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Bouldering at Sissy Craig

August 19, 2015

Sydney is a big city, and it’s not easy to get away from the hustle and bustle; though if you look hard enough there are a few oasis that most pass by none the wiser.

Though Sissy Crag is no secret, it doesn’t feel like it’s in the city. Located near the beautiful northern beaches, Sissy Crag is an interesting Rock formation – the routes don’t gain much altitude but a mix of pillars, and small widely spaced holds make them difficult.

As you approach the rocks there is not much sign that your coming up on a climbing hot spot. A set of hand written directions took us through an unassuming neighbourhood, ultimately leading to a dead end road and a ‘trail head’ – if you didn’t know what you were looking for you would miss it.

Walking down the trail through thick brush I couldn’t help but think, where the hell am I going? Is this the right spot? After scuttling down a couple of ‘natural’ granite stairs, the trees open up, revealing a great view of Middle Harbour. The trail dives quickly back into the trees and leads to the bottom of Sissy Crag.

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The ominous wave of chalk covered stand stone runs for about 30-meters. The orange rock is quite sheltered, and could serve as a dirtbag oasis in the greater Sydney area.

Whoever wrote the guide book for Sissy Craig must have been a fantastic climber, and had a wing span of about 14ft. Even the easiest routes on the wall were still pretty hard – some requiring dyno’s to reach the top holds.

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After spending some time on the Tell Someone Who Cares V6/7 and Bill Smith V1 routes, we moved down (read:under) the crag for some low to ground upside down climbing. Even Scruff’s girlfriend Sam got in on the action.


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Shot of the day:




The entire day it had been threatening to rain, and thick clouds made for very flat light. While overall climbing is quite a slow endeavour, the moment where your subject strains to reach a hold, or makes that high risk move happens fast. So, this requires a high shutter speed.

This brings is somewhat of a dilemma, in low a light situation a combination of a wide open aperture, and high ISO would have been the simple fix to accommodate the quick shutter, and initially the solution I went for. Though the photos were OK, they were a bit dull.

In climbing, and especially bouldering it’s just as much about the climber as it is the rock. And so a shallow depth of field is less than ideal.

While the 5DMKiii body I was shooting with does a fantastic job with noise, I was getting up around and above ISO 3200. Lucky for me, that day I grabbed a couple of Gorilla pods as I was leaving the house.

Gorilla pods are possibly the most versatile piece of kit I have picked up this year, especially for using off camera flash. You can use them like a traditional light stand, wrap the legs around a tree branch our even hang them from a ledge.

Using a single Canon 430EXii flash and Phottix Odin triggers I was able to spotlight the section of the wall Scruffy was climbing. The bright contrast of the flash also helps to show the rough texture of the rock, and causes the sandstone to really pop

For more photos from the day check out the gallery below. Also check out @colinlevitch on Instagram and twitter and Colin Levitch Photography on Facebook.


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