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Pollux Outcrop, Mt Bogong
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Climbs *** ** * Hardest Longest Rock Access
16 2 3 4 11 150m Granite 4 Hrs

By Neil Monteith.
Ice Climbing Season: Mid July -> Late September.

Access   Push For The Summit

The best way of getting around is to buy the Bogong Alpine Area Outdoor Leisure Map by Vicmap. From Melbourne head north on the Hume then turn east onto the Ovens Highway and drive to Bright. From Bright head over the hill in the direction of Mt Beauty via the Bright Tawonga Road. About 27km from Bright you will reach a T intersection at the bottom of a big hill. Turn left away from Mt Beauty and drive for a few kilometres down this road then turn right into Mountain Creek Road. Follow this for about 12 kilometres (it turns into dirt), to find a picnic area and campsite on the right side of the road. Turn into the picnic area and follow a rough dirt road for a kilometre to arrive at a small turn-around area where there is a gated (in winter) 4WD road.

Leave the car and follow the gated road for a few kilometres, crossing the creek via footbridges at various points. A well signposted track heads steeply up hill on the right. Walk up this, the Staircase Ridge, on the north-west side of the mountain. A hard two hours hiking will get you from 600m altitude to 1400m and the Bivouac Hut. Expect snow above 1000m. This hut can be a good base camp for the area. Another hour walk, through waist deep snow, will get you above the tree line and to the first snow pole. Follow the poles for a hundred metres or so then go up right and onto the top of the ridge. Camping on the ridge is the best place but can get mighty windy. Below is Pollux Outcrop (Map ref L 2.5) on the west side of the ridge. Descend one of the gullies below, preferably one of the smaller gullies on the summit end of the cliff. Most of the gullies on the northern end have steep sections of ice that make downward climbing with packs difficult.

The northern end of the cliff has the longest and steepest climbing up solid, juggy volcanic rock with snow and occasional ice. The best ice is to be found deep inside the gullies, chimneys and cracks. Good, easy warm-ups are found on the more open southern end.

Climbing and Gear   Push For The SummitJono solos a short ice route below The Freak - 2001 season.

There is a wealth of good mixed climbing in the area. The routes tend to be a couple of pitches in length and involve a whole swag of skills including free climbing, drytooling, ice climbing and aiding. Two short technical axes, rigid crampons, a few ice screws and a single rack of rock protection will get you up most routes. Pitons are useful but darn hard to hammer in when your wearing gloves, hanging off an axe wedged behind a loose block and looking at your last gear, a poor screw several metres below! The ice tends to be brittle and thin, rarely forming thick ‘waterfall’ style formations but instead coating the rock in a few centimetres of hard stuff. The ice also forms over the top of softer snow creating great steep climbing. We have never used snow stakes as the snow rarely gets deep or hard enough to get a solid placement. A single deadman would be useful as would double ropes. Because the area is shaded most of the day you need the full Gore-Tex ensemble and plenty of warm clothing.

Above Right: Jono solos a short ice route below The Freak - 2001 season.

A Typical Day 2000 Season   Push For The Summit

The sun breaks the spell of the endless night. Sixteen hours spent in a cramped tent with another climbers toes in my face has been a far from pleasant experience. The roof of the tent is incrusted with icicles and bends down with the weight of freshly fallen snow. Still in our sleeping bags we make porridge and watch the constant spindrift roll down the rock above us and hiss over the small ledge that our tent is perched on. The previous day we had dug our home into an angled wall of snow under a small overhang. Now the tent seemed to be part of the mountain, its bright yellow hidden by the snow. The weather looked far from perfect outside. The view was one of clouds and white being buffeted by a light wind. It was, however, good conditions for our days planned activities - climbing a couple of new routes on the rock walls of Pollux Outcrop.

The task of putting on gear was begun. The thermals, fleece, Gore-Tex and finally the plastic boots were shod in the little vestibule of the tent. Every time I tried to do up the frozen laces my hands go numb and the coordination disappears. Rubbing them together for a few minutes and the feeling comes back, creating another chance for more pain and numbness as I battle with the shoes. Finally we are both clothed and ready to climb.

