30-31 October 2004

Paticipants: Gill Fowler, Andy Wilkinson, Duncan Sinclair, Liz Drummond, Duane White, Matt Ryan, HP and 3 other Somersetians, Tom Brennan

Skip boring narrative and jump straight to pictures... - you can't cos there are no pictures

[All grades and stars from Rockclimbs in the Upper Blue Mountains 2nd Ed]

Gill, Duncan, Andy and I headed up on Saturday morning and stopped for a breakfast pie in Katoomba. We arrived at the car park to find Liz and Duane just arrived. Matt Ryan's car was already there as well. We slid our way up to the crag to find Matt and the Somersetians already into it.

I jumped on the bottom section of Through the Looking Glass (14), which was pretty easy. While were were on it, Duncan and I top roped Jonestown (19) and Greenies Delight (19). Jonestown in particular seemed pretty soft for a 19, but that's easy to say when you've got a rope above you. We finished off with me leading Herd Instinct (17) and Kersplat (17*), the latter being the first climb I really needed to use my hands on.

After lunch we headed round to Crown Buttress and I headed Up the Nose of Love (17*) (16 and no star in the old Wild guide). This was an excellent climb. The three BRs in 35m was a challenging head game, and my calves were struggling by the end. That brought me back to earth. We did what we thought was Optem Bop (16*) next, which was a bit disappointing after the first 5m or so. However, on reading another guide it seems more likely to be Jailbreak from H-Block (17). We finished off with what I thought might be Jailbreak from H-Block, but turns out to have been Nerves of Rubber (12). After soloing up and down the crux near the start, we had already figured that it was something else, but I had hopes.

Everyone was getting peckish by then so we headed straight for the pub, which did a roaring trade that night in Tarana Tiger Burgers. Duane and Liz were disappointed that there weren't people sculling out of a leather boot like the night before. A bunch of us had a gin & tonic since the house gin was Bombay Sapphire. Matt and the Somersetians headed for home while the rest of us drove down the road to the campsite, set up tents, and sat around drinking port for a while (except Andy who went to bed).

The next morning we got up late due to daylight saving. After reconvening at the crag, I ambitiously jumped on Les Grandes Courses (15), a widening crack. After getting two pieces in I spent the next ten minutes shredding my hands in the crack. Duncan offered to have a go, and after one rest, jammed and muscled his way to the top. I got back on with little more success ... until my last attempt when I finally got both feet and hands to stick at once and swore my way up the rest. After a similar effort at Piddo, some crack climbing practice is obviously called for.

We headed around to something a bit more my style, and jumped on something that turned out to be ? (15*) on the middle of the Dyke next to Goog Gully. It was looking pretty run out until a cam placement in a pocket turned up. I swore after only taking draws until Duncan pointed out that I had one cam on my harness that I had retrieved from the last climb ... and it turned out to fit exactly!

Up on top I eyed off another climb that looked doable but wasn't in the guides we had. I slipped and fell above the first bolt, one foot popping just after the crux. I hauled back on and gingerly stepped my way to easier ground, and then over the break to the top. Nice and reasonably sustained for quite a while. Turns out to have been ? (20) next to Small Pox Wall, so I was bummed that I slipped, since I've led nothing higher than an 18 before.

Just as we got down, it started to rain, and continued long enough to end the day. We sat in the cave for lunch and then made our way back down the slippery track to the cars. It was nearly 4pm anyway. A stop at the Wattle Cafe in Blackheath for coffees or milkshakes, and then the long drive back to Sydney, where we were descended on by trick-or-treaters.