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Brian Harrison-Lever
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Mike Adams and I made the first ascent of Hell Fire Gully in October, 1968 NOT 1975 as stated in several accounts of this route. The day started out as an exploration of the main Bluff Knoll face, and ended with a notable and now oft repeated direct-line base to summit route. Equipment in those days was – what should I say …… economical perhaps? One 120′ length of twisted nylon rope, a few tape slings, couple of Karabiners and two pitons (posh!). Harnesses hadn’t put in appearance in those days, but we had progressed from simply tying the end of the climbing rope around one’s middle – hemp waist-lengths were ‘state-of-the-art’ then. We did each have piton hammers. These were use for ‘gardening’ mainly, clearing lose rock and soil from holds. Mike, in the lead most of the way, seemed to revel in showering my head with rubbish plus the occasional clump of Stirling Range protected flora. Run-outs on that route were often a full rope’s length without protection of any kind between belays, ‘there just wasn’t anything to hang a sling on’! A tad ridiculous thinking back on it now, but that was Edward Whymper’s technique, and climbing with Adams in 1968. We reached the summit after approx 8 hours, including the walk in from the car-park to the start – not a bad time considering we did the lot wearing heavy Vibram-soled climbing boots – our methods were what would now be termed, ‘traditional’, or ‘don’t fall off’ and….. we didn’t!

Brian Harrison-Lever
Launceston Tasmania
DEC 2014

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