The Totem

  • Grade context: AU
  • Photos: 5
  • Ascents: 9
  • Aka: a life, 2007




The artwork ('a life, 2007') is a sandstone erection consisting of three beautiful choss free sandstone blocks. Stacked on top of each other this totem pole will offer you and amazing highball challenge that's hard to top in the bush and it's located in the heart of Sydney.

We are not sure whether you are allowed to climb this monument. However the artist has been in touch with theCrag and is ok with it being climbed.

While the work is extremely robust, the neck portion (the separated natural split) is dressed with small rocks which would be fragile. The artist asks for ropes not to be noosed and anchored around the neck, nor for the stones within the split be held onto.

Access issues inherited from New South Wales and ACT

If you have benefited from climbing infrastructure in NSW, please consider making a donation towards maintenance costs. The Sydney Rockclimbing Club Rebolting Fund finances the replacement of old bolts on existing climbs and the maintenance of other hardware such as fixed ropes and anchors. The SRC purchases hardware, such as bolts and glue, and distributes them to volunteer rebolters across the state of New South Wales. For more information, including donation details, visit


Located in the Ultimo Pedestrian Network that connects Ultimo Road and Thomas Street in Ultimo. You can't miss it, it's the only pile of sandstone blocks there.


View historical timeline

Details about this artwork, titled 'a life, 2007', by Gary Deirmendjian, can be found here:

Notes from the artist

Three years in the planning and making, the stone was purpose quarried specifically for the work as a single block of sandstone at 7.5m long that weighed 25tonnes. The conceptual intent had required a natural split at approximately a third of the way down from the top, and a clean saw cut at approximately a third of the way up from the base. It has taken on a figurative stance.


Add route(s) Add topo Reorder Bulk edit Convert grades
Grade Route

A sandstone pillar consisting of three individual blocks stacked on top of each other. Each block is approx. 2 meters in height and has two thick deep saw cuts, one at the top and one at the bottom.

The neck portion (the separated natural split) is dressed with small rocks which are fragile. Do not noose or anchor ropes/slings around the neck, nor the stones within the split

Before you start the highball put your harness on and get a length of rope measuring no less than 25 meters. Secure it around the top of the first block using the top saw cut recess for it to sit in when tightened. Ensure it's set up so it trails up the monument directly from the cutting. Secure the rope to your haul loop and boulder away. Don't forget your repelling device! Have your spotter ready with at least two crash pads on the deck. FA had four pads in place with one spotter. This problem requires some fist and arm jamming so ensure you're confident with this technique. A good rest spot can be found between the second and third block with the perfect single knee bar. Once you've mantled rap down with your prussic in place and via a safe and secure sit start. Rap down the flat face being the side opposite the cuttings. All chock stones are out of bounds..

Set by Brendon Flanagan, 6 Mar 2014

FA: Brendon Flanagan, 6 Mar 2014


First time here? is a free guide for rock climbing areas all over the world, collaboratively edited by keen rock climbers, boulderers and other nice folks.

You can log all your routes, connect and chat with other climbers and much more...

» go exploring, » learn more or » ask us a question


Check out what is happening in The Totem.

Deutsch English Español Français Italiano 한국어 中文