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This is a public discussion in Blue Mountains.

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Nik Sharma started this discussion 10 months ago.

Lost Trad gear

Hey guys,

Two of my friends were on the climb 'Darkside' in the Pierces pass area. They had placed a couple of cams on the first pitch of that climb.

This chimney pitch is also accessible as one abseils down (second abseil station) on the Mirrorball pinnacle from the lunch ledge.

My friends had an emergency and had to be choppered out of the area, leaving cam placements on the climb.

Please let us know if you have retrieved that gear from that climb. This episode took place around two weeks ago. We went down to get the gear and found none.


Will Vidler replied 10 months ago.

If you don't mind me asking, what happened to them? I had a pretty scary and almost really bad experience on the chimney pitch of Darkside when i ripped off a TV sized block and smashed it into my face. Luckily the gear held the 7m whip and the block didn't hit my belayer so we were able to continue with only a bit of a rattle.

Keith Davison replied 10 months ago.

hectic. didn't know this climb was so sketch

Nik Sharma replied 10 months ago.

Will, I would rather not say publicly what happened but it wasn't an injury related to the climb.

But I agree with you that the climb has a lot of loose stuff. Especially on the second pitch.

What do you think about the first pitch? I thought it was super super stiff for the grade. Didn't feel like a 14 at all.

Paul Thomson replied 10 months ago.

I agree. I thought it was nails at 14 too. Mega climbing though!

Nik Sharma replied 10 months ago.

Would you say its a good idea to have the grade of the first pitch changed (based on general consensus and the opinion of area developers)? I mean it can give someone a false sense of security.

Paul Thomson replied 10 months ago.

Not necessarily... Graded chimneying is a very specialised skill. Consider:

A perfect chimney is just about the easiest (Short of a true no-hands slab) vertical climbing technique there is, and would -in itself- get a near negligible grade. To earn even a grade of 14, one would assume that it must require some specialised skills (compare Llewdicrous at Big Top (a gr17 chimney) for example).

And when you get right down to it, though nails for our generation, you can pretty much take your hands off after every move on P1 and have a rest.

Will Vidler replied 10 months ago.

I think i agree with Paul on this. However maybe a statement to suggest that the route is a bit more involved than one might expect could be useful. The gear really is good though and there are bolts also, so maybe we should just embrace the sandbag.

Alastair McDowell replied 10 months ago.

Chimneying WITH gear? Take a grade off!

Neil Monteith replied 10 months ago.

There are some seriously terrifying grade 10 chimneys out there. It's almost a dead art, but maybe Ninja Warrior will bring back its popularity?

Jason Nguyen replied 10 months ago.

Can confirm, Llewdicrous at Big Top (17 chimney) was the hardest 17 I have ever attempted in my life

replied 10 months ago.

Llewdicrous is bloody awesome, and definitely no harder than 17 (though bloody hard work nonetheless). That said reportedly Saxon Johns backed off it. ;-)

But to the comments about grading chimneys, there are some ridiculous "easy" chimneys in Yosemite (e.g. the "tunnel through" on Reed's Direct) - I get pretty nervous when I see "5.x chimney" in the guidebook for any value of x ≥ 8.

Alastair McDowell replied 10 months ago.

Texas Flake chimney on the nose... would you like 5.9 chimney with a bolt at 10m, or 5.8 chimney with no pro for 20m?

Michael Law replied 9 months ago.

seems reasonable to upgrade it, would have been 14 without any gear in the 70s, but people don't practice chimneying in the gym

Blue Mountains Orangutan replied 9 months ago.

How do you grade chimneys though? If you're big like me it probably isn't as hard as it is for the shorties. And the technique isn't that hard to get, it's not like jamming cracks. I found the last pitch way scarier with all the loose stuff.

Paul Thomson replied 9 months ago.

A hard chimney is usually a flared, constricted chimney (and cramped), but not constricted enough to be a body-squeeze (a different climbing style), which is generally harder if you're tall/big/bulky.

But the difference in size for chimneying is -except in the upper echelons) of difficulty- far less variable based on body size than, for example, the difficulty of hard cracks based on finger/hand/fist size. Yet we still only give those one grade.

When it comes to Chimneys, I always say this: my Old Man, who -literally- can't climb grade 16 anymore (at 63 years of age), can still climb a grade 14 Chimney... And no, I'm not joking.

Blue Mountains Orangutan replied 9 months ago.

Yeah it's a technique you can't forget I don't think people learn how to chimney (or climb cracks) in the gym, but it's not like you can't look at it and see it's a chimney and might require some different techniques. I don't see how upgrading it is going to change that.

Paul Thomson replied 9 months ago.

The reality is that if grades are a linear progression of difficulty, they are a linear progression of difficulty in the specific style.

A grade 17 splitter crack might feel absolutely nails if you can't jam (especially if that crack is Barbi di Vendetta !), yet its about the only style of climbing that I will -generally- readily free solo at that grade, because to me a gr 17 crack feels gr17 (having started at the bottom and learned the techniques necessary for a linear progression of grades/difficulty in that style).

The same applies to a chimney. Before you construe something to be "nails at the grade" objectively, you need to have demonstrated mastery in the skill enough to be able to BE objective.

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