Hocus Pocus Area Mostly trad climbing18 routes in cliff
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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'. 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.
This is one of the far left (northern) sectors of Piddo. If you want to start your day here (it gets sun a little earlier than the rest of the crag), it is possible to shave almost a kilometre off the usual walk-in by bush bashing in to the top and rapping in down Curtain Call (i.e. by reversing the fairly popular Hocus Pocus exit bush bash). To find the best place to start the bush bash, walk down the firetrail below the locked gate as usual, past the Boronia Point turnoff to the left, and about 80m further to the next small rise. Turn R into the bush here and follow the ridgetop due west for 200m to the clifftop. You may have to head 20m L to descend a small upper cliff; the hand-rope leading down to the Curtain Call rap chains is about 20m walk downhill from this point. If you navigate the bush bash ok it's less than 10 mins from the car to the rap anchor.© (mjw)
Most routes top out in this area, in which case the quickest descent is the rap chains above Curtain Call (28m abseil - one 50m rope will suffice but be ready for an easy downclimb and don't go off the ends of the rope!). When accessing this abseil anchor from above, take EXTREME CARE. It is a very exposed 20m downclimb (grade 2?), and any fall would almost certainly end on the ground 40m below. Indeed, sadly there has recently been a death here. This downclimb now has a hand-over-hand rope, double stranded and knotted to permit a via-ferrata style sliding lanyard attachment. Unconfident scramblers should be aware of the limitations of doing so and should consider roping up to approach the rap chains.© (mjw)
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!
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