|Tarana Take 2
It was raining on Sunday in the Blue Mountains, so we ignored the Mt Boyce turn off, carried on over the hill and came out in sunlight at Hartley - so Tarana looked like a good option. And it was - sunny but not hot, a nice breeze, and we had the whole place to ourselves.
Tarana is a bit like Jenga for Giants - not always straightforward to find your way around. The old Rock guide is quite basic and very dated now, and TheCrag information limited to a list of climbs. As we expect to spend a lot of time there over the next 6 months working on our granite skills, I'm going to put a bit of work into upgrading the publicly available information. Mark Colyvan (author of the Rock guide to Tarana) was kind enough to allow me to transcribe the entirety of that guide to TheCrag, which I've now done. As I get to know the area better, I'll add missing climbs, develop photo topos and bring the route descriptions up to date. And already this activity is having some effect, with a few other climbers interested in the area adding photos, topos etc - so hopefully we can bring the online guide up to date and make it a little more useful. SeeTheCrag Tarana page for its current status - anyone with anything to contribute would be very welcome :-)
We didn't get a huge amount of climbing done on Sunday, as we got there a bit late, had to leave at 4:30 to get back to Sydney at a reasonable time, and spent quite a bit of time exploring the area and finding routes. All good fun though, I love exploring new areas and getting to know them well.
We started off at the Deckout Buttress, which is a decent warm-up area with easy to find climbs. We started on Lipstick (14) which has the characteristically hard start (desperate for a 14) and then quickly eases off to a more reasonable level. We top-roped Deft (13) as it has no pro at all - it was easier, but not great, being quite dirty & lichenous. Vegetarian Special (16) next door had gone back to nature entirely, so we moved down to Kersplat (17) and gave that a mightly effort. Again, the first steep moves are very thin and tricky, and I fell off and lowered a few times from the first bolt, before sticking the move and trembling my way up easing ground to the top. I worked hard for this and felt quite pleased to have got it.
Rapping off Kersplat
We then went off on an explore - circumnavigating the Googolplex (doesn't that sound like an adventure?) past the base of the Coffin Hole gully in search of some easy trad routes. We found and admired some of the classic routes up this impressive area - mostly far too hard for us, but some (Bilbo Baggins 2001, Fuzzy Navel) we can at least aspire to one day. Many of them looked desperate, but also decidedly unpleasant, vegetated and obviously un-trafficked for years.
Steve looking for Fearnor amongst the nettles
We couldn't find Fearnor, a 60m trad grade 13, or at least we couldn't match the skimpy description to any of the impressive features we found, and weren't game to launch up into the unknown just yet. The problem with climbing the easiest climb on the cliff is that if you get off route, you are by definition getting into harder territory - and given the stout old school grading here, we didn't just want to launch. Weak sauce I know - but we had fun thrashing through the nettles and gawping at the fantastic rock features. Note to other adventurers - the nettles are lush, and happily penetrate thin shirts...
Steve admires the incredible steep curved wall where the Googolplex ends at Goog Gap. There are a couple of rusty bolts up in the middle of that incredible wall - probably an abandoned project, as I just can't imagine anyone climbing that and no description survives.
We did find Reflections, a 10m trad crack up a boulder in Goog Gap. Would actually be a very nice little climb, perfect laybacking up a #2 Camelot crack - if it weren't for the thick layer of lichen covering the wall you need to smear up. Half an hour with a wire brush would resurrect it nicely - if that were possible in a nature reserve. Who knows, maybe the wind will blow off all the lichen one day.
Reflections goes up behind the boulder and then up the shaded layback crack
So we moved on to Passionate Pleasantries (14) described as a "very good slab route". Unfortunately it too has succumbed to time, neglect, and relatively low-angle rock's tendency to collect undergrowth. Steve tried a few times to exe cute the step out of the gully onto the slab, and much hilarity ensued as great green curtains of moss rolled off underfoot, and he attempted to find solid ground under the lichen. He eventually just climbed the gully itself (grade 6 death blocks & trees) to the chains, and we toproped the climb instead, excavating the holds as we went. Actually the climb would be really nice if it was clean - we unearthed some cool solution pockets and ripples of rock that would make it a very pleasant and enjoyable climb. Someone put up a line of bolts up the extreme left hand edge of the slab as well, some of which have completely disappeared under the greenery, and installed a belay station at the P1 ledge. The lower 2 bolts on PP are okay still, the top one is a bad joke of a bolt. The anchor bolts are SS glue ins and are still sound - but the chain is a lacework of rust. A few hours with an excavator and a replacement bolt or two would pay off with a couple of really quite nice easy climbs...
Steve gives up on unearthing PP and heads up the gully blocks. The route goes up diagonally right from the bolt in line with the lower section of rope.
We completed our circumnavigation, then cut across to Crown Buttress at Goog Gully. The left wall of this gully is a blunt spur, with a very prominent dyke running down the arete of the spur. We'd climbed this last week and really enjoyed it, but haven't been able to identify it with any certaintly. It is about gr15, a classic little line straight up the arete, and has a row of quite recent SS carrots making it well protected, so I'd think almost everyone does this climb - anyone know what it is? There is another line just to the right of it, a very aesthetically pleasing slab route that joins it at the top, with 4 fixed hangers for pro. I gave this a crack, and managed to get up it with a lot of highly visible trepidation and unmanly squeaking. Really quite delicate slabbing for the first 5m, then easing as you go up, excellent route, I reckon about gr17. There is also a climb around to the left of the dyke climb, also joining the other two on the top of the spur. If anyone knows the names of these for sure, and can help me update the guide descriptions, I'd be grateful. One of them must be Blue Train, and has been retro- or re-bolted, the other two probably more recent.
Red marks the dyke route, blue the gr17? to its right, there is another bolted route just around to the left.
And that was all we had time for - back through the rain over the mountains to Sydney - great to know that Tarana can be enjoying full sun while 30 mins away it rained all day. Next time we'll go for a weekend, and mix up some easy tradding with some harder top roping to work on our slab skills - granite still feels ridiculously hard.