days of rain, spring had finally arrived in Sydney with a fine sunny day and an opportunity to get out for an adventure. Following an early start from Sydney, Paul and I arrived in Blackheath for the traditional coffee and sandwich from Altitude Deli. This seemed to have also been the plan for many other Sydney climbers, as we kept bumping into people that we knew. We had planned our adventure earlier in the week with 2 others, Andrew and Heath and our goal for the day was Clockwork Orange (20) – a classic multipitch trad climb at Shipley Lower. Given the hoards of climbers in Blackheath, it seemed like a good idea to go a bit further out of the way. While Paul and I waited for food and coffee, Andrew and Heath headed down to set up the abseil.

Following a longer than usual wait, we headed down to the crag and after a bit of bush bashing we eventually found the abseil and the other guys bags. After finding only a carrot and quickdraw tied to the rope, we were a bit sceptical about their abseil set up abilities! However our fears were quickly put to rest when we stuck our heads over the edge to see that this was just a guide rope and the actual abseil set up was on a ledge a couple of metres below. The abseil got the adventure off to a good start. There’s nothing like abseiling down a waterfall to wake you up in the morning.

Clockwork Orange (20)

Clockwork Orange (22)

We arrived at the base of the climb just as the others were finishing the first pitch. Our plan was for Paul to lead the first pitch (18), I was then going to lead the money pitch (20) and look to decide whether to run the next pitch (15) as well. The first pitch was a nice looking orange corner, probably worth a few stars on its own. As the other team worked on pitch 2 Paul led solidly up the first pitch. As Paul was making good progress up the first pitch, I could see a small part of the second pitch and noticed that Heath who was leading the second pitch was hanging on gear. This wasn’t great for my head, as I knew that he was a stronger climber than me. Paul waited for a while on the ledge below the belay whilst the others finished up their pitch. After a while the belay was clear, and Paul headed up and set up his belay on bomber gear in a vertical crack. I followed up and was quickly up at the belay where I got my first proper look at the second pitch.

The line looked amazing. Brilliant orange rock led up a slab and short corner. From there you move out and round a roof, pulling through the roof leads to a crack that steepens as it rises, with the crux probably being the last few moves before the ledge. I started up the slab and was up at the roof before I knew it. Leading out around the roof leaves you feeling a bit exposed, but the pitch had bomber gear (mainly small cams and nuts) throughout, which helped clear my head. Pulling around the roof I was established in the crack, bridging the corner where I could to place gear and rest my arms. Eventually I got to the last few meters where I had seen Heath resting. By this point my arms were pretty pumped, so I placed a couple of final bits of gear and talked myself into just going for it. With a few strenuous, moves I finally found myself pulling onto the ledge that signified the end of the pitch. I was pretty wasted.

Clockwork Orange (22)

Clockwork Orange (22)

I had a quick look around to see what the belay was like – all I found was a small nut and what Heath aptly later described as placing a cam in butter. I quickly decided to run up the next pitch to finish the climb, as Andrew and Heath had done. The third pitch was a easy short groove up a corner, but a combination of pump, rope drag and bad gear made it feel much harder. By the time I had got to the top, I was really wasted. I had to sit down for a couple of moments to compose myself and remember how to set up a belay. Paul followed me up and by the time he got to the top he looked half dead and mentioned something about drinking too much the night before! We got up the climb with no falls, which to me equals success. This was probably the best 20 that I have climbed in the Blue Mountains.

We rounded off the day by heading to Porters Pass via Shipley Upper, where we met fellow Rockies members Shawn and Junko. Paul was too destroyed to climb by this point, however I dragged my way up a couple of sport climbs, Lego Land (23) and Spread’em Baby (22). After that we called it a day and headed back to Sydney. As we were leaving the others were working on Escape Velocity (24). Lets hope for more fine spring days and more adventures to come.

Clockwork Orange (22)

Clockwork Orange (22)

Sheep Roast Club (or Sydney Rock Climbing Club?)

Sheep Roast Club (or Sydney Rock Climbing Club?)

Last year we went to our first annual Sydney Rockies Sheep Roast in the Wolgan Valley, in the Wollemi National Park. You can ready all about it here.

