The night of the chocolate stars. Naked climbing at Katoomba, NSW, Australia.

During my sister’s recent visit from Canada, I took her and her friend up to the Blue Mountains (110km or about 70miles west of Sydney) to see the various sights. The most photographed attraction in the Blue Mountains is a rock formation known as the Three Sisters. Although the guide books like to say that the Three Sisters are 920m (almost 3000ft) tall (as in above sea level), they only rise about 200m (about 600ft) from the surrounding bush.

The Three Sisters from Echo Point Katoomba

Up until about 10 years ago it was possible to climb the Three Sisters (usualy up the middle sister) but that activity has been banned because too many people were doing it and causing rock to be dislodged which was a danger to walkers on the tracks below.

I climbed the Three Sisters many times back in the early 1990s when I belonged to an outdoors club called SPAN. Other outdoors clubs that I’d come across in the past were fairly staid affairs that I only ever visited but never joined. SPAN on the other hand was populated with very vibrant members full of life doing a wide range of outdoor activities. Every weekend there was at least 3 or 4 different things to do, such as, caving, climbing, bushwalking and white water kayaking. Most of the trips were quite challenging and the majority of SPAN’s members were very fit and capable. Best of all, the SPAN members loved to party and have a great time were ever they went. My years in SPAN were probably the most social of my life.

When I was showing my sister the Three Sisters I told her how I’d climbed them many times and I even did it naked once. I could see by the look on my sister’s friend’s face that she didn’t know whether to believe me or not  (my sister knows me and knows I’d do something stupid like that). 

Later that day we bumped into an old friend of mine, Colin who I used to go climbing with, in a pub. When I told him that I’d been showing my sister and her friend the Three Sisters he asked me if I’d told them about our naked climb up them together. It was priceless to see my sister’s friend’s face when my story was corroborated without any prompting by me.

Back in 1993, Colin, myself and two other friends, Mark and Peter climbed the Three Sisters naked together. We put the climb in the club programme and invited any other member to come with us. Strangely enough there were no other takers so just the four of us did the climb.

After the climb I wrote the poem below to put in the December 1993 SPAN club magazine, “Bushed”.

Of a shameless night I would like to sing,
A night where we four did a silly thing.
The members had done it all and were jaded,
So after some discussion in various bars,
I came up with the “Night of the Chocolate Stars”.
 
Those of you with minds less than keen,
Will be wondering what the heck do I mean?
Well, I’m talking of the Three Sisters West Wall,
A climb done so often it’s starting to pall,
How could we make the climb perverse and bent?
Something so wild and stupidly different?
The sort of thing to which people would probably say:
“You can’t possibly be serious – no way!”
 
How about we give the members reason to chuckle with delight,
And put in the programme a climb to be done at night,
Adding a twist to make it much more interesting,
I’ll suggest it is climbed without wearing a thing.
 
Some of you will think I am stark mad raving,
But I say it’ll be like stark naked caving!
So into the programme the climb was submitted,
Against more sensible things it was pitted.
 
At the meeting before the infamous weekend,
A concerned member my ear did bend,
For the sake of the others she took me to task,
“Isn’t it irresponsible to go at night?” she did ask.
I tried to get her climbing with us to come,
But she didn’t care for us to see her cute bare bum.
 
So, what more can I say?
Eventually it came, that infamous day.
 
At 9pm we undressed and started to climb,
And the honour of leading, it was all mine.
My trusty companion and second was Mark,
Luckily for him my pimply butt was kept in the dark.
Following us was Colin leading with nothing covering his behind,
Following was Peter, but naked? – he was not inclined.
 
It was a balmy night with a full moon rising,
The climbing was so comfortable it was surprising,
With only a head lamp for bright light,
One couldn’t see down far enough to get a fright.
Usually belaying your second is boring,
But with lamps off, the view was rewarding.
Sitting while belaying, naked and warm in the dark,
I enjoyed the starry beauty as I waited for Mark.
 
We all found the climbing to be so easy,
On such a night with the air warm and breezy.
So on we climbed without clothes to rip and tear,
Over the stone we went, bottoms in the air,
Until we came to the chimney that causes concern,
Back into his clothes Colin did return.
But it’s to nakedness Mark and I were betrothed,
Up the chimney we went, fully unclothed.
Together we vowed to the last pitch,
To keep climbing without a stitch.
 
As I reached the summit a gust of wind blew past my ear,
Of protective magpies I was in the dark and in fear.
“Oh gremlins of the air, spirits of sky,
Please don’t let a magpie peck out my eye!”
 
Sitting at the apex, a victim of my own imagination,
I guessed my fears were just a wind blown hallucination.
Eventually the others joined me at the top,
A camera was produced and the flash did pop.
We had done what we had aimed.
Just to get down was all that remained.
 
So down two pitches, 50 metres we abseiled.
Over loose rock and bushes, we were nearly impaled.
Then on to the Grade 7 tourist traverse.
We had completed our climb twisted and perverse.

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