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Summary

Like climbing inside a giant mixing bowl.

Description

Warning: - Don’t climb at Dangars Falls if the rock is wet or if it looks like rain. The rock is very slippery when wet.

  • S.L.C.D.’s don’t work very well on this rock type - they slip with alarming ease. Hexes and wires are needed here.
  • Helmets are recommended. This is a tourist area and tourists throw stones.

Some climbs may not be able to be attempted depending on how much water is coming over the falls. Be sensible.

Approach

Follow the signposts from various points around Armidale to Kennedy St. and out onto Dangarsleigh Rd. Continue along this road till you come to the War Memorial. Either turn left here, or continue along Dangarsleigh Rd. to a turn-off further along. Park in the car-park. The access walking track is located down the gully near the car park. This track zig-zags to the bottom of the gorge. Near the bottom the track gets very steep.

Where to stay

There is a National Park Campground at the falls.

History

1960's

Rock climbing in the Armidale district is believed to have commenced around 1960 at Dangars Falls. Two climbers, John (Action) Lindsay and Hugh Spencer, at that time, climbed the waterfall face right of the water-course. This is of course the climb known today as Action. At the same time it is believed that they also climbed the orange pinnacle right of Action.

Looking for other great challenges, in 1961 Lindsay and party attempted and completed the first ascent of the Wollomombi-Chandler Ridge. Obviously other members of the Mountaineering Club thought they were a little crazy, as none of these climbs were recorded. No doubt Lindsay and others attempted/completed other climbs but unfortunately no records were kept.

The first recorded climbs were completed in 1964.

Bob Harden and Doug McLean formed a climbing group called the Delta Club, a breakaway group from the University Of New England Mountaineering Club (UNEMC). Starts of climbs were marked with a Delta instead of the usual square. Some of these markings were still visible at Bakers Creek in the early seventies but have since been worn away. Two climbs were put up in 1964 by Harden and McLean. They are Bakercide (6) and Nitrocide(8), both at Bakers Creek. 1965 saw the Delta club leap into action. John Davis and Mike Thomas joined Harden and McLean.

Apart from climbing at Bakers Creek, the group make excursions to Mihi Falls and Dangars Falls. Five new climbs were put up at Bakers Creek. The best being Davicide(13) by Davis, Punjacide(13) by I.Logan and the two aid climbs, ADP(M1) and ryocide(M1), both by Harden. Three climbs were completed at Mihi- the best being the classic Pull Up(15) by Davis. During the same year they made their first visit onto the big, scary wall of Dangars Falls. Harden put up the very run-out Toecap(13), while Davis climbed Goldfinger(16), a climb that hasn’t, at the time of writing this guide, had a second ascent !

In 1966 McLean with Dave Mills repeated Lindsay’s route, giving it the name Action (14), while the best route at Bakers Creek was Normacide (11) by Mills.

1967 produced only two new ones at Bakers Creek. Hardicide (14) by Thomas and the tricky Speleocide (12) by B.Douglas.

The only new route in 1968 was at Dangars, Nightcap (12) by Thomas.

Mills pioneered two new ones at Bakers Creek in 1969. The best being Klettercide (12). Noel Beynon with J.Street had a close look at the rock around Wollomombi Falls. They found and climbed Dono Dedit (8) During this year the Wollomombi-Chandler Ridge became a popular trip. Elaine Cantrill (Elaine’s Gorge-a canyon- is named after her) arrived on the scene, and swinging leads with R.Jones, put up the long Magnificent Obsession (9) on Oaky Falls. The same pair did the first route at Four Mile Creek Falls, Skylite (6).

1970's

The only new route in 1970 was Drednought (14) at Dangars Falls by N.Hughes and Beynon. This takes the corner right of Action and left of the Orange Pillar. Today it is quite loose and probably was then.

1971 produced eight climbs. Five at Bakers Creek- the best being Pissed Psychedelic Peanut (15) by A.Suters and Cornelius Corners (15) by Rob Dixon. Hughes and Beynon found the chossiest route in New England at Wollomombi Falls. It goes up a slabby wall onto the Wollomombi-Chandler Ridge, opposite the falls. It is appropriately titled Violet Crumble Bar (13). J.Street with Dick Gallimore did We Are Not Amused(12), the chimney next to the falls at Four Mile Creek Falls, while R.Jones with Gallimore did Nuttinge (14) at the same crag.

1974 saw Phil Prior arrive, and with Jill Kelman put up a direct start to Nightcap, which they named Copperhead (12). Rob Dixon dragged Bob Killip and Brian Birchall to Mihi to do Deception(14). Prior, at Bakers Creek, disappeared into the mank just downstream of Bakers Creek Falls, to produce Frigid Air (6).

