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Table of contents

1. The Phoenix 9 routes in Crag

Summary:
JFMAMJJASOND
seasonality
Trad, Unknown and Sport

Long/Lat: 150.274787, -33.662685

Description:

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'.

Approach:

TOP ACCESS (NEW) - Medlow Bath ~15min:

THIS ACCESS HAS BEEN RE-SLASHED ON 19/06/2015!

Driving West on the 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 from where you first hit the dirt there are two clearings on the left, park at the second clearing (identifiable by a large flat orange rock at the back of the clearing, and an obvious footpad behind it).

Continue down the track at the back of the clearing (it dog-legs left near the start) for 200m until you come to a vague trail on the right (flanked by a cairn - it's the only obvious track heading off right). Head down the trail following red and white reflector markers and cairns. At the first rocky outcropping with the BLUE fixed rope, bear left (not right!) as you scramble down and continue down the hill with a rocky outcropping on your left. The track cuts right to another rocky outcropping, then makes a sharp turn left at a RED fixed rope (continuing straight ahead up the slab leads to the Archeopteryx Rap access - see below) and zig-zags down a gully past 3 more fixed ropes.

Where the trail flattens out, hug the right rock-wall and head down to an exposed ledge below an arete and a RED fixed rope. Follow the ledge to the right carefully, scramble down a prominent 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 BLUE fixed rope. At the bolt at the end of this traverse is the first pitch of Archeopteryx (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 Archeopteryx Wall (Above The Phoenix proper) can be walked to to allow a rap-in to Archeopteryx, or straight down to The Phoenix. Where the walk in takes a sharp left turn at a prominent tree and a RED fixed rope before the 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!

RouteGradeStyleSelected ascents
1 ** Little Drummer Boy

FA: Julian Anderson/Chris Coghill

19 Unknown 26m
2 Smoulder 10 Trad 10m
3 Firefly

Thin finger crack 10m left of The Phoenix. Has its own lower offs.

FA: Julian Anderson

18 Trad 8m
4 * Quetzal

Soft for the grade, but very long and moderately bold. Wandery thin slab that rejoins The Phoenix at its crux (last 8m of climbing) to avoid the much harder direct finish to the top.

Originally led as one giant 50m pitch, it can be broken up into as many as 3 pitches if necessary.

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 and continue past its anchors. 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 to an anchor. Move right into The Phoenix, then up The Phoenix to top on gear.

FFA: P. Thomson, 2013

21 Mixed 52m, 6
5 * Quetzalcoatl

The harder Direct Finish to Quetzal. Can be climbed from the ground in 1 (50m) pitch, 2 pitches, or 3 pitches as desired. Alternatively, it can be climbed as a rap-in, climb-out single pitch from the Quetzal anchor.

P1 - As for Quetzal to the 2nd set of anchors (before moving right to join The Phoenix).

P2 - Thin and techy moves up and slightly right past 3 bolts to the ledge, avoiding The Phoenix.

FA: Paul Thomson, 8th Apr

22 Mixed 50m 2, 8
6 ** The Phoenix

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

20 Trad 45m
7 Shortcut to Exposure

FA: J Anderson, C Coghil

18 Unknown 45m
8 * Archaeopteryx

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: Paul Thomson, 2013

21 Sport 45m 2, 14
9 Жар-пти́ца (The Firebird)

Relatively easy climbing, in an outrageous position, marred by some rubbish rock on the arete.

Bring 1 x 0.75, 2 x #1, 1 x #2 and 1 x #3 camelots, 6 draws + anchors.

  1. 20m (15) As for Archeopteryx 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).

  2. 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 Archeopteryx 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.

FA: Paul Thomson, 8th Apr

19 Mixed 50m 2, 13

2. Index by grade

Grade Stars Name Style
10 Smoulder Trad 10m
18 Firefly Trad 8m
Shortcut to Exposure Unknown 45m
19 ** Little Drummer Boy Unknown 26m
Жар-пти́ца (The Firebird) Mixed 50m 2, 13
20 ** The Phoenix Trad 45m
21 * Archaeopteryx Sport 45m 2, 14
* Quetzal Mixed 52m, 6
22 * Quetzalcoatl Mixed 50m 2, 8