Bell Supercrag Mostly Sport climbing174 routes in crag
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See http://bmtopos.com/ for the original online guide to this area. Thanks to Lloyd, Steve and Megan!
Access issues inherited from Blue Mountains
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'. Do not cut flora and keep any tracks and infrastructure as minimal as possible.
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.
From Bell, at the intersection of the Darling Causeway and Bell’s Line of Rd, head 1.5km towards Richmond/Sydney. Slow down as you approach the start of the first passing lane, so that you don’t miss the fire trail on the right, directly opposite the ‘Keep Left When Overtaking’ sign. Drive down the rough fire trail for 350m to a parking area, or park on the verge if you have a low clearance vehicle. If approaching from Richmond, it is safer to continue 400 m past the fire trail and turn around in a pullout on the left, immediately before the ‘60 Ahead’ sign at Bell.
A well-defined walking track begins beside the power pole in the carpark, initially along the flat ridge, then gently downhill. After 20 min, a flat area is reached just after you break out of the last trees onto a broad heath-covered ridge (with a good view of Ikara Head). From the flat area, the track heads down more steeply to the left (east), leading you into the descent gully. The bottom of the descent gully is equipped with fixed ropes and fixed rungs (not suitable for kiddies).
You'll emerge at the right end of Departures and Arrivals, for a total walking time of 25 min (30 min on the way out). The other crags require between 5 and 20 min more walking.
Ethic inherited from Blue Mountains
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! However, do so only on Council land and not in the National Park.
Seen by many over the years, it wasn’t until Lloyd Wishart stumbled his way down Jungaburra Brook in August 2006 that climbing at Bell started with the bolting of Wet Paint at Arrivals. Megan Turnbull and Steve Grkovic agreed to pitch in, after forcing Lloyd to try the current more user-friendly approach, first negotiated in the gathering gloom of an August evening without torches. Lloyd stamped his authority by quickly drilling his way to double figures at Arrivals and Departures, before the devastating bush fires in October 2006 put a stop to proceedings. The fires left behind an alien black landscape, burnt hammers, ropes and other equipment, with jumars and biners reduced to small mounds of melted metal.
In 2009, after several winters spent climbing at Arrivals and Departures, while belayers gazed longingly at the sun-drenched crags on the opposite side, the development of The Devils Circus, Treble Clef and Sunnyside was tackled. Martin Pircher flew back from Austria to kick things off with Seamstress, Megan had some epic struggles bolting the longer routes Searching for the Light and The Dreaming Void and Steve established some great steep climbing in at the Devils Circus. The Outpost, Duck Wall and Blowhole followed over the years.
Since 2011, Neil Monteith, Ben Jenga, Jason Lammers, Paul Thomson, Thom Samuels and Jay Trent have joined the fray to push the number of lines well over the 150 mark.
Check out what is happening in Bell Supercrag.