Time has flown, and it got around to that time of year again. The Wolgan is about three hours west of Sydney, traffic permitting. The gravel road has been mainly tarmacked now, so the trip up was quicker this year. We spotted a wombat on the way which was very cute indeed, and a possum eating the leftover pasta Paul had kindly made us.

Possum ready for cooking...

Possum ready for cooking…

On Saturday Matt and Paul went and did a multi-pitch climb they had to retreat from the year before (Secret Swingers and Schmitar on Old Baldie). They felt pretty pleased with themselves having completed that. My friend Heather and I took a walk up Mystery Mountain for some pretty awesome views around the valley, and then had a very nice swim in the river by the campsite to cool off. The campsite had a lot of kangaroos and wallabies hopping around, but just the one wombat this year. We even went on a walk to hunt for some, but with no luck.

Old Baldie

Old Baldie

Saturday night was the sheep roast, which was yummy once again, having been cooking over the spit for about 10 hours.

On Sunday we went on a walk to the glow worm tunnel. At the start of the walk our friend Paul wasn’t too keen on the 8km, 4 hour circuit, so we decided to drive to the other end of the tunnel where we walk was just an hour. The drive of about 40 minutes turned out to be nearer an hour and a half with 35km of bumpy gravel road, but the scenery was pretty cool up on the Newnes Plateau. We even got to drive through a petty basic, mainly unmarked rock tunnel!

The car tunnel

The car tunnel

The glow worm walk was good, and once the other noisy walkers had gone we managed to see lots of glow worms on the tunnel walls. On the way home we stopped for some cool drinks overlooking the Blue Mountains, and took Jeffrey (the car) for a well needed car wash!

Wolgan valley

Wolgan valley

Back in October we went with the Sydney Rockies Climbing Club to the annual(ish) Sheep Roast and climbing trip in the Wolgan Valley.

On Friday night we  headed up from Sydney. The Wolgan is about 3.5-4 hours from Sydney to the north west. You go through the Blue Mountains, then on some more. Eventually you go 35km up a dead end, half gravel road which is pretty adventure like. It used to be all gravel , so we considered ourselves lucky. I was given a Wombat Guarantee for the weekend and I wasn’t disappointed. On the way up we saw 3 from the car, and then I saw another one on the first night during a trip to the loo in the dark. Sadly it was too dark for a photo.Also, they do look slightly less cute and a bit more evil in the dark! We also spotted a lot of wallabies.

The campsite was in a sort of bowl, surrounded by cliffs on most of its side, and a stream along one side which I took a couple of dips in to escape the heat. arriving in the dark and then waking up to the view on Saturday morning was cool.

Saturday we went for some climbing at the Coke Ovens. It used to be a Coke mining and production area, big around the 1950s, but its shut down since. On the walk in you go past the old coke ovens. One two pitch climb and a single pitch one. It was super hot, so we learnt a valuable lesson about making sure we take a lot of water.

Saturday morning the experts prepared the sheep on a full on spit over a fire. The spit also had a whole rump and chicken on it. Some diligent club members stayed behind all day to gradually turn and cook it. When we came back it smelt awesome! The lamb was great and the beef was even better – sooooo tender. On Sunday I stayed around the campsite relaxing and reading my book, while Matt went off on a harder climbing adventure with Paul G.

Overall an excellent weekend. We’ll be sheep roasting again next year!

Fire cooked meat

Fire cooked meat

 

ClimbFit

ClimbFit

We live about a 15 minute walk fro, the ClimbFit climbing wall in St Leonards, so go there fairly often.

Recently they did a ‘lights out’ night. They turned off all the lights and you were only allowed in if you had a head torch. They gave out free glow sticks and of course sold head torches to hapless customers who turned up without them for $50 each!

It was even more busy than usual at the wall, novelty factor I guess. It was a good experience, but for me the novelty was probably slightly outweighed by it being so hot from all the people and so busy there wasn’t much choice of route. By the end when it quietened down a bit it was better, and they cranked up the good tunes so it was like being in some sort of crazy climbing disco!

Maybe one day we’ll do some climbing in the dark outside and get some cool light trail photos.

 

So climbing around Horsham, UK was pretty rubbish. To get to any outdoor rock was over an hours drive and to get to anything decent it was more like 3+ hours.

