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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'. 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.

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! However, do so only on Council land and not in the National Park.


Some content has been provided under license from: © Australian Climbing Association Queensland (Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike 2.5 AU)


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Grade Route

Exit route used to get out of Butterbox Canyon. Double bolt belay at the top. Stiff moves for the grade especially with a pack on and canyon gear.

The traverse on a sketchy ledge that leads upto the climb has also been bolted. Bolts can be used to rig a traverse line.

A long, adventurous route up a prominent line. Some good exposure and excellent long pitches. Rock is of mixed quality, but bad sections can be avoided. Several pitches are broken up by 50m hikes up steep, loose, vegetated sections which can be quite taxing when added to the length of the climb. Rope drag can be a problem on some of the long pitches, and can be mitigated with twin ropes of at least 60m in length (but be careful of rope tangling during the hikes). Be sure to bring at least a full rack of Cams up to #5 (possibly doubles up to #3), wires, plenty of slings, and optionally a set of hexes (good placements on last pitch). Helmets are a must against loose rock/vegetation, and headlamps are recommended. Starting from the 8th pitch there are a few carrot bolts (slightly off-route) so bring a few bolt plates in case you want to use them.

  1. 13m (13) Marked start of the climb. A tricky and rather poorly protected traverse left leads to a large cave (good gear to protect second), walk left past a loose block to a belay out on the arete.

  2. 35m (9) A long and pleasant pitch up the nice tortoise shell wall above, getting easier with height. Wire and cam belay.

  3. 42m (11) Step up on top of the large flat block, place some gear at the back of the scoops, then step right to steep and juggy moves. These lead up for about 8m to a bushy ledge. Walk left along this, slightly down around the arete and left for approximately 30 metres across an easy wall to a tree below a crack through the bulge. Tree belay. Rope drag on this pitch is a serious concern.

  4. 55m (9) A really enjoyable and surprisingly long pitch. Head up the crack for a couple of metres then step out onto the right face. A long and juggy wall awaits, with a variety of gear. Tree belay on the halfway ledge. Follow the track up or 40m to the start of the upper cliffline.

  5. 58m (9) Start on the juggy face just to the right of the short right facing offwidth corner crack in the block. Another long, juggy and really enjoyable slab, with some good exposure up higher and well spaced but adequate protection. Go up for about 15m, left and up onto next slab, right at the top to avoid steep bit. Rope drag this pitch is a serious issue. Can be mitigated with double ropes. Walk up to next cliff

  6. 55m (13) An excellent pitch and one of the hardest on the route. Up the lovely corner above, then up two lovely little 5m finger size layback cracks above that. Tree belay.

  7. 35m (13) Climb the initially vegetated, but nice corner up to the big roof, then traverse left to the arete. Straight up this, using the face on either side when it blanks out (take care of the hollow flakes on the right of the arete). A #5 Camalot is highly recommended for this section. Continue up to small tree and mid size cam belay. Walk 25m right to the obvious chossy chimney and a poor belay off a small tree.

  8. 30m (8) Up the chossy and unpleasant chimney for 8m or so (some pro in crack in left wall), then traverse out right on the easy ledge to big exposure being careful to avoid the flakes and weakened rock. Up the short wall to the next ledge, then crawl back left to the belay cave. Ridiculous rope drag is inevitable on this pitch, but can be mitigated with double ropes. Very poor belay off a single small thread in choss at the back of the cave. The second should exercise extreme care on this pitch, since a fall could blow the belay. There is good gear 1m higher on the left wall of the crack to beef up the belay. NOTE: There is a bomber thread inside the cave that goes from the bottom right (facing in) up the back to the outside of the cliff, a 120cm, thin (Dyneema) sling is required to reach and fit through the little hole. a poking stick helps too.

  9. 30m (6) Step left onto the easy wall, place a #4.5 or #5 Camalot just above the roof then easily up a dirty groove to the final ledge. A single carrot bolt sits at the bottom of the off-width crack for belay. Walk 20m right to the end of the ledge and the base of the final pitch, twin rings for belay. NOTE: Pitches 8 and 9 can be linked by continuing straight up the wide corner above the chimney, instead of traversing right. This is a much better alternative, though a little runout.

