I remember Mike telling me about BBB just after he did it . Thought it might be fun some time to try it.
Sunday 3 August 2008. 830 am-Got up late after dinner party. Hasselled by 16 year old son (reminds me of Mikl in '73) 'ive been reading the guide Dad I reckon we could get up BBB today if we went for it.
900 am rational discussion on why this would be an unwise plan, considering we are still at home in Lindfield.
915 rational discussion on how we really could do it, it's all bolted anyway, as long as we can get up the first 3 pitches by mid afternoon we should be able to do the headwall before dark.
930 in car, 20 quick draws, 15 brackets, bunch of wires, 5 cams (well you never know),pile of slings, 2 ropes, water pack bladder; jackets, micro headtorch. Map reference & guidebook page left with wife! Told not to panic before midnight.
1130 leave the top car park. Small delay buying sunscreen at Richmond.
Walk, walk, walk, rap, rap.
1pm base of mirrorball. Look up at W Ridge which i'd done in 2003. This time as a potential escape route. No, we're doing the Bunny
140pm tied on, on rock at last. Swing leads on the first 3 pitches; top of first buttress about 320. Need to move fast so we roped together through the 2 x grade 8 pitches using Mike's excellent track markers. Decided if we could both get to the headwall half way ledge by 430 it was definitely a no stress ascent.
355 start the first headwall pitch. Both on the halfway at 440; Richard then did the 'doubler'; to the top of the buttress using the headtorch to set up belay. Beautiful sunset while he went up. I followed in darkness-took it slowly- but that was ok cause I couldn't see the holds that weren't there.
6pm up the chimney. Golly those shiny carrot heads really stood out like cats eyes thanks Mike! Richard dropped his ATC in the dark, not to worry we didn't need it again. 630, both on top, turned on mobile & advised basecamp all OK.
Adventurous wander along the fire trail in the dark. Car about 8 and home by 930.
So we got away with it. I would definitely NOT recommend starting that late, in winter. a few factors helped though:
-route finding is dead easy as you can see the bolts all the way. Absolutely no false moves or backsteps. it HAD to be the route. Obviously, critical you get the start right!
-the headtorch was essential - should have taken 2. Mind you I doubt it would have made that top pitch any easier.
-carried minimal food. It was a big dinner the night before! I think R shoved down a pie after Richmond. No delays having lunch.
-no camera or photophone
-swinging leads means no belay transfers
- ring bolt belays mean negligible belay set up : 2 screwgates on the front of the harness ready to clip on the rings.tie your clove hitches & clip x 2; fig 8 to finish.
- R had several years belay and rock (vs sport) climbing experience
- standard gear really helps: picking quickdraws and brackets off and reusing them on the next pitch meant minimal gear reracking at belays (go try Elijah or some other route where you have to sort 20 wires each pitch if you don't get that point- BBB is luxury mon).
- didn't waste time placing wires or cams. Still, i'd carry them next time
- yes, we were ready to rap off if we had problems in the first 3 pitches. After that, the fastest way off is via the top so the decision is made for you.
We liked the route and we'll be back on it again. This time we'll start earlier but we will keep the same attitude to the deadline. And, Mike's excellent points.
BTW the absolute scariest part of the route was walking back along the Bell Rd to the car.