Morning Buttress

Ian Ho seeking cooler night time conditions on Quarantine Crack (F6c+)

General

Morning Buttress lies in a small forested valley near Sir Cecil’s Ride, a major hiking route above North Point. The crag provides a mix of climbing styles, including short bolt-protected boulder problems, sporty clip-ups, an aid line, and trad cracks. And then, of course, there is the intimidating roof of Quarantine Crack, which is actually wide off-width or a narrow chimney depending on how big you are. Overall, even many of the sport routes require trad-style moves such as hand jams, foot jams, chimneys, full-body mantles, etc. So, don’t be afraid to stick your hand in that crack. Unleash all your skills. Or maybe perfect some new ones.

The easy accessibility of the area makes it great for a quick half-day outing.

Access

The easiest way to approach these crags is from the Braemar Hill Road Amenity Plot at the bottom (eastern) end of Braemar Hill Road, just after the turning for Choi Sai Wu Mansions. From the park, pass through the gate and follow the trail (Po Luen Path) up the hill, staying right and crossing a stream shortly thereafter instead of following the more prominent set of steps that break left and upwards. After about 10 minutes, this will bring you to Sir Cecil’s Ride. Turn left and follow this path around the hillside until reaching a set of step breaking right, sign posted to Mount Parker Road. From here ascend the narrow, paved trail a short distance to the top and the intersection with trail to Morning Walkers’ Garden.

To reach Morning Buttress, stay on the Morning Walker’s Path and follow this left and down the hill a short distance downhill until is possible to scramble off to the right to reach the obvious cliff face of Quarantine Roof. To reach the Escarpment, continue down the main path slightly further before employing similar tactics to break off up the hill a short way to reach the crag.

The crags can also be reached from Mount Parker Road, using Sir Cecil’s Ride to approach from the east. This approach however involves significantly more uphill travel so is not recommended unless your legs need a good work out.

Routes

There are three distinct sectors:
Quarantine Roof: When hiking from Braemar Hill Road you will encounter this super obvious sector first. The awe-inspiring roof will be on your right as you descend stairs. A short path leads to the base.
The Escarpment: Continue on the paved trail past Quarantine Roof a short distance to the bottom of the stairs, step across a small gully on your right and follow the path to the wall visible through the forest.
Top Tier: Follow the base of The Escarpment to the far-left end, past the Butter Fingers-Belly Flop face. Scramble up a short distance onto a large ledge system below a short wall.

As with all climbing areas n HK, bolted routes are given French Sport Grades, trad routes UK Trad Grades, and aid routes either A- or C- grades depending n whether they use fixed protection (A-grade) or removal ‘clean’ protection (C-grades). The trad grades in this guide are currently the first ascentionists best guess using the grade conversion tables here as neither is highly familiar with UK trad grades.

Quarantine Roof Sector

1) Morning Has Broken – F6a
Start at the left edge of the main wall of the buttress. Make tricky moves up the corner and onto the slab before romping up this to reach the obvious layback crack. Attack this with gusto to get stood on the ledge, from which the anchor can be reached.
F.A. Stuart Millis, Bob Moseley (2020)

2) Quarantine Crack ** F6c+
The obvious wide crack/chimney has a powerful start to get established on the lip of the roof. From here the slender will be able to insert themselves inside the chimney whilst those of ‘larger stature’ will have to resort to more traditional thrutching up the off-width above. Wear durable clothing and long sleeves if you value your skin…
F.A. Stuart Millis (2020)

Note: Recent visitors have noted nesting birds (with eggs) on the ledge at the lip of this climb. Please respect nature and do not attempt this route until all evidence of nesting is gone.

3) Name Unknown (Francis’ Route)
The obvious crack on the right side of the roof. Name and grade unknown. Presumably Francis is keeping them under wraps until he publishes his guidebook?
F.A. Francis Haden (2020)

Stuart Millis squirming his way up the first ascent of Quarantine Crack (F6c+). Photo: Renée Mullen

The Escarpment

Routes are described left to right

1) Butter Fingers – F6c
Bolted bouldering at far-left end of the escarpment. Slightly overhanging face on thin cracks with a committing mantle to finish on left side of summit block.
FA: Ron Roy and Bob Moseley (2020)

2) Belly Flop – F6b
Slightly easier, yet still committing companion to Butter Fingers. On this one you get to use the upper right edge, but you still have to top out with a full-on mantle.
FA: Ron Roy and Bob Moseley (2020)

3) Chatterbox Café – F5
Surprisingly balancy moves on steps and ledges in lower half followed by a few moves on headwall. 
FA: Bob Moseley and Ron Roy (2020)

