Speed ascent Bluff Knoll

Home Forums Climbing Talk Speed ascent Bluff Knoll

This topic contains 17 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  olly 2 months, 4 weeks ago.

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
  • Author
  • #154850 Reply


    To any interested and worthy opponents,

    I’d like to put out a speed climbing challenge on Bluff Knoll. Start – from the top of the stairs on the viewing platform at the car park. Hike up to the base of the North Face, climb ‘Hell Fire Gully’, stand on the highest point at the lookout and finish back at the start point. A couple of additional rules: HFG must be climbed fully roped (no free solo) as described in the guidebook and all gear must be carried from start to finish. The current best time is 2hrs 41.00min set by Trent Potts and myself last month. If you think you can beat it, then bring it on!

    #154865 Reply


    I’d be interested, but I’m completely unworthy.

    #154867 Reply


    How many pitches did you do it in? And for interest, how long did it take you to get from the carpark to the base of HFG?

    #154888 Reply


    Well, I don’t want to give too much away but I will say that we did the hike up in under an hour quite comfortably, the pitches were long and there were a few run-outs. And as far as HFG described in the guidebook, I mean the route not the pitch lengths/belay stances. I think the time can definitely be broken with a bit more planning and tactics.

    #154889 Reply


    Good stuff. To be honest I would not fancy the run down hill….it destroys my knees. It may be helpful if you publish your times from carpark to summit, and also just for the route bottom to top. People can can do just the speed climbing, or + approach, or + descent.

    #154894 Reply


    We didn’t strictly record our times for each leg, however it took about 40min to get from the car park to HFG. We were both at the top after about 2hr 20min and then back at the car park at 2hr 41min, so it took about 1hr 40min to climb HFG and about 20min back down (with a few lost minutes fussing with gear in between). The climb by itself could be done quicker in isolation as you’d be well rested and have gear at the ready, but that wasn’t our challenge.

    #155136 Reply

    worthy opponent

    Hey Jonas,

    Well we climbed hellfire gully in 1hr and 21 mins but we decided against the run because it’s lame!

    This forum is for climbing related achievements and I would hate to see it become an “Adventure Race”

    If we’re setting “stringent rules” and criteria as to our worthiness we might as well add 1000 push ups and 500 squats in the carpark before starting the clock!!

    #155147 Reply

    John boy

    I just hope no team comes unstuck trying to chase these times.there are no climbers in the s.e.s down here and they are not trained in big multi pitch rescue techniques so if it goes pear shaped your on your own the incident at peak head proved that

    #155150 Reply


    What incident at Peak Head? mmmmm gossip I mean worthwhile instructional talk.
    Seriously, what happened? Point me to the relevant forum post if I’ve missed it.

    #155151 Reply

    John boy

    Hi ang. was years ago and wasn’t posted a climber pulled on a loose block and crushed his arm halfway up the south face the long story cut short is that they had to self rescue can find more detail if you wish I tend to turn off when told those story’s as the give me the spooks.I’m not having a go at the s.e.s down here they are a great bunch of guys and I have some good mates in there but big muiti pitch stuff there not trained for

    #155153 Reply


    Hi John, thanks for that, I’m always curious about self rescues. Fair call about being mindful of the SES’s capabilities.Not at all surprised to hear of Mt Weetbix living up to its nickname, sadly for the climbers.

    #155158 Reply


    Solid effort Johnas! Good to see the bluff still gets a little love. As for those comments regarding stringent rules, others getting hurt trying to beat the time etc, I think Jonas has only gone and had some fun, within his abilities and comfort level. If anyone seriously wants to ‘beat’ his time I think they should take their own limits into consideration rather than bash him about others possibly hurting themselves trying to out do him. As John boy says, take care of yourself.

    #155159 Reply

    Howdy All

    The forum is for discussion. Anyone who posts does so knowing that it may attract comment. Just because you disagree with or dislike something that someone has said, does not make it ‘bashing’ or trash talk. John has made valid points that we would all do well to consider, is entitled to express his concerns and has done so in a respectful manner. Many people wrongly assume that a rescue is just a phone call away. It’s also my experience that many climbers heading out are not prepared to deal with even a minor emergency – no first aid kit or training, no self-rescue skills, no means of communication in a remote area and no emergency plan. So John has highlighted an important consideration not just at Bluff Knoll (BK) but in any similar area.

    I can’t, however, say the same for ‘worthy opponent’, who was clearly so embarrassed by the contradictory and inflammatory comments he/she posted that he/she had to hide behind a pseudonym.

    I share some of John’s concerns. I spend a lot of time trying to encourage climbers to take personal responsibility (and also encourage Department of Parks and Wildlife to take a similar view) but I also worry that someone is going to come unstuck, regardless of their skill level. It goes without saying, that when you rush, there is an increased risk of making mistakes. Bluff Knoll already presents greater objective hazards than many other climbing areas in WA and we don’t need to create more. Jonas himself mentions a few run outs – unavoidable or part of saving time?

    As John points out, BK also presents significant rescue challenges. It’s my understanding from communication with the Albany SES Vertical Rescue Team last year that they have actually been training in the Stirling Ranges to be better prepared for potential rescues, though they tell me that they don’t often have to assist climbers. This is both good and bad. Unlike dedicated mountain rescue units with paid full-time staff, who tend to see a lot of action and are set up for rapid responses, if you bugger up at BK, SES volunteers need to be alerted, assembled and then deployed. And despite their dedication and commitment, it’s a reality that they have limited experience. So you’ll be on your own for quite a while and the actual rescue will take a long time. We simply don’t have the luxury of a specialised rescue service.

