The first barrier to overcome is getting established on the pillar, which is easier said than done due to its location in the middle of a channel. From an abseil on the adjacent side of the zawn you need to gain enough momentum and bounce so that you can jump across and clip the double bolt belay at the base of the route. It is this point where you are at your most vulnerable to the sea, as the swell has been known to consume countless belayers beneath its waves. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that this doesn’t make climbing the Totem Pole any easier. Whilst the tides in Tasmania aren’t actually that sizeable, the swell is, so anyone wishing to head out and climb it will need to keep an eye on the state of the sea in order to secure safe access.
The start of the Deep Play is undeniably spooky, not least because of the close proximity to the sea and the fact you don’t want to end up in it. Thankfully protection is not far away, but the climbing becomes hard shortly after, with a few aggressive pulls that eventually lead you to easier ground and the perfect ledge - the calm before the storm
Pitch two consists of a long, striking arete. Part of the brilliance of this particular pitch, as mentioned previously, is that it combines perfect edges with an immaculate arête. What ensues would undoubtedly rate as one of the finest pitches of rock climbing I’ve ever done. Upon reaching the top you’re greeted with another ledge, then a short crack leading to the very summit. Standing on the very top of the Totem Pole is a surreal experience, as at this point you get a real indication of just how narrow the pillar you’ve climbed is, an intimidating final thought before the real fun begins: the tyrollean! Rather than say any more about this I’ll leave the following video to do all the talking!
So there you have it: a little bit about the Totem Pole, its history, and how to climb it. If you’re based in the UK it’s obviously an inconvenient distance away, but my goodness, its not a distance you’ll regret travelling. If you’ve read this and fancy planning a trip, anywhere between December and April would work. We went around Christmas time with the intention of the Totem Pole being our joint present, but in the end it became a New Year's Eve celebration. For more information on climbing in Tasmania, visit the UKC Destination Article here
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