Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Tilting at tradition

By the close of 1967, John Ewbank had convinced his climbing compatriots in New South Wales to adopt a new open-ended grading system—a significant break from the European approach that had influenced Australian climbing from the very start. At the same time, an ethics’ war raged over the placement and use of bolts in the Blue Mountains (and beyond), with Ewbank leading the anti-bolting lobby in his own inimitable style. With Les Wood returning to the UK to climb, momentum in Queensland eased although several climbers remained active—Ted Cais, Donn Groom, Pete Giles, Geoff Cullen, Ken Purcell, Neill Lamb, Dennis Stocks, Bob Fick, Pat Prendergast and Marion Spiers included. In December, three new names appeared on the records of new routes in Queensland—Paul Caffyn, Chris Meadows, and myself. Searching for the new climb, Wasp, as a way of reaching Prometheus II on Tibrogargan, we inadvertently found what amounted to a direct start and called it—with a lot of tongue-in-cheek—Direttissima.

Picture: Paul Caffyn belaying the author up to the first stance of Direttissima on Tibrogargan during the first ascent in December 1967. Paul Caffyn collection.

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