Sunday, 6 January 2008

Tasmania 4 - THE Totem Pole

If you have not heard of the Totem Pole then your probably not a climber but it is a 60m sea stack with a diameter of only about 4m - yes, it looks like it should have fallen down years ago. It is perhaps most famous for the Paul Pritchard accident and his book on his recovery titled The Totem Pole, but has also been photographed by the Aussie pro climbing photographer Simon Carter (he was also on the first free accent team) and shown in his books and calenders

The Totem Pole was at the top of Marks tick list and we had to give it a go.
The Totem pole from the sea - mainland on right and candlestick on right

The walk in to the Tote is 1 1/4 hours so our hearts sank when we saw our early start had not paid off and others were on the cliff, but no, they weren't there to climb but to walk a slack line from the top of the Totem pole to the mainland cliff! So while we sorted gear we watched the first slackline walks off the Totem Pole!

The first job if you are to climb the Tote is to abseil down the mainland sea cliff and swing on the end of the 60m rope like crazy until you can reach across the sea washed boulders, hang onto greasy side pulls and fiddle a carrot bolt plate on the cheapskate hangerless bolts. This was my job, as Mark was to be leading the two climbing pitches - at grade 24/25 its a bit hard for me.
Once Mark had slid down to me and I took a video clip on my camera (not good quality but worth a look - click on it to play).

(Oh yes, we did not have enough carrot bolt plates so that's why I used some dodgy rivet wires on one of the belay bolts)

Mark onsighted the first pitch in good style to the mid way ledge.

The second pitch was hard, but had some proper bolts on it. Just as Mark was starting up I noticed someone absailing down the cliff in a strange position. They then stopped a produced a large camera, 'Hay Mark' I called, 'you've got a photographer, you'll be famous'. Mark promptly fell off at the second bolt - d'oh.

Back at the belay ledge we jested that it would be freaky if it was Simon Carter taking more photos at the Totem Pole. Marks second attempt saw him to but not past the crux (you need to use a side pull that is blind to you around the arete). He made it to the top of this HARD pitch and had a little cheer.

Mark Climbing the second pitch

I covered the ground to the top with a couple of rests (the excuse being I was dragging the abb rope to aid our escape). We signed the summit book and I slid back along our abb rope, now as a Tyrolean traverse.Once safely back on the mainland we confirmed that the photographer was indeed Simon Carter and had taken photos and would let us see them back at the campsite.

We explained there was no space at the campsite and we had had to sneaked in the night before. Before long the offer was made that we could pitch our tents on their site - and so ended the Totem Pole climb.

The next day, and probably for the first and last time ever Mark and I signed 'Model Release' forms so Simon could sell the photos. And yes he said he would sort us out some copies :-)


Anonymous said...

hi um im doing a project on the totem pole and i was wondering if you could say how you felt about climbing on the totem pole and being on it and describe the surroundings and how hard or easy it was to climb thank you

Anonymous said...

hi i am also doing a project on totem pole and would like toknow how you felt and if there was any damage to the shack or any thing like that?

Anonymous said...

OMG! You so helped with what it was like to climb the pole!
You are so much better than Wiki!

Anonymous said...

Well i no alot of people are doing projects on this......weirdly enough im also doing a project related subject to this, were doing incredible places in geography and my class learnt about this the other day. i learnt apparently in october 26, 2007 that the totem pole had fallen and had only left a stub of rock 20 meteres high :P hope ths is useful to anyone who reads this :)
Its also 65 meters high and is located in tasman national park in tasmania, australia.

From some project guy :3

Anonymous said...

I'm doing a project but not on this in particular, I am doing a project on tasman peninsula and I can't find one single map that shows where this stack is, (btw I need it in detail not just in TASMANIA) also I live in tasmania so im cool :) xD

Anonymous said...

I know I'm like the tenth person to say this but I am also doing a project on the totem pole. Thank you so much you really helped!!!!

Anonymous said...

I need to find 5 totem poles but i cant have the tasmanian 1!!!

Anonymous said...

hey thanks alot i know lots of people have said this but you have really helped me on my project thank you xxx

Anonymous said...

do u have a video of mark falling off the cliff

Anonymous said...

Im doing a geography assement and i dont know anything still :l Need helpp soo muchh !!!!!!!!! need to fill in the gaps to the sentenced :P