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Table of contents

1. The Fortress 16 routes in Crag

Unknown and Trad

Long/Lat: 150.347729, -33.643496

Unique Features And Strengths:

Brillinat remote crag with a great walk in (1 hour). Gets a lot of wind and sun. The classics are Tom Thumb and The Wind Cries Mary.

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.

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 * Fortress Crack

Expeditionary undertaking. Classic Ewbank no doubt. Obvious crack in yellow and black wall capped by large roofs on SW facing cliff below Fortress Ridge. Visible from Evans Lookout.

Leave car on Mount Hay Rd and walk along 4wd track on to Fortress Ridge. At end of track head WSW along prominent subsidiary ridge. Upon reaching cliffs, head S around small upper cliffline and down bushy ramp. 3 long abseils on double ropes to reach a big ledge. Scramble L along ledge and down bushy gully to short abseil at bottom.

Start: Walk NW 300m to base of route.

  1. 18m (16) Black crack to small bushy ledge.

  2. 24m (19) Up over 2 ledges, then corner-crack to grassy ledge.

  3. 20m (18) Belay under small overhang on R. Corner to ledge. (good bivy site?)

  4. 30m (21) Crux. Cracks, then major crackling to foot ledge on L, below small roof.(#1.5 cam, wires).

  5. 15m (19) Crack to shale ledge on right. (Cams 3m above ledge.)

  6. 15m (21) Equal crux. Overhanging crack to large slot. Bolt belay.

  7. 25m (18) Crawl 3m R, then left up wall to corner and roof. Now left to aerate and crack above to ledge.(Poor pro).

  8. 20m (12) Crack, and corner to tree.

  9. 50m (12) Up to black slabs, and up.

Set by Ewbank

FFA: Trihey,Ewbank

FA: Lucas Trihey,John Ewbank

21 Unknown 200m
2 * Butt Crack

While it's probably best noted as a good escape route from the bottom of the cliff, it's actually not a bad little number in its own right. Some of the climbing might feel a few grades harder than grade 11, but by and large it's possible to find a line that conforms to the grade.

A standard rack of wires and cams (to #3 camalot size) is sufficient, although a #5 camalot is also recommended. Helmets are an absolute must and 60m double ropes are highly recommended as well. Definitely not for the inexperienced.

  1. 20m (4) Up the easy ledges then halfway up the right tending gully. Belay off a small tree.

  2. 35m (11) Move left along the obvious traverse line then up as you will to the large, steeply sloping ledge. The initial moves up are harder than they look and it's much easier to traverse back onto the wall from further left.

  3. 80m (4) Walk up the ledge, trending left initially, then solo up a short 8m wall (might be an idea to belay up this). At the top of this move up and slightly right to the small stand of saplings below the obvious squeeze chimney corner crack (#5 camalot for this belay).

  4. 45m (11) Grunt up the squeeze chimney for a move or two then fondly bid it farewell and venture out onto the right wall. Engaging climbing (suss dinnerplates) to the top of a lovely little exposed pinnacle perched in the middle of outer space. Step back to the main wall and up to a spectacular belay ledge.

  5. 55m (11) Move right and up the obvious chimney (which is often wet at the back). At the top, head left and up a steep dirty gully for about 15m, passing the two dodgy looking banksia trees. Belay off a small gum further up, with the trusty #5 camalot in a block just to the left.

To get off, walk directly away from the cliff for about 250m and you'll hit the Fortress Ridge walking track. Turn right and follow the track back to the Mt Hay Road, taking the left fork at each junction. It's about 45 minutes of flat walking back to the road.

FA: Hayden Brotchie

10 Trad 240m 5
3 Internal Hatred 15 Unknown 160m
4 Trouser Snake

Approach: abseil the route, a rope protector is comforting - sharp ironstone at the top.

Some bolts have been recently added (2015?). The bolts aren't always easy to spot, camouflaged by lichen.

  1. 6 bolts up to 2 abseil rings at deep undercut, then 3 bolts above to the oiginal TBB.

  2. 2 bolts above, then various horizontal breaks for cams (BD 3, 1, 4, 0.5), DBB (abseil rings) on ledge at top. Plus, a sensible bolt just above to protect the easy scramble to the grass & scrub.

