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|Tassie Blitz Part 2: The Moai, The Candlestick
.. continued ..
So I have to admit, my expectations post-Frenchman’s were low. One week in Tassie, 4 days walking, a couple of days allowance for weather and a summit day, you’d be satisfied with that.
Except we weren’t.
Well at least Martin wasn’t, anyhow, and he was dragging us along for the ride. Here we go, this is how epic adventures are born.
We romped down towards Hobart, Craig at the wheel, after a quick stop in Derwent Bridge to refuel on sausage rolls, pies, ice-creams, chips, espresso and anything else we thought we’d missed after 5 days backpacking.
We pulled in to Port Arthur in the early evening, with a campground reservation at the Big 4 we’d phoned 45 minutes in advance. It was all spur-of-the-moment, seat of the pants stuff, y’know.
I really had little idea where we were going. I’d last been to Port Arthur when I was 13, and places like Eaglehawk Neck were just a spot on a map. I hadn’t even really had a good look at the guidebook. We had a dinner cooked for us at The Lavender Farm and retired to bed.
The next morning, I discovered there was a beach nearby, and there was a plan. We decamped to Fortescue Bay and, after mucking around trying to pay for a campsite for a while, set up tents in about half an acre of open space among the trees. Then launched off across a nearby beach in search of The Moai.
After nearly 90 minutes of up and down – hadn’t we finished the hiking part of the trip? – we found some abseil rings and I volunteered to go off first to find the way. A 50m-ish rap landed me on a good ledge well above the surf, where I yelled ‘off rope’ and went scrambling to my left to a pinnacle of dolerite perched above the sea. Pure.
About to make the rap in to The Moai.
The Old Pinnacle and The Sea
Martin, Candlestick in background.
The others joined soonly enough and we wandered around drunkenly, looking upwards at the spire. Dave was inspired by the sight of bolts for the first time in days, and was soon off the ground on Blunt Instrument/Burning Spear (22). Martin and I hung around long enough to see all the trad gear placed at the start, then went around the corner to do Sacred Site (18). I seconded Martin on this one, getting to the top in time to get some shots of Craig seconding the cruxy top moves, avoiding all the good fingerlocks.
Dave on Burning Spear (20/22)
Craig making the last desparate move on Burning Spear (22)
Me coming up the finish of Sacred Site (18)
Martin and I rapped off in perfect conditions, then got pumped enough seconding Dave’s lead. Then it was time to exit. CraigO led the first grade 12 pitch from the ocean, then I led the gr 16 exit corners, pretty cruisy if you can jam and have some large cams. A 90-minute walk was punctuated by a bullant on my shoe (did I say ‘punctured’?) and then we were back for an evening meal at the camp.
Dave showing his complete domination of The Moai
The final objective was The Candlestick. Some of you will know what I’m talking about. Martin had tried to educate us by sending around a link to the ABC Sportsnight video (it’s online), but I’d only watched about half of it and considered it unlikely any of us were going to volunteer for a rough swim through ‘shark infested waters’ to the base of a route. However, I’d packed a wet suit just in case.
At one stage at Tahune Hut a few days before, when the Candlestick was first proposed as an objective, Dave turned to me and asked “so, have you ever done a Tyrolean before?”. “No”. Then, to Martin. “No”. Same to Craig. “No”. Dave didn’t have his happy face on just then.
CraigO said he was up for the swim which ties in well with the guidebook recommendation of ‘get your mate to swim across..’. The next morning we were up for another early start for the 1 ½ hour walk in to the end of the track, where adventures begin.
The walk in to Cape Hauy.
It was bloody windy. We’d had 6 straight days, and were feeling tired. The whitecaps were intimidating. We left packs at the top, scrambled down and peered over edges, looking for rap rings. We found some, but they seemed too high and inaccessible.
Dave peering over the edge
After some consulting and procrastinating we regrouped at the top then headed downwards again. I took my pack with me this time, figuring if we were going to do this thing I may as well show some small commitment. I dumped the pack about 50m down and followed the others vaguely left, down and around until we scrambled back right and found the ‘real’ rap station. It was still howling a gale and the whole place felt intimidating.
We all headed upwards. I was with Craig, who said he felt tired and wasn’t keen to proceed. I picked up my pack on the way up, figuring we were all going to bail, but when I got back to the top, Martin and Dave both had their harnesses on and were scoffing some lunch in preparation. OK, then, looks like we’re ON!
CraigO suits up!
Martin had decided he was going to take over the reins and do the swim, but with the three of us making preparations, Craig cast his weariness aside and grabbed the wetsuit. That’s the spirit!
Once again I made the first rap into the gulch on Dave’s 70m rope. Tourists took 100 photos of me from a passing boat, and I found two bolts on a ledge out of reach of the surge. There was about 10m of rope in the water which I hauled up; a few tugs required to free it from some unseen obstacle.
Craig sooned joined and started feeling his way out to the swim. The swell would surge into the narrow inlet, with the Totem Pole on the right. At times it was a mess of white foam, with occasionally more peaceful respites.
The others came down, took some pictures, Craig plucked up the courage and dived off. We’ve never seen anyone swim that fast.
Cheers soon erupted from our side as he reached the bolts. I launched across my first Tyrolean, finding it straightforward. The others joined, I racked up and delivered on my commitment to lead up the Corner Route (18/19), finding the first pitch fairly sustained and harder than the 16 I’d expected of the Standard Route. Helps to read the guidebook I s’pose.