Sydney is a pretty cool place to be a climber. Basically the whole city is built on hard sandstone, which means that there are loads of crags in and around the city. We have a great bouldering crag 10 mins up the road and good sports crags less than 30 mins from our flat.

Lindfield - Bouldering

Lindfield – Bouldering

Lindfied - Bouldering

Lindfied – Bouldering

If you venture 1.5 hours out of the city you get to the Blue Mountains which has 1000s of climbs (trad, sport and aid) both single and multi-pitch. Many of the climbs really don’t have a long walk in either.

Bunny Buckets Buttress (18) - 8 Pitches Sport

Bunny Buckets Buttress (18) – 8 Pitches Sport

Mt York - Sport

Mt York – Sport

And of course the weather here is much more amenable to climbing – most weekends have great weather and we can get out to explore a new crag. In the UK you can expect the weather to be bad and be lucky to have good climbing weather. Here it is the other way around, you can expect to have good weather and you are unlucky for the weather to be bad.

Pearl Bay - Bouldering

Pearl Bay – Bouldering

Pearl Bay - Bouldering

Pearl Bay – Bouldering

If you travel a bit further, you can experience some other great climbing areas. Recently I spent a week at Frog Buttress in Queensland, which is the best crack climbing crag I have ever been to and has probably the best climb that I have ever done – Infinity (19) beautiful hand jamming all the way up for 45m.

Infinity (19) - Trad

Infinity (19) – Trad

Devil'd Dihethral (20) - Trad

We have been here 6 months now and I have already managed to rack up 156 climbs this year, so lets hope that continues once the boiling hot weather starts. I have found that doing more climbing and not knowing the grading system has allowed me to push my grade a bit so I am now sport climbing 21 – 22 (6c – 6c+) and trad climbing 19 – 20 (E2 – E3) depending on what conversion scale you look at.

Bonnet Bay - Sport

Bonnet Bay – Sport

Elly was scared of climbing here originally because of the evil wildlife potential, but so far has seen no snakes or spiders! Lets hope that continues too!

Come and visit and you can come climbing too! 🙂

So now that we have (hopefully) found a place to live we have had some time to explore. Obviously high on my list is to check out the local crags. Sydney its littered with lots of ‘mini crags’ in some unusual places, offering a mixture of bouldering, sport climbing, trad climbing and top roping. The rock is all sandstone of varying quality. In general it seems a bit harder and better quality than the stuff in the south of the UK, although I am still not sure how much I will trust trad gear in it.

There are two main websites which I have been using to get information on Sydney crags, one is the Sydney Rockies online guidebook, This is written by the climbing club that we intend to join: http://routes.sydneyrockies.org.au/confluence/display/nswrock/Sydney The other is www.thecrag.com which is a collaborative climbing database and looks pretty good and used by Sydney climbers. It even does automatic grade conversion! Obviously neither is as good as www.ukclimbing.com 😛

Most of my gear is stuck on a ship somewhere at the moment, so I haven’t been able to get out and do much climbing yet – but that hasn’t stopped us from exploring.

Blues Point

Blues Point is a crag on the North Shore of Sydney Harbour in a park/reserve type thing. It has a very nice atmosphere with great views across the harbour. The crag is mainly bouldering with one or two leading opportunities. The problems all look very interesting and I definitely need to get back there when my bouldering mat arrives. Another plus is that it is only 25 mins on public transport (7 mins if we had a car!) to get there from where we are going to live so this would be a good after work bouldering spot. Also it has lizards which Elly liked.

Blues Point

Blues Point

Link: http://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/north-shore/area/213994206

Pymont Wall

Pymont Wall consists of sand stone cut away to make a road. It is on the South shore of the harbour again with great views over the harbour. This crag has lots of bouldering potential especially for traverses, there are also some possible top roping opportunities. I will be back at some point to tick these climbs, looks like a nice spot for a picnic anyway.

Pymont

Pymont

Link: http://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/inner-west/area/245842962

Thin Wall

This is a 20m bit of wall behind a building close to where I am living at the moment. It mainly has bolted routes (first ring bolts and carrot bolts I have seen) most of the routes seem to have been created through chipping and the rock quality is often doubious. Not sure I will be coming back here unless I run out of other things to do.

Thin Wall

Thin Wall

Link: http://www.thecrag.com/climbing/australia/inner-west/area/12011875

To be continued…