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Falcons Lookout Trail Improvements

Last December Glenn Tempest wrote a blog (Problems with Falcons Lookout and Ironbark Gorge Carpark) commenting on the awful state of the walkers/climbers trail into Falcons Lookout at Werribee Gorge State Park. This trail is one of the most heavily used in Victoria and can see anything up to 60 people use it a day. Since then Parks Victoria have gone some way to fixing the issue. The works were not quite finished when we were there on Sunday but there is already a welcome improvement. However, despite these works, using pine boards in this manner is only really a temporary measure. In a couple of years time the boards will have almost certainly collapsed and we will again be faced with the same issues of erosion and user safety. Glenn pointed out in his original blog that “it may be simpler, cheaper and quicker to realign this section of the trail down the spur 20m or so to the west, then cut it back to the point at where the original trail reaches the bottom of the gully.”. In the long term this is probably true, but Parks Victoria is cash-strapped (see Glenn Tempest’s Parks Victoria: Death by a Thousand Cuts) and probably can’t afford the cost of these works. Looks like we will have to put up with band-aid measures for a long time to come.

Update May 2013
Looks like Parks Victoria have recently added more timber to the steps. Once again an improvement.


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Rockclimbs Around Melbourne iPhone App

Open Spaces and iCrag are excited to announce that the popular climbing guidebook, Rockclimbs Around Melbourne by Glenn Tempest, is now available as the iCrag – Melbourne app through the Apple App Store here.

This app covers a selection of the best climbs on eight of the most popular crags within one and a half hours drive of the Melbourne CBD. The climbing varies between single-pitch granite sport climbs to long multi-pitch trad sandstone routes.



Climbing areas include:

  • The You Yangs
  • Falcons Lookout (Werribee Gorge)
  • Mt Beckworth
  • Camels Hump
  • Black Hill
  • Mt Alexander
  • Ben Cairn
  • Cathedral Range

App features include:

  • Over 500 selected routes
  • Over 75 cliff images
  • Text descriptions
  • First ascent details
  • Advanced search facilities
  • Zoom functions
  • Navigate by list
  • Navigate by images
  • Climb grade index
  • Climb name index


Users of the iCrag – Melbourne app will find that all of our current corrections and updates have been incorporated. The app uses the same iCrag engine as used in the popular and acclaimed iCrag – Arapiles app.

iCrag – Melbourne sells for $14.99. Those purchasing the app will be entitled to a 25% discount (rom Open Spaces) on the print version of Rockclimbs Around Melbourne. You can find the details about this great deal by clicking on the About OSP button on the home screen of the app.

Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later. File size is 99.2MB.

Visit iCrag (to see a video of the iCrag app engine in operation) or the Apple App Store.


Like us on Facebook
and Win a Copy of iCrag – Melbourne

We also have one copy of iCrag – Melbourne to give away. Just go to our Open Spaces facebook site and like us and you’ll go in to the draw. The contest ends at midday (Melbourne time) on 10 May 2012. We’ll notify the winner via facebook on the same day. Good Luck.

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Problems With Falcons Lookout Walk and Ironbark Gorge Carpark

There are four official public entrances into Werribee Gorge State Park. The main entrance is via Myers Road on the eastern side of the park and is accessed via the Western Freeway from just past Bacchus Marsh. The other three entrances are located along Ironbark Road via Western Bluff, Ironbark Gorge and Ingliston Gorge Carparks. Western Bluff Carpark provides access to Western Bluff Lookout and is occasionally used by walkers descending the spectacular Needles Spur (through private property) into the gorge. Ingliston Gorge Carpark provides access to the Ingliston Block, the isolated western arm of the park, while Ironbark Gorge Carpark provides access to the Falcons Lookout Walk, the Ingliston Granites and Ironbark Gorge. Ironbark Gorge Carpark is also the nearest trail-head for Falcons Spur, an increasingly popular walk that descends into the gorge (again through private property). Falcons Lookout itself is one of the most popular rockclimbing destinations close to Melbourne.

