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Chockstone Forum - Trip Reports

Tells Us About Your Latest Trip!

Author
TR - Tom Thumb and the Great Rum Beer Chimney
technogeekery
10/06/2013
3:51:01 PM
The plan was to have a lazy day climbing Tom Thumb, a 6 pitch easy ramble (grade 13 but mostly easier) up the huge face under The Fortress at Mt Hay. There were 3 of us on the walk in, a lovely stroll through open bushland, and Adrian had been on the route before, so finding the rap station at the top of the climb was easy. The walk in is great, mostly pretty flat, and giving great views over the awesome walls towering over the Grose Valley.


First glimpse of the stupendous yellow cliffs of the Grose


The walk in was great


The boys unpacking at the top of the diving board

In about an hour we were carefully picking our way down the path to the “diving board” block at the top of the route, and peering over at the stomach turning drop to the forest below.


We set up for the first of 3 double-rope raps, and sent Adrian down first as he knew where the rap anchors were – also as youngest, he was guinea-pig for rapping on my new skinny rope.


Quentin goes over the edge - its a big drop...

We’d been talking about how lucky we are in Sydney to never have to queue for climbs – but as we got down the second rap, we heard voices, and on the third rap we realized that we’d been too complacent – not only was there someone on the route, but it was a party of 4 with one leader and three beginners. The other party told us they were doing a route adjacent to ours – “Landing Gear Down”, 16 – so while we wouldn’t be climbing the first pitches behind them, the routes converge and share the last 2 pitches. As we coiled the ropes at the base of the raps, showers of rock pummeled the ledge around us, and we hastily moved off to the start of Tom Thumb, and racked up fast, hoping to overtake them or at least stay out of the line of fire.


Looking back up at the last rap

As it turned out, it was no issue for a few hours. Quentin and I switched leads, with him taking P1 & 3, and me on P2 & 4. The climbing was generally easy and fun, a mix of face and arête, mostly on huge jugs and ironstone edges, with excellent spacious ledges at each belay to kick back on and enjoy the incredible view. The day had started clear, and we could see right down to the river, and waterfalls cascading off the cliffs on the far side of the valley. Gradually the day got hazier, as smoke rose up through the valley from distant fires.


Great views across the Grose valley - this is a waterfall on distant Mt Banks, I think.


Quentin brings up Adrian on top of P1


The first move out of the cave onto the face on P2 was a little thought-provoking, the undercut start necessitating a high step and tricky move before establishing yourself on the face and getting in a piece. One more tricky move, and then cruising again on massive ironstone edges. I’d chosen to climb on one rope and have the second climber trail the half-rope for the 3rd, but if I do the climb again I’ll probably lead on 2 ropes – the ironstone edges kept catching the ropes and rope drag quickly became a real issue. Also, looking down at my suddenly very skinny looking 9.2mm lead rope going over those very sharp edges, I was rather less confident in its ability to withstand a fall, and would much rather have had two ropes than one. But the climbing was easy, and between a light rack and carrots that kept appearing when I really wanted them, it was pretty relaxed climbing.


Lots of nice big ledges - an ideal route for 3 climbers to cruise on


Getting a little higher now - Adrian enjoying the jugs

We weren’t moving fast, however – we hadn’t really committed ourselves to moving fast, and in hindsight I should have led on two ropes and brought both the others up simultaneously. As it was, I arrived at the top of P4 in time to share the belay with the other party, and as they had arrived first, we’d have to wait for them. I brought the others up (luckily the ledge was huge, with plenty of space for all of us) but by the time we were all up, it was 3:15 and the others had just started up the 5th of 6 pitches. A quick mental calculation put us finishing up well after dark if we were to wait for them, so escape was in order. I knew the huge corner / gulley off to the right was an easy-grade chimney, around gr11 I thought, so we quickly decided to take our chances with that, and moved the belay 15m or so into the base of the chimney.

