Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Few Days Around Tasmania

I thought I would interrupt all the rants of late with what I've actually been doing in the outdoors, which, way back when, was the genesis of this blog. It has been glorious outdoors lately with a spell of warm and sunny winter weather over Tasmania. 

 Clip-ups on a warm winters day

We had a day climbing at Waterworks, which, as I've mentioned before is the most popular climbing area around Hobart and pretty much sums up Australian climbing. The climbing is in an old quarry which is of no use to anyone any more so climbing is allowed and, even more amazing, the climbing community has even come together enough to clean loose rock off the routes and bolt them to a reasonable degree of safety. So, despite the ambiance and the climbs not being that great, climbing there is incredibly popular. Being of a generally optimistic nature, I hope that the Australian climbing scene one day catches up with the rest of the climbing world and embraces cleaning, bolting (where appropriate) and generally making climbing a safe and fun activity for climbers of all abilities. 

 Sea stacks in the mist

Which, leads into a walk we did around Clifton Beach Coastal Reserve. We actually went off with the intention of climbing at Larks Edge, which is a sea side cliff accessed from a thin strip of public land north of Cape Deslacs. It was another glorious day and the walk to the crag was really scenic. You park as if you are going to do this walk, but, instead of walking out to Clifton Beach, head up the old road (gated) that leads to the upper (north) parking lot. There is a series of tracks leading out of this old parking lot – any one will probably do - that take you up onto the headland near Cape Deslacs. From here, you simply walk north on the outside of some fences. There are couple of stiles to cross perpendicular fences, and no real track, just beaten in sheep and kangaroo pads, but the walking is easy. This is an incredibly scenic walk looking out over Frederick Henry Bay to Tasman Peninsula. A few days ago a pod of humpback whales was seen in the area as they begin their migration north. 

 Heading along the public reserve to Larks Edge

Larks Edge crag is about a half a kilometre before the end of the coastal reserve and there is no track down to the cliff top. The only indication you'll have is some old tree stumps in the area. I know this sounds completely nondescript as you'll probably be thinking there could be many old tree stumps given this is all farm land now, but, there actually is only one area where there are old tree stumps visible and this is where you walk steeply down to the top of the crag. It's actually not a particularly pleasant descent as it is very steep and the grass could be slippery at times. If you do slip, there is a remote but real possibility that you'll slide all the way down and off the cliff at the bottom. Fun times. 

 This is a bit confronting

Anyway, we walked down somewhat gingerly and found a series of single U bolt anchors set way back from the edge of the small cliff. In true Australian fashion, the anchors are set way too far back from the edge of the cliff – you'd need about 20 metres of webbing to rig a top anchor. Not only are they single point anchors, but they are exposed to a highly saline environment every day of the year. Some of the anchors were actually sitting in pools of sea water and one had been put into a series of cracks and glued in, rather than drilled and glued into solid rock. I'm not sure I'd trust any of them, particularly as they are, as I said, all single point. Heave large sigh as I wonder why Australians just cannot get anchor systems right. 

 Looking towards Cape Deslacs

Despite it being low tide, when you are supposed to be able to climb easily from the rock ledge at the base of the crag (according to our guidebook), the entire cliff was wet with sea water as the two to three metre swell (not particularly large for these parts) was throwing spray right to the top of the cliff every couple of minutes. No discussion was needed to agree that we were not going climbing at Larks Edge. As far as I can tell, the only time you could climb at Larks Edge is with a low tide and a very low to non-existent swell. Be careful of the anchors. 

 Scenic climbing at Larks Edge

But, the walk was awesome and, after we scrambled back up to the cliff top, we walked along to where the public land ends and signs indicate private property. This is about a kilometre from Pipe Clay Head. It's a shame the public land does not continue right to the headland or the farmer allow walkers as it would be nice to walk all the way.

 Heading back towards Cape Deslacs

We took a different track back and walked along the headland to a Mutton bird (Shearwater) lookout where we had lunch before finding a track that took us down to Clifton Beach where we walked along to the Surf Life Saving club at the far south end. No climbing, but a really scenic walk on a beautiful day.

Clifton Beach

Finally, I've been looking all around for a bouldering area within walking distance of where we are currently living, and, as ye olde book says, “seek and you shall find.” I found a good two tiered cliff with at least 50 metres of bouldering in a secluded woodland within easy walking distance. Some scrubbing and removal of loose holds required, but the rock cleans up really quick, and, after only a few hours I've got about 15 metres of bouldering cleared off. 

Secluded bouldering area

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