    Whilst Ueli Steck runs (literally) up all sorts of things, this isn’t Europe, where rock climbing and mountaineering are embraced and considered normal activities. This is Australia, the nanny country, where the phrase, “I’m going mountaineering” generally elicits looks of disapproval and the suggestion that I must be a few sandwiches short of a picnic to even consider such an outrageously dangerous activity. In WA, we already have to deal with the land manager’s reactions to accidents when all due care is being taken, let alone having to deal with the fallout from an incident that may result from climbers engaging in and promoting what could be seen as unnecessarily risky behaviour. A perfect example of this is the completely avoidable incident that occurred at Mountain Quarry early last year. Such an incident doesn’t just impact on the climbers involved, it impacts negatively on our relationship with the land managers and future access. Climbing is already generally seen as ‘dangerous’ and a lot of work has been done to try and educate DPaW staff over the years about the real, rather than perceived risks, to ensure continued access to crags. DPaW staff do read forum posts and I doubt whether this is something that they’d be happy to see. It’s unfortunate that Australia has become so overregulated in so many ways, but that aside, purely from a safety perspective, I would suggest that BK is not the ideal location for this type of fun and would question the wisdom of doing it on such notoriously unstable rock.

    Please remember that as much as we might not like it, liability is an increasing concern for land managers. More than you can imagine and not just in relation to climbing. I’m a big fan of natural selection but unfortunately the department doesn’t see it that way. We have become a litigious nation. An increasing tendency to want to blame someone else for our decisions and actions instead of accepting responsibility for our choices (and this being endorsed by court decisions) means we are now suffering the consequences, with an excess of rules and restrictions. CAWA is working to keep these to a minimum in rock climbing and I am actively trying to discourage a micromanagement approach to recreational climbing by government departments. But I need climbers to support this stance by demonstrating that they can indeed be trusted to engage in responsible behaviour and appropriate risk management. Remember that there is a wide range of opinions about and understanding of the sport. I have to take a global approach and consider all perspectives and consequences, as well as liaise with DPaW and field frantic phone calls (as after the MQ incident last year).

    What I’m presenting to you here are perspectives you may not have considered but reflect the types of concerns land managers have and that I have to deal with. At a time when we are still trying to achieve a more uniform approach to the ‘administration’ of climbing on DPaW managed land, I ask everyone to consider how their actions (and forum posts) may negatively impact on these efforts. I understand that isn’t the intention, but it is a possible consequence.

    Dena Rao
    CAWA President

    #155173 Reply


    I think anyone not posting under their real names should be deleted by the Mods. Seriously
    !!, “worthy opponent” your contribution/trolling is pathetic. If your not interested, bugger off!. There is nothing about this thread being about achievements, its just talk!!.

    #155174 Reply


    Hi George

    Even if someone puts a ‘real’ name we still don’t know if that really is their name. We have discussed the pros and cons of a login type system, which would make people more accountable. However, it also makes management more complex. Anything that is considered really offensive is removed by the webmaster. And if anyone has concerns about a particular post they are encouraged to email CAWA. Thankfully the rude posts are relatively few and though I also commented on it, I probably should have ignored it, which is often the best way to discourage the behaviour.

    #155311 Reply


    I prefer not to enter debates like this because no matter what your opinion is there’s always someone who thinks they know best, disagrees or just likes stirring the mud, so I’ll make it as brief as possible.

    Just because there is a public perception that something is dangerous doesn’t mean we should restrict ourselves to suit. Climbing on Bluff Knoll is not illegal and has been going on since the 1950’s and I’m not sure about everybody else, but climbing to us is all about pushing your limits – your physical limits, mental limits, grade limits, height limits, speed limits etc, whilst maintaining your own safety limits. Speed climbing is common around the world and has been happening on Bluff Knoll for a long time. HFG was climbed 11 times one 24hr period by the same pair in 1993!

    No doubt, a rescue on Bluff Knoll has the potential to be serious and complex. Does this mean we shouldn’t climb there and there should be a ban on all activities worldwide which may potentially lead to a complex rescue? I think not. As a matter of personal responsibility and safety, we wouldn’t speed climb on Bluff Knoll without doing a risk appreciation, having a few contingencies and also being capable in multi-pitch self rescue.

    Also, I’ve got a good relationship with the rangers down there who were present on the morning we did the ascent and have also been supportive of climber initiatives on Bluff Knoll. Even the first ascensionist has been supportive. Yes, speed climbing is potentially dangerous. I encourage everybody to live life to the max and enjoy what the world has to offer, but if you don’t think you possess the necessary skill, experience and judgement to speed climb on Bluff Knoll, then don’t do it!

    #155318 Reply


    Well said Jonas! I agree 100% with you.

    But I totally disagree with this:

    “Whilst Ueli Steck runs (literally) up all sorts of things, this isn’t Europe, where rock climbing and mountaineering are embraced and considered normal activities. This is Australia, the nanny country, where the phrase, “I’m going mountaineering” generally elicits looks of disapproval and the suggestion that I must be a few sandwiches short of a picnic to even consider such an outrageously dangerous activity.”

    Just having come back from the east coast (and having grown up there), I can say that climbing (and other risky activities like canyoning) are actually embraced by the community and encouraged as an awesome sport to be involved with. I do not think the rest of Australia is as much of a nanny state as WA.

    It is a shame that when someone does something cool, like Jonas and Trent did, all the CAWA community can do is start winging about potential what-ifs and litigation problems!

    #188874 Reply


    Update on this: A New Hell Fire Gully speed ascent was completed in 1:54:23 Solo *(no rope but still the fastest time climbing the route carpark to carpark).. Apologies in advance to any nanny staters;)

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
Reply To: Speed ascent Bluff Knoll
Your information: