Like art, climbing is subjective. Just as it can be hard to define what makes “good art”, it can be hard to define what makes a classic route. It’s less about the details and more about the overall experience, and sometimes, the product is greater than the sum of its parts… it’s the constitution, it’s Mabo, it’s the vibe of the thing…
This was the impression that David O’Sullivan took from his ascent of Bunny Bucket Buttress, a route he undertook last year with his old man in tow. Although he finds it hard to pinpoint that which makes the line particularly outstanding, the ascent is not an experience which either climber will forget.
“There isn’t one defining aspect of this climb that cements it as a classic,” says Dave. “Rather, it’s classic status comes from the combined experience.”
Now equipped with modern ring bolts, the soaring orange and black rampart was originally bolted in quintessential Australian style and described as “a carrot patch for sport bunnies”. Although the Blue Mountains are best known for sport climbing, the legacy of Australia’s strong traditional ethic still holds sway. As such, natural protection is favoured where possible, making fully-bolted multipitch routes the exception rather than the rule. This, combined with the generally high difficulty of Blue Mountains climbing, means that Bunny Bucket Buttress is a rare commodity indeed.
“As a long, moderately-graded, pure sport climb, BBB offers a tantalisingly accessible epic to the budding multipitch climber,” says Dave. “Of course, epic can mean two very different things!”
Since its inception in 2005, Bunny Bucket Buttress has proved an attractive prize for many fledgling climbers, and in many cases, has lured them into situations which exceed the level of their knowledge if not their technical ability. Despite the apparent ease of the grade, the route has a level of commitment which many are not accustomed to. As such, BBB has become infamous as the scene of many an epic. This fact proved so thoroughly exasperating to first ascensionist Mike Law that he was prompted to post a 12-point manifesto on Chockstone detailing the skills and precautions that would-be climbers should possess.
But the position of BBB and the commitment that it implies are undoubtedly part of its charm. Set deep within the vast splendour of the Grose Valley, Pierce’s Pass is certainly one of the most spectacular climbing venues in Australia, but it’s also a venue that demands respect.
“There is a peculiar sense of commitment to a rap-in climb,” says Dave. “Knowing that the best (or perhaps only) way back to the car is to finish the climb has even more significance when you’re the strong climber in the party – there’s no passing a tricky lead off to your partner!”
The climbing itself is varied, though not always stellar. A committing boulder problem with “the requisite Bluies heel-hook” soon gives way to a series of slabs and corners. After some uninspiring low-grade pitches in the middle, often referred to as a “hard hands-free problem”, the famous Pitch 6 traverse skirts a large, blocky roof to approach the final vertical headwall. A hard start yields to a jug ladder which finds victorious bunnies on top of the world.
For folks who are taking the first tentative steps into the wonderful world of multipitch climbing, Bunny Bucket Buttress is a rite of passage. Fantastic scenery and a sense of commitment add to the appeal, and while it might lack consistency, the overall package proves memorable. As such, the route quite often finds a special place in the hearts of many Australian climbers.
“The experienced adventure climber might find BBB to be a relatively vanilla sport route – a few pitches of scrambling to break up mostly juggy climbing – but I think this climb is a classic for the everyday adventurer,” says Dave. “You will always remember your first time.”
Information for Bunny Bucket Buttress can be found in Blue Mountains Climbing by Simon Carter et al.
Thanks to David O’Sullivan for the insights and photography!
50 Classic Climbs of Australia
#1 – Logan’s Ridge, Mt Barney – Grade 3 – 1000m
#2 – Punks in the Gym, Mt Arapiles – Grade 32 – 35m
#3 – The Bard, Mt Arapiles – Grade 12 – 120m
#4 – Sunburnt Buttress, Mt Tibrogargan – Grade 19 – 185m
#5 – Infinity, Frog Buttress – Grade 19 – 40m
#6 – Cornerstone Rib, Warrumbungles – Grade 14 – 190m
#7 – Muldoon, Mt Arapiles – Grade 13 – 42m
#8 – Pole Dancer, Cape Raoul – Grade 22 – 55m
#9 – Blade Ridge, Federation Peak – Grade 17 – 420m
#10 – The Janicepts, Blue Mountains – Grade 21 – 27m
#11 – Ozymandias, Mt Buffalo – Grade 28 or M4 – 280m
#12 – Tiptoe Ridge, Mt Arapiles – Grade 5 – 120m
#13 – Groove Train, Grampians – Grade 33 – 45m
#14 – Devil’s Dihedral, Frog Buttress – Grade 20 – 45m
#15 – Eurydice, Mt Arapiles – Grade 18 – 70m
#16 – Bunny Bucket Buttress – Grade 18 – 270m