|Tarana seems to be a bit unfashionable nowadays, granite slabbing in an era of steep sport. The reputation for insecure climbing, minimal pro, and long runouts between rusty bolts probably doesn't help. But Steve and I are headed to Tuolumne and Yosemite next year, mostly for the long granite climbs on alpine routes and sub-alpine domes - so what could be better preparation? Booroomba is just the ticket, but at only 3 hours from Sydney, Tarana ticks most of the boxes, so we headed out crack of dawn on Sunday to check it out.
Views from Tarana
It is a nice drive from Sydney, and lovely rural countryside on the approach. The walk in as a gentle 15 minute stroll up a well-formed track through a pocket of dense mountain bush, thronging with birds and alive with wildflowers on this late spring day. Lovely. The walk brings you out at the Deckout Buttress, instantly recognisable from the photos on the pdf topo we downloaded from thecrag.com, probably the most current area guide available. I'd love to see an overall map of the area, perhaps there is one in the old Rock guide?
We skipped the short warmup climbs there, and moved a little down to The Looking Glass area, where I led The Looking Glass (14). A nice warmup up to the chains, it continues up a fearsome looking squeeze chimney, which I declined to lead on the basis that I was too scared. You can see it above the block in the pic below - look like 14 to you?
Rapping from Through the Looking Glass ledge
Setting up on the chains gave us the chance to toprope a couple of climbs that are a little out of my leading level at the moment - Jonestown and Greenies delight. Managed to get up these - just - and enjoyed the very thin and delicate slabbing. Would have enjoyed it a lot less on lead...
Steve on Jonestown (19)
Steve on Greenies Delight (19)
We then wandered off to explore. The area is really quite tricky to navigate, a three-dimensional maze of rocks that is initially quite confusing. We discovered what turned out to be the Coffin Hole, and through that the impressive lineup of 20-ish slab climbs. We were also lucky to bump into Rob, a friendly local who knows the area well, and got directions from him for some easier routes on the Crown Buttress, which we'd have had difficulty finding on our own.
A little way down the track we popped out at the Goog Gapl, instantly recognisable by the dyke forming a stegosaurus arete on a large rib on the left. We couldn't match the climbs to anything in my guide, but launched up the dyke, for what was my route of the day - quite delicate slab on beautiful rock leading to easier climbing up the prominent dyke.
Steve on Dyke Route (15)
Me on Dyke Route (15)
And finally we went off right to find Optem Bop and a couple of easier trad climbs. I struggled mightily on the start of Optem Bop, eventually backing off before the second clip, not wanting to commit to the really very thin moves between the 2. So I did Nerves of Rubber (trad 12) instead, figuring it was at least more indicative of my abilities. Given it was damp, mossy and lichenous, it was still no cinch - and when the rock improved higher up, the difficulties dropped off to very easy. That set us up on top of Optem Bop, so attempted it on top rope - which is when I discovered the almost invisible rusty bolts of the real Optem Bop - I'd been trying Jailbreak from H Block (18) which was a little bit tougher, albeit with nice shiny hangers. I got through this on TR, but again, very thin & tenuous, and I'd like to improve my trad skills before leading this in earnest.
And that was us done for the day - time for a quick explore around the Crown Buttress, admire the cool lines of Downright Left, Les Grandes Courses and Lemuria (another day!) and back to the car to head back to Sydney.
An excellent intro to Tarana, if a little chastening. Most of the climbs here require you to be a solid slab climber in the 17-22 range, but there is plenty of opportunity to improving our skills on top rope first, so we'll be back to get better! Now that we have our bearings, it should be easier to find our way around, and we could easily spend a full weekend here working on our slab skills - if only our calves and ankles hold out!