The quest for 21 x 21s

On Saturday the 1st of November, at 4:45 am – my alarm went off letting me know that it was time to commence what I hoped would be a good weekend of climbing. A friend I climb with, Jake, is turning the ripe old age of 21. There seems to be a common thread in climbing how much of “x” can you do by “y”. The two are never related, but seem like quite an adventure.

It seems like every year the Nose in a Day, the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell, or the 30 x 30 (what we based our adventure of) seem to be repeated. But hell with originality, it’s fun to do.

From the car at Mount Piddington. 7:30 am

I’ve never done this many routes in a weekend. Maybe even 2 weekends. In a given outdoor trip, maybe 5, 6 or even 7 climbs in a day would be really good. 21 x 21s (5.11a or 6b+/6c) seemed reasonable. I mean, we were pushing 24/25 (5.12a) in the gym, so 21 would be a walkover, right? The drive was quick, and uneventful – save for a stop at Mountain High Pies for coffee and breakfast, and we were tied in at the base of #1 by 7:45am.

Mount Piddington

  1. Disincline – Cottage Boulder
  2. Skinless Chicken – Solomon Area
  3. Riding Shotgun – Hocus Pocus Area
  4. Sincerity (Direct Finish) – Flake Crack Area
  5. Bon Voyage – Mount Piddington, Right Side

We started of reasonably well. As well as you can start warming up on 21. It probably didn’t help that the cairn wasn’t tall enough for me to reach the starting hold, so Jake lead this. Needless to say, we both dogged the climb. It would be nice if someone figured out a way to stick clip the Australian conundrum which is carrot bolts.

Flashpumped by the slopey traverse of Disincline, and off to a fantastic start, Skinless Chicken and Riding Shotgun were both reasonably long (27 and 30m) slab climbs. They requiring fancy footwork and a bit of bravery. Lacking in both departments, we both struggled up the climbs, yelling “it counts, French Free” wherever possible.

Sincerity was something else. I really wish we had brought a stick clip along. Soloing 5m up the slab (on a 17m climb) isn’t something that I’d like to do again, any time soon. The climb itself is good (I think?), but I was well and truly out of the headspace by the time I reached the first draw, and so everything by then was too small, or too far away. Definitely bringing a stick clip next time.

The best climb of the day was Bon Voyage, a beautiful 50m climb up all different styles, and with a short, juggy roof half way up the climb. Lots of exposure, and the wind gusting 50km/h made for a good adventurous climb.

It also happened to be the only climb I was able to complete clean, the whole day… so there’s that, I guess.

We took a commemorative photo before (or slightly after…) each climb. The level of psych is visible in each.

A quick drive around the corner to Zig-Zag, and a short break in the car to dodge the rain (and eat food).

I love hanging out in the boot of the car to escape sudden storms. Don’t you..?


Honestly, I think the hardest part of the adventure was finding all the 21s to attempt to fit them all in. It limited the crag choice – not to mention the route choice – considerably.

  1. Queen Bitch – Corroboree Walls
  2. Shakes and Flakes – Shakes and Flakes Wall
  3. Geezer Pleaser – Black Bart’s Wall
  4. SF – Rip Van Winkle Wall

As soon as Jake hit the anchor on Queen Bitch the heavens opened (again), and the storm that we thought was gone was actually still there. Luckily (?!) the climb was overhung enough that we were dry, and remained unscathed.

The rest of the climbs flew by like a blur, I’d really love to do them again, when I’m in a better physical state and maybe less wind, fire, and rain. We heard the sirens most of the day responding to the fire down in Katoomba.

Bardens Lookout

The forecast for the night looked pretty good, 15 degrees C. Sweet. All I would need was the summer sleepingbag. Leaving the big heavy one (-23C rated …) at home and not even bringing a down jacket because of the warm weather.

So after a cold cold night, motivation levels were kinda low. Called it at climb number 10, at Bardens Lookout (which turned out OK anyway, a great day spent with good friends, who came up the night before to see how we were doing) – but not after the final commemorative photo.

  1. (And only 1…) Sound and Vision – Little Triggers Wall

I’m still pretty sure I ordered chicken pasta, and not a chicken parma…

Next year, we’ll do 12 more 22s. Or 22 more, who knows. I need to do something for my 24th. Perhaps 240 points in a weekend.


PS…here’s the rest we planned to do:

  1. Hang On To Yourself – Little Triggers Wall
  2. Dr Do Little – Little Triggers Wall
  3. Lady Grinning Soul – Little Triggers Wall
  4. Lady Stardust – Little Triggers Wall
  5. Teenage Wildlife – Collits Crevasse
  6. Low – Electric Blue Area
  7. Red Sails – Madness Area
  8. Casper – Historic Wells
  9. Shabang – Historic Wells
  10. Bless its Pointed Little Head – Historic Wells
  11. Goats Meat Cave – Historic Wells


  • Jara

    I’ll show you how to stick clip a carrot next time we get out together. A grey haired legend showed me the trick. Just need to be prepared is all. Good effort guys.

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