Mt Stapylton Amphitheatre Rock climbing470 routes in crag
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Much of this guide is based on Kieran Loughran's wonderful Mount Stapylton Amphitheatre print guide (1996). It has been updated by Neil Monteith and friends (2005-2007).
One of Australia's premier areas. A high concentration of quality routes of every variety. 'Taipan Wall' is world renowned for offering some of the most amazing steep orange sandstone routes around. The bouldering is also very popular.
Useful Info: Much of this guide is based on Kieran Loughran's wonderful Mount Stapylton Amphitheatre print guide (1996).© (nmonteith)
Access issues inherited from North Grampians
This area is now reopening after the fires in early 2014
Here's an update from Parks Victoria (18 September 2015):
People – it has been a long time coming, and the recovering areas thank you for your patience. As of the 18th September, most of the climbing areas in the North Grampians still closed, will once again open. These areas though, are still fragile and deserve to have a little extra thought given, if and when you decide to head there. The Mt Difficult Range is still in a very fragile state and because of this, some of the closures here will remain in place, except for those cliffs listed. Check out the list below and please continue to read the care info following it. Thank you all in the climbing and bouldering community who have been understanding of the closures and have been actively promoting it to others. Lots of other areas have seen renewed interest. Whilst Nature will continue to throw these events at us, it is obvious that there are always enough cliffs and boulders to go around.
To aid the long term recovery of the Northern Grampians there is a general closure in place for rock climbing throughout the Mt Difficult Range, except for the main climbing areas stated below. Please support the long term recovery of fire affected areas by remaining out of any closed sites. See closure map for further detail. While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected areas. Open and accessible rock climbing and bouldering areas in the Northern Grampians Hollow Mountain Area Barc Cliff , Gunn Buttress , Battlescarred Blocks / The Ammo Shop, Amnesty Wall Area , Andersens , Clicke Area (incl. Kindergarten routes) The Kindergarten (bouldering) Expedition Crag, Turtle Rocks, Sandinista Cliffs, Pensioners Wall Area, Red Wall Area incl Echoes Block, Loopeys , Hollow Mountain Cave, Legoland, Cut Lunch Walls , Koalasquatsy Wall Tribute Wall , The Dungeon, Bad Moon Rising Wall Van Dieman’s Land, Rambla Wall, A-Frame Boulder
Summerday Valley Flying Blind. Wall of Fools, Back Wall Bowler Boulder
*Note closures are in place to Main wall, Left wall, Bird wall and Calcutti crag and others east of Summerday Valley due to threatened plant species regeneration, cultural heritage protection and trail degradation.Mt Stapylton Amphitheatre Northern Wall, Central Buttress, Sabre Gully, Grey and Green Walls, Taipan Wall Spurt Wall, Bouldering Buttress, Lower Taipan, Afterglow Wall, Afterglow Boulders ,The Plaza Strip, The Snake Pit , Trackside Boulders. Citadel . Ground Control Caves, Cave Club, Between the Sheeps, Spurt Wall (Bouldering), The Titanic (Bouldering) Flat Rock Area West Flank / Wall of Fuels, Bellepheron Wall ,Epsilon Wall ,Bouldering Cloud Cuckoo Land , Note: new access track between flat rock, the kindergarten and Andersons via Bellepheron wall. Mt Zero Area Pangaea Walls, Toolondo Waters, 4 Cornered Crag, Mt Zero Summit Cliff, Mount Zero West Walls
Iskra Crag Flower Power Block, Shadow Buttress, Emu Crag , Sunstroke Area , Pigs in Space Buttress, Main West Face, Dolgoruki Wall First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier , North Western Outcrop, Eastern Walls 36 Chambers , Dolgoruki Wall and Three Tiers
Pohlner track and Smith Road Area The Rust Bucket, Martini Rock, Worship Wall, Point 447 ,Bordel Buttress, Mt Emu The Crows Nest, The Eyrie , The Unnamed Cliff, An Unnamed Cliff, Olive Grove, Cave Of Ghosts Cliffs, Ghost Block, The Olive Cave, The Ravine
CLOSED CLIMBING AREAS
North West Mt Difficult Range Sickle Wall , Mawson Slab, Mt Difficult Cliff, Epaminondas Buttress, Troopers Creek Cliff, Mt Difficult Summit ,Mt Bloody Impossible Mt Stapylton Campground Cave , Sentinel Wall , The Guardhouse, Warden Wall , Campground Boulders, Titanic Boulder, Doddery Rock, Mt Pleasant ,The Rockwall Area ,Briggs Bluff Area
Mount Stapylton is at the northern tip of the Grampians(Gariwerd), 30km south-east of Horsham. Train and bus services can get you to Horsham from 'Adelaide' or 'Melbourne' but after that you are on your own.
'Access' by car is easy. All but the last 4km is on sealed road and the unsealed road is negotiable in all weather conditions but care must be taken with corrugations, suicidal marsupials, emus and feral tourists. Hitching is not a good option because you'll probably have to walk a few kilometres and end up isolated in an empty camp-ground a long way from anything.