In 1975, Al Stephens with Dixon added the first four pitches to We Are Not Amused (12) at Four Mile Creek Falls. At the same location Killip with Rob Stazewski completed The Killip-Stazewski Route On The East Face Of Four Mile (20). At Mihi Dixon, with Stephens, did Bird On A Wire (16). In 1978, a granite cliff,Flaky Buttress, downstream from Dangars, was discovered by Bob Killip. The result was Plain Sailing (14).

1980's

Dangars received two new ones in 1980. Stephens with Geoff Francis did the multi-pitch Slippery When Wet (13) during a drought, while on the opposite wall Birchall with Francis did Caprice (17). At Bakers Creek Austin Legler with Greg (Dulux) Pritchard did Basilisk (16). Back at Flaky Buttress (Dangars) Jack Lattanzio, with Ed Sharp, warmed up on Fairy Choss (8), and later that year returned with Mark Colyvan to complete Mystery Achievement (20).

1981 saw Dangars Falls yield Total Control (20) by Bayne and Colyvan, as well as Foolscap (18) by Birchall. Downstream, past Flaky Buttress Stephens and Rob Clark found The Richard Cliff and put up three great climbs, the best being Eavesdropper (19) by Stephens and Airs and Graces (19) by Clark. Stephens with Sharp had a Calculated Thrill (16) at Mihi after he did White Man’s Burden (20) with Clark at Bakers Creek. Near The Richard Cliff Pritchard found The Pritchard Cliff and soloed the only route to date, Pariah (5).

In 1982 Paul Bayne found another crag, Dynomight Buttress, near (before ?) Flaky Buttress. No one has been able to locate it since. At Flaky Buttress Stephens put up the great Bombora (20 M1). Bayne managed to eliminated most of the aid but left the grade the same. On Richard Cliff, the next crag down the gorge, Bayne with Stephens, did the powerful Lackluster Backbuster (23).

In 1985, Stephens made a brief visit to Bakers Ck. to establish Cheesy Gland (20), a variant finish to Cornelius Corners.

At Bakers Ck. in 1986 Stephens with Larry Dixon eliminated all aid on ADP, now 21.

1990's

No new routes were put up on or around any of the falls from 1986 until the drought of 1993 when Wollomombi Falls were completely dry! Ben Christian and Stephens did After the Rain (18). The drought continued in 1994 and once again Wollomombi Falls dried up. This time Gordon Low and Stephens with Tim Hill completed a line parallel to After the Rain, called God’s Of Thunder (18).

Most of this guide and the history was documented in 'Waterfalls-A Rock climbers guide to the waterfalls of New England' by Al Stephens (1996)

Routes

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Grade Route

The climbs will be described from the “orange pillar” on the right hand side of the water course, around left to the smaller climbs opposite the waterfall. The first climb is The Orange Pillar. Apparently this was climbed by John (Action) Lindsay and Hugh Spencer in 1960. No details or grades are available. As far as I know no-one has ever attempted a second ascent.

1
11 Dreadnought Trad 150m

Start: In the corner to the left of the orange pillar. This climb was put up by three climbers who became lost while attempting to do Action. The corner has a lot of loose rock. Not recommended. As for Action from pitch 2 onwards.

  1. 46m. Straight up the corner for approx. 41m then traverse left for 5m. to a large ledge.

2-5. 104m Traverse left along obvious ledge, then up up and away...as for Action (see next route).

FA: N.Hughes, N.Beynon, J.Street, 1970

2
14 ** Action Trad 150m

Start: The classic of the cliff. Many variants are possible. Start near the corner of Drednought at an old piton.

  1. 30m. Straight up the steps. Belay on the most convenient ledge.
  2. 50m. Continue straight up. You will eventually come to a slightly overhanging short crack corner. Up this, onto ledge then continue up to large ledge at the base of a layback crack corner. Belay.
  3. 50m. Layback/bridge up the corner, then move across to the slightly vegetated wall above, and continue up the wall. Belay wherever convenient.
  4. 35m. Continue straight up till you can move in right , behind a large block. Belay.
  5. 30m.+ (crux) Up the steep wall beside the water course, picking the easiest line to the top. The exit is awkward and exposed.

FA: D.McLean, D.Mills, 1968

3
16 ** Goldfinger Trad 200m

Start: Can only be done when the falls stop flowing. Left of Action is a rib, then a channel the main water course. Goldfinger goes up this channel, then swings right to join Action at approx. 2/3rds height. The grade may be much harder as no-one has yet done a second ascent. The original description, like this one, is very vague. Good luck.

  1. 40m. Up the channel left of the rib.
  2. 30m. Slightly steeper now. Sparse protection. Continue straight up choosing the line of least resistance.
  3. 20m. Continue upwards till you are able to move right to join the last three pitches of Action. 4.5.6. 110m. As for Action.