Over the past year I’ve noticed that Ironbark Gorge Carpark has become increasingly busy. In fact it’s not uncommon to find 6 to 8 cars and perhaps a bus using the carpark on any midweek day. On the weekend I have seen up to 50 or more climbers at the cliff and perhaps a dozen or more walkers on the trails. This equates to at least a dozen or more vehicles crammed into the tiny carpark. I don’t know the actual park user numbers but I suspect that on many days there would be more visitors accessing the park through the ‘back-door’ of Ironbark Gorge Carpark then would be along the ‘official’ Myers Road entrance.

Interestingly, Myers Road is serviced by two large carparks (the Quarry Picnic Area and Meikles Point Picnic Area) and each have have picnic facilities, BBQs and toilets. In comparison, Ironbark Gorge Carpark is very small and rough to say the least. The geography of the area means that this carpark can’t be made much larger, but it could benefit from a redesign if it is to cater for the growing numbers of cars using it. The carpark also has no toilets. While this would be a minor issue for some, it is a major issue for many. Both walkers and climbers are forced to go bush and this is simply unacceptable at such a heavily used carpark as this. Perhaps having a toilet in the carpark would help to reduce the enormous number of poos and loo paper scattered around the vicinity of Falcons Lookout. In fact, the situation is becoming so bad at Falcons Lookout that perhaps the best thing to do would be to build a drop toilet on the adjoining saddle.

Which brings me to my final gripe. The initial section of trail (down past the old railway workers hut sites) into Ironbark Gorge is a complete disaster. The contractors that Parks Victoria used to ‘fix’ this section of the trail have done an awful job. If anything, the pine boards anchored across the trail has worsened the erosion and created a major eyesore. Simply put, this section of the trail is loose, ugly and dangerous. With the large numbers of people using the Falcons Lookout Walk you would have expected Parks Victoria to have properly fixed this trail a long time ago. Possibly the only way to save this trail now would be for Parks Victoria to contract a reputable construction company such as TTMS (Track and Trail Management Services) to rebuild it. Failing that (and knowing how little money Parks Victoria these days invest in high-quality long-term trail maintenance) it may be simpler, cheaper and quicker to realign this section of the trail down the spur 20m or so to the west, then cut it back to the point at where the original trail reaches the bottom of the initial gully. This would greatly reduce erosion problems and is where the trail should have gone in the first place.


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Jawbone Track Repairs Finished

Last week Greg and I walked up to the top of the North and South Jawbone Peaks in the Cathedral Range State Park. I was really keen to check out the new trail work on the Jawbone Track leading up to the Farmyard. The 2009 Black Saturday bushfires really hammered this part of the range and, while this trail has always suffered from erosion issues, the fires made things a whole lot worse.

The initial walk up from the Jawbone Carpark is nicely contoured and Parks Victoria have replaced the original bridge over MacLennans Gully with a new steel construction. Hopefully this bridge will withstand future low and medium intensity fires. Personally I can’t see the need for expensive bridges spanning minor water courses that for 98% of the year can be easily stepped over, although I’m sure most walkers will welcome the convenience.

The trail up to the first rocks was realigned quite a few years back and it is still in excellent condition. From the rocks the trail cuts across to Jawbone Creek, crosses it and then climbs steeply up to The Farmyard. This section and the trail has always suffered from bad erosion and the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires made things a whole lot worse. If you’ve hiked up to the Jawbone Peaks since the park was reopened after the fires you will know that work on this trail has been progressing for sometime. As it is Parks Victoria and their contractors have done an excellent job. The careful placement and seating of large blocks (and all without the use of cement) means that the trail will be far more resilient to heavy foot traffic and now blends in really well with the natural surroundings. Two thumbs up for a job well done.

From The Farmyard we continued up to the top of South Jawbone Peak. Essentially the trail to the summit is okay but is now so overgrown as to be difficult to follow. In fact I would say that the regrowth is far thicker now than it was before the 2009 fires. What a difference a couple of years makes! While the hazel pomaderris is especially thick, it is the kangaroo wattle (or prickly wattle, acacia paradoxa) that is making life difficult for walkers.

Most likely much of this regrowth will die off over the next few years as the forest re-establishes itself, but in the meantime it’s a real pain. Maybe Parks Victoria should send in a crew to re-cut the trail although I’m not sure exactly how long this would last. Luckily the trail up to North Jawbone Peak is much better, but there are still short sections of thick regrowth and the kangaroo wattle is growing strongly on the upper rocks near the summit.


