Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Deep Purple on Rock

By 1970, many of the easy, obvious lines had been climbed at Frog Buttress and it would be a hard core who would eke out the remaining climbs there over the next decades—Rick White, Ross Allen, Ted Cais and Ian Cameron amongst them. In 1970, 10 hard new routes went up there with Odin perhaps the pick of the crop. Climbing Odin would eventually be the subject of a home movie, set to the music of Deep Purple, one of Rick White’s favourite bands at the time. In the last years of his life, his mobile phone ringtone punched out the opening riff from Smoke on the Water. The super eight movie, called Deep Purple on Rock, did the rounds of Australian climbing clubs with White relishing the occasion as it showed Queensland climbers demonstrating their ‘jamBing’ skills to disbelieving southerners. In the same year Ted Cais and I climbed Dreadnought, a new route up the highest part of the east face of Tibrogargan and the second longest climb in Queensland (log book account pictured).

Climbing 'Mt Bastard'

Around this time, Greg Sheard decided to have one last attempt at climbing the East Face of Mt Barney. Two previous attempts had been washed out and he had started calling the mountain, ‘Mt Bastard’! It was getting serious. This time, the weather held and he found himself and Alan Millband at the base of the climb despite the challenging walk in. Greg Sheard takes up the story:
Alan led the first pitch. To quote the guide: ‘One already feels the exposure.’ To quote me: ‘Pig’s arse!’ Second pitch, I scored. There just happened to be a tree at the start of the pitch so I climbed it. This was destined to be the first of a long series of botanical aids on the climb. Belay in tree. Alan followed up (with pack on back), swinging through the trees like a constipated Tarzan.
And so it continued: Millband grabbed a snake on the crux pitch and Sheard managed to climb it free on a toprope, finding the ‘rotten’ tree to be ‘as solid as buggery’. Greg Sheard had once again dealt a body blow to any romantic notions of big wall climbing on Mt Barney!

Southern snippets

Earlier that year, a team of climbers from Sydney—Keith Bell, Ray Lassman, John Worrall, Bruce Rowe, Keith Royce, Hughie Ward, and Howard Bevan—made the first ascent of the North Arete on Ball’s Pyramid in a six day epic. Several new areas were opened up by climbers in New South Wales including Medlow Bath, Mt Blackheath, Nellies Glen, the Dogface to Echo Point cliffline and Mt Boyce. John Ewbank was talking of retiring and pursuing a career in the music business, having climbed more than 400 new routes in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. In Western Australia, rockclimbing attracted the attention of the Australian Broadcasting Commission which filmed a quarry climb and included it as a feature in a local sports program.

Picture: Ted Cais collection.

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