Mt Piddington is one of the most storied crags in the Blue Mountains, a crucible wherein the sport began to develop in earnest during the 1960’s and 70’s. Now featuring an eclectic assortment of trad, mixed and sport routes, many of the first lines to be plucked were the plum splitters bisecting the grey-orange sandstone. Undoubtedly one of the finest of these is The Eternity, a blameless line of perfect hands that is indirect but unarguably aesthetic.
If you thought that the venerable John Ewbank was the man to claim this enviable scalp, you’d only be half right. Ewbank’s main contribution to the line was the rarely repeated second pitch, a manky affair that climbs steep, loose rock on aging carrots. These days, it is all but forgotten. He was also the first to climb the first pitch, also known as Yorkshire Crack, but as the man himself commented, it was “originally and foolishly top roped”. This is the money pitch which sees regular ascents with most climbers choosing to end the route there.
2 years later, the honour of establishing the well-known and well-loved Yorkshire Crack went to John Moore, making the ascent with a couple of pitons and the odd nut placement. Moore was something of a quiet achiever whose contributions to the sport are perhaps overshadowed by more colourful characters of the era. Whilst relatively unknown and perhaps somewhat modest, many of his routes are enduring testpieces which modern climbers continue to revere.
Heavily involved with Ewbank, Moore was instrumental in the development of Mt Piddington in particular, a crag that delivers some of the best traditional climbing in a region best known for difficult and technical sport routes. He even had a hand in assisting Rolan Pauglik in the creation of that most beloved of Australian climbing inventions, the venerable RP nut.
Hailing from the south, Moore was also in cahoots with keystone figures of the Victorian climbing scene such as Chris Baxter and Chris Dewhirst, figures who also seem to have greater prominence within the Australian climbing consciousness. Acting in concert with this esteemed assortment of contemporaries, Moore established several classic routes in many famed locations – Mt Arapiles, Gariwerd/Grampians, Kunanyi/Mt Wellington and Frenchman’s Cap among them. The celebrated Skink, Morfydd and Chimes of Freedom are all regarded as mega classics even to this day.
But none of these is more pleasing to budding crack climbers than The Eternity. After a mildly thin start, the crack opens to accept bomber handjams and perfect gear. Rest positions are easy enough to come by, delineating short segments of stellar climbing. The crack begins to close as it angles rightward, taking smaller gear and demanding technical movement. Face holds keep the grade low where tenuous locks would otherwise be mandatory, and before long, the climber finds oneself at a friendly ledge with a tremendous smile on their dial.
The Eternity is a highly memorable route, even though it’s first ascensionist might have slipped under the radar in the pages of history. It pays to remember that for every larger-than-life reputation within the Australian climbing scene, there are just as many figures who have gone about their business in an understated manner. Their contributions are equally meaningful and should be remembered.
Information for The Eternity can be found in Blue Mountains Climbing by Simon Carter et al.
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
#17 – Kachoong, Mt Arapiles – Grade 21 – 25m
#18 – Passport to Insanity, Grampians – Grade 27 – 135m
#19 – Impulse, Frog Buttress – Grade 24 – 18m
#20 – Eye of the Tiger, Grampians – Grade 29 – 25m
#21 – Scimitar, Girraween – Grade 21 – 70m
#22 – Procol Harum, Mt Arapiles – Grade 26 – 25m
#23 – The Eternity, Blue Mountains – Grade 18/23 – 22m/32m