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Camels Hump: Digging in the Dirt

Three new bolts (with quick-draws) on Lola V. Michael stepping right into Bloodline.

Each of the three routes described below have been worked on in consultation with other local climbers and with the first ascentionists. These three climbs were all suffering from major issues and were either unclimbable, badly bolted and/or dangerous.

Sluts Honour has had a slightly different start added (one bolt) by coming in from the left (low down on Grey Arete). A bolt was added above the ring-bolt to better protect the crux moves (now avoiding the potential ground-fall). The top ring-bolt was originally placed too far to the right and was a major pain to clip so I added another bolt 1m horizontally to its left. I left the ring-bolt in place as it’s still convenient to protect the moves on the link-up The Sluts Alliance. Sluts Honour now climbs really well, has three 90mm x 12mm expansion bolts, a single glue-in and a more enjoyable start. The grade is probably now more like 22 (rather than its original 23). Some people will still want to place a medium cam at the stance, but most won’t bother.

Underseige had a large flake break off the crux maybe 15 years ago and the route subsequently vanished into a thick carpet of moss. The climb has now had a massive brushing and I placed glue-in lower-off anchors on top. I also removed the (original) bottom expansion bolt as it was in poor condition and refused to tighten. The top (original) expansion bolt appeared good but I replaced the hanger. I also added a much more logical direct start from the ground to avoid stepping in off the ledge. Underseige now has three glue-in ring-bolts and a single expansion bolt. Some people will still want to place a medium cam at mid height, but most won’t bother. Underseige is still about grade 23.

Lola V (on the Omega Block) was put up in the early 1980s with just the one mild-steel carrot bolt. Over the years it has had very few repeats since the bolt is rusted and there was a distinct possibility of decking off the hard moves getting to it (not to mention the massive run-out after clipping the bolt). After a brushing I added three 90mm x 12mm expansion bolts. The original carrot is still there but I’m hoping to remove it soon. After the third bolt the route is best climbed by stepping right and finishing up Bloodline to its lower-off anchors. You’ll need five draws in total (plus two more for the lower-off). Lola V is now grade 22, has nicer and better-protected climbing than Bloodline and will probably be a whole lot more popular.

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Rockclimbs Around Melbourne Corrections

These corrections have been listed by page number. They have been provided by the author and various other users of the guide. If you have any corrections that you believe are relevant please send them to Tracey Skinner at

Corrections in black text have already been added to our Rockclimbs Around Melbourne iPhone app.
The corrections in blue text have not been added to our Rockclimbs Around Melbourne iPhone app.

p20. The traverse on the Front Face image is marked as 27. It should be 26.
p22. The text box says “routes 16, 17, 18” are off to the right. This should be “routes 17, 18, 19”.
p23. Crinkle Cut (15) has had a bolt added to the lower section (probably the crux). By permission from the first ascentionist. The rusty carrot on the top section has been replaced by two bolts, one lower and one higher. Crinkle Cut is now a worthwhile lead for the aspiring grade 15 slab climber, but bear in mind (a) you’ll still deck if you fall off the easy moves between bolts 1 and 2 (unlikely), and (b) the top section is still run-out. The grade is probably 15 mainly because of the thin moves off the ground.
p24. Tewksbury (17) has had a second bolt added. By permission from the first ascentionist. The first 6m still has no gear, but after that the protection is reasonable until the angle eases.
p24. Bill and Ben (15). The decrepit piton has now been replaced by a bolt. The original piton is still there for now but will be removed at some stage. Note: the belay bolts for this route can be found in the right-most water runnel. The position of these bolts on the topo is about right.

