Thursday, October 25, 2012

Of bolts and cracks


Slab World: It sounds like a heaven for the beer connoisseur but instead it turned out to be a load of newish bolts.

Forecasts of hot weather made the promise of a southerly facing crag too much to resist which is why seven of us decided to make a trip to Slab World at Springwood in the Blue Mountains.

After little more than an hour's travelling time from the Inner West we were lost in the bush after mistaking our right and our left and simply ignoring the Slab World access directions detailed in Stu Dobbie's excellent Sydney Climbing iPhone app.

Ironically Stu was among the crew which also included Rockies legend Warwick Williams, Enmoore Lin, Su Li Sin, Brent Roylance, Andy Green and me.

Proceedings kicked off with Su Li and Brent leading off on a trad line named Chicken Run (12). Despite its two-pitch length the dashing duo managed to be gone for a significant amount of time after topping out and needing to walk back down to the main crag.

The rest of us stuck to climbing the bolted lines and managed four other routes in the same time.

Speaking of routes…

In true Rockies’ style we ended up with draws and ropes strung up the five other quality lines at the crag. Luckily these are concentrated in one area: Knuckles (18), Elmocize (17), Wiggly Woo (16), No Stone Unturned (19) and To Hell With Good Intentions (21).

All five routes are pretty worthwhile with the very thin arĂȘte THWGI being the best in my opinion. Elmocize was the only route with sketchy bolting – a high second clip on tiny holds that could result in a groundfall.

The highlight of the day belonged to Warwick who actually managed to put up a new trad line. In fact the aptly named Borrowed Friends (15) is the best line at the crag. A relaxing, wide laybacking crack, it went easily to WW and Stu with a second ascent by me and Enmoore to confirm the grade.

(The only reason it got climbed was that despite being told that we were going to a sport crag Brent and I still carried all of our trad gear including our biggest Friends/Camalots without which Borrowed Friends would not have existed).

After milking all of the most desirable lines in the main area we decided that the 8m high secondary area further on – with its grid-bolted appearance, broken holds and many routes still at the project stage – was not as interesting as ice cream back in Springwood.

There are two other bolted routes – Potato Thrower (18) and Fosters Buckets (17) – on a shelf just before the main crag but they didn’t get an ascent during this visit.

As a crag Slab World offers half a day’s entertainment in a lovely, quiet location. Just make sure you take your Friends with you.

Guidebook here: