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)

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