Conquering the infamous Bunny Bucket Buttress
Bunny Bucket Buttress (BBB) is a 270 metre multi-pitch climb in the Blue Mountains steeped in stories of 14-hour ‘epics’ and ascentionists being forced to sleep it out as they await new light.
Since my introduction to BBB there has always been an aire of mystery surrounding it. Graded at 18, a level considered a ‘walk-in-the-park’ for many climbers; I often wondered what it was about this climb that challenged those that faced it.
“Pending weather want to cruise up bunny buckets Sunday?” Jake, 24 Aug
Long on my list of ‘climbs to do’ it was with this short and to-the-point Facebook message that the mission to conquer BBB began.
The plan was simple: get going early to avoid the sun, link as many pitches together as possible and be as efficient as possible to avoid having our own ‘epic’.
With a two pitch 90-metre abseil in and the wandering nature of the route itself we enlisted twin ropes to keep things light, packed plenty of draws for linking, and the usual muesli bars, water, topo and so on.
6:30am: Getting There
Everything pre-packed the night before I was quick to get moving. The forecast was cool and windy so I donned the thermals and packed my gortex jacket as a final layer.
A quick detour via Jake’s place to pick him up and we were off and running. Traffic was minimal in the early morning and once you add in a pit stop for petrol and coffee we’d made it to the Pierces Pass car park by 9am.
9am: The adventure begins
After racking up at the car we began the half hour walk in to the rappel point. As the trees cleared we were greeted with the magnificent view across the valley before beginning our decent, winding through a small gully, hopping back and forth across a pleasant running creek.
Eventually we reached the cliff face and tracked along a ledge until we reached the rappel anchors.
The 90-metre rappel to the base of the cliff is split into two 45-metre pitches. Both provide quite nice exposure and magnificent views across the valley that is easy to soak in as you slowly descend with a good portion of each a free-hanging abseil into space.
Once we reached the base we began the walk along the base to the beginning of BBB. This is when the only hiccup of the entire adventure took place: we managed to walk past the base of BBB but quickly realised our error, back-tracked 5 minutes and the second time around found the base with ease.
10am: Time to climb
After spending an hour on the approach we were more then ready to get started on the main event – climbing the infamous Bunny Bucket Buttress.
Pitch 1 & Pitch 2
With the first two pitches at 20-metres apiece we decided it would be much more efficient to link these two pitches into one 40-metre pitch. The climbs do wander a little bit but with twin ropes the drag was more then manageable.
Jake lead these two pitches and was quickly out of site from my view. With winds surprisingly low we could easily communicate vocally throughout both pitches.
Both pitches were on grade with consistent climbing throughout. The first few moves off the ground are a little bouldery (and probably the most fun of the pitch) but with big holds and sound technique I found it well within the grade.
Once I joined Jake at the top of pitch 2 it was my turn to get on the sharp end. As with Pitch 1 and 2 combined this was also a 40-metre grade 18.
The pitch begins with a vertical ascent up a dirty looking slab before traversing out right for several bolts to reach an arête to continue the upward push. Towards the end of the traverse the handholds become a little thin and would be what I considered the crux of the climb.
Finishing up with one final mantle to gain the huge ledge the anchors were set back several metres on a large block.
Pitch 4 & 5
Once Jake had seconded pitch 3 it was time to begin the simul-climb up the next two pitches – 70-metres of grade 8 climbing.
I began the lead with Jake belaying as normal whilst we created enough protection between us to keep things safe. Once I was 4 bolts in I went in hard and waited whilst jack adjusted the ropes ready to simul-climb.
At grade 8 the climbing was very easy and we powered through the 70-metres quite efficiently.
From ring-bolt to ring-bolt these pitches do become quite run out in places so bring a handful of brackets if you want to reduce the space between bolts.
Now perched under a larger roof Jake arranged himself ready to tackle pitch 6, a 40-metre grade 17.
The pitch starts with an easy scramble up then a traverse out left just below the roof before hooking around the arête to gain the face. The rock just under the roof was a little rough on the digits with a lot of coarse open-handed holds.
Once on the face it’s a vertical blast on ironstone edges until the next set of anchors.
Pitch 7 & 8:
At the base of pitch 7 we were greeted with what can only be described as a “vertical jug highway” – 40-metres of dead vertical ironstone jugs.
After a quick sip of water I quickly swung back on lead and began chugging up the endless face of ironstone. Once again we linked these two 20-metre 17’s that made for a nice sustained 40-metre jug haul.
By the last few bolts I began to feel a bit of a pump (80-metres of continuous climbing will do that!) and was greeted with the crux of both pitches – a small section of slopers – just before the final mantle to the anchors.
230-metres in and all that is left between the summit and us is a 40-metre grade 13.
All-in-all a very cruisy pitch with nothing particularly strenuous. There is an interesting moment at half-height when you have to jump across a small crevasse from one face to another before the final headwall.
Nothing beats the feeling of making the final mantle out of a multipitch. Bunny Bucket Buttress proved to be a great adventure and I highly recommend it for those with some multipitch experience looking to get out on a bigger wall in the Blue Mountains.