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Buck Rock

posted 19 Apr 2010, 15:29 by Miles Mason

Writing by Jörg Setzepfand, Photos by Michelle Ackron and Addis Lee. This was the first ever AURAC trip to Buck Rock, a very new crag that is still under developement. Hopefully there will be many more trip to this huge piece of rock in the Waikato.


After we (Michelle, Emily, Patrik, Addis and Joerg) left Auckland almost on time not long after we were pretty confident in our plan of arriving at Buck Rock early, to do a short walk in and then get to the crag and start climbing well before lunch. Traffic wasn't bad at all and we kept chatting until we found ourselves having a conversation about K gorge and how nice that area is as we drove through it. And then ... wait a minute, is K gorge supposed to be on the way?... The big L&P bottle at Paeroa must have distracted us. Our plans compromising the advertising by repainting the bottle with the Lift logo had sent us a few k's off the right track. After that scenic detour, we were finally at the carpark at the bottom of the Buck Rock area at about 11 and we quickly packed our stuff and shot off up the hill to get to the crag as soon as possible. Patrick took the lead at a brisk pace which sent me to the tail pretty soon, panting like an old steam ship and swearing about the person responsible for all that sh ... . Nevermind, it will ease soon and all will be good, the track is not too bad and we should be there soon. Or so I thought...


I am not the greatest navigator due to a sense of direction like a turtle, but with the others guiding I foresaw myself already putting on my harness and starting the first climb any minute. Might have been the lack of oxygen that left me in that imagination but after 50 minutes walking even I had to accept that we might have missed the side trail off the main track. Clambering up the top section of 'Buck Rock track' ("warning steep trail leading to the top of sheer cliffs") we passed an old mining shaft, which was mentioned in the guide, and finally reached the rock and started cheering. Pretty proud to get there after just one minor back track. Only one fact was a bit concerning, not the lack of blue and orange tape marking the path, not the gorse bushes scratching our legs (boo for wearing short trousers ...), but the total lack of any bolts. Might be the wrong spot then. After Emily's reconnaissance/bush-crashing and several side trips into the bush and sprained ankles, we had to turn back to the main track and headed back until 'eagle eye' Emily spotted the faded orange tag leading to the climbers track.

 

At the crag (by about 1:30) we were rewarded with an amazing view over the farmland and to the forest and ranges on the opposite side and a lovely tall sheer rock face, this time with heaps of bolts for us to play with which made us skip the lunch and getting ready for climbing. Starting with "Buckle" a nice 12 metre grade 16 for warm up, we all got a nice taste of what Buck Rock is like. Sketchy slab climbing with some good holds in between and even some runouts - good one to start with. Only the missing second bolt for the top anchor was a bit annoying but being up there was a nice exposed feeling. It felt much more than 12metres... While having some lunch we studied the guide and picked a nice 18 round to the right (the shortest 10m I've ever seen) called "Bring Back Buck" as the next mission to accomplish. Another route (a 17) further to the right was taken in consideration but due to the fact that getting to the base was sketchier than anything at K Bay and that even once you got there the belay point was really not secure we skipped it. A fall of the leader would have sent both belayer and climber another 5 plus meters down the hill hopefully towards nasty looking big branches, cos if not it would be a long way down through the bush. After an easy first bolt, a lot of swearing during the bridging part and a couple of fairly long runouts you arrive the anchor spot (with two draws more than you thought you'd have... apparently 6 and 8 are pretty much the same), which is quite large and has two bolted chains and a very large drill. This is also the start for the second pitch which we skipped because it was getting late and the weather was turning. Everybody had a go on this one and Patrik cleaned it in light rain and with sunset already starting.


As you can see we couldn't get much climbing in and you could say that compared to other locations like Froggatt it's much more hassle to get there. However, exploring this crag was definitely worth it and the knowledge we gained is a good starting point for next time. It guarantees some epic multi pitching that's for sure, and also the single pitches are already quite long and challenging. It's worth remembering that  considering that according to the guide some of the routes (i.e. the ones we been on) were just set a couple of month ago that area has heaps of potential and as far as we could see (from the bolting gear at the base and rather large drill at the top of the 18) the development is still ongoing.  Another big big plus is the greek pizza place in Paeroa - just AUSTIN !!! Well the toilet access is kind of strange because you have to go through the kitchen but the Tzatziki (Yoghurt -  Garlic - Cucumber - and other secret ingredients - dressing) is the best i had outside Europe so far.


Summary:

estimates ...

- 1.5 to 2 hour drive to the place
- 45 minute walk in
- weather forecast: fine with cloudy periods

reality ...

- 3 hour drive in (if you come to K-gorge you went too far)
- 2.5 hour walk in (if you see a sign saying 'Buck Rock track' you went too far)
- weather: wind, cloud cover and occasional rain

besides that ...

- awesome view
- challenging routes
- good bunch of people
- great finish in Paeroa



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