Making Waves: Australia’s Seaside Bounty

Photos By Simon Carter


Situated 20 miles from Albany and containing the most southern point in Western Australia, the sea cliffs of West Cape Howe deliver spectacular adventure. With exposure aplenty, technical climbing and access via a 4WD track, the area requires its fair share of commitment. Here, you’ll discover over 250 routes, mostly trad with a smattering of bolts, plus plenty of opportunity for more lines. Most routes involve a rappel to start, and thus it’s always good to make sure you’re on the top of the right climb before dropping in. And always, always, beware the crashing waves. Monsters are known to spray up the height of this wall, hence the name of Southern Ocean Swell (12/5.6), which Ali Chapman leads while Ashlee Peeters gives a catch.


Albany’s rock climbing is dominated by the ominous Southern Ocean. Whether you are climbing at the breathtaking dome of Peak Head or the gothic sea cliffs of the Gap, the ocean’s mood shapes your experience. Calm, flat and inky, the blue expanse encourages finesse and balance on the granite slabs. Or, a wild rolling swell chases you up the granite. Kate Swain leads pitch one of Baylac Direct (18/5.10a), Peak Head, Western Australia.


Golden granite buttresses, sporty limestone crags and outstanding boulders along the stunning coastline of Western Australia presents a medley of seaside opportunity. Headlining the show is Wilyabrup, an impressive granite escarpment with magnificent face climbing. Here we see Inalee Jahn leading Stainless Steel (21/5.10d).


A scary reminder of the seriousness of the climbing at West Cape Howe, in Western Australia, occurred just moments after this photo was taken on Friendless Variant (17/5.9), when the leader, Chris Kavazos, pulled off a massive block that exploded into pieces, narrowly missing the belayer, Ashlee Peeters. Thankfully, Peeters was unscathed. She and Kavazos are now married and parents to baby twins.


One of the major problems with sea cliffs is that the salty environment turns bolts into rust. Even stainless steel doesn’t endure. Though expensive, titanium is the answer. Lee Cujes on his route Titan I Am (22/5.11b). The wordplay was in hopes of setting a new standard for bolt materials used. The route is at the Lighthouse Area, Point Perpendicular.


Monique Forestier tastes Dessert (25/5.12b) at the windblown crag of Wilyabrup, in the Margaret River region of Western Australia, an area famous for its world-class surfing and wineries—climbing is the icing on the cake.


Feature image: Three hours south of Sydney, the majestic 300-foot-high sandstone sea cliffs at Point Perpendicular present a playground with miles of cliffline above the churning sea. The Point yields some 500 routes from short sporty pump fests to multi-pitch trad epics; most somewhat split the difference. In this image Monique Forestier fights lactic acid on the roof Footloose and Fancy Free (22/5.11b). Although a sport climb, Footloose requires a committing rappel to a ledge. Ocean, sky, roof and complete seclusion.

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