Passport to Insanity is touted by some zealous aussies to be "the best line in Australia." I don't think that's true, but the climb, a soaring splitter that passes through a 20' beyond-horizontal roof, is indeed quite astonishing. As of 2004 only four people had freed the crux roof pitch, three of whom were women (Nyrie Dodd, Jill McLeod, and Lynn Hill)... and of course the fourth being the mutant roof climber HB (who supposedly used face holds under the roof as opposed to pure jamming). The thing is the pitch just isn't THAT hard... were it not in such a remote location it would see many, many repeats.
On the FA, Keith Lockwood supposedly left a bottle at the belay before the crux second pitch containing a note offering $500 to the first person who could free the roof. A few years later after the dimunitive Nyrie Dodd succeeded in freeing the line (barefoot nonetheless) she showed up on Noddy's doorstep to collect the prize. Whether out of chauvinistic pride or simply disbelief, Lockwood supposedly closed the door in her face and to this day has still refused to pay up.
The line is obvious!
P1: Climb the wide crack past a steep section and then continue up easier ground to a semi-hanging belay below a large right-pointing flake below the roof. This crack is tricky to protect as it flares inward, and, at times, seems to consist of simply two flakes pointing towards one another. However, often these flakes allow liebacking instead of pure offwidthing. Bring large cams for this pitch or do as Simon Mentz claims to have done - slinging tins of beans for pro. A strenuous, long pitch. 5.10+.
P2: Traverse out from the belay, underclinging the flake to the right, then hand-traversing it back left. Backclean your gear and runner what you do leave well, or suffer the consequences of severe rope drag. A poor stance is had below the roof. Reach out and place gear (generally thin hands), and bust it out, and yes, DOWN the roof towards the lip. Flip around at the end and heel hook a large horn. Pull the lip and belay a few feet higher. 5.12c, hand-size dependent.
P3: I highly advise skipping this chossy, dangerous pitch and rapping from some fixed wires (you may need to leave some), but if you really want to top out... Climb up off the belay on the left side of the arete, step around the corner to the right side, and delicately climb the huge, horizontal "saw blade" features to the top. Poor pro and terrifying rock! 5.9+.
Three options for descent: Supposedly a tyrolean can be set up to cross the fissure that separates the Passport Buttress from the main wall by lassoing a bollard. Also, it is supposedly possible to rap down into the chasm where there may or may not be an intermediate anchor consisting of manky pins to facillitate the final rap to the ground. Lastly (what we did), one can head off to the right and scramble down steep, fragile rock blades and do a series of rappels off various horns and old slings. I don't think we had to leave anything behind, but some extra webbing might be a good idea for future parties. Really, what this thing needs is a rap route down the chasm or down the route...
Standard rack plus several huge cams for P1 and extra thin hands pieces for P2.
By Peter Spindloe
From: North Vancouver, BC
Dec 29, 2007
There's a picture of Will Stanhope on this climb on Ben Moon's site: benmoon.com/land
From what I know of his track record, I'm guessing that he freed it, but I don't know for sure. There's no direct link to the picture itself so you have to look through them. Along the way you'll also see a shot of Will on-sight free-soloing Kachoong.