From 'Melbourne', follow the Western 'Highway' towards Horsham, passing through Ararat, Stawell and Dadswell's Bridge, until you're 11km past Dadswell's Bridge and just after the 269km post. Turn left and continue for 6½km, turn left (signpost Mt Zero) onto a dirt road. After 1.2km turn right (signposts Flat Rock 2.5, Mt Zero 1) and follow the road for 2½km to the 'Mount Zero' Picnic Area.
From Horsham, follow the Western 'Highway' towards 'Melbourne' for 19km, 4km
past Green Lake, turn right (signpost to Laharum). Follow the road south for 8km, turn left (signpost Flat Rock 6), after 3 km turn right (signpost Mt Zero) onto a dirt road. After 1.2km turn right (signposts Flat Rock 2.5, Mt Zero 1) and follow the road for 2½km to the 'Mount Zero' Picnic Area.
The lone visitor can normally find climbers in the carpark at 'Hollow Mountain' on any weekend...but not always! During the week you may get lucky but are more likely to strike youth groups and corporate team-builders. If you have no organised partner, your best option is to go to Mount 'Arapiles' first to make some contacts.© (nmonteith)
While the Amphitheatre is one of the important climbing areas in 'Victoria', development has been sporadic.
When the area was discovered in the mid-sixties there was an intense period of development that culminated in one of the most intense months in Victorian climbing history.
In the four weeks from 23rd April to 18th May 1966, Mike Stone, Ian Guild, Chris Dewhirst and Gary Kerkin put up 'Spillway', 'Simpleton' and Seventh Pillar. In that same month this group, minus Gary Kerkin but with John Moore also added 'Scorpion' and 'Skink' at 'Arapiles'. These were the hardest, most serious climbs around, done in one brief period by a small group.
It's hard to appreciate what it was like in the sixties. Even in the mid-70s it was possible to arrive at 'Arapiles' on a mild summer weekend and find only five people there. 'Arapiles' was popular, Stapylton was not and, with the sixties, we are talking a decade earlier: we are talking isolation.
Contemplate placing the bolt runner on 'Simpleton', jamming your head in the crack to free both hands for drilling, or climbing hand-over-hand up a knotted rope to regain the first belay of Seventh Pillar or standing around in hard rubber while hand-drilling the bolts on Spillway? It's quite sobering.
Things were pretty quiet in the early seventies. Andrew Thomson added some aesthetic(?) bolt-laddders to 'Lower Taipan Wall' and combined with Kim Carrigan to free 'Clicke Crack' and dramatically reduce the aid on Seventh Pillar. Dave Mudie freed 'Simpleton' and contributed Seventh Banana to 'Taipan Wall'. John Chapman freed 'Spillway'.
Thomson and Carrigan's one-day ascent of Seventh Pillar in 1975 was no great shakes by the standards of the day. That is in theory. In reality this climb had people intimidated. The general steepness and atmosphere clobber aspirants to the present day. It was an indication of things to come from Carrigan.
Glenn Tempest and Kevin Lindorff had a spree in the Amphitheatre in April and May of 1977. They didn't break new ground in terms of grades but, in two weekends, they brought Stapylton into the modern era. 'Benn Gunn' and 'Asterisk' free, 'Starstruck', 'Technical Ecstasy', 'Sweet Dreams' and 'Atomic Tadpole' seemed to open the gateway, but it was not to be. Why? Because they weren't into rap-bolting or inspection in those days and obvious protectable climbs were exhausted.
At this time abseil bolting of routes was not common. Abseil bolting first appeared in 'Victoria' at Hanging Rock in the late sixties and did not catch on. Andrew Thomson reintroduced the concept when he did 'Swinging' at 'Arapiles' in April 1976 and it was quite controversial. When Tempest and Lindorff did their routes in the Amphitheatre, they were rejecting the use of chalk as unethical, let alone rap-bolting! This looks funny now, but it was taken quite seriously at the time. I suppose it has shades of British mountaineering in the thirties when crampons were rejected as unethical. Anyhow, Tempest and Lindorff set a new standard at the crag and then left it. Curiously, when Lindorff revisited Stapylton in the early eighties with a revised bolting ethic, he ignored his old stamping-ground in favour of Summer Day Valley.
At the start of the Eighties, Carrigan and I crossed from Summer Day Valley to The Amphitheatre to cut Seventh Pillar to one aid point (Carrigan did the work and dragged me up after him). At the end of the day we walked the length of 'Taipan Wall' and could see no more free propositions; quite hilarious in retrospect. I don't suppose Kim was having me on?
Anyhow, among other things, Carrigan put up 'The Great Divide', Matheson did 'Serpentine', Monks freed Seventh Banana and Pollitt did every climb on the wall as well as adding Rage, the direct version of 'Serpentine'.
'Taipan Wall' is far and away the highlight, but much of the rest is also deserving of your attention. Enjoy.© (nmonteith)
Some content has been provided under license from: © Australian Climbing Association Queensland (Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike 2.5 AU)
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