The first route of the day started just outside the tent. A blocky corner, coated with thin verbals and a freaky looking arm sized pillar of ice halfway up. Jono set in for the cold belay in the snow whilst I started up. My crampons scrapped against the rock, as I free climbed up to the first tongue of ice. I set my first ice tool, pulled up and reached for the pillar of ice. Placing a sling around the delicate shape meant I had some form of protection for the next difficult section. Some chimneying got me to a blank rock slab only a few moves from a good snow ramp. I checked my last piece of gear, a cam wedged in a brittle crack a few metres below. It looked good so I committed to the slab, edging up on the steel blade of my crampons. A few desperate drytooling moves and I reached safe ground and the snow slope above. The next pitch dealt with an iced up corner that we climbed on the right wall. The extra reach from an ice axe got over the blank crux near the top better than any dyno could. The last pitch climbed a dark chimney then stepped out onto a small rock Pinnacle with massive exposure below. We named our line Finger of Fate, which described the gear on the first pitch and the desperate drytooling on edges of the second pitch.

We descended the large gully to the right and spotted another good line on the steep right wall. A nicely cracked corner led to a bulge of dripping ice. I led up, scraping away a lot of the ice as I climbed. The crack accepted solid wires as well as my pick. I bridged up to a stance under the bulge and tried to survey the area ahead. Chipping ice from an undercut crack revealed a good cam placement which gave me confidence for the crux moves ahead. Camming one axe upside down in the undercling, and then bridging with my feet I could just reach the next bit of ice. The pick sunk home in solid sounding stuff so I committed to the one arm swing, cutting loose and clawing my other pick higher. I was freaking out at this point, hardly trusting the bond of ice and rock that my pick was relying on. Dragging my feet behind I surmounted the bulge and finished up a few metres of solid ice to a belay on a small ledge. Jono followed, leading through up a short broken section of rock to belay in a large cave high up the cliff. The next pitch was another committing step across an exposed chasm which led to a fine ice gully and the top. Another alpine mixed route at been done, this one we named The Freak.

In the fading light we dismantled the tent, shouldered the packs and soloed out another unexplored snow gully glistening with potential lines. The scope for further climbs of ever harder difficulty seems good. In five days of exploring we feel we still have not seen every wall, let alone climbed every route. For those interested in building mountaineering skills for overseas expeditions, I can think of no where better to train in Victoria. For those who want a different sort of challenge to the sun soaked rockclimbing of Arapiles, Mt Bogong offers a wealth of hard, cold, remote and technical climbing. I hope to see some others giving this place a go over the coming winters.

Grades   Push For The Summit

This is our own system. Currently the hardest route, Ultra Magnetic, has moves similar to a grade 18 rockclimb. Routes up to about grade 5, should be easy enough to solo with a good set of crampons and two axes.

Marty on Slippery Slide - 2001 season.
Above Right: Marty on Slippery Slide - 2001 season.

1) Deep Throat 100m 4 ***
Ascend easy snow and ice then go a little right to enter thin iced up gully. Near the top head right over bulge then easy snow to ledge. Up the steep short wall above. An exposed left-hand variant is possible at grade 5. FSA Neil Monteith, Jono Schmidt 19.8.2000

2) Into the Mouth 40m 10 **
Overhung chimney just left of the middle of Deep Throat. Crawl into slot, chimney up this, swing out the chimney roof to attack free hanging ice then climb broken rock corner above. Belay at small rock ledge off wires. Finish up easy rock ridge to top. FFA Neil Monteith, Jono Schmidt 22.7.2001

3) Central Gully 100m 2
Wide open gully with a little steep ice down low. This ice can be avoided by skirting the lower boulder on the right. FRA Neil Monteith June 2000

4) Slippery Slide 30m 3 **
Near the top of Central Couloir is a superb compact iced up small gully on the right hand side. A must do. FSA Jono Schmidt, Neil Monteith 19.8.2000

