The Candlestick stands behind The Tote. The sea heaving and surging between them caresses the rock walls like a hot lover. The water isn’t that hot though, pretty freezing really, but hey, you didn’t walk all this way for some kind of disco-party.
The Tasmanian Climbing Guide book
.Favorable forecast the following day brought us back to Fortescue Bay with the idea of trying the 110 meter Normal Route on The Candlestick – a large sea stack standing directly behind the much more famous Totem Pole beyond the end of Cape Hauy.
After a 90 minute approach hike, we found ourselves looking at the two formations from the mainland. High intimidation factor! First, the place is a wind tunnel and the sea provides an incessant and angry thudding. Second, after 15 minutes of looking we finally saw the promised fixed anchor on the Candlestick that we’d have to use to get back to the mainland via a tyrolean traverse. Holy shit – not only are they about 40 meters away laterally but about 15 or so meters above the anchors on the mainland. This would not be an issue with three ropes but with our two…someone was in for a zip line ride down with a highly uncertain landing. I have to say that we were happy to have another party of climbers there for some lightening of the mood. Dave and Caroline were going for the Free Route on The Tote.
.With much trepidation, we fixed one of our ropes and rapped 60 meters into the cold and sunless “notch of doom” at the base of The Tote. Once there, we needed a volunteer to do the 10 meter long swim to The Stick through the surging blackness to drag the second rope for the first tyrolean traverse.
Standing there on a small ledge at the base of The Stick wearing my wet fruit-of-the-looms, I shivered uncontrollably while Shirley dragged herself and our gear across on the fixed line. When she was about halfway across, something popped out of the water and startled the hell out of us. It took a couple of seconds to realize that we were looking at the face of a curious, large seal. We pulled the tyrolean rope, I got dressed and we started climbing. Though the book makes the route sound like some 5.7 gully, the first two pitches were vertical with some overhanging bulges that felt peculiarly like mid 5.10s…pretty aesthetic crack climbing (fingers to fists) on good rock actually. The third 5.6ish pitch brought us to the fixed anchors where Shirley left our tether to the mainland fixed and we did the final (5.9ish) pitch to the summit.
.One quick rap and we were faced with the crux of the day – getting back to the mainland. Shirley went first gently lowered by me along the fixed line using our lead rope. Then it was my turn. Man, Shirley and the packs looked improbably far away and FAR below my position. I did not want to use my belay device out of fear of getting stuck in the middle. Eventually wrapped two slings on the fixed lines and used them to lower myself hand over hand without burning my palms. To my surprise and delight it worked and I did not crash into Cape Hauy. Dave and Caroline waited for us after having finished their own climb – thank you (and thank you for the great photos!).
Despite a good forecast, we took a rest day.
Go to Ben Lomond 1.
Go back to Tasmania.