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There is nothing extra about Ordinary Route(24)! 14-Mar-2010 At 12:45:07 PM Olbert
It was an early morning start for Dave and I as we were driving up to the Blue Mountains. Coffee's in hand there was a long and drawn out discussion on where we were going and what routes we were going to do. A long discussion on Echo Crack(25) or maybe the slightly easier Silent Echo(23) was ended when we finally read the part about needing "as many hand/fist sized cams as you can get your hands on! Hexes #9 to 11 are also useful." Suggestions of Pierces Pass or maybe Narrow Neck were quickly discarded.

In the end because of possible showers, and the ease of it we decided to do Ordinary Route, apparently a five star, 100 metre, sport climbing classic in the Grose Valley just outside of Blackheath. It seemed like another one of Claw's classics. It had a 10 minute walk in, an easy 100m rap and it started off with a couple of warm up pitches before the crux pitch. Sounded like an awesome day out! Little did we suspect what Claw had us in for.

We arrived at the carpark and racked up. It was only 10 minutes walk and the route finished metres from the rap in point so we only packed a light pack with water and some lollies. The walk in seemed easy, how could you get lost trying to find the cliff edge? The description said walk "towards Anvil Rock to a small col and head down the hill." What is a col!??? It wasnt too hard to work out from the topo's but we were soon baffled by dodgy scrambling, plenty of bush bashing and no half worn track in sight. After a good twenty minutes we found the rap anchors and set up our rap. Finally, we thought, the good times start.

The rap was two quick abseils and with our double ropes and plenty of experience it should have been easy. We found the midpoint anchors easily and attached ourselves in. We started to pull the rope...but the rope wouldnt pull. I was completely hanging off one side of the rope and it still wouldnt budge. Dave added his weight and it didnt move an inch. Dave knows a few tricks like pulling down on the other end of the rope and letting go which releases a lot of the tension and allows you to pull some through. The only problem with this was the other end of the rope was dangling about two and a half metres from our anchor. Shit.

Much dodgy draw, sling and locker action with me pushing Dave as far out as possible we managed to get the other rope. I once again fully weighted the pulling rope and he pulled down and let go. Success! My rope came down a foot! Only another 150 to go. After about 10 minutes of this we came to the point where the other end of the rope was almost out of reach, so we couldnt continue this strategy. At this point we realised that we had told no-one where we were going, we didnt have a phone, we had slings but no prussics, the weather was looking dodgy, it was midweek and we had only one beanie between us. Well done us. Experienced climbers doing stupid things because it was an 'easy sport route'.

If the rope didnt now pull with only our weight on it then we would have to think of a new plan. I weighted the rope fully - it didnt move. Dave grabbed the rope and slowly applied his weight. Ever so slowly it moved. With hissing, grunting, swearing and painful rests as Dave wrapped the rope around his leg, it took us another twenty minutes (and three blisters between us) to pull the ropes. 'Right', we thought, 'the day starts now!'

We made it to the ground, pulled the ropes and found the start of the route no problem. Dave won the paper scissors rock for the first and crux pitches, although I was a little disappointed at the time it was probably a good thing - Dave was in quite a bit better climbign shape then I was.

The first pitch lived up to its name of being a little grotty to start with and getting better as it went along. It was very long and suprisingly sustained. Dave managed it with no problem though there was a large rock that he knocked off which came hurtling at me. Whhhuuuuuump! was the sound it made as it hit the ground a few metres from my belay position. He pronounced that it was reasonable but clearly the five star climbing was yet to come. I got to pumepd near the top and took a rest - bugger I thought, blown the clean ascent.

The start of the second pitch is another one of those shitty Blue Mountains style, no feet, mini rooflet, lip pull moves which is common on Grose Valley routes. It looked pretty juggy so no problem I thought. I clipped an unused ring bolt on the belay and off I launched...quickly followed by down climbing and sitting back on the rope. The problem was the jugs were only flat ledges that felt like they had been polished with lube. I had a quick look round the arete and saw that both the hands and feet were better, Dave looked dubious. "Hmmm", Dave said, "Give us warning if you are going to fall aye?". "Well Im giving you warning now," I joked. So I traversed round, making sure the rope didnt run under the rock, and then climbed up. As I was reaching the clipping holds a pocket completely crushed underneath my fingers as I weighted it. I didnt have time to think "Oh SHIT!" as I fell down. The rope ripped over gritty rock and I fell a good few metres below the belay. Dave was yanked into the wall bashing his (luckily helmetted) head into the rock (ala that photo inside the cover of the new Araps guide). My first almost factor two fall. Wow! Exciting!

"I did warn you Dave."
"Thanks Ollie, I appreciate it," Dave answered drily.

I pulled up and tried again, this time with a desperate lunge. I managed to do the move and pull onto the rest of the pitch though by this time my head was shot and I was resting on most of the bolts. The climbing was awkward (definitely not yet five star!), the clipping was hard and the bolts were a little more spaced then I was used too. I got about half way up the pitch and looked ahead but I couldnt see any bolts...there was a little bit of thin tat sticking out so I decided to make for that - the climbing was fairly juggy. I climbed and climbed and climbed and still no bolts. I made it to the tat with my feet at least four or five metres from the last bolt. It was about the thickness of a shoelace and was wrapped around a finger width collumn of rock. I finally saw the next bolt another two metres above me. I decided to clip the tat. I pulled on and up to the bolt, clipped it and sat on the rope. Holy shit...thats the biggest runnout I have ever done. Little known to me at that point I was to have a slightly bigger runnout before I made it to the next belay. It took me a good few minutes to look up and work this out.

"JESUS CHRIST I HATE CLAW" I yelled at Dave.

Well, there was only one way to go. I gathered up all the courage I could muster and launched into the final piece of climbing for the second pitch. The climbing was fairly easy but I was not using most of the good holds as they were the dodgiest. It was some of the scariest climbing I have done. As I neared the ledge I realised I would have to mantle before I could clip the anchors, Claw had nicely placed the bolts well above the ledge. I hate mantling. I really hate mantling with no holds on the mantle. I really hate mantling when I am above my protection. I really really hate mantling six metres above my last pro. I really really really hate mantling onto a shale ledge that is covered in loose debris.


With as much precision and safety as I could I beached whaled my way onto the ledge. It was still not over. I had to stand up and, using a sloper, lean back to clip the anchors.


I wobbled my way up and managed to clip the anchors. PHEW. By this time the wind was getting pretty chilly and I had felt a sprinkle or two of rain. Dave seconded with efficiency. He made it look a lot easier

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