Goto Chockstone Home

  Tech Tips

      Sponsored By

Chockstone Photography
Australian Landscape Photography by Michael Boniwell
Australian Landscape Prints

Chockstone Forum - Trip Reports

Tells Us About Your Latest Trip!

9:42:29 AM
Trying not to totally steal the other thread ...

7:26:12 AM

On 6/03/2013 Wendy wrote:
>maybe it's like that pair of Tasmanians who told us what a great route
>Battleship Cruiser was...

What's wrong with Battlecruiser?
7:43:34 AM

On 7/03/2013 Doug wrote:
>What's wrong with Battlecruiser?

Exactly. It's a great route. I think when Wendy had the operation on her shoulder last year, they accidently removed her cojones too.

>Cam McKenzie
8:03:26 AM

On 7/03/2013 Doug wrote:
>On 6/03/2013 Wendy wrote:
>>maybe it's like that pair of Tasmanians who told us what a great route
>>Battleship Cruiser was...
>What's wrong with Battlecruiser?

>Battlecruiser is awesome! Especially if you finish up Space Cowboy.

Simey, I think you might need to be given honorary Tasmanian status. I will forgive the others because they actually are Tasmanian. I have concluded that there's something a little skewed in the Tasmanian perspective. I think Gareth might be an honorary Tasmanian too.

We turned up at the crag intending to climb Third Bird, but it was still in the sun and Battlecruiser was just coming into the shade. It wasn't as appealling looking as Third Bird, but these Tasmanians had just got off it and said it was great, 3 stars. So we wander up it. Douglas is leading as we weren't sure about my shoulder on 18s yet, and the first corner is choss of the finest degree. Loose stuff on the surface, loose stuff in the crack, a nice sandpit on the way. I crawled as far out of the firing line as I could, and Douglas commented "I thought impeccable rock was part of the requisites for a 3 star route". He disappears out of sight around the roof, there are a few sounds of battle unexpected to hear from him on an 18 and eventually he's safe. I wander up the first corner in amazement at what could be considered rock, but from the roof, the rock is better and the climbing exactly the sort of stuff I like, so with a nice knee bar or two and a hand jam, I uttered one of the catch cries of our trip. "It's quite a good pitch on second". Then you get to the top of the pitch and what looks like a good crack turns out to be a tall, skinny flake standing in not much just waiting for you to pull it onto you. We did begin to wonder if those Tasmanians were just trying to sandbag the Victorians.

Still, it's a great position hanging out on the Pipes. So we sit down and look around and notice Space Cowboy going straight up. This is the pitch that the guidebook say is better than sex. We could only conclude that they are doing it wrong. Really, it was less than 10 metres of not that appealing looking black flake and the odd face hold before you joined Battlecruiser anyway. Douglas decides to head up the normal route and shortly after wonders "Maybe they have a 17 star system in Tasmania"? It's another choosy corner fully of loose flakes and bodgy chockstones, but heads up to an impressive looking steep line out to the right. The line turns out to be made of drummy flakes and fangs of rock wedged into them, all looking dubiously connected to the main cliff. You pull out through these into a little hanging corner formed by another very questionable bit of rock. It's a great position. The moves are cool. The rock is just terrible. Douglas didn't feel like any of the rock his gear was in would hold a fall onto it and was nearly sick with terror by the time he got to the top. It was quite a good pitch on second though.

Then to add to the fun, finding the rap station. The guide suggests you get up this pitch, wander up a little further and there they are. Of course, at the top of the pitch, there's nothing obvious. Some choss, some bushes, some dirt. I thought Douglas needed some relief from the terror, and I wandered up to find the rap stations. I think I ended up with half the cliff, dirt and vegetation down my top in exchange for half the skin on my legs. Climbing over and under bushes and up something a little worse than the top of Frog as far as loose, dirty scree goes is also not on my general interpretation of 3 stars either. Let alone when you have to climb down some of it again, head left, head right ... Still we found a nice modern rap station. But I am perplexed as to why it was placed there? I thought it must be because you can walk over to it from other routes, but then we did Third Bird the next day, and getting over from there involved a similarly awful pitch up in order to do a spectacularly awful pitch down the other side to get there. I can only conclude it is to add to the experience.

Battlecruiser has some great climbing in it, but honestly, it has some of the worst rock I have ever encountered, and it's not that I am unfamiliar with awful rock! I have a moderately high choss tolerance. But really, that was some impressive choss. I am kind of amazed that neither the guidebook, nor the Tasmanian pair mentioned that it might have just a little loose and fragile rock.

We did 11 stars worth of climbing on the Pipes. To be perfectly honest, it was realistically about 4 stars worth of climbing. But the weather was good and the position is great, and we got to have coffee and pastries in Hobart (not to mention internet so I could tell people they were wrong) before climbing. Hobart is quite a nice city in good weather. Then it became 18 and raining. I like home.

