Mainlanders heading south this summer will have the opportunity to grab themselves a copy of the new edition of Climb Tasmania by Gerry Narkowicz. The first edition came out eight years ago and since its release there has been a huge amount of development in Tasmania. The latest edition contains 300 more routes than the last, and a bunch of new cliffs, including Cluan Tiers, the West Coast crags, Mersey Cliffs and the Mount Brown main face. There is also a new bouldering chapter, seven ‘Crag Snapshots’ (basically brief snippets of basic information pointing to more detailed information on the web) and many more new routes that have been put up at cliffs covered in the last guide, particularly at Bare Rock, which has seen a sport climbing renaissance of late.
With all the recent additions the new guide is noticeable heavier when you pick it up, making it a veritable tome. It is also full colour now (the previous edition had colour sections but was primarily black and white), which does better justice to the images (particularly the Tyndalls images, which are gobsmacking) and makes the topos easier to follow. Unlike the last guide, this one gives the routes stars, which is a welcome addition and makes route selection easier. Another new feature are the route summaries at the start of each chapter. Although I personally never use features like these I am sure some people will find them useful for a quick overview.
For interstate and international visitors, of the new additions probably only Mount Brown main face is of real interest, the other additions generally being locals’ crags or obscure and difficult to get to (ie the West Coast crags). I also have to say the bouldering section left me less than inspired (Tassie has never really been noted for its bouldering). The long routes on the main face of Mount Brown, however, look spectacular (not to mention intimidating). The recent additions to Bare Rock also look amazing, and no doubt many more climbers will now be heading there to try its delights.
More generally the guide has all the strengths of the last guide – it’s got all the information you need to find most crags and their routes easily – but now it looks even better and contains more routes.
My criticisms are fairly minor, but I would like to have seen a description for Federation Peak’s Blade Ridge included; Australia’s longest (vertical) rock route seems like it should be worthy of inclusion, especially when many minor crags that no international or interstate visitor would visit make the cut. I know from hard experience that some of the photo topos for areas like Frenchmans Cap (particularly the one covered in snow) and Geryon would make route-finding difficult. However, difficult route-finding is just part of the experience at these crags, not to mention the fact that getting decent photos of these faces mustn’t be easy.
For me as an interstate visitor, the only other guide I would consider buying is the The Tasmanian Climbing Guide, which is an excellent collaborative guide printed from Thesarvo.com website. But given the choice between the two, Climb Tasmania is easier to use and prettier (I’ve used both) – it’s also very reasonably priced when you consider its size and the fact it’s in full colour.
It’s a monumental effort putting together a guide to so many areas, and Gerry and his helpers have done an excellent job. On a personal note, it was also lovely to see the tribute to one of the legends of Tasmanian (and Australian) climbing, the recently departed Bob McMahon (to whom the guide is dedicated).
There isn’t a better climbing destination in Australia to escape summer than Tasmania. Not only do you get to avoid the heat, it’s a cultural experience: you get to see what Australia was like 20 years ago. But, above all, it’s a climbers’ paradise. From climbing high above the blue depths of Lake Huntley in the Tyndalls, to the endless, never-ending, unrelenting, punishing (did I mention long?) cracks of Ben Lomond, the sport climbing of Bare Rock and one of the world’s best and most uniques routes, the Totem Pole, Tasmania has something for everyone. And reading Gerry’s guide makes me inspired to get down there again. In fact, my ticket’s already booked.
Climb Tasmania by Gerry Narkowicz retails for $49.95 and will be available in shops from mid-January. Anyone wanting to purchase the guide earlier can buy one of Gerry directly by emailing (it will come with free postage) at email@example.com
We have two copies of Climb Tasmania to give away to two lucky (Australian-based) Vertical Life readers. All you have to do to enter is list the top three routes you would like to climb in Tassie in the comments on this page or on our Facebook page and Gerry will select his two favourite lists.