My lead again, as I knew this was likely to be a bit interesting – an old-school grade 11 chimney has plenty of potential for epics – and it looked dark and uninviting in the extreme. I lashed Twiggsy to a twig, and foraged up into the slime.

It was every bit as “interesting” as I’d anticipated. There may have been troops of Boy Scouts romping up this thing in the ‘60s, but I don’t think anyone apart from Hayden Brochtie has done the climb in 30 years – and for good reason. It is a very steep groove/gully forming several huge chimney sections, interspersed with “ledges” made out of mud and generations of dead leaves, spiders webs and dead livestock that have plummeted off the top. The chimneys were dank, muddy, slimy and hideous, with the occasional hold either buried in bat poo or cunningly concealed under layers of moss or behind luxuriant ferns. I whimpered and muttered and cursed, but once I was a certain height up, there was no way but forward. Every potential crack was blind, every cam pocket was crumbling, even the chockstone I slung was only wedged in place with mud and fell out under the weight of the sling I put around it. I delved into the deepest recesses of the chimney seeking a crack for pro, but found only squeeze chimney horror, and weeping curtains of slime. I pulled on an enormous chockstone that would certainly kill me, and then roll down this dank slot, gathering companions en route to smearing my helpless partners into a red paste. It stayed put, and with a wriggle I could grab a slender root issuing from the roof above, and (employing very traditional techniques) hand over hand up it to stand on a fair size tree. How I love trees. A quick sling later and my faith was restored sufficient to tackle another chimney, another seeping crack, more tottering mudslopes – even very occasionally some solid protection. 55m out and one more wobbly chockstone circumvented, and I was onto the unstable scree slope at the top – hooray! Quick sling around a giant tree fern, and relax into the guilty pleasure of schadenfruede, listening to Quentin & Adrian cursing and panting and dropping rocks on each other as they climbed.


No pics of the hideous chimney, too busy excavating - here we are happy to be up in daylight - just

We probably saved ourselves an hour by doing that, and just as well – Adrian topped out on his bleeding knees (literally) as the sun set, the smoke contributing a violent purple glow to a magnificent sunset. I bolted my sandwiches (good move, leaving lunch on top) and we set a cracking pace back to the cars in the deepening gloom. It took about 35 minutes to get back, and we arrived as the very last traces of light disappeared, the white sandy trail illuminating sufficiently in the afterglow to get us home. A great day in the mountains, with a bit of interest from having had an unexpected diversion up an old trad horrorshow.


Alpenglow on the Fortress - the band of rocks above the cliff


Forced march out in the last of the light

PS: looking at the listing for The Great Rum Beer Chimney on TheCrag.com, I see it is listed as Grade 8! I think that is a fantastic grade for the climb, perfectly in keeping with its old school status and name. Do feel free to take your sport climbing friends up it for a laugh.
mikllaw
10/06/2013
4:54:42 PM
awesome epic! I did it with Jean Cane, Simon Carter, and Sir Chrfis Bonnington, despite having 143 years of climbing experience between us we started late on the hottest day of the year
technogeekery
10/06/2013
5:33:16 PM
Awww - I'd love to have met Chris Bonnington, and done some of those easy routes with him - must have been fun :-) He was my earliest climbing hero

sbm
10/06/2013
10:38:17 PM
Amazing. I don't envy you at all! Up there with An Elephant Or The Moon for getting off-route on Tom Thumb.
technogeekery
11/06/2013
8:46:45 AM
sbm - hah! Loved your TR :-) I have a very soft spot for epics (in retrospect), they provide some of the best memories, and as you say, really adds another dimension to your climbing partnerships (if it doesn't dissolve them completely).

This never quite descended into epic territory - we made the right decision, I knew what I was getting into, and the outcome was good - but I was VERY conscious that we were pushing our luck a little, which made the drive home all the sweeter :-) Wouldn't have been the same if we'd just doddled up the last 2 pitches of TT (although I'll happily go back & do just that, what a sweet climb).