FA: Angie Bishop, Hayden Brotchie, 2005

14 Mixed 85m 2, 11
5 Pseudechis Wall

FA: Hayden Brotchie, Angie Bishop, 2005

12 Trad 120m
6 Grand Central Route

FA: B Allen, I Logan

12 Unknown 210m
7 The Great Rum Beer Chimney

The filthy vegetated gully/chimney system to the climber's right of Tom Thumb.

8 Trad 200m
8 Trogan Horse 14 Unknown 200m
9 Old Spiteful

FA: T Batty, B Allen

15 Unknown 300m
10 Self Abuse 15 Unknown 150m
11 ** The Wind Cries Mary

Mixed carrots and trad route up the grand wall right of Tom Thumb. Refer to Sydney Rockies site for most up to date route info. Be aware that this is a new route and there are some loose holds still. Steep face climbing, good rock and reasonable pro.

Start: rap as for 'Tom Thumb'

  1. 18m (8) Up 'Tom Thumb' P1, onto block at 10m and up right to belay. Then walk R into gully and up 10m

  2. 45m (18) Up block and layback then R up wall past bolts and crack, then R to steep wall and bolts and up slab past cams and hard mantel, left top 3BB in break.

  3. 35m (19) Up and slightly R past bolts and cams, then left into corner (good thin break at top) up steep wall (BRs) and runout up to slab and 3BB below cave.

  4. 30m (18) Up to cave and bush runner. Rightwards 12.30 o'clock past bolts then leftwards up corner (average pro) and easy arête to DBB on big ledge.

  5. 15m (18) Walk R and up 2 waves of rock past 5 BRs. Belay on a high bolt and a Ubolt. There is a 50 year old carrot on the ledge

  6. 30m (19) Up steep wall past 2 BRs and sling, the up left on easy wall, walk 6 m to left end of rock band and 2 BB.

Walk left to hit track.

FA: mikl law, Brian Simonds, 2011

19 to 20 Mixed 180m 6, 25
12 Landing Gear Down 16 Trad 140m 5
13 * Tom Thumb
  1. 18m (8) Up a few metres to bolt (used more to show direction than for protection). Up to vertical crack for pro and up bulbous wall (another bolt on right) to DBB at top of buttress. Walk up and right 8 metres to start of next pitch. DBB on wall.

  2. 40m (12) Left of belay grunt onto wall. Natural pro in crack or horizontal breaks up higher. Clip bolt on left. Then move diagonally right to small friend (#0) in horizontal crack and further rightwards on easy stuff to bolt (clip with sling to reduce drag). Up left clipping two bolts, steep tricky move (easiest if you move left). Easy 10m ramble with two bolts to DBB. Best to give your second a tight rope when they start the pitch.

  3. 16m (9) Bolt on right shows the way, then up crack on left to belay. (Bolt and #½ friend.)

  4. 45m (8) From right of the belay move up a few metres, then traverse left past bolt runner to arête/ridge. Up ridge 30m past 4 bolts. Walk across rightwards to bolt on little buttress. Over this and walk 10m+ (no bolt protection) and scramble through small bushes up easy crack into cave to DBB.

  5. 21m (12) From belay start to the right. Up wall trending left past 4 bolts. Climb onto large blocks at top. They seem OK. And traverse right passing bolt that protects the second to DBB.

  6. 26m (8) Clip bolt on right of belay. Stand on rock thing and up. Follow ridge with a few bolts to top. DBB.

FA: Hayden Brotchie and Jenny Bradford

13 Trad 150m 6
14 Eeyore's Alternate

FA: Hayden Brotchie and Angie Bishop

15 Unknown 55m
15 ** Black Snake Moan 22 Unknown 200m 5
16 * Voyteks Corner 24 Unknown 150m 5

2. Index by grade

Grade Stars Name Style
8 The Great Rum Beer Chimney Trad 200m
10 * Butt Crack Trad 240m 5
12 Grand Central Route Unknown 210m
Pseudechis Wall Trad 120m
13 * Tom Thumb Trad 150m 6
14 Trogan Horse Unknown 200m
Trouser Snake Mixed 85m 2, 11
15 Eeyore's Alternate Unknown 55m
Internal Hatred Unknown 160m
Old Spiteful Unknown 300m
Self Abuse Unknown 150m
16 Landing Gear Down Trad 140m 5
19 to 20 ** The Wind Cries Mary Mixed 180m 6, 25
21 * Fortress Crack Unknown 200m
22 ** Black Snake Moan Unknown 200m 5
24 * Voyteks Corner Unknown 150m 5