What do you get when you combine a 12km walk, 1km bush-bash up a steep slope and a 270m multi-pitch climb up Bunny Bucket Buttress? The Full Traverse of the Grose Valley, deep in the Blue Mountains National Park.
In December 2015, my climbing partner Garry and I did just that: a walk-in, climb-out traverse that I had planned for some 12 months. It was our most serious adventure to date but, thanks to a LOT of training and preparation, it ended up much being less of an epic than our previous multi-pitch climbs.
I wrote up a full feature for Wild Magazine, published on their website. Make sure you read it: it’s one my favourite pieces of feature writing to date.
And here’s a short video that I just pulled together. The camera work is a bit shaky (shot on a hand-held Canon S110 and an iPhone 6) but I’m pretty chuffed with this as my first ever mini-feature in the medium. I shot it 1080px HD so feel free to watch it full screen.
A few other things that might be of interest to readers that I don’t mention in the article:
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfO-pTLwRQIGarry agreed to do the traverse with me after I went canyoning with him at Bowen Creek
- We trained until it hurt and then kept on going: lead climbing at the gym, followed by laps on top-rope with a 5.5kg weight vest (much to the amusement of our friends) to try and replicate the experience of climbing with a pack full of overnight gear; fitness circuits on my cycle to work; weekly hang board sessions; and, weekly bouldering (for Garry). It’s not elite athlete level (we’re intermediate climbers at best) but not bad for dads with full-time jobs. And the training was 100% worth it, especially on the headwall pitches.
- I used the Boreas Lost Coast 60, stripped down to the minimum: no lid and no frame. It weighed less than 1kg, was comfortable to walk with and climbed well. 5 stars! The second climber had to carry this up the cliff.
- We climbed out via Bunny Bucket Buttress, a super-fun and super-popular 270m multi-pitch climb (Grade 18). It gets very busy on the weekends (3 other parties climbed it with us) so take a day off and do it on a weekday. I spoke to the FA and architect Mike Law once who said it was his “retirement project”. Make sure you know what you’re doing as it can very easily turn into an epic.
- Planning this adventure was almost as much fun as doing the climb itself. Every spare moment in the weeks leading up to the traverse was spent doing up gear lists, planning the route, consulting topo maps, looking at videos and photos of the area to see if we could actually camp there, etc
Here are a few extra photos from the climb that aren’t featured in the article.