3:02:16 PM
Good detailed post about your encounter with Battlecruiser, Wendy!
I'd agree with you about the description for Space Cowboys being overstated. There are really nice moves on it, the pitch takes you out left to the arete and then back right into Battlecruiser after about 10 metres, so there isn't that much different climbing. (Probably not better than sex unless - like you say - you're not doing it right!) But I've never thought it is two grades harder than the second pitch of Battlecruiser itself.

Re the full Battlecruiser experience and the merit of three stars, just about every trad pitch on the Organ Pipes has some rock that could be described as "loose". But there is "loose" and "dangerously loose". You can easily climb around all the loose stuff on Battlecruiser and get good gear in without using any of the loose stuff.
On the first pitch, I reckon Douglas made the mistake that many people - including me on at least one occasion - make and thrutched up the crack around the overhang, rather than stepping out left and up, just using the crack for jams with the right hand. (I was on it a couple of weeks ago and the fellow who was leading the first pitch - who has also climbed it a number of times before, started to make the same mistake before realising he was being silly!)
The second pitch is fantastic: the improbable (at the grade) undercling out left in a wonderful position and then sustained climbing up to the arete is world class. Leading up to there, you can actually stay out of the crack most of the way, side-pulling and stepping on little ledges. But the crack certainly wants to suck you into it if you're not careful - kinda like a black hole, I reckon.
In terms of getting off, the guide could be clearer for sure. Basically, the best thing is to keep going straight up near the arete, and the bolts eventually appear right in front of your nose. this section up to the belay would be much better with a bit more of the vegetation removed (it wasn't there when Law and Bowman did the first ascent way back in 1978). There is work afoot to tidy up some of these scrubby sections on some of the classics on Mount Wellington, but this isn't meeting with universal approval.
Oh, by the way: you must have been working with Al Adams edition of the guide if you thought you were doing an 18. It was graded 20 for decades, then briefly downgraded to 18 by a couple of guys who had probably done it 20 times. Now, the consensus seems to have settled at 19.
Cam McKenzie
4:01:19 PM
Wow, we have completely different recollections of the same route. I remember the rock and the gear being fine and the climbing being awesome. I did space cowboy again a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it again. The flakes may look a bit dodgy but they're all solid and the gear and the climbing is very good.

I don't recall the rap stations being hard to find. You just keep going up, and there they are.

Maybe I'm biased or something, but of all the places I've climbed Mt Wellington is one of my favorite places.

4:29:16 PM
This reminds of the first time I went to Moonarie (when I lived in Victoria) and I thought the rock was pretty chossy and scary. Then I moved to Sydney, climbed in the Bluies for a few years then went back to Moonarie - andI thought the rock was brilliant!
9:54:38 PM
I don't know where you guys start up the first pitch, but that corner up to the roof was full of mank! The first pitch of Third Bird was very similar until you get to the top of that cut little pillar and step onto the main face and up the crack. And the start of the 2nd pitch. Then heading left - that was a series of sharp pointing chockstones wedged in a thin flake pointing down, rather exactly where you, your rope and your belayer happen to be.

I happily went straight up the crack around the roof on BC, it was fun. i wasn't really bothered about the grading - 18/9 the moves were all ok.

the problem with heading straight up, Cam, is that after a bit of grotty, chossy scrambling you encounter a wall of shrubbery. I went right and up over, well, mostly through actually until I decided that couldn't possibly be the way, climbed (for lack of a better verb) back down, then ended up going under and up on the left, which does get you to the bolts. I reckon rather than try and clean all that up (coming across from Third Bird was even worse), put rap stations in at or near clusters of popular routes. The new path work at the base of the cliff is great though. You could set those guys loose at the top!

Third Bird also deserves a mention for the description of "exquisite rock" on the 3rd pitch. Now, I've climbed on a lot of really good rock. Araps has some exquisite rock. Squamish and the Valley and Chamonix have some. There some exquisite limestone before it becomes a toilet bowl around the place. Third Bird is pretty good for the Pipes (after the first 25m) but, pulling on drummy flakes is not exquisite!

I'd certainly climb on the Pipes again if I happened to be there is good weather (given this was the first time in 20+ years, I guess the chances aren't high though), but I get these feeling that Tasmanians might loose their perspective on rock. There's just too much manky rock around Tassie in general! And ok, i've got the opposite problem, spoiled by too much good rock. But still, I did spend 2 weeks at Moonarie and 2 at Buffalo last year, and neither came close to rather a lot of the climbing we did in Tassie. Those 2 worst 2 star routes in the gramps at Barbican wall (and I do call them that rather fondly, it was strangely fun) were a bit more like it. Actually, I think Douglas decided BC has overtaken them as the worst rock he has ever climbed on. Although the route we did on Sow Spur(n) would be a contender too.

