Climber on tall boulder

Castle Hill Basin Action Log #1


This bouldering season our man on the ground in the Basin, Scott Jury, is providing updates on all the latest action from the centre of the sloping universe. Here's his first report from autumn:

After a recent move from Auckland to Christchurch, CHB virtuoso/filmmaker Isaac Buckley has been paving the way this season, along with his good friend Alec McCallum. They share a penchant for highballs—the duo established a new mega rig(/free solo) called The Megalodon (V8, pictured). This ‘boulder’ consists of two pitches. The first is an engaging V8 above a sloping ledge. The second is about V2, an exposed slab to the summit. The team ‘Dawn Wall’ styled it one cold morning in March—Isaac scaled the first pitch, then waited for Alec on the ledge. They then switched ‘leads’, for Alec to continue on to the summit, with Isaac following.

Continuing on with the theme for hard and scary highballs, the duo made quick repeats of Zac Orme classics, Horsemen of the Apocalypse (V10) and Liquidus Line (V10, this one was ground up for Isaac), and repeats of the Toby Benham solo Dolemite (V9). ‘Bazooka’ Joe Dravitzki also made a very quick repeat of Dolemite after rehearsing the top on a rope for about five minutes. Joe later commented that he wished the climbing at the top was harder! Here’s a video of Alec’s ascent to get a sense of how stupidly high and scary this rig is: Summer Sends.

Finding time between all the highball madness - Isaac still managed some ‘lower’ boulders, with third ascents of both the Derek Thatcher testpiece Psychosis (V13) and the Niccolò Ceria problem The Rad Dyno (V12).

Belay image

Isaac wasn’t the only person coming out and doing hard repeats so far this season. During the Easter break, Tighe McCarthy managed a flash ascent of Thalidomide (V11) and an ascent of Seduce & Destroy (V11), in the same day. Joe Dravitzki made the third ascent of the brute power problem Gisele Bundchen (V12). There have also been multiple ‘double-digit’ repeats by Bouldering Nationals champion Tom Waldin, with The Gatekeeper (V11), The Vapor Trail (V10), Wild Style (V11), Interstellar Overdrive (V10) and a rare repeat of Minnesota Fats (V10).


If the bleeding edge of difficulty isn’t your thing (and let’s be honest, only a handful are operating at that level), keep an eye out for new ‘moderate’ boulders cleaned up in the basin. Notably Constellation Prize (V7) by Isaac Buckley at Flock Hill, Biosphere (V6) by Alec McCallum at Wuthering Heights and an accidental first ascent of Accidents Start With an A (V5) by Tom Waldin at Lower Wuthering.

In an attempt to raise some psych for the seemingly-forgotten Dry Valley, Scott Jury and friends cleaned up dozens of old moderate lowball classics; notably That Problem With a Really Cool Name (V6), Energy Fools the Magician (V4), Warm Leatherette (V4), Jokerman (V4) and One Hold is Enough (V3).


If you need further psych on exploring the Basin, be sure to check out the latest Powerband podcast on Alec McCallum’s endless joyous rambles at the Hill. 

Photo: Alec McCallum and Isaac Buckley on the first ascent of The Megalodon (V8), film still courtesy of Isaac Buckley