p30. There is no lower-off above Anal Crank.
p31. Slave Girl
is grade 23 to lead it from the ground placing runners as you go. Grade 22 with pre-placed gear.
p32. Snatch and Grab is pretty slick these days and is now grade 21.
p32. Cut Lunch Cowboys is too contrived and (except for the final moves) is fairly worthless. The bolts don’t inspire confidence either.
p34. Barbra Streisand is regarded by most people as grade 23.
p34. Tina the Ballerina is grade 22 only if you climb it direct up the wall. Most people veer into Vulcan which probably makes it about grade 21. This is an excellent variation though and still worth its 2 stars.
p34. Octavia is probably solid grade 19 (old-fashioned climbing).
p34. The arete between Ben Hur and Marcus Schaevola is called Scipio Africanus (17). It has three ring-bolts and a double ring lower-off. FA by Kim Wepasnick Taggart & Glenn Tempest. October 2012. 
p37. Redex Iriont Sudano (23).  Some people have suggested that this climb is fairly stiff for grade 23. It is, but it is not grade 24.
p37. Poko Wall. The first bolt is usually stick-clipped and can start up Phaedron Direct (stay left of the first two bolts) or can be started by pulling directly onto the face and crimp straight on through (some climbers consider this to be the legitimate way to do the route).
p.38. After the War 18m (24/5). May be slightly easier if tall or inclined to wander. Line of RBs 2m right of VVV. Clip first RB from block then return to ground to start. Nice boulder problem then grey streak direct (thin between 3rd and 4th bolts). From 4th RB diagonally right to finish as for TFTP to new double UB lower off. FA Mark Rewi 9/6/13.
p.38. Thomas the Crank Engine is probably grade 27 and could do with re-bolting. Very painful moves.

p44. The Bridge (13). The piton was recently removed and a bolt (fixed hanger) placed in almost the same position. On top of the boulder there is a badly positioned old carrot bolt and a new fixed hanger.
p47. Scansorial has a bold start. Putting brackets on the carrots is pretty tough on lead and really need replacing with FHs at some stage.
p48. Quartz Route is fairly easy for the grade and should be perhaps 16.
p48. Afternoons Direct Finish is pretty tough for grade 16 and should perhaps be 18.

p56. Sluts Honour has had a better start added (on the left past a new FH) and a FH added above the existing RB. The upper wall has also had a FH added. The RB on the right (which was difficult to clip) was left as it is used for those leading The Sluts Alliance (24).  Sluts Honour is now graded 22, is much better protected and will probably see a lot more traffic.
p56. Return of the Fush (9) has had the final headwall corner brushed and is now quite clean. The lower half is still mossy however. Note that the clean arete/crack immediately right of the final headwall corner is the finish to an unrecorded route called Mutual Migraines (10).
p57. Unprofessional Conduct (21) can be protected with a small Metolious Master Cam and no.8 DMM wallnut at the crux. Pretty fiddly to get in properly.
p57. Under Seige (23) lost a flake many years ago and then vanished into the moss. It was recently rebolted and a much more logical direct start added by Glenn Tempest. Four RBs and an original FH. Stiff at the grade.
p57. Keystones (18). A few people have suggested that it is probably grade 17.
p58. Poxbow is probably worth 2 stars (not three).
p60. Witch is very hard for the grade. In fact many climbers think it is grade 18 or 19.
p60. The top arete between Warlock and Voodoo People makes an excellent grade 19 finish to Warlock and is protected with Voodoo’s second last bolt and a fixed peg (up slightly higher). It is still a bit mossy but will clean up with a few more ascents.
p60. Boogie Direct is now grade 24. The crux is pulling through the rooflet at the top, then up past a three-finger pocket.
p60. Warlock (18) requires good rope management if you are to protect your second and avoid rope drag. Clip the ring on Boogie’s arete (long sling) before you start the traverse and back clip the bolt on Voodoo People. Take a bolt bracket and a no.2 cam. Great pitch.
P62. Bloodline is now grade 23. The second bolt has now been replaced with a glu-in and is easier to clip. Be careful not to fall off while clipping the third ring bolt.
p62. Lola V (22). Has been re-bolted. Three new bolts have been added which makes this a much safer and more enjoyable lead. After the top hanger move up and right into Bloodline and finish up it for a much better and more sustained experience. Probably now grade 21.
p62. Bop Till You Drop (25) is missing its final bolt. Tthough technically not too difficult you’ll need to place a cam/nut or two.
p63. Boogie on a Broomstick (23) is hard to protect properly with the way the second bolt on Boogie currently is positioned.
p63. Project Closed (27). The first ascent was by Reuben Bennett-Daly. Rebolted Dec 2012. Stick clip first bolt. Extremely thin climbing to second ring. A few more hard moves lead to easier terrain past 2 more RB. DRB lower off.
p64. Good things come in small packages 12m 18. Adds approximately 4m and a grade to Wee Riper. Start at obvious jugs on the platform down left of the previous start. Fun thin sequence past 1RB gains jugs at the first UB on the original. FA Mark Atkinson 23/12/2012.

