Blue Mountains Rock climbing5,453 routes in crag
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Massive amounts of rock, easily accessible high quality routes in a beautiful location.
Driving up into the Blue Mountains is like entering a fortress, for once you are up in them, you are on a plateau surrounded on all sides by cliffs. It is in this almost suburban bush surrounding, that some of Australia's best climbing resides. From big adventurous walls, to smaller single pitch sport climbs, to fantastic trad climbing, the Blueys has a bit of it all. All this comes amidst the smoky blue green vistas of the Blueys, which on a good day are so peaceful you will never want to leave.
The Blue Mountains are a unique destination offering a very civilised climbing experience, courtesy of places like Katoomba and Blackheath, that sport a healthy cafe culture. The mornings can begin with a coffee in Blackheath and a visit to the bakery. The day can then be spent thrashing yourself on some of the countless sport routes, or scaring yourself silly on some sandy trad horror show. The evening can then culminate in Katoomba with a nice café meal and possibly a film. For a more traditional experience head to Mt Victoria for the pub, and the rickety old theatre. Most of the crags are within easy driving distance of each other, and in some cases easy walking distance. The most popular area is around Blackheath which offers the highest concentration of quality climbing to be found. There are many other areas though which are very good, most of which are within half an hour to an hours drive away. For most people these days, the Blueys is really a sport climbing destination. Apart from Nowra, there is no other place where you will find so many sport routes. There is still plenty of trad climbing though, even though the sandstone is not as suited to trad climbing as the Grampians and Mt Arapiles, being generally poorer in quality. Mt Piddington and Mt York are probably two of the best places to trad climb, although both crags offer some sport climbing. Around Blackheath the best sport area is Centennial Glen, although Upper Shipley probably offers more options for the intermediate climber.
For the beginner climber the Blue Mountains is nowhere near as good as Arapiles or the Grampians, as the easier routes do tend to be the chossier ones. For the intermediate to advanced climber though, the Blue Mountains is fantastic. The beginner climber should not be put off however, as the Blue Mountains probably has more climbing companies offering introductions to climbing than anywhere else in the country. The Blueys is a fantastic place to spend time, although it can be a little more expensive than other areas, due to having so many more temptations.
The Blue Mountains are a World Heritage listed area. The Grose Valley, the cliffs around Katoomba and much of the Narrow Neck peninsula are part of the Blue Mountains National Park which is managed by the NPWS. The Western Escarpment - where most of the climbing is - is Crown Land managed by the BMCC. While the NPWS Plan of Management nominates several locations in the National Park where rock climbing is deemed appropriate, the majority of the climbing remains unacknowledged. To maintain access our best approach is to 'Respect Native Habitat, Tread Softly and Leave No Trace'. Practically all crags are either in National Park or in council reserve: dog owners are reminded that dogs are not allowed in National Parks at any time and fines have been issued, while for crags on council reserve the BMCC leash law requires that dogs be on-leash.
An hour and a half’s drive west of Sydney (80kms). There is a train line that runs right across the top of the Blue Mountains plateau and many stations (e.g. Blackheath) are in very close proximity to the crags. There is also a bus service.
Where to stay
Camping isn't fantastic; there are free campgrounds in the Megalong Valley, Mt York and Perrys Lookdown but they are a long way from the crags if you don't have a car and have limited facilities. Blackheath has a BMCC operated campground which offers security and showers and is in the centre of the main climbing hub. Katoomba has plenty of hostels and there are many bed and breakfast type places through the mountains, if you can afford it. It really is a place where a car is needed to make the best of the area.
Although sport climbing is well entrenched as the most popular form of Blueys climbing, mixed-climbing on gear and bolts has generally been the rule over the long term. Please try to use available natural gear where possible, and do not bolt cracks or potential trad climbs.
Because of the softness of Blue Mountains sandstone, bolting should only be done by those with a solid knowledge of glue-in equipping. A recent fatality serves as a reminder that this is not an area to experiment with bolting.
If you do need to top rope, please do it through your own gear as the wear on the anchors is both difficult and expensive to maintain.
It would be appreciated if brushing of holds becomes part of your climbing routine - do it with a soft bristled brush and never a steel brush!
The removal of vegetation - both from the cliff bases and the climbs - is not seen as beneficial to aesthetics of the environment nor to our access to it. However, the fast growing scrub can conceal walking tracks in mere months, so bringing a pair of secaturs and pruning as you walk is a good way of helping out with the constant task of track maintenance. Some appropriately discreet pruning is a far better alternative then track braiding (which causes far more damage). It's also a good warmup for your forearms!
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