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Table of contents

1. Hocus Pocus Area 18 routes in Cliff

Mostly Trad

Long/Lat: 150.253463, -33.602600

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.

Approach:© (mjw)

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.

Descent Notes:© (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.

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 Imbecile

Start: Approximately 25m to the left of 'Idiot'. Left side of the buttress.

  1. 9m (11) Easy to tree.

  2. 27m (11) Up, mantle, right and up to ledge and tree.

  3. 16m (11) Left and up.

FA: J.Ewbank,J.Worrall, 1967

11 Trad 52m 3
2 Infidel

Start: Corner 5m left again.

  1. 27m (16) Corner, roof and wall to rest. Wall and ramp.

  2. 25m (12) Up.

FA: J.Ewbank,R.Reynolds, 1967

16 Trad 52m 2
3 No Static

Start: 7m left again. Right of arete.

FA: I.Rath,N.Mahunt,V.Burke, 1986

15 Trad 45m
RouteGradeStyleSelected ascents
4 * Hocus Pocus

The first route at Mt Piddington, and still one of the best. If you're at this end of the crag at the end of the day this route is a nice way to significantly shorten the walk out, it's not too hard to climb it with packs on then do a 200m bush bash due east along the ridge to the firetrail. Start 17m left of 'Infidel' opposite the Cottage Boulder. It is the left most route on the slab. Now has a million bolts which didn't originally exist.

  1. 30m Up slab to bulge, hand traverse around to the right and up to belay with an eclectic assortment of hardware.

  2. Up slab, veering left and up. Pitches 1 and 2 can be run together if you have double ropes, or even on a single rope if you think about which bolts to skip and which to extend.

FA: K.Westren, M. Hailstone, 1964

8 Mixed 49m, 15
5 Ra
  1. As for Hocus Pocus to top of initial slab. Over bulge, up slab to Hocus Pocus belay.

  2. Head diagonally right to top.

FA: H.Luxford, 1977

13 Trad 44m
6 Slab Right of Withdrawal

Start: As for Withdrawal. Follow line of carrots right of the flakeline.

FA: Unknown, 2000

19 R Trad 48m
7 * Withdrawal

Easy slab, slight corner, right onto slab. Up.

Start: 1.5m right of Curtain Call.

FA: M.Law, G.Harrison, 1979

20 R Trad 48m
8 * Riding Shotgun

Start: 1.5m right of Curtain Call.

FA: A.Penney, L.Closs, M.Stacey, 1987

21 Sport 30m
9 ** Curtain Call

Start: Crack system to the left of Hocus Pocus.

FA: J Ewbank, J Worrall

18 Trad 49m
10 El Dingle

Start: As for Curtain Call.

  1. 24m (14) Up to ledge then delicately left on slab past two manky carrots.

  2. 30m (14) Left into gully then trend right up arete past bolt to rap station.

FA: J.Lawrence, J.Woods, 1965

15 Mixed 52m 2, 3
11 ** El Dingle Direct 14 Trad 33m
12 Bumbly Bites Back

Start: 3m left of Curtain Call.

FA: C.Sloss, 1987

20 Sport 30m
13 El Bungle

Start: 5m left of CC.

FA: A.Penney, 1978

18 Trad 17m
14 Beginners' Steps


Start: 9m left of 'El Bungle'. Dirty crack.

  1. 30m (16) Easy to steep wall, right to block.

  2. 22m (21) Wall left of arete, then around arete and up.

FA: Law,Grey,Smoothy, 1979

21 R Trad 52m 2
15 * The Second Last Act

Start: As for BS.

FA: J.Ewbank,J.Moore,J.Worrall, 1966

22 M2 Trad 52m
16 ** Quits

Start: From BS anchor 1. Leftwards.

FA: M.Law, 1978

21 R Trad 65m
17 * Stage Struck

Start: As for TSLA.

FA: S.Moon,G.Bradbury, 1985

23 M1 R Trad 50m
18 * Wrapt

Start: 5m left of TSLA.

FA: M Law, G Bradbury, 1984

23 R Trad 50m 2

2. Index by grade

Grade Stars Name Style
8 * Hocus Pocus Mixed 49m, 15
11 Imbecile Trad 52m 3
13 Ra Trad 44m
14 ** El Dingle Direct Trad 33m
15 El Dingle Mixed 52m 2, 3
No Static Trad 45m
16 Infidel Trad 52m 2
18 ** Curtain Call Trad 49m
El Bungle Trad 17m
19 R Slab Right of Withdrawal Trad 48m
20 Bumbly Bites Back Sport 30m
20 R * Withdrawal Trad 48m
21 * Riding Shotgun Sport 30m
21 R Beginners' Steps Trad 52m 2
** Quits Trad 65m
22 M2 * The Second Last Act Trad 52m
23 M1 R * Stage Struck Trad 50m
23 R * Wrapt Trad 50m 2