50 Classic Climbs of Australia – Infinity

Morag Stewart belays our adopted Californian, David James Jefferson

Sometimes called “The Best 19 in Australia”, Infinity is nothing if not a striking line. It evokes lyrical, rapturous descriptions by all who climb it and this list would not be complete without its presence.

The first ascensionist was none other than Rick White (who else) and was the first real jamming testpiece to be conquered in the halcyon days following the “discovery” of Frog Buttress, then called “Paradise Lost” by White and company. Previous lines such as Liquid Laughter Layback, Satan’s Smokestack and Clockwork Orange Corner continue to be esteemed routes, but Infinity heralded the start of new era. It would be a jamBing renaissance.

At the time, it required a quantum leap in crack climbing techniques in Queensland, and indeed in Australia at large. Even now, it is regarded as a rite of passage which, according to one guide at least, holds the ceremonial key to the door of pure crack prowess.

Unlike many climbs at Frog, Infinity does not inspire pure terror upon first sight. Rather, it holds intense aesthetic appeal and no small amount of magnetism… that is, of course, if you opt for the alternate start. Purists (and by that I mean serial masochists) will opt for the original offwidth start. Almost everyone else goes for the stem chimney to the slight right before traversing into the route proper. From here, a technical face crack gives way to a diagonal feature where a marathon of perfect hands will test the endurance of would-be ascensionists.

I must admit that when I first encountered the thin times on some of the lower segments, I was prepared to leave disappointed… but when I encountered the upper half of the climb, I was lost for words. I still am. The only complaints I hear from climbers is that they wish it had have gone on forever, as the name suggests.

Ted Cais on the second ascent (Source: Michael Meadows, The Living Rock)

If there is one route you simply must get on at Frog Buttress, this might be it. And at a crag so comprehensively stocked with quality crack lines, that’s saying something. A word for the wise, however – Frog is an old skool crag with old skool grades… you have been warned.

Route information for Infinity can be found in the Frog Buttress Guidebook by Matt Hutton and Simon Carter.

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

Thoughts? Opinions? Cries of dissent?