Tyrolean past the Totem Pole
The wind was still whipping through the chasm. Dave came second and led through the next pitch, about 17. I stayed there, perched on that ledge for an eternity, then seconded the next pitch, loving the jams.
At the next ledge there was enough room for Craig to change out of the wetsuit. We were trailing the rope from the mainland, and keeping it from getting stuck became a priority. Martin led the next pitch, quite a solid pitch of 16 and we managed to flip the rope around the arete to our right. Then we were at the bolt anchors for the tyrolean with one pitch to go.
Craig completed the quadrella with his lead and I scrambled up to mount the true summit. Yahoo!
Then we had to rig the tyrolean to exit. In spite of having successfully made it across the lower one, this still seemed intimidating. The fact that if we simply dropped the trail rope, we would be stranded on a pinnacle with unlikely prospects for rescue before nightfall was not lost on me.
We tried to talk the steps through for the tyro, but the debates ended up like a fox-chicken-bag of grain puzzle with two ropes required for the 40m ‘canoe’ across the void. In the end we think we had worked it out, so I tied off the trail rope, clipped onto it with two screw-gates and got lowered into the chasm.
Once free of the land, the ride was a hoot! I spun above the top of the Totem Pole with about 70m of air below my feet to the crashing swell below. It was the ride of a lifetime.
This is what the Totem Pole looks like when dangling above it.
At the other end I reached the anchors easily enough, but struggled to unclip my screwgate from the line due to tension and lack of height. There, got it. The next two followed, then Dave, where we had to pull the rope used to lower him. It fell around the Totem Pole and nearly got stuck, but pulled free soon enough. The tyrolean line pulled more easily and we were back, safe on the mainland.
Martin making the crossing
We set off for camp shortly before dark and pulled in around 9:30pm, way too late for a pub meal. Noodles and some tofu then we collapsed into our tents, tired but satisfied.
Heading for home
The final day was an anticlimax. We’d planned to take a rest day then climb at Hillwood, but we were all done, washed up and ready to head home. A change to our booking got us on the ferry that night and we were back in Melbourne on Sunday morning, less than 9 days after we’d departed.
I never get tired of seeing pics like these.
On 15/04/2015 bentobox wrote:
>I never get tired of seeing pics like these.
Well done gfdonc&co, and thanks for giving us a glimpse of your (well written-up), collective adventure/s.
You certainly made the most of the weather with your blitz of those iconic routes.
Re the return Tyro from Candlestick.
There are likely many ways it could have been done; ... some more risky than others.
I note you blokes did two pulls of the ropes involved to retrieve them, ie lower out line first, and later the tyro line.
I am still trying to get my head around that, as I would have thought it easier to re-rig before last person leaves Candlestick so that the lower out line becomes the retrieval line of the tryo rope, ... thus only one pull-retrieval required?
On 15/04/2015 IdratherbeclimbingM9 wrote:
>I am still trying to get my head around that, as I would have thought
>it easier to re-rig before last person leaves Candlestick so that the lower
>out line becomes the retrieval line of the tryo rope, ... thus only one
.. & I'm trying to get my head around how you might do it with only one pull.
The void is 40m across so you need to tie two ropes together to retrieve them (no different to a 40m abseil).
But the added complication of this one is that the tyro loses about 10-15m of height.
The way gravity works you lose this height in the first third of the tyro.
Hence you effectively need to abseil the first 15m then tyro across.
The catch is that you don't want to try and put your abseil device on the tyro ropes - the little bit of tension in the system means you wouldn't be able to move.
Hence you need a second pair of ropes.
We could have alternatively rapped off one rope (doubled) and then unclipped it once you started to move horizontally but instead opted to belay/lower the climber for the first 15m, hence the second pair of ropes.
Hope that explains it - else wait for Mikl to draw you some diagram.
The scary option of course, would just be to let go from the top and hope (a) your momentum vs friction ratio wasn't high enough for you to smack into the opposite wall and/or (b) the heat build up on a screw-gate wouldn't melt the rope when you stopped.
We took the safer option.
>Hope that explains it
Last person off Candlestick was lowered the initial 15m on their side from the mainland side?
Re your pic
>This is what the Totem Pole looks like when dangling above it.
It is interesting to see how cracked that top block of The Tote is...
On 15/04/2015 IdratherbeclimbingM9 wrote:
>Last person off Candlestick was lowered the initial 15m on their side
>from the mainland side?
Then they untied from the lower-out line (if I remember correctly) and we pulled it through the anchors.
Great TR, met you out there I guess on the night you arrived to fortescue campsite.
Just a side note:
The original route (16) does not have a bolted tyrolean at the base of the candlestick, however there is a feature that can be used to naturally wrap secure off.
We used a 60m single rap rope down to the water and carried a 25m static for the tyrolean (just long enough to make it across). Carrying the tail of the 25m on the 60m up the original route is pretty horrible. As you're climbing inside a damp, chossy chimney, the rope has a lot of drag coming out and around the chimney system and its difficult to know whether it is free from snags etc.
It was a great choice for your experience to climb the 18/ 19 route, it appeared to be much nicer because it gets the sun for most of the day
We were lucky to have people to support us on the main cliff side which made rigging the tyrolean much less complicated as I dreaded that tyrolean with a 10-15m fall.
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