5) Fang of Fury 7m 9 *
Directly opposite Slippery Slide on the left side of Central Gully. Hanging ice through rock bulge then easy ice to large ledge. FSA Neil Monteith, Jono Schimdt 22.7.2001

6) Big Gully 100m 1
An easy open gully with little ice. A good descent route. FRA Neil Monteith June 2000

7) Chilled Inflexion 10m 7 *
A classic when it forms. At the bottom of Big Gully on the right side is a steep rock wall. This climbs the ice just left of this. You can climb the wall just left of this which is a few grades easier. FSA Neil Monteith, Jono Schimdt 22.7.2001

Topo of "The Freak" 80m 10Neil soloing the first ascent of Chilled Inflexion - 2001 seasonNeil on the FFA of The Freak - 2000 season.
Above Left: Topo of "The Freak" 80m 10. Above Middle: Neil soloing the first ascent of Chilled Inflexion - 2001 season. Above Right: Neil on the FFA of The Freak - 2000 season.

8) The Freak 80m 10 ***
A thin ice and drytooling nightmare up overhung rock. Half way up Big Gully go right and belay below large chimney crack. The first pitch (crux) climbs the dark corner five metres left of this. This pitch takes good rock gear. Belay on snow ledge. Traverse right across easy rock to belay in large cave. Step right into large chimney crack and up this on good ice to top. FFA Neil Monteith, Jono Schmidt 20.8.2000

9) Gash 60m 9
Big central chimney line with hard overhung top. Belay under large chockstone above steepness. Finish up The Freak. FFA Neil Monteith, Jono Schimdt 11.8.2001

10) Frozen Tears 150m 6
Up Big Gully for about 50m until you can escape off left up steep snow ramp. Wander up easy snow to under large rock buttress. Traverse left under this and across very exposed ledge on rock for about 20m to snow gully. Up this to top. FSA Neil Monteith June 2000

11) Ultra Magnetic 15m 11 *
The hardest route so far. Climbs thin dripping ice and then short vertical rock wall halfway up Big Gully on the left side. The top is pure drytooling on small edges and cracks. FFA neil Monteith, Jono Schmidt 21.7.2001

12) DJ Crampon 30m 6
Near the top of Big Gully on the left side is a couple of good short ice gully climbs. This is the left one, which has a scary rock section at the top. FSA Jono Schmidt 20.8.2000

13) DJ Happy Pants 30m 5
The right route which finishes up tight ‘half pipe’ of ice. FSA Neil Monteith 20.8.2000

14) Finger of Fate 150m 8 **
A good three pitches of technical climbing interspersed by snow ramps. About 80m left of Big Gully is a wall with a blocky corner in it.
Pitch 1 - Large icicles hang down in various places marking the route. Up an ice covered slab to large finger of ice. Sling this and pick upwards on suss ice to small stance. Dry tool above this to tree. After slinging this plod up a snow ramp to ledge.
Pitch 2 — Walk 20m right to below very obvious 90-degree right facing rock corner. Dry tool up this with limited protection. Walk up snow ramp to below large rock buttress.
Pitch 3 — Climb easy snow and rock on exposed ridge on right side of buttress to summit.
Dripping Groove TopoFFA Neil Monteith, Jono Schmidt 20.8.2000

15) Left Gully 150m 3
Smallish gully about 15m left of Finger of Fate. The middle ices up and can be quite tricky. FRA Neil Monteith, Jono Schimdt 20.8.2001

16) Dripping Groove 50m 8 *
Halfway up the gully the angle steepens.Pitch up the steep bit then launch up the left leading crack line on right side of the gully. This moderatly hard verglassed rock and drytooling which ends at some tricky loose rock steps. Belay on small ledge under bulge. Climb easy rock wall diagonally left to finish. FFA Neil Monteith, Jono Schimdt 21.7.2001

Right: Dripping Groove Topo.


Further Reading:
Eastern Victoria - A rock climbing guide, edited by Michael Hampton, Robin Holmes, Paul Martin & Others, and available from local climbing shops, or the VCC.
Pollux Outcrop Ice - From Neil's web site.

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