Thursday, February 15, 2007

Last hurrah at Tarana

By Rod Smith

Five metres above my last bolt, frying in the sun, working out how not to peel off what appears to be the crux moves and all the while feeling electrified rather than terrified by the situation: Welcome to Tarana.

A small band of us decided to head to Tarana (aka Evan’s Crown Nature Reserve) to beat the expected National Parks and Wildlife Service ban on climbing that the Sydney Rockies – through the efforts of access officer Kevin Westren – have been trying to head off.

This geological anomaly of giant granite tors, about 25 km from Lithgow, has been climbed on since the 1970s, its popularity waxing and waning on a regular cycle. It is a place of physical beauty, an important part of local Aboriginal culture but it is also a unique place to climb.

There is something undefinable about the area that makes it either a spooky or energising place to climb, depending on your perspective. On my third trip there, I had to keep reminding myself to climb rather than just sit amid the huge boulders, taking in the sheer beauty and otherworldliness of the area.

Impressed by Paul ‘Farty’ Turner’s bold lead of the classic Crown Buttress route Up The Nose of Love (16) I’d decided to give it a go myself. Three bolts in 35m is fairly run-out, even by Tarana’s infamous standards, but as with many climbs at Evan’s Crown Nature Reserve, once you’re there it all seems to make sense.

Gus and I had warmed up on other Crown Buttress classics including Jika Jika (17) and its companion climb Jailbreak from H-Block (17). After the varied steep slab of Up The Nose of Love (16) we wandered around and caught the evocatively named Blue Train (17).

Farty Paul, John ‘JB’ Shaw and Rick Fielding also visited Jika Jika and Jailbreak from H-Block before Team Pom – Rick and JB – decided to scrub bash their way up Passionate Pleasantries (13) on Googolplex crag.

At this point it’s worth pointing out that Farty, Rick and John were climbing as a trio because the Thrutch editor was a bit under the weather when we went to collect him on the morning of the trip.

After Passionate Pleasantries, which JB and Rick were neither passionate about nor did they think was pleasant, it was back to the quality routes on Crown Buttress.

With Farty Paul they climbed Your Neighbourhood Bolter (17) before linking it to Barry Dur for the top out. They then spent as much time jumping backwards and forth photographing each other negotiating the leap-off/walk-off as they did the actual climb.

Speaking of leaps, the highlight of the trip for me was watching Farty Paul come close to splitting in half as he bridged up Tanner’s Leap (13), the access climb to the very top of Evan’s Crown. Rick and JB followed.

Gus and I elected to not join the caravan. Instead we sat at the bottom of the crag and I photographed three weird-looking rock sprites waving at us from on high.

To those who have yet to visit Tarana the message is clear: GO NOW.

Route details can be found in the SRC publication Rockclimbs In the Upper Blue Mountains as well as Rock Magazine’s Pocket RockGUIDE, Evans Crown Tarana.

To read Kevin Westren’s excellent SRC submission to the NWPS about allowing climbing to continue at Tarana go here:

Tarana pics here: