Best described as an "undeveloped Mount York", with similar rock and features, and clifflines broken up into distinguishable areas separated by access gullies. At present there are 4 genuinely great trad-line that make the trip worthwhile for a trad enthusiast alone. Most of the prominent trad lines have been climbed (though a few remain), but the many clean slabs and faces are awaiting bolting and first-ascents by anyone who sees the area worthy of development, and doesn't mind the extra distance to travel.
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.
Take the Bells Line of Road towards Lithgow.
At the end of this bend, turn left into an obvious cleared dirt area, marked by a sign saying: "Zig-Zag Tunnels 9/10 Site Office Access". Continue along dirt road (ignoring first locked-gate turn off to the left), and at approx 700m turn left onto dirt-road.
This road gets progressively worse, with 4WD capability needed to reach the very end. Park wherever you become concerned for your cars clearance, and continue on foot. At 1800m ignore adjacent trig point (Uncle Toms car park) and continue straight ahead.
75m before the track comes to a dead end (marked by camprire site and fallen tree), take the faint track on the right marked by a cairn. At about 80m, the track curves around L. 4WDs should park here.
Branch off this into light bushland heading West. You are now aiming for a gully and constriction which is reached within 3 min.
This is the "Access Gully Area" of Colliery Crag.
About 75m down and to the left (South) is the obvious steep crack FIFO Hooker, which marks the start of the South Cliffs Area. This area stretches on for a few hundred metres.
About 80m to the right (North) is the first of the North Cliff climbs: Abnormal Coal Seam Morphology. This area stretches on for about 300m.
Further in the distance, where the cliffline begins to head west, is where the Far Northern Cliffs resides. This can be seen from the base of Climbing Boom. From here you get a great view of Gina Climb-hard in its entirety; it takes 15min extra walking to reach this climb and the others there.
You know you've reached the right area when you pass a large boulder sitting in a gully with a prominent grey "fin" of rock: The Shark's Fin. As you head west, look up to spot Coal Seam Crack.
NOTE: A larger Access Map is included in PHOTOS under this crag.
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.
Rediscovered by "No-Chalk" Rob Burton in 2012. Has clearly been investigated previously (a number of cairns were discovered beneath specific lines, a few metres back from the cliff) but no details of ascents has ever been published.
Did you know that you can create an account to record, track and share your climbing ascents? Thousands of climbers are already doing this.
Check out what is happening in The Colliery.