p65. The Calder Freeway exit is signposted as Kyneton, Heathcote C326.
p69. Pull the Ripcord (16). The large tree that you start Pull the Ripcord has dropped the branch that you use to start the climb. You can still do the climb from remaining part of the tree. It can be climbed by stick clipping the first bolt with a wire from the tree. The grade is still the same and the climb is still good.
p69. Maxillian LionHeart (28). Completed project now open. FA Steven Wilson March 2011.
p73. Romper Stomper (25) may be harder than grade 25.
p77. The numbers 30 and 31 on the topo are the wrong way around.
p77. Incremental. Steven Wilson suggests that this route is probably grade 22, not grade 23.
p83. The climbing on Barefoot and Pregnant is easier just left of the top two bolts (which are very difficult to clip). In fact the two top bolts should probably be relocated to make the climb both safer and more enjoyable. The climbing is currently quite scary and the way it stands the route is at least grade 19.
p83. Mark Rewi climbed Pumping Ugly Muscle (the first since it lost its initial holds) at about V7 and overall 28 (see description below).
Pumping Ugly Muscle 28 12m. Re-established via a diabolical boulder start directly below the first bolt (the jug 12 inches below the BV first bolt is out of reach… moving left to this is a variant start to BV or UV at their respective grades). Direct to first bolt via difficult reach to poor edge. Continue as per the original. FRA Mark Rewi October 2012.
p83. Bon Voyage Direct (25). Climb direct past 4 fixed hangers to gain the upper arete via technical moves. Avoid the temptation to step left into Barefoot and Pregnant and instead climb the excellent rounded arete to clip anchors above Pumping Ugly Muscle off right. This description by Mark Rewi.

p72. There should be 2 bolts shown on the topo of Sharks Fin Soup.
p88. Ebb & Flow has had a hold break off on the crux. It is now grade 21.
p88. Slither (25+) is so far only a top-rope problem and has almost certainly not been led. Not much is known about it. Update 11/11/11 Glenn Tempest and Greg Caire made the first ascent of this little technical problem. One FH and now grade 21.
p89. Jacobite was led on 11/11/11 by both Greg Caire & Glenn Tempest after placing a FH. Now grade 16.
p90. Courtyard Arete has carrots, not fixed hangers.
p90. ‘The Corner of Discontent‘ 26 8m- Overhung square cut corner with 2 ring bolts and single RB lower approximately 30m uphill from Little Bo Peep (visable through the small gully left of LBP when standing at its base). Start off ledge at 3m. Bouldery moves up fused corner lead to slabby top out. Second RB difficult to clip without draw preplaced. Bolted Kent Paterson. FFA Mark Rewi Aug 2012.
p91. Stone Cold Bush
(26). A mistake. It should have been graded 29.
p91. There should be a lower-off symbol at the top of route 24 in the topo.
p92. Kilt (18) is pretty hard to protect and is more often top-roped than led.
p92. Old Dogs, New Tricks has double rings at the top.
p98. The Main Slab is in fact 80m NORTH of Inquisition Boulders.

This place has seen an enormous amount of rain this year (early 2011). There is probably more moss than ever.
p107. Flapjack (19) no longer has a piton.

p128. Blue Haze Peak has only two rap stations instead of the three shown.  Topo on p121 is correct.
p129. So You Think I’m Gay (14). Tricky lead with fiddly pro.  Now grade 15 with two stars.
p129. Passion, Boots and Bruises (18). Possibly harder than 18.
p131. Buxton Burglar (17). Possibily harder than 17. FH might be missing.
p131. False Teeth (16). Has 4 bolts, not three.
p131. The Spirit Molecule (16). Has two FH, not three.
p131. Bald Eagle (21) and Bald Eagle Direct (22). The  numbers on the topo are the wrong way around. Bald Eagle Direct is probably more like grade 20 and worth 1 star (not 2). Carry some cams as well.

Xenith, Son of Spraggit and The Retribution corrections CATHEDRAL RANGES – NORTH JAWBONE
p132. Fruit Hustler Area and American Dream Areas are labeled incorrectly.
p141. Xenith starts up the same line as shown for Son of Spraggit to just over the overlap, then moves left to join the line as originally depicted.
p142. Son of Spraggit is missing a belay icon.
p142. The Retribution is missing a belay icon.






A rap descent has been established on the left side of the Right Buttress (directly below the finish of Travellers Slab). These are the details according to Steve Toal (via Chockstone) who did all of the work:

The rappells are approx 55 and 56m so the ground can be reached in two raps with 2x60m ropes (see notes below for options with shorter ropes). First rap is two SS Petzl rings located a small scramble down from near the top of Travellers Slab. Head down and slightly left to reach the ledges, go over these and down the face about 8m further to two more rings at a small but comfortable stance. From here, the second rap heads slightly right down the face (near Route Two) to the bottom.
Options: If you have 1x60m and 1x50m ropes, you might be able to reach the midstation by equalising the ropes as best you can. Otherwise, stop on a small stance on the face and downclimb the easy but exposed face (or belay to be safer). Don’t forget to tie stopper knots in the ends of your ropes. You can reach easy-angled slabs at the base with this rope combination and scramble down the last 2-3m of low-angle slabs. If you only have 2x50m ropes you might still consider using the rap descent. Rap down to the ledges then belay or scramble down to the rings. For the second rap, head straight down the face over roofs (watch for sharp edges) to end up reaching a stance higher up in the gully, then bash down the last few metres. Caveat: the short-rope options have not been tested. Abseiling can lead to injury or death, take suitable precautions.


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Rockclimbs Around Melbourne – new guidebook out now!

Open Spaces today released the new Rockclimbs Around Melbourne guide by Glenn Tempest. It will be available in most good climbing shops and in our online bookshop from today at a RRP of $29.95. This full colour selected climbs guide is 156 pages and has been produced in a unique landscape format to better cope with single pitch routes which represent most of Melbourne’s local areas. The guide is wire-o-bound, has a heavy duty cover and comes with an elastic closure. The areas covered in the guide are the You Yangs (Urinal Wall, Royalty Walls, Gravel Pit Tor, Flinders Peak Slabs), Falcons Lookout at Werribee Gorge, Mt Beckworth (The Main Group), Camels Hump (Lower Cliff and Omega Block), Black Hill (Mushroom Rock, The Monolith Area, Milawa Area, Eastern Lookout Area), Mt Alexander (Dog Rocks, Wabbit Rocks), Ben Cairn and the Cathedral Range (Sugarloaf Peak, South Jawbone, Blue Haze Peak and North Jawbone). Open Spaces would like to thank our advertisers and the many climbers who provided help, information and photographs to make this guide a reality

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South Jawbone, Post Fires

The recessed slabs of South Jawbone, (Pulp Friction is route no.7)

Tracey and I wandered up to South Jawbones the other day to check out some of the routes for the new Rockclimbs Around Melbourne guidebook that we are all working on at Open Spaces at the present. Joining us was Michael Hampton who really knows this crag well. I haven’t climbed on South Jawbone since when I freed Saknussum (17) back in 1975, so it was really interested in seeing the place. Tracey has never visited the crag and as the Victorian Climbing Club (VCC) Access Officer she felt it was her responsibility to check out the access to the base of the routes (and of course do a bit of climbing!). The fires have completely transformed this place. All of the trees have now vanished from around its base to be replaced with lush green grass (and fast growing prickle bushes). The cliff is now very clean with very little moss on the slabs (it was all burned away). It really is a great cliff and easily compares with nearby North Jawbone for long good-quality routes. I checked out the start of the each climb for the new guide and took some photos. We also repeated one of Michael’s old creations, Pulp Friction. We straightened out the first 25m pitch (placing a single bolt) at grade 17 and placed an important bolt anchor on first belay. The second 37m pitch was then also straightened out at grade 17 and a better belay ledge sorted out. The whole three pitch, 107m-long route is now worth two stars and climbs really well. In fact it is easily one of the best long routes in the valley. Anyway, all the details will appear in the guide which is due out this spring