Still, i have to have some respect for Tassie climbers. You've got to be motivated. Between the weather, the drving, the access, the rock, the descents ... i wouldn't be getting that much climbing done if I lived there!
10:15:12 PM
I like third bird and battlecruiser. I think the guidebook gives out way too many stars though. Its a different style of climbing. Fun though.

On 7/03/2013 Wendy wrote:

>Still, i have to have some respect for Tassie climbers. You've got to
>be motivated. Between the weather, the drving, the access, the rock, the
>descents ... i wouldn't be getting that much climbing done if I lived there!

I agree with you there.Its awesome climbing but you have to want it. And winter is dog shit. Thats why Im outa here at the end of the month! We just got a 6 man tent off ebay. See ya soon!
11:07:23 PM
stars = (2013-date)/120* stars

Wendy, it was a 3 star classic in the 70s, That isn't saying much...
Cam McKenzie
11:03:15 AM
Hmm, maybe I have a high tolerance for poxy rock, but I've never thought that the rock on Mt Wellington was bad, other than the occasional loose flake. I've broken no more holds climbing there than at the Grampians or Arapiles. Maybe being dragged to Cape Woolami once early in my career set my expectations low.

As for the stars being excessive, I don't think so. All of the 3 star routes I've done at Mt Wellington are at least as good as their Victorian counterparts (except for Sky Rocket which is obviously far superior to any grade 20 route in the universe).

10:41:11 PM
Any guide that gives brown madonna 3 stars is clearly a bit liberal on the starry side :)

4:31:12 AM
Is it just me or are Victarcticans particularly soft when it comes to choss tolerance?

If anyone's visiting Northern California and up for a really fine choss experience I'll take you to The Pinnacles. Great climbing on some of the worst "rock" imaginable (cobbles embedded in dirt). The trad routes are hilarious!

7:52:05 AM
I guess its just a taste thing, Brown Madonna is classic!! has it all, gearless chimney, stonker cracks and face climbing juggy goodness! I think people just get a bit spoiled with Araps.

The rock isn't bullet-proof like Taipan, its pretty loose in parts. But complete choss? I've climbed a lot worse.

It raises the other issue thats come up with stars, does 3 stars at one crag have to equal 3 stars at the next? I think not! 3 stars IMO should mean the best routes at the particular crag with some attention paid to the surrounding crags. Not much would compare to the uber-classic 3 star routes at Araps/Gramps as they're some of the best single pitches around
Cam McKenzie
8:04:33 AM
On 20/03/2013 vwills wrote:
>Any guide that gives brown madonna 3 stars is clearly a bit liberal on
>the starry side :)

Admittedly, I've walked to the bottom of Brown Madonna with a rack of monster cams twice and decided that it looked horrible and gone and done something else. I always thought the 3 stars for this was a practical joke.

8:49:54 AM
On 21/03/2013 Cam McKenzie wrote:
>On 20/03/2013 vwills wrote:
>>Any guide that gives brown madonna 3 stars is clearly a bit liberal on
>>the starry side :)
>Admittedly, I've walked to the bottom of Brown Madonna with a rack of
>monster cams twice and decided that it looked horrible and gone and done
>something else. I always thought the 3 stars for this was a practical joke.

It is. A joke, that is. Brown Madonna had 2 stars from the time it was first done, through at least three different guide books until the current version. It's a particular favourite of a couple of the current thesarvo editors, thereby the increase in stars. It's got some terrific climbing in the last 15 metres or so. As I recall, emerging from the chimney is a thrilling experience (long time since I've led it). However, it's got nowhere near the sustained quality - or the position (until you emerge from the chimney) that three stars should require. As a clear-cut comparison, there's no way that it's as good as Digitalis, a route right next door that gets - and deserves - three stars.
Cam McKenzie
9:14:06 AM
On 21/03/2013 Doug wrote:
> As a clear-cut comparison,
>there's no way that it's as good as Digitalis, a route right next door
>that gets - and deserves - three stars.

I thought Digitalis only got 2 stars? Awesome route though. So many classic routes on Flange.

9:31:12 AM
On 21/03/2013 Cam McKenzie wrote:

>I thought Digitalis only got 2 stars? Awesome route though. So many classic
>routes on Flange.
Whoops! You're right. Kind of proves my point though, doesn't it?
ben wiessner
8:27:18 PM
On 20/03/2013 vwills wrote:
>Any guide that gives brown madonna 3 stars is clearly a bit liberal on
>the starry side :)


10:41:48 AM
On 20/03/2013 vwills wrote:
>Any guide that gives brown madonna 3 stars is clearly a bit liberal on
>the starry side :)

