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Five Famous Facts About Frog Buttress
On the 9th of November in 1968, Brisbane rock climbers Rick White and Chris Meadows discovered Frog Buttress, a cliff on the north-west side of Mount French in the Moogerah Peaks National Park in south-east Queensland. While Rick would go on to pursue greater alpine expeditions as well as founding Mountain Designs, it was these early exploits in the Queensland climbing community that helped establish the sport in Australia. Rick's name became synonymous with daring ascents of various Australian climbing routes, so as a tribute to his desire to push the limits, we've highlighted five famous facts about the game-changing discovery of Frog Buttress.
The famed name has an unusual back story
Quite simply, the original name given to Frog Buttress was somewhat different until an unusual happenstance shifted the thinking of the intrepid explorers. Michael Meadows, a fellow climber and journalist, noted in his tome 'The Living Rock' that "Rick initially called the cliff 'Paradise Lost', but the presence of several abandoned contraceptive aids (or 'French Letters') in the locally frequented car park at the top of the cliff prompted Chris to suggest the name 'Frog Buttress' - and it stuck."
The rhyolite volcanic rock columns of Frog Buttress (left), Rick White and Chris Meadows on the first ascent of Piranha route in November of 1968 (centre), and Rick's jambing technique (right). (Images courtesy of Jane White and Michael Meadows)
The first ever route climbed at the location was Corner of Eden
A week after first happening upon Frog Buttress, White and Meadows returned to climb its first ever route, which they aptly named Corner of Eden. A grade 20, 35-metre ascent, they completed the climb on the 17th November before opening Satan's Smokestack, Witches', Cauldron, Clockwork Orange Corner, Strawberry Alarmclock, Orchid Alley and Chunder Crack over the next four weeks.
The Infinity route has close ties to Mountain Designs
The Infinity route was named when Rick ascended it on the 7th of December in 1968. It is a grade 19, 40-metre effort and is often touted as one of the best climbs in Australia. At the same time, Rick had been operating a tiny specialist climbing retail outlet from a suitcase kept under his couch in the Brisbane suburb of Coorparoo where he resided. 'Infinity Equipment' was the first registered name of this business, which would later evolve into what is known today as Mountain Designs.
Rick White in his early climbing days (left), Rick with fellow climbers Paul Edwards, Ian Thomas and Dave Moss at the climbers' camp at Frog Buttress in 1980 (centre), and Rick preparing to climb Corner of Eden with Chris Meadows in 1988 on the 20th anniversary of the discovery of Frog Buttress as a climbing destination (right). (Images courtesy of Jane White and Michael Meadows)
There are now over 400 documented routes at Frog Buttress
From the very first day he walked down the scree and discovered it, Rick developed the Frog Buttress climbing area into a climber's haven. Its routes represent technical difficulty with strategic climbing but with grades ranging from 4 to 32 on the Ewbank Scale, there are climbs for everyone from beginners to the most hardcore jammers. Famed climbing identities from Australia and abroad - such as Ted Cais, Robert Staszewski, Ian Thomas, Ron Collett, Ian Cameron, Henry Barber, John Allen, Tobin Sorenson and Kim Carrigan - have all played their hand in opening new routes over the years.
Rick penned the first 4 guidebooks for Frog Buttress
With the rapid discovery of new routes, guidebooks were compiled to assist climbers wanting to take on Frog Buttress. The first guidebook was produced by White in May of 1969, titled 'Frog Buttress', and included route guides and directions for accessing the area. It was quickly out of date and a second edition released in December of that same year, titled 'Rock Climbs At Frog Buttress…Qld'.
Rick's second Frog Buttress climbing guide (left), an image of Rick used to promote his then named business Odin Equipment (centre), and Rick perched on Frog Buttress. (Images courtesy of Michael Meadows)
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