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Mild Peril, Rutger Hauer and Debris in a day
10:57:51 AM
For whatever crazy reason, BJenga (Ben) and I decided to get in one last epic day of multipitching before it gets too cold on the Pierces Pass side of the Grose. The plan was ambitious: Mild Peril, Rutger Hauer and Debris in a day, and with predictably optomistic ignorance, neither of us had a REAL grasp of just how windy the day was going to be... Or how bloody cold.

Up at 0445. Get to Ben's at 0530. Get to Blackheath and drop off a hitch-hiker at 0700. Get to the Hotel C exit track/50 Year Itch entrance track parking area at about 0730. Kit up and go. We somehow found the way to the rap point with remarkable ease (the walk in is surprisingly well-worn and pretty cruisy), and rapped down two pitches to the main ledge. A long chain has been installed at the rap anchors to avoid any further instances of knots getting stuck on ironstone edges when pulling to rethread for the second abseil, and though this is great and makes retrieving the rope easy, it's damned scary trying to get low enough on the side of the cliff to have the rap rope tight on the belay device.

A flip of a "rock of fate" determined which climb we'd start with. Dirty side up: Mild Peril, Clean side up: Rutger Hauer. The Rock Gods ordained us to climb...


We found the start of the climb pretty easily -from the bottom it looked okay, but nothing spectacular- and at about 0830 we started climbing. I had the first pitch, a pretty short grade 20 that starts off with a bit of stemming, smearing and laybacking for the first few metres before easing off considerably. It was hard to give the pitch a grade (as it was essentially my warm up, and so cold I couldn't feel my fingers) but it might be soft at 20. Nevertheless, for the first few metres it was an awkward warm-up.

Ben had the second pitch, the money-maker of the climb, an epic 45m Grade 22 jug haul on a slightly overhanging wall. The rock was pretty good for the most part, with only a few hard-ish (21?) moves spread out throughout it, but the length of the route and the overhang meant that a wicked pump was inevitable. Ben cruised it at a consistant pace, loving every metre of the marathon pitch, and naturally got to the top clean. I followed him cleanly on second, finally understanding what all the "it's so pumpy" comments from Ben were all about. By the time I reached the belay Ben had been standing on an exposed ledge being blasted by the icy wind for quite a while, while I was nice and warm (and pumped) in time for the crux pitch to follow.

The 20m 23-pitch starts rather inauspiciously with a cruisy traverse and some fun jug hauling with nice exposure. Then all of a sudden someone sets the amp to 11, with a funky throw (dyno for anyone shorter than me) off a high right foot and low left hand crimp to a good -but slopey- break. After that it thins out into non-non existance. The crux move was a high foot, balancy rock-over to really bad edge a long way-away. I had one go at it, but overbalanced and grabbed the draw before I could fall. A minutes rest and I spotted the crucial hold... An invisible side pull in a place you least expect it. Second shot the move went airily but cleanly, and I grabbed the most hideous hold of the day desperately, working my feet higher before lunging desperately for a tolerable crimp. My Sharma-esque scream of desperation empowered me to hold the crimp, and desperately clip that next bolt before finishing the pitch clean. Ben followed, using the super-secret side-pull to do the first part of the crux stylishly, before overbalancing trying to walk his feet higher to get the height to go to the tolerable crimp. In his defence... He HAD been on that belay ledge at negative one-million degrees celsius temperatures (I don't care what the BOM says, it was negative a million) for a bloody long time. Once he regained feeling in his feet, Ben cruised the crux and reached my awesome semi-hanging belay stance.

The final pitch of about 30m goes at grade 20, with -once again- the hardest moves just off the belay stance. Ben made them look as hideously difficult as possible, then cruised his way to the top once the climbing eased off. Utilising Ben's beta of "this hold is key", the moves weren't TOO bad, and once up to a funky little cave the final headwall/arete is gentle cooldown of "death by ironstone" jug and edge hauling to the top.

All in all, it took us about 3.5 hours to do the climb. After which we made our way back to where we'd stashed our gear, had some lunch, and rapped back down to the ledge.


From the bottom the climb looks amazing, with some beautiful sunset orange rock streaking up to the top of the cliff. The reality, unfortunately, is that for the first two pitches the rock just isn't that great.

