I’ve been home on holiday and Toby and I decided to hit the Blue Mountains west of Sydney for a weekend of climbing with the goal of climbing Sweet Dreams, an exposed but entry level multi-pitch climb, on the Sunday. I started climbing outdoors after moving overseas and Toby has been keen to ramp-up his experience outdoors.
Our weekend with Rhys (who was excellent and we are happy to highly recommend) from the Australian School of Mountaineering kicked off at the picturesque Mount York with five single pitch climbs. The weather was perfect and the views beautiful. My favorite route was bridging up Peppercorner and Tobes’ favorite was The Birds Nest. Rhys’s advice was to look for the red rock where the sandstone is that colour because it has been worn – like chalk, it is a sign of a popular hold.
Our goal for Sunday, Sweet Dreams, 117 metres, 5 pitches, is pretty exposed so in the afternoon we went to Mount Boyce to increase the exposure levels by climbing Set Piece Battle. The route is accessed from above and when you walk out of the bush and onto the ledge at the top and look down over the Megalong Valley, the heart rate goes up and the stomach tightens. It looks like a long way down. At this point we were wondering if Sweet Dreams – which is a lot higher – was a good idea.
We were lowered to the bottom of Set Piece Battle and climbed simultaneously, belayed from above by Rhys using an ATC in guide mode. The bottom section of the route is easy and slabby before the route steepens and you hit a bulging crux. I was too preoccupied with the climbing and my fading forearms to notice the exposure much after we got going and my nerves soon settled; Toby felt the exposure and responded by putting the jets on, powering up and over the crux and off the route at a cracking pace.
Day 1 over. A great day in spectacular locations and weather that couldn’t be any better. Climbing is as much a mental challenge as it is physical and after the exposure on Set Piece Battle, doubts were starting to form about having a crack at Sweet Dreams. A few pints, a pub dinner and a pizza later back in Katoomba the doubts (temporarily) receded. Bring on day 2.