BlankSlab
11/06/2013
9:47:59 AM
Classic. Went out with the intention of an easy day following since i had done it before but it certainly ended up more exciting then my first trip up it.
Think the skiny rope on the ironstone added to excitment.

Got a bunch of photos to add Techno but still on my camera. Ill get them up sometime this week.

sbm
11/06/2013
10:58:32 AM
On 11/06/2013 technogeekery wrote:
>sbm - hah! Loved your TR :-) I have a very soft spot for epics (in retrospect),
>they provide some of the best memories, and as you say, really adds another
>dimension to your climbing partnerships (if it doesn't dissolve them completely).
>
>
>This never quite descended into epic territory - we made the right decision,
>I knew what I was getting into, and the outcome was good - but I was VERY
>conscious that we were pushing our luck a little, which made the drive
>home all the sweeter :-) Wouldn't have been the same if we'd just doddled
>up the last 2 pitches of TT (although I'll happily go back & do just that,
>what a sweet climb).

That one wasn't mine, I believe it was evanbb's. I had a perfectly smooth, easy, fun and on-route day on Tom Thumb myself!

IdratherbeclimbingM9
11/06/2013
1:22:22 PM
An excellent trip report, that stokes me because of the fact that not only are people getting out and about, but also because some of the forgotten old school adventures are being done.
I very much enjoyed it. Thanks for posting it up.
technogeekery
11/06/2013
1:28:33 PM
M9, I mostly post these for you 'cos I know you like this kind of thing! ;-)

We should get together for a climb some time... I'm looking for someone to go and unearth the Little Capertee Creek Cliffs at the Wolgan with, for example - a new style of climbing, "onsighting" old easy trad climbs that have been lost for generations in the jungle. Type B fun?!

IdratherbeclimbingM9
11/06/2013
1:38:06 PM
On 11/06/2013 technogeekery wrote:
>M9, I mostly post these for you 'cos I know you like this kind of thing!
>;-)
>
>We should get together for a climb some time... I'm looking for someone
>to go and unearth the Little Capertee Creek Cliffs at the Wolgan with,
>for example - a new style of climbing, "onsighting" old easy trad climbs
>that have been lost for generations in the jungle. Type B A fun?!

Fixed that for you techno.

Your offer sounds good to me. I must remember to let you know when I am next in that part of the world, ... on the assumption that you want to climb with one of the masters of slow climbing!
Heh, heh, heh.
technogeekery
11/06/2013
2:58:40 PM
No no no! Type "A" Fun (at least the way I learned it) is fun while you do it. Type "B" fun is only fun in retrospect. Type "C" fun is no fun at all, even in retrospect. But of course, it doesn't have to be fun to be fun, right?

:-)

Slow climbing is like slow cooking - gives time for appreciation.

PS: kelly Cordes has a variation of fun types here http://kellycordes.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/the-fun-scale/

IdratherbeclimbingM9
11/06/2013
4:48:28 PM
On 11/06/2013 technogeekery wrote:
>No no no! Type "A" Fun (at least the way I learned it) is fun while you
>do it. Type "B" fun is only fun in retrospect. Type "C" fun is no fun at
>all, even in retrospect. But of course, it doesn't have to be fun to be
>fun, right?
>
>:-)
>
>Slow climbing is like slow cooking - gives time for appreciation.
>
>PS: kelly Cordes has a variation of fun types here http://kellycordes.wordpress.com/2009/1/02/the-fun-scale/
>

& from the link provided...
I guess you never really know what sort of fun you’re getting yourself into once you leave the couch, which is fine, because it doesn’t always have to be “fun” to be fun.

Maybe the whole goal, the path of the enlightened, is to turn Type III situations into Type I fun.


~> Sounds fair enough to me, though in the past I have generally associated fun with the absence of worry, pain, etc!, ... however also acknowledge that it always seems better in hindsight...
;-)

There are 12 messages in this topic.

 

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