This is rather harsh. On this very wet Sunday morning as I peruse the Mt Wellington guidebook (2007 edition), I see that there are relatively few three star routes (Note: I'm omitting Brown Madonna and Space Cowboy: the first because it just isn't, the second because it is only about 11 metres of climbing separate from Battlecruiser - the raison d'être for this thread). Working downwards from grade 24 (only because this is the hardest grade I've climbed on the mountain) this is what you've got:
24*** In Flagrante Delecto (sport), After Midnight (sport)
23*** Ultrasound (trad), 23 Rosy Pink Cadillac (trad & 1 bolt)
22*** SSSSI (trad), Heat Pump (sport), Blank Generation (trad), Beaten and Abused (trad)
21*** Left Out (trad), Holiday in Cambodia (trad), Farewell to Arms (trad), Cold Power (trad), Atlantis (trad)
20*** Subterfuge (trad), SKY ROCKET (trad: yes, it should be all caps!), Precarious (trad), Lone Stranger (trad), Improbability Drive (trad)
19*** Split Column (trad), Punk (trad), Battlecruiser (trad), Carpe Diem (trad)
18*** Third Bird (trad), Lost Wanderer (trad), Black Magic (trad), All Systems Go (trad)
17*** Raspberry Jam and Crackers (trad), Chancellor Direct (trad), Centaur (trad), Blue Meridian (trad)
16*** Moonraker (trad)
14*** Fiddlesticks (trad)

That's only 33 routes across an 11 grade span. I've climbed all but three of them and they are all worth three stars, except maybe RJ&C. There are also 13 routes graded from 25 to 31 that have three stars. Can't say anything about those except that they are all sport and seem pretty popular. Given that this addition of the guide lists approximately 500 routes, only about 9% doesn't seem to be excessively generous.
In the last 6 or 7 years, quite a few new routes have been done including some fantastic-looking sport routes that get three stars. Quality sport climbing really kicks in at about grade 24. The best trad climbing is from about grade 17 to grade 22.
I reckon Mount Wellington has to be the one of the most atmospheric climbing destinations adjacent to any reasonably large population centre in the world (now there's some parochialism for you!). Now that we've got a fantastic new, easy-to-follow, signposted track network on the Organ Pipes, maybe some of you mainlanders should buy the guide ( and get down here and check it out so you can judge for yourselves.
2:59:55 PM
The new track at the bottom was great. Now you just need some new tracks and anchors at the top!

I think Ben should do Battlecruiser. He loved Barbican Wall so much, it should be right up his alley.

We also did Centaur on that trip. Whilst we were doing Pegasus first, the party on Centaur manager to break a massive bit of rock off, so I was a little wary of it, but actually, it was probably the best rock we climbed on there, and I'm not sure how they managed to need to use something large and fragile. We did it as one long pitch, and it was great fun. Definitely the best route we did on the Pipes. Would I give it three stars though? Hmmm... only just.

I'm a little picky with throwing out 3 stars. I think it should have some relation to the quality of 3 star routes generally, not just relative to the rest of a crag. Otherwise, you'd have crappy crags looking extremely appealling with all these 3 star routes in them, purely because they were better than the other things at the crag. A 3 star route should mean it is really worth going to the crag to climb it, not just if you happen to be at the crag, it's the best thing around. Although I think going to the Pipes for some of those routes is a much better idea than going to some of those 3 star routes and boulder problem on that list in the thread about "excellent sport climbing". Actually, we do have crappy little crags that people think there are 3 star routes on ...
7:46:42 AM
I think in the 70s we gave 3 stars whenever we survived something that looked unlikely. And also called routes classic when they'd only had 1 ascent.

8:55:27 AM
On 25/03/2013 mikllaw wrote:
. And also called routes classic when they'd only had 1

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

There are 20 messages in this topic.


Home | Guide | Gallery | Tech Tips | Articles | Reviews | Dictionary | Forum | Links | About | Search
Chockstone Photography | Landscape Photography Australia | Australian Landscape Photography | Landscape Photos Australia

Please read the full disclaimer before using any information contained on these pages.

Australian Panoramic | Australian Coast | Australian Mountains | Australian Countryside | Australian Waterfalls | Australian Lakes | Australian Cities | Australian Macro | Australian Wildlife
Landscape Photo | Landscape Photography | Landscape Photography Australia | Fine Art Photography | Wilderness Photography | Nature Photo | Australian Landscape Photo | Stock Photography Australia | Landscape Photos | Panoramic Photos | Panoramic Photography Australia | Australian Landscape Photography | High Country Mountain Huts | Mothers Day Gifts | Gifts for Mothers Day | Mothers Day Gift Ideas | Ideas for Mothers Day | Wedding Gift Ideas | Christmas Gift Ideas | Fathers Day Gifts | Gifts for Fathers Day | Fathers Day Gift Ideas | Ideas for Fathers Day | Landscape Prints | Landscape Poster | Limited Edition Prints | Panoramic Photo | Buy Posters | Poster Prints