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Rock Climbing at Point Perpendicular

Brendan Helmrich on Hungry Eyes 23

Point Perpendicular is one of Australia’s premier rock climbing venues. There are currently over five hundred established routes at Point Perpendicular although some of these are currently off limits due to access restrictions within Beecroft Weapons Range.

Trad or sport climbing?

Most of the routes require some traditional protection, although there are a small number of fully bolted sport routes. The majority of routes are a mixture of both traditional and bolt protection.

What is the rock like?

Point Perpendicular is a sandstone crag and like many other sandstone crags the rock quality ranges from very good to very bad. As a result the climbing can change from horrific to terrific in the space of a few metres. That said the majority of the rock is pretty good.

Generally the rock has a lot of features like cracks, horizontal breaks and pockets that can take a lot of gear, but it can also be completely blank.

What is the climbing like?

Point Perpendicular is a fantastic place to climb but it is not a place for the inexperienced. In comparison to other Australian crags it is on the more serious side. The protection is mostly traditional, there is a lot of bad rock and many of the routes were developed in the 80’s when bolts were scarce and the run outs were a bit longer. The majority of routes are approached by abseil and this makes the climbing quite committing as in most cases, the only way out is back up the cliff.

The cliff is divided into upper and lower sections by a ledge. The upper cliff routes are generally single pitch and are about thirty metres long. Routes on the lower cliff are generally 2 pitches and are about 50 metres long.

Equipment / Rack

You will need lots of gear. The climbing at Point Perpendicular can be very cam intensive as the many pockets and breaks eat them up. It is not unusual to use up a double set of cams on one pitch, and you’ll need extras for the abseil anchor. You will also need abseil ropes, prusik loops, bolt brackets, wires (1 set is generally enough) and slings (thread runners are common). A long length of tape or a short static rope is useful for rigging anchors on the cliff top. Always carry prusik loops when you are over the edge and don’t forget your camera.

About Carrot Bolts

Clipping carrot boltsCarrot bolts are those pesky Aussie bolts that don’t have a fixed hanger. To attach a carabiner to a carrot bolt a keyhole bracket is required. These can be purchased from most climbing shops and are generally carried loose in your chalk bag. The security of the attachment depends on the clearance between the bracket, the bolt head and the carabiner. These factors all vary. For the best security use a chunky carabiner and a tight fitting bracket. Try to avoid clipping brackets with wire gate carabiners as they are the least secure. If you are using a ‘straight’ style bracket give the carabiner a spin after clipping so the gate isn’t pressing against the rock.

If you are in a bind you can also clip carrots with a wire by the following process. Slide the head of the wire down so there is a loop of wire, lasso the bolt head and then slide the head of the wire back up again so it is snug under the bolt head. Obviously, this is an insecure method.