Sunday, 12 June 2011

Memory Of A Journey - Rock Climbing On Ben Lomond

This is the latest book by myself and co-author Gerry Narkowicz. We have written 4 climbing books together. I have soloed a further 2 books on rock climbing in Tasmania as well as a book of adventures around the world entitled Hollow Lands and Hilly Lands. 

Memory Of A Journey is not only a rock climbing guide, it is also a chronicle of over 3 decades of exploration, discovery and first ascents on the vertical columnar walls of dolerite that rim this vast plateau in north-east Tasmania.

When I look back I am frightened by how much time and energy went into the useless passion of climbing on Ben Lomond. All those summer days on the roof of Tasmania,  high up in the domain of the wedge-tailed eagle, struggling towards some sort of transcendence.

It is for me a very personal book. I was in at the beginning of the great adventure that took up so much of my life. I was involved in more than two thirds of the first ascents. The second half of the book details my memory of that journey in words and photographs. 

The climbing is special and so is the landscape. No-one leaves the place unaffected by the rare power of the high plateau, especially if the climber ventures away from the easily accessed Northern Escarpment and wanders down the broad wind-washed, sun-washed glacial valleys of the upland, along the shores of the high lakes of Baker and Youl to the bastions of Africa (Heimdall and Asgard crags), the plummet measured columns of Pavement Bluff trapping the sun on the eastern rim, or to the darker labyrinthine towers and faces of Denison Crag and Stacks Bluff in the south.

I do hope you enjoy this selection of images from the book. There will be more to come.

Dawn at Denison Crag on the Southern Escarpment

Gerry Narkowicz on the second ascent of the marathon jamming classic Howitzer grade 22 (5.11a) at Pavement Bluff on the Eastern Escarpment.

Here is one of the greatest climbs we ever put up, the immortal Road To Ballyshannon, grade 22 (5.11a), at Pavement Bluff on the Eastern Escarpment. 

Matt Spring on the classic Rigaudon, grade 20 (5.10c), at Frews Flutes on the Northern Escarpment.

Garn Cooper on the moderate ramble of Panzer Breakout grade 19 (5.10b) at Pavement Bluff on the Eastern Escarpment.


La Fiamma Pinnacle at Denison Crag, Southern Escarpment. This photograph, like so many you see here taken in the crystalline light of the Tasmanian highlands, always reminds me of how wrong my painting teacher was when he said that there were no hard edges in nature.

Like a tsunami of blood, dawn comes to Youl's Tarn on the roof of Tasmania, the source of the Nile. Yes, Tasmania has a Nile River.

Brent Oldinger from the USA, bridging the immortal C.E.W. Bean grade 23 (5.11b) at Anzac Cove on Ragged Jack, a semi-detached mountain off the north-west of the plateau. I did the first ascent in 1984 and it is still a ham string and groin stretching test piece.

NOTE: I have used the Australian climb grades with the USA equivalent in parenthesis. 


  1. Interesting pictures...are you the photographer? and if so are you also climbing?

  2. Hello Anita. Thank you for your kind comments on my previous postings.

    Climbing. All the photographs are mine. To get these shots I'm either hanging in space, or on an adjacent climb or in some ridiculously compromised position in defiance of gravity and common sense.

    It is often unsatisfactory photographing a climb while one is doing it. Looking up one gets unedifying bum shots or looking down, tops of heads. Anyway, if one is climbing one is supposed to be belaying not photographing!

  3. Wow! Taking these pics while hanging upside down and whatever is definitely a testament to both your climbing and photography skills. You've got MADDD skills! Anyhoo, my favorite photo here is "Tsunami of Blood" ...


  4. Fantastic work, I wish I could take just one photo that came close to your worst photo and I would be a happy camper.

  5. I love your photographs and the way you have described your passion for climbing and for Tasmania. I have said time and again the only place I'd like to visit outside of my home country is Australia, hope I'll get to come some day.