We started climbing about 1300hrs. Ben motored through the first pitch (30m, 19), a pretty gentle jug-haul on some dubious rock. I took the second pitch (30m 20/21 -I've seen both grades listed in different places-), which was also pretty tame except for one move about 5m from the end of the pitch, and continued the theme of questionable rock. At the end of the pitch you traverse right about 15m to a rebelay before the moneymaking pitch begins.

Pitch 3 is F#$king awesome. Seriously: AWESOME. It inspires awe. The rock sorts itself out and hardens up, the position at the end of that particular wall (as per the photo in Simon Carter's guide book) is breathtaking, and the moves are what climbing should be about. It consists of perhaps 5 22-ish moves spread throughout the climb, broken up by easy moves on jugs and breaks where you can get okay rest stances. But the slightly steep nature of it means that you can never truly rest, so you have to just keep moving. The thing is: for all of the cruxy sections, I don't think I ever repeated a movement, each hard section felt totally unique. The last hard section comes in a series of moves as you work your way up a thin flake trying to keep your balance while making some powerful moves towards the "thank god" jugs above. It is also the only sequence where you can't get an okay rest after doing the moves, you have to just keep motoring on through the hard moves.

Ben made most of the pitch look easy, until the final hard move where it became apparent that he was getting a bit tired. But in typical Ben style, he utilised the classic "climb up, feel around for some holds, climb down" onsight technique a few times, before committing to a right hand gaston on a thin flake, high left foot, throw to "thank god" jug sequence, to finish the 23 pitch in high style. Because we were running the two pitches together, he continued up the short 19 pitch to the top and promptly finished the climb. His comments on the final Grade 19 pitch were "it's got some weird moves on it".

I was feeling a bit thrashed by this point in time, but followed Ben up the 23 pitch, loving every moment of it, trying not to get too gassed. By the time I got to the final crux moves I didn't have the strength to use the the thin flake as a gaston for the throw, so I decided to throw off a fingerlock instead. The result was that I left most of the skin on my fingers behind, and came within a millimetre of falling, but thankfully the Sharma-scream got me to the jug, and I made it to the top. Ben's description of the 19 pitch were accurate, it IS weird... In a good way! It's steeper than any other part of the climb, extremely short, and with weird side pulls and pockets in bombproof rock. The good holds are all where you DON'T want them to be, so the body positions are quite bizarre, though the climbing is easy enough.

We topped out at about 1500hrs (having taken about 2 hours to climb the route), and both agreed that except for using the first two pitches of Rutger Hauer as a warmup for the 23 pitch (if you hadn't done any other climbing for the day) it might be better to rap in and just do the top two pitches in future... Assuming you could find the anchors at the top.

We headed back to the abseil to collect our gear, walked out via the Hotel C exit track, played chicken with the traffic on Bells Line of Road, and by 1530 were back at the main pierces pass car park ready for...


This one had been on Ben's and my tick lists for a while... Mostly as a bit of a novelty "out there" route of much craziness. In case you don't know, Debris is a 55m grade 23 15-degree overhanging arete, that you access by rapping in from the top to a hanging belay and climb to get out. It's notorious for being quite run out (though, 14 bolts for 55m wasn't really TOO run out, on reflection). Lucky Chance base-solos it in Smitten (talking to him yesterday, he described the route as being way more radical than he thought it would be), and for some reason I'd been told by a few sources that it was easy for a 23, and that the grade was given for the length and exposure.

We stuffed some food down our gullets, racked up AGAIN, and made the walk to the lookout. At the lookout we had to hunt for the rap anchors (they're actually about 5m down from the top, and you get to them, by traversing in on some scary dinner-plate ironstone edges over 200m of air) and also came across some kids who were having a barbequeue and doing everything they could to keep us from seeing the glass bong that they had with them. Ben found the abseil anchors, we passed gear down to the exposed abseil ledge (I didn't want the kids tampering with our stuff), and rigged the 60m static rope for the rap in. Since Ben was going to lead it, it fell on him to equip the route, and after confiding in the fact that we were both pretty intimidated by the prospect of the abseil and the full committment of the climb, he rapped into the void. To get to the hanging belay you have to bounce your way along the arete, clipping draws into the rap rope to stay in contact with the rock. The difficulty of doing this at the end of the day with the sun setting cannot be emphasised enough. Following Ben down the rap a bit later, by the time I got the belay stance I was buggered from unclipping the draws to rap past them, then reclipping them to stay in contact with the rock.

