Wednesday, October 05, 2005

East Barney solo

Robert Staszewski (pictured) made the first and only known solo ascent of the east face of Mt Barney in March 1979. He was on the brink of an ethical epiphany following years of climbing at Girraween, about to reject the use of bolts as protection. He climbed the east face route using a combination of free-soloing and a back rope, anchored to a belay, which entailed climbing each pitch twice. Staszewski found himself facing a dilemma as he contemplated the crux of the climb which entails lassooing a tree and pulling up the rope, hand-over-hand. He had thrown a nest of nuts and carabiners around the infamous tree, planning to climb the exposed pitch as others had done before him. But there was a problem—the rope had jammed, but not on the nest of nuts and carabiners, and he could not see how reliable it was. Eventually, he swung out over the huge drop. When he reached the tree he saw all that held the rope was a small loop, jammed in between the tree and the rock!

Picture: A younger Robert Staszewski muscles up Electronic Flag at Frog Buttress. Paul Caffyn collection.