4) Who You Calling Shorty?  – F6a+
Short, 2-bolt climb that is harder the farther left you are. F6a+ line has no hands on the Easter Island pillar to the right, but feet ok. No hands and no feet on pillar is harder than 6a+. Stick clip recommended for first bolt. 
FA: Ron Roy and Bob Moseley (2020)

5) Easter Island on Lockdown *** F6b+
Fun lie-back on lower pillar to roof. Then move onto steep headwall where the lie-backs get much more serious. The crux is getting to the anchors. Although there’s an understandable desire to clip the anchor from the lie back, there is a good hold on the lip above and right of the anchors for the final clip. In other words, keep going.
FA: Ron Roy and Bob Moseley (2020)

Tiktian Chan lay backing the headwall of Easter Island on Lockdown (F6b+). Photo: Bob Moseley

6) Wall of Early Morning Light  C1+
Thin crack that splits face 3 m right of Easter Island. FA was as an aid line, with a “clean aid” grade of C1 or 2. The awesome splitter crack is deep, but very narrow and takes only the smallest gear, including tenuous micronut placements. From the crack, transition through the horizontal (large cams) to upper hand crack and the anchors.  
In addition to getting early morning sun, the route name is a nod to Warren Harding’s classic aid line on El Cap, only 850 m shorter. It was eventually freed by Caldwell-Jorgeson and became Dawn Wall. We placed bolts and an anchor for free climbing this route. So the challenge is out there! Stick clip recommended for first bolt.
FA (Aid): Bob Moseley (2020)
FFA: Awaiting a free ascent

7) Crakatoa ** E1 5b
Work the twin cracks down low leading to beautiful splitter up high. Getting through the transition from lower to upper crack systems is crux. Anchors are in place.
FA: Ron Roy and Bob Moseley (2020)

8) Crack of Dawn – HVS 5a
All trad. Splitter hand crack in middle leads to a tricky off-width. Wide gear recommended. Finish on lower angle, yet still tricky ground to anchors on upper block (not visible from bottom).
FA: Bob Moseley and Ron Roy (2020)

9) Still In My Jammies – HVS 5a
All trad. Sporty start brings you to a flaring but protectable crack 1 m right of Crack of Dawn. Anchors are in place.
FA: Ron Roy and Bob Moseley (2020)

10) Mountaineer’s Route – F5
Flaring chimney, just like you find in the Bugaboo’s. You’ll need a full range of alpine rock moves to summit.  
FA: Bob Moseley and Ron Roy (2020)

11) Flash Gordon’s Ethical Dilemma – F6c
Bolt line up light brown face. Use left edge then finish on face above last bolt.
FA: Ron Roy and Bob Moseley (2020)

12) Morning Alarm – F6a
If you aren’t fully awake yet, the hand and foot jamming on the steep start will open your eyes. Follow this with some sloping moves to get you onto the low angle finish. 
FA: Ron Roy and Bob Moseley (2020)

13) The Fang – F6a+
Start on left side of chimney and become one with the Fang in the opening moves. Eventually transition right across the rounded arete using thin face for feet and rim of ledge for hands. Reach for some bomber holds on ledge and haul directly up to the anchor. An easier variation continues up through the vegetation and gains ledge from above and left. 
FA: Bob Moseley and Ron Roy (2020)

14) Venus Rising – F5
Farthest right route on The Escarpment. Some chimney moves off the ground get you to a ledge at the base of a clean hand crack. Jam it up to the next ledge and the anchors. Although bolted, this route can be a good first trad lead, maybe mixing it up by clipping the first bolt to protect the opening crux moves.
FA: Bob Moseley and Ron Roy, (2020)

Top Tier

Directly above and in back of the Butter-Belly face are two more boulder problems, one crimpy technical face (bolted) the other a slightly overhanging hand crack (trad). 

1) Closed Project

2) One-Two Crack – HVS 5a
Carefully scamper up onto ledge at base of slightly overhanging crack. Hands and feet jamming in slightly overhung crack bring you to the anchors.
FA: Tiktian Chan, Ron Roy and Bob Moseley, 24 May 2020

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Quarantine Crack
Quarantine Crack
Quarantine Crack
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Morning Has Broken
Morning Has Broken
Morning Has Broken
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Francis' Route
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Butter Fingers
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Belly Flop
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Chatterbox Café
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Who You Calling Shorty?
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Easter Island on Lockdown
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Crakatoa
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Crack of Dawn
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Still In My Jammies
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Mountaineer’s Route
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Flash Gordon’s Ethical Dilemma
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Morning Alarm
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The Fang
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Venus Rising
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One-Two Crack
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