Trip Report – Sebastopol Bluffs
By: Lindsay Smith
Source: Otago Section Newsletter (April 2017)
There was a great deal of interest in the Section’s rock climbing trip to Sebastopol Bluffs at the end of February and 14 of us headed to Unwin Lodge on the Friday, so as to make the most of Saturday’s good forecast.
The Geologists, Martina, Matteo and Kat left Dunedin early and carefully inspected several rocks round the Cook Village on Friday, thereby justifying their travel as a field trip. But the rest of us left after school or work on Friday and although we arrived at Unwin quite late, Simon made us very welcome.
After a brief discussion over breakfast, we headed up to Red Arête Area to get as much multi-pitch time as possible before it got too hot and windy. Although everyone was at least an intermediate level rock climber, many on the trip had only limited multi-pitch experience and were looking forward to the entry level multi-pitch opportunities that Sebastopol offers.
By mid-morning the three main routes were chocka with climbers, with teams of three on most ropes. The Geologists headed up ‘Let’s Go Bushwalking’, Pam, Lesley, Mark and Michael started on ‘Shark Attack’, and Steph and Ryan tested their skills on Red Arête. All three climbs were completed multiple times with several teams going on to complete the Mako extension to Shark Attack.
Huge thanks to Shelagh and Ryan for their guidance during the day and it was great to see them patiently passing on their skills in rope handling, route planning and safety to those with less experience of multi-pitch climbing. With plenty of bolts and belay points for each of the three pitches on the three main climbs, Red Arête is a great crag for newer climbers to stretch their skills on a scenic route high above the thousands of tourists on the road below.
By mid-afternoon, the temperature soared into the early 30s, making climbing quite challenging and so the team retired to Unwin for a late lunch. Conscious that the forecast for Sunday was for rain by mid-afternoon, and inspired by a photo and rave review in the guidebook, Riley persuaded a group to head off to the ten bolted climbs on Orange Wall, late Saturday afternoon. What they didn’t read quite as carefully was the description of the route to the crag. Three of the group ended up turning turned back well before the Wall, beaten by the “over-hanging tussock and matagouri approach”. They swore the approach went at about Grade 21, but they may have exaggerated a bit. Those that did make it to Orange Wall agreed with the guidebook’s assessment of the climbs and quality of rock, staying late, arriving at Unwin in time for a hot shower and dinner just before dark.
Sunday dawned clear and beautiful, and after breakfast everyone headed back to the crags; this time teams separated to their own chosen targets. After climbing Sian’s first multi-pitch route, (Red Arête), Riley and her tested their trad skills on the Crucifix Wall and Twin Cracks. Meanwhile, Martina, Matteo and Kat had similar success on the Kingfisher Slabs whilst Mark and Lesley enjoyed the “quality” rock on the Lunar Wall.
By mid-afternoon everyone was back at Unwin ready to pack and head home and a quick count suggested that over 50 different climbs had been “ticked off” over the very successful weekend. And the Sunday rain? Didn’t meet that until we were almost back in Dunedin!
Posted By: Narina Sutherland