  10. 30m (9) Step up and right onto a small ledge below a left leading groove. Delicate stemming up the groove leads to a banksia tree and a final small ledge. Good gear in lovely crack on right then step up and over final 8 foot wall to the top. Twin rings for belay. Walk right 30m until you meet Canyon exit track, and follow this back to the carpark.

FA: Hayden Brotchie, John Gray & Paul Davies, 1996

The next sky-scraping buttress / arete to the right (facing out) of 'Margarine Ridge'.

If it scared Hayden Brotchie, it must be pretty serious!

FA: Hayden Brotchie, 1995

Mostly short, generally easy pitches but with a great 5th pitch (the eponymous pitch). This climb has not received many repeats, so be particularly careful if you plan to attempt the route.

The climb starts about 750m right (facing out) from the base of the Mt Hay canyon exit climb (head right soon after doing a short abseil off a big ring bolt). The start is on a small belay ledge about 5m up, about 20m past a small creek fed from a wide, dripping waterfall high up on the cliff.

  1. 15m (16) A nice technical start to the climb. Orange corner left of belay. Hard moves up the corner, then easier up the flake/crack and a gully to a tree belay to the left.

  2. 35m (walk) Walk and scramble up and left, then up a short corner to the base of the second short corner.

  3. 10m (10) Easy wall right of corner to long, narrow ledge below nice black ironstone slab

  4. 18m (15 R) Easily up unprotected black ironstone slab (numerous variants) to small ledge (piton, though I think Hayden went back and removed it). Crank up short, steep wall on thin chickenheads to atmospheric belay ledge under roof (BB and cams). NOTE: Pitches 3 and 4 could be linked quite easily into a single pitch.

  5. 55m (15 R) The money pitch. Traverse right from the belay (be careful of the thin plates below where the ledge runs out), over the bulge on jugs then up the long slab above with sparse gear. Tree belay on halfway ledge. NOTE: After the FA, a BB was added in the middle of this pitch, allowing it to be led as two pitches on a 50m rope.

  6. 30m (walk) Walk up halfway ledge to a pleasant belay under a small roof.

  7. 15m (10) Step right onto block then up to ledge. Up pleasant slab to ledge (tree belay).

  8. 25m (walk) Walk up and left to small ledge below hollow corner.

  9. 5m (13) Up hollow corner into cave (small cam with runner out onto face), then back onto the overhanging face and up to ledge.

  10. 20m (walk) Walk up and left to chossy cave. NOTE: From here on, the climb follows the easiest line to the top of the cliff, thereby avoiding a lot of the great looking rock on offer to the right. It is expected that a better, direct finish could be done beginning here, and heading out to the right on the nice looking slabs.

  11. 25m (8) Step left and up around arete to ledge, Straight up buttress (or walk up at left hand end). Scramble up to ledge below chossy roof.

  12. 25m (10) Walk left along ledge below chossy roof, then easily up blocks to base of pleasant black slab. Left and up the black slab to belay ledge below steep orange wall.

  13. 15m (12) Up choss to layback crack on right. Pleasant layback to top (tree belay 15m back).

To walk out, head up and right, passing an unusual "inverted V" cave. Keep heading right until the open heath is reached, at which point continue straight up the ridge top, up a short, steep white slab and over the top to the walking track. Walking time to the carpark: 20 minutes.

FA: Hayden Brotchie & Peter Monks (alt), 1998

Alternative finish to Monks Wall, extending the climbing by 2 pitches.

From P10 belay of Monks Wall, climb straight up and right of chossy cave, better protected than any previous pitch. Once past the roof, follow the crack trending back left above the belay, and actually re-join the original Monks Wall route and probably belaying in the same spot. About 30m, grade 15 ish.

Another 10-15m of climbing straight up a short wall, leads to bush bashing up steep dirt. It's about 50m to good trees where the angle eases enough to un-rope.


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