No matter from which obscure corner of the globe they hail from, most climbers will be familiar with the hallowed tome “50 Classic Climbs of North America”. Written in 1979 by Steve Roper and Allen Steck, “The Book” has achieved mythological status within the global climbing community.
Over the years, there have been attempts to compile an analogous title for our humble continent. Australia is not without its classic lines and the final word on which are the best and brightest of these has been hotly debated. A printed edition was released by Joe Friend, and a crowdsourced voting tally was run in 2010. Both had their supporters and their detractors.
To me, a classic isn’t just a line that climbs nicely – those are a dime a dozen. It’s something that people travel across the state, the country, or even the world to climb. It’s a route that you can tell your friends about, a route that becomes a little feather in your cap.
In my opinion, a true classic must:
- Feature quality movement and flow over good rock
- be highly memorable
- be aesthetically inspiring
- enjoy substantial popularity and reputation
- have some historical significance or prominence within Australian climbing culture
With those criteria in mind, I’m going to run a regular “50 Classic Climbs of Australia” column on this blog. It’s just for shits and giggles, so feel free to discuss, debate, argue, amend and suggest. I’ve never climbed at Mt Buffalo, Point Perp, The Warrambungles or Moonarie, so I’d appreciate some input for these areas.
So… why not start now? But where to start?
Well, from the start of course. And here is one of the routes that started it all… for Queenslanders, at least.
Route #1 – Logan’s Ridge, Mt Barney
Captain Patrick Logan was, by all accounts, a prick. It is therefore no surprise that both his namesake city and river are horrible.
The exception to this rule is the rocky spine which bisects the eastern aspect of the Mt Barney massif. This striking ridge was the route by which the first European ascent was achieved in 1828. As he gazed across the boundless plains, Logan was said to have declared, “She’s a fucking classic, mate. All time.”
Truth be told, there is no way that Logan could have known that the ridge that bears his name would enjoy such popularity in modern times. Climbing as a sport was still in its infancy in Europe and at least 100 years from conception in Australia… which itself was 73 years away from conception.
In the grim days of colonisation, climbing mountains served one purpose – to survey the land for the purposes of agriculture. It was with this aim that Logan, Cunningham and Fraser scrambled toward the East Peak of Mt Barney, the latter two finding that it was a little too much for their taste.
Many routes have since been established on the various ridges and gullies of Mt Barney, but none share the aesthetic beauty of Logan’s Ridge. It forms the rightmost edge of the imposing East Face, rising directly from the eucalypt forest to the summit in a series of craggy steps. It is easily the most desirable line on the most commanding aspect of the most impressive mountain in the Scenic Rim.
True rock artists would regard Logan’s Ridge as a mere scramble, and it is. But aspiring bushwalkers will find the route difficult and treacherous with some exposed slabs and short chimneys. Regardless of skill level, ascending Logan’s is a big day out with some 1000m of elevation gain and loss to be made before returning to the car park.
Take lots of water and don’t forget the camera – the views from the East Peak of Mt Barney are some of the best you’ll find anywhere.
50 Classic Climbs of Australia
#1 – Logan’s Ridge, Mt Barney – Grade 3 – 1000m