The Phoenix Rock climbing9 routes in crag
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Small crag with some unique trad climbs. Finger cracks, and marathon slabbing!
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'.
TOP ACCESS (NEW) - Medlow Bath ~15min:
Driving West on Great Western Highway, pass through Medlow Bath and bear left just past the Hydro Majestic Hotel onto Belgravia St. Continue straight ahead onto well-maintained dirt road. Just over 1.1km along this track there are two clearings on the left, park at the second clearing (marked with Tan-coloured tape on a tree at the back, a small cairn near the track, and graffiti "AT" on a tree on the left side of the clearing.
Continue down the marked track at the back of the clearing for 200m. When you reach a large fallen tree (marked by tan-coloured tape, and a large cairn on the right), turn right and head down the trail, following cairns, pink marking tape, and red-coloured tape around trees as necessary. At first rocky outcropping, bear left (not right!) as you scramble down (marked) and continue down along rock face. The track cuts right to another rocky outcropping, then makes a sharp turn left (continuing straight ahead up the slab leads to the Archeopterix Rap access - see below) and zig-zags down a gully.
Where the trail flattens out, hug the right rock-wall and head down to an exposed ledge below an arete and a fixed rope. Follow the ledge to the right carefully, scramble down a prominant red dusty chute with help of another fixed rope, continue right to small chossy red cave (good for keeping packs dry). Rack up here, and traverse down and around the right rock-wall via the final fixed rope. At the bolt at the end of this traverse is the first pitch of Archaeopterix (21). Walk a further 8m along this ledge to the anchors for The Phoenix. Rap here 45m to the ground.
Via the Top Access, the area above Archaeopterix Wall (Above The Phoenix proper) can be walked to to allow a rap-in to Archaeopterix, or straight down to The Phoenix. Where the walk in takes a sharp left turn at a prominant tree (cairn) before the final vegetated descent gully, head straight up over the slab, and directly down the bushy hill to the cliff (faint trail, but much vegetation). Near the cliff edge there is a red fixed rope attached to a tree, that leads straight to the rap anchors.
BOTTOM ACCESS - Megalong Valley ~35min:
Overgrown and hard to find. Drive down Megalong Rd and park at the start of the Coachwood Glen 'Nature Trail'. Cross the creek. At the large boulders take the spur up the gully following cairns. At about half height head right into the gully and up to the base of cliff. Head right to the climbs. Watch out for leaches in summer.
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!
FA: Julian Anderson/Chris Coghill
Thin finger crack 10m left of The Phoenix. Has its own lower offs.
FA: Julian Anderson
A very long, moderately bold, slightly wandery thin slab that rejoins The Phoenix at its crux (last 8m of climbing) to avoid the nails hard direct finish to the top.
6 draws + Full set of Wires + small cams (to green 0.75), and 1 x #2, and 1x #4/#5 (for The Phoenix).
From the GROUND, start up Firefly, past Firefly anchors WITHOUT re-belaying. Trend right to arete (#2 cam), then up trending left to semi-detached block (Quetzal Bolt #1), then trend right to thin flake system for a move or two, then back left, moving a few metres left at Quetzal Bolt #3), before heading back right past 2 more bolts. At 4th last bolt (Quetzal Bolt #5), move right into The Phoenix, then up The Phoenix to top.
FFA: P. Thomson, 2013
PROJECT PAUL - CLOSED PROJECT. The very tough Direct Finish to Quetzal. Where exactly this climb will START from remains to be decided.
Long, sustained predominantly finger-crack climb with an exciting finish. Beautifully clean on good rock. Best done as one long 45m pitch (no rope drag). Bring the usually passive pro and doubles of cams 0.3 to 2, and singles 3, 4 and possibly 5. More small gear (0.3 and 0.4 or Aliens) keeps it sane. Be CAREUL of the loose blocks in the back of the off-width section. Crack completely re-cleaned October 2012.
FA: J. Anderson & R. Charlton, 2003
FA: J Anderson & C Coghil
A moderate-grade headwall pitch above The Phoenix, with WILD exposure! (Just forget about the average first pitch).
Can be climbed via the proper First Pitch, or can be easily abseiled into from the top. See notes for The Phoenix area.
P1 - 20m (15) The Access Pitch. Start at the bolt at the end of the fixed rope traverse (8m RIGHT of The Phoenix abseil anchors). Up to first bolt (some loose rock) via corner system, then traverse left on HUGE holds but with amazing exposure past 5 more bolts. After last bolt (long sling), climb delicately up past scarily loose rock to belay below headwall).
P2 - 25m (21) The Money Pitch. Up flake, hand traverse left, then up past 8 bolts with monsterous exposure but no really hard moves. Belay on obvious rap anchors back from edge, or lower off. Some choss still to go, but 90% good rock.
EXIT: Directly BELOW the belay at the start of the headwall are 5 bolts that can be used to redirect the abseil rope BACK under the rooflet to the anchors above The Phoenix. Alternatively, top out and bring up your second, and walk directly up vague trail to rejoin the walkdown track.
Set by Paul Thomson, 2013
FFA: P. Thomson, 2013
PROJECT PAUL - CLOSED PROJECT. Relatively easy climbing, in an outrageous position.
Bring 1 x 0.75, 2 x #1, 1 x #2 and 1 x #3 camelots, 6 draws + anchors.
P1 - 20m (15) As for Archaeopterix Pitch 1. Start at the bolt at the end of the fixed rope traverse (8m RIGHT of The Phoenix abseil anchors). Up to first bolt (some loose rock) via corner system, then traverse left on HUGE holds but with amazing exposure past 5 more bolts. After last bolt (long sling), climb delicately up past scarily loose rock to belay below headwall).
P2 - (25m) Up flake, then hand traverse left. After 3rd bolt, keep going left past 2 more bolts to overhanging arete. Climb arete past 0.75/#1, #2, #1 and #3 cam placements on monster jugs (peek-a-boo) and some suspect rock to top. Bring up second and walk up to anchors above Archaeopterix P2.
EXIT: Directly BELOW the belay at the start of the headwall are 5 bolts that can be used to redirect the abseil rope BACK under the rooflet to the anchors above The Phoenix. Alternatively, top out and bring up your section, and wall directly up vague trail to rejoin the walkdown track.
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