A belated trip report on day 2 of our climbing weekend in the Blue Mountains. Sweet Dreams: an exposed but entry level multi-pitch climb in a scenic location with views across the Jamison Valley at the eastern side of the Three Sisters.
Despite the Dutch courage the night before at the pub I was looking forward to Sweet Dreams like a hole in the head when I woke up in the morning. I had an off day on Saturday, hadn’t felt strong at all, and my confidence had taken a hit as a result. Toby was less than thrilled at the thought of the exposure but said that we seemed to be “inexorably drawn” to Sweet Dreams and he was right. There was no getting out of it now.
The walk down to the base of the climb didn’t do much to help the nerves. This was meant to be the easy bit. You scramble down a steep trail next to the Sublime Point look-out, through cracks in the rock and using fixed ropes in sections.
At the base of the rock band you then walk along under an overhang until you come to what is described as “the scary wire traverse.” Rhys said that the fixed wire used to be little more than a clothesline, but these days there is a solidly bolted wire in place. We crossed via ferrata style using slings to traverse a ledge over a drop down to the valley floor. First dose of exposure.
At the base of Sweet Dreams looking up it didn’t look so bad. The first party starting off before us were two soldiers just “back from Afghan” and climbing for the first time in eight months. The party behind us were an Englishman and a Frenchwoman who were lamenting the procedural headaches of applying for permanent residency in Australia. All had encouraging words – great climb, lots of holds.
Time to go. Rhys would lead using double ropes, alternatively clipping the ropes Toby and I had tied into that we designated by colour (“that’s me orange”, “off belay green”, “climbing orange”, “take in green”) on bolts as well as cams on the first, second and fifth pitches to reduce run outs. As we climbed we would clean the protection on our own rope and I would climb 10 metres behind Toby after cleaning the anchor from the preceding pitch.
The first pitch was easy and leads to a large belay stance where you can stand comfortably.
The second pitch is also easy although the belay stance is much smaller. The third pitch is a bolt protected traverse and the most exposed pitch. This was the pitch that I looked forward to least because it is the most exposed and the thought of falling and swinging like a pendulum under the next bolt didn’t appeal. Those fears proved unfounded as it was relatively straight forward climbing and I started to relax. At the end of the third pitch is a ledge that is cosy but three can stand comfortably. By this time, Toby had cut his fingers and was leaving a trail of drops of blood on the holds like Hansel and Gretel.
The fourth pitch was another straight forward pitch with a shot of exposure when “stepping across the void” which involved bridging a chimney with a view straight down. At the top of the fourth pitch is a large ledge where we could all sit comfortably and enjoy a lunch of wraps and muffins.
The final pitch was the hardest. Toby started to remove a cam attached to my rope before being reminded to leave it in place for me to clean – he jammed it back in with such success that it was a mission getting it out when my turn came to remove it. Happily enough, that was about as eventful as the climb got.
Climb over. Once safely off the route we both sat for some time smiling. I was relieved and elated. Toby looked relieved (and, several hours later, elated). It was an amazing experience. Hopefully the first of many more climbs like it.
PS. There is a video of our climb here for those who would like to see more: https://everydayadventures365.com/2013/09/24/rock-climbing-sweet-dreams-video/