We'd been climbing on double ropes all day, and the ultimate rope-management test piece of the Blue Mountains is to get two ropes off your back, tie into them, and set them up so that they won't get tangled while climbing all in a hanging belay stance in high winds. The solution was to trail about 15m of rope below me, and untangle the rest as Ben climbed. Against all the odds, they never tangled once.

The other thing about the belay stance on Debris, is that it's actually rather difficult to get off the belay and onto the arete to the start of the climb. With the help of some rather compromising positions, and with headlamps on our helmets, Ben started the climb at about 1700hrs. The first few moves are pretty thin with bad footers, and I distinctly remember Ben's comment of: "I thought you said this is supposed to be easy? ... I've done easier 23's than this". Nevertheless, he soldiered on, climbing on both sides of the arete, looking tired, gripped and pumped, but still fighting upwards. The actual climbing probabably took about 45 minutes, and it got dark as he climbed, necessitating the use of his headlamp. Finally, when he was off the main arete, with about 15m of run-out (but comparatively easy) climbing left, he hit the wall and grabbed the last draw to give himself time to get his head back in gear. In hind-sight it was probably a good thing too, since he didn't know that the climbing got easier after that, and the run out to the top was long enough that falling probably wouldn't be the best idea. It also gave him a chance to switch out of "scrappy, desperate" climbing, and back into smart climbing. Naturally, when he pulled back on 2 minutes later he cruised it to the top.

Now it was my turn. The wind was back up, it was now completely black, and unlike Ben once I took the belay anchor apart I had to either get creative to get over to the arete, or go for a swing on top rope and end up in the void. I chose creative, threaded the end of the rap-rope through one of the rings, and used it to lower myself down to a point where I could traverse into the climb. I didn't find the starting moves TOO bad (though the rope above me, and having seen Ben's sequence were doubtlessly huge factors), but it wasn't long before I was struggling. The right side of the arete is only slightly overhung, but consists of pretty thin holds to okay breaks. The left side is steeper and jugier, but basically just choss. I climbed clean on second to about half way before coming to a move that I simply couldn't do. I was climbing the thin holds on a blank section of the right-side of the arete, and whether by weariness, low visibility or a lack of ability, I couldn't link the 2m of climbing into it. After about 15 minutes of trying the move, I gave up and prussiked up 3m to the next bolt. After that I rested on that bolt, and had one more rest -struggling with another move just before leaving the arete and moving onto he headwall- then scrapped my way to the top. I think that I was on the wall for a bit over an hour.

The thing about debris, is that there are some definate hard moves (maybe nails-22, easy-23) amongst the length, exposure, and pumpy jug-hauling. And by my reckoning it was way harder than either of us had anticipated. Having said that, doing the climb fresh will probably bring a different perspective.

We topped out, made the shit-scary traverse off the abseil ledge and back to the top, walked back to the cars and were on our way out of pierces pass at around 1930hrs.

And that was that. Ben took a few photos (though not many) so maybe he'll post them. All in all it was a bloody awesome -albeit freezing- day out, and about as memorable as they come. It's almost a shame it's getting so cold now, cause I can see a Yesterdays Groove/Bionic Booger Boys/Super Trance 2000 day out in the near future...


-Paul Thomson

11:22:53 AM
That's one hell of a trip report and a bit to long to read on this toliet break, it will have to wait untill lunch.
11:41:42 AM
Yeah fotos would be good
12:06:58 PM
wow, big and chilly day. You really get frozen if there is any wind at all.

-I thought that mild peril was a lot looser than P1 and 2 on Rutger Hauer, maybe it's cleaned up. I repeated it and carried a big brush to sweep out the cave on P2

-We rapped straight down to the anchors on Debris, not diagonally down the climb; which sounds epic, and terrifying. I remember it was a very scary place to bolt. I don't remember what the anchors were though. I thought there were only about 7 rings on debris, you mention 14? Maybe they are breeding?

- Shouldn't you hav ran down to the river between climbs?

12:43:19 PM
G'day Mikl,

Both Ben and I agreed that Mild Peril felt cleaner than Rutger Hauer. We were both surprised since we didn't think MP had had all that many repeats, while Rutger Hauer has had a reasonable number.

What did you rap off to go straight down to the anchors on Debris? Did you sling the big rocks on top, or something? We couldn't find any other anchors anywhere up there except the ones we rapped off.

