50 Classic Climbs of Australia – Pole Dancer

Steve Moon atop Pole Dancer (22) Photo by Simon Carter, Onsight Photography

Many of the climbs on this list have a rich and colourful history, but many of these stories focus largely on human interpretation. The natural environment surrounding every climb is a story in itself. The bones of this planet speak of an ancient saga, one which makes our actions seem paltry by comparison.

What appears to us as permanent is, in reality, a fleeting snapshot. Timeless forces sculpt the landscape, forging a kaleidoscope of shapes and colours. A striking example of this is the dramatic profile of Cape Raoul on the Tasman Peninsula.

For many moons, my computer desktop featured the above image, a Simon Carter shot that came with an instalment of Onsight Photography’s newsletter. It’s hard not to get carried away by the majesty of that image – a proud spire contrasted against a vast ocean backdrop. It always occupied an obscure corner in the murky depths of my subconscious, so when Scott Godwin suggested Pole Dancer (22) as one of the 50 Classics, it made perfect sense.

Photo by Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD (Source: Wikipedia.org creative commons)

To say that an ascent of Pole Dancer is somewhat epic is an exercise in understatement. For starters, there’s a 2 hour drive from Hobart, passing the penal colony at Port Arthur and oodles of spectacular coastal scenery. Then there’s the 2 hour approach through terrain that would put a postcard to shame. And that’s just the beginning… the ropes soon come out, and would-be ascensionists are required to negotiate an additional climb and abseil simply to reach the base of the pillar.

Near the edge of the world, where the dolerite meets the sea, Pole Dancer stands tall and proud. A seal colony can be glimpsed below, a spectacular arête above. The line has been called “one of the best, and certainly one of the most memorable routes at the grade in the country.” and would probably be a front-runner for that same honour in an international context.

A short chimney guards the first pitch, easy but with little protection. After surmounting this obstacle, superb, sustained sport climbing awaits the moderate leader on the second pitch, but this is not a sport climb as you know it… given the remoteness and difficulty of access, it’s not a climb that should not be taken lightly.

Granted, I’ve never climbed Pole Dancer and can’t personally vouch for the quality of its moves. But Mr Godwin called it a “super duper fantastic awesome intergalactic hyper classic pitch” and it’s pretty hard to argue with that.

Route information for Pole Dancer can be found in the Climb Tasmania Guidebook by Gerry Narkowicz.

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

Thoughts? Opinions? Cries of dissent?