Memorial to Blackheath rock climbing pioneer John 'Crunch' Smoothy unveiled

The man responsible for some of the first rock climbing routes in the Blue Mountains has been honoured.

A memorial seat and plaque for the late John "Crunch" Smoothy, was unveiled at Shipley Plateau on June 20.

'Crunch' as he was known - a reference to peanut butter - was raised in Katoomba and attended Katoomba High. He would go on to become a postie in Blackheath where he lived with wife Gemma Williams.

He was an active, adventurous youngster, according to his friend and fellow climber Glenn Short.

"He would solo the Three Sisters without a rope after school," Mr Short said.

'Crunch' pioneered the first sports climbing route at Mt York in 1978 at just 18, going on to develop others at Shipley Plateau, Centennial Glen, Clarence, Narrow Neck Plateau, Newnes Plateau and the Gardens of Stone in the 80s and 90s.

Even when he was diagnosed with cancer in his 20s which reoccurred several times, 'Crunch' kept climbing and developing new routes until his death from cancer in 2017 at age 57.

"The last 10 years he could barely carry his pack but he would still climb better than most," Mr Short said.

"He was very generous and everyone knew him 'cause he was the local postie. If you needed to know anything about anything to do with climbing, Crunch knew.

"He was very well respected by climbers from around the world. He had incredible footwork. He was incredibly considered and very athletic when he was younger. He trained hard and did a lot of climbing and was very committed to it."

Leura photographer Simon Carter captured Crunch's passion, climbing Check Point Charlie on the Katoomba Cliffs.

"He was a true Blue Mountains climbing legend. This is him, in his element, it's an image that will always remind me of him," he said.

The memorial "will now be a very special place for those of us who were lucky enough to know John. You are not forgotten mate."

His friends remembered a top climber and wonderful human.

"Crunch left us a legacy of routes which will be enjoyed by the generations of climbers yet to come. We miss you dear friend, but your fingerprints remain with us forever," said Peter Martland.

"A fitting tribute to a mountains legend and a real top bloke," Andrew Penney said.

"Climbing is as much about the people you meet as it is about the rock. Crunch was an original, in many ways, and this seat is a fitting tribute to him," Peter Butcher added.

The memorial seat was designed by Dargan artist Henryk Topolnicki and includes old climbing equipment such as carabiners and steel created to look like rope tied in a figure of eight. Located at 'Crunch's Corner', between Walls Ledge and Centennial Glen, overlooking Porters Pass, it was unveiled by Crunch's wife. The area is being developed by volunteer organisation Blue Mountains Crag Care, in association with Blue Mountains Council.

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