As to the breeding rings... Well, you know what happens when you leave two rings alone, over time they start to multiply.... Seriously though, Ben had 14 draws on him when he rapped in, he left two on the belay (one to keep the static rope from blowing around too much, and the other to protect the traverse in when he started climbing), So there was at least 12 on the actual climb. He used a single biner on one of the bolts that he hadn't found on the rap down, but that might be because he also used a draw on a thread he found near the top. So, I'll go with 12 on the climb itself.

>- Shouldn't you hav ran down to the river between climbs?

Well I didn't want to mention it, but after getting back to the car after finishing MP/RH, we ducked out to Mount Wilson and did a speed run through Bell Creek Canyon... naked... using Kayaks instead of Lilos... Ran into Aaron Ralson while we were out there, actually (he was trying to Chimney out of the Canyon, cause he thought it was a bit too cold, the pansy.)

1:16:51 PM
Yeah I think you were on debris for longer then an hour. I had long enough to start spotting animals and shapes in the lichen on the rock.
Mind you it was one of the best belay trees I have ever sat in.

Photos when I get home on Wednesday.
1:52:40 PM
won't what you're training for be warm, and on good rock?
One Day Hero
2:20:02 PM
I dunno about your assessment of Rutger Hauer, I don't remember it being any chossier than the other classics at Pierce's. And the description of the crux pitch having "multiple 5m sections of gr22 moves".......what does that mean? Perhaps you're saying that it has multiple sections where the moves are as hard as would be found on an enduro gr22 in the Blueys? It certainly doesn't have multiple sections as hard as the cruxs of cruxy 22's at Nowra. I'm pretty sure that it's easier than the first pitch (21) of Hotel California. Classic multipitch sport route though, with minimal administrative hassles. Should be on everyone's ticklist.

Anyway, good effort on the big day....but if you're training for Yosemite by climbing ringbolted jug hauls, you're doing it really wrong! Pop down to Booroomba for a couple of big w/e's on climbing which is actually relevant.

Duang Daunk
3:10:36 PM
On 15/05/2012 One Day Hero wrote:
>Anyway, good effort on the big day....but if you're training for Yosemite
>by climbing ringbolted jug hauls, you're doing it really wrong! Pop down
>to Booroomba for a couple of big w/e's on climbing which is actually relevant.

Even better just go to Yos, because you won't learn to climb with crowds at The Booroomba, though the many rusty hangars/bolts will make you feel the same!

4:23:27 PM
Yeah I can confirm that the crux pitch on Rutger is no harder then the first pitch of hotel C but you have to factor in the first pitch of Hotel C is a cold start of the ground so it's always a smack in the face.
If the crux pitch of Rutger was off the deck it may feel a bit stiffer as well??
7:28:18 PM
Ben and I spent the whole day looking over at Perrys -in the sun- and thinking: "wow, all those routes over there look like the greatest climbs of all time!". That opinion would be subject to change in summer.

>I dunno about your assessment of Rutger Hauer, I don't remember it being
>any chossier than the other classics at Pierce's.

I've certainly done chossier climbs at Pierces (Big Trad Thong, I'm looking at YOU!). But my comparison was between the steller "Mild Peril" and the still very good but not quite as steller in my opinon "Rutger Hauer". =P I'd readily repeat both, regardless... Um... Maybe in spring.

On 15/05/2012 One Day Hero wrote:
> And the description of
>the crux pitch having "multiple 5m sections of gr22 moves".......what does
>that mean? Perhaps you're saying that it has multiple sections where the
>moves are as hard as would be found on an enduro gr22 in the Blueys? It
>certainly doesn't have multiple sections as hard as the cruxs of cruxy
>22's at Nowra. I'm pretty sure that it's easier than the first pitch (21)
>of Hotel California. Classic multipitch sport route though, with minimal
>administrative hassles. Should be on everyone's ticklist.

My wording was a bit confusing... What I was saying is that there are maybe 5 moves at about grade 22 on the climb, with jug hauling and rest stances between. The final "cruxy" section was about 5m of hard moves without any of the aforementioned jug-hauling.

7:51:43 PM
On 15/05/2012 PThomson wrote:
>Ben and I spent the whole day looking over at Perrys -in the sun- and thinking:
>"wow, all those routes over there look like the greatest climbs of all
>time!". That opinion would be subject to change in summer.

Yeah man, get on the Yak routes. Perfect in these cool temps !!

There are 12 messages in this topic.


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