FA: J.Davis, D.McLean, 1965

4
13 Slippery When Wet Trad 170m

Start: Moving left from Goldfinger the next obvious feature is a major corner. This is the start for Slippery When Wet (goes diagonally right) and Toecap. Dangars Falls dries completely usually once a year. This climb, like Goldfinger, can only be climbed when completely dry.

  1. 33m. Up rib (15m) then traverse right (6m.) and up to ledge below steep wall (rusty piton).
  2. 18m. Diagonally up and right, then traverse right and up corner with thin crack to very large ledge (another rusty piton).
  3. 22m. Diagonally up and right, then straight up to belay in small corner (yet another rusty piton).
  4. 28m. Diagonally up and right, then straight up corner, then right onto nose, then right into second corner, up corner then traverse right to belay on ledge 6m. left of Action.
  5. 30m. Diagonally up left across slabs then to base of wall, traverse left and down slightly, then up fine, left diagonal crack to belay in sentry box.
  6. 23m. Up diagonally right crack line, then diagonally right again to corner, left around projections.
  7. 18m.The line of least resistance to top.

FA: -A.Stephens, G.Francis, (alt leads), 1980

5
13 Toecap Trad 200m

Start: As for S.W.W. The rib. Avoid any yellow rock ! Its rotten...Variant starts are possible to the left.

  1. 45m. Up left of rib, then onto rib, up slabs to wall, traverse 5m. to left, then up corner to large ledge, then scramble easily up to ledge below steep wall.
  2. 40m. Diagonally left onto slabs, up slabs to obvious corner.
  3. 45m. Up corner, traverse left along ledge to belay stance.
  4. 40m. Rising traverse to right (poor protection), then to ledge.
  5. 30m. Up wall and scramble to top.

FA: R.Harden, D.McLean, 1965

6
9 Toecap Variant Trad 52m

Further round to the left of 'Toecap' is a smaller wall where the lines finish on a dirty ledge. The left-hand climbs are easiest. The climbs are described here from Left to Right, ie from downstream to upstream. The line furthest to the left is 'Kneecap'. From the top of these climbs you can either walk out up the long dirty gully or, more difficult, go left and down to the large pool, cross the river, then traverse at water level, left around to the original walk-down track.

7
10 Kneecap Trad 80m

Start: At the base of a ramp below first pool opposite the main falls

  1. 34m. Up towards vertical cracks, step right and continue up to right, to a spiky ledge. Belay.
  2. 32m. Traverse right to bottom of v-shaped gully. Up wall on right, traverse right under small overhang. Belay
  3. 14m.Up corner or wall to top.

FA: M.Thomas, V.Galer, 1966

8
12 Nightcap Trad 75m

Start: 15m. right of Kneecap.

  1. 30m. Traverse along and up ramp, moving up to base of wall on right.
  2. 15m. Up to right, across wall.
  3. 30m. Up to top of small gully.

FA: M.Thomas, J.Street, 1968

9
12 Copperhead Trad 20m

Start: This is a direct start to Nightcap. No details available.

FA: P.Prior, J.Kelman, 1974

10
18 Foolscap Trad 230m

Start; The next major line right of Nightcap. A crack through a roof. A real adrenalin booster.

  1. 25m. (crux) Slab up to left of roof, swing right and up to base of roof, surmount roof then up crack and then step right to belay ledge.
  2. 40m. Up incipient crack directly above ledge to tree belay (trend slightly to left).
  3. 40m. Right, and up vegetated gully to obvious wide crack, continue up to suitable tree belay.
  4. 25m. Take the easiest line to tree belay (trending right).
  5. 50m. Straight up wall, then scrambling, climbing to tree belay.
  6. 50m. Take easiest line, scrambling and climbing to top.

FA: B.Birchall, G.Croft, 1981

11
20 Total Control Trad 65m

Start: The line right of Foolscap. A crack through a small roof with a thin crack corner above. Paul put a Friend in a vertical, near parallel groove-gave it a tug to test it...the Friend slid straight out, much to his horror. He later returned with Hexes.

  1. 25m. (crux) Up slab to base of roof, around roof and delicately up corner, moving slightly right in thinnest section, to belay ledge.
  2. 40m. As for pitch 2 of Foolscap.
  3. Either walk off leftwards or continue as for Foolscap.

FA: P.Bayne, M.Colyvan,(alt leads) G.Croft, Mar., 1981

12
17 ** Caprice Trad 140m

Start: The next main line right of Total Control.

  1. 22m. Slightly leftward up slabs to wall, traverse right around nose and up ramp to small ledge at base of large corner (protection poor).
  2. 16m. Up corner and through short off-width to small ledge (crux).
  3. 25m. Up corner 8m. then traverse right into smaller corner and delicately up over bulges (loose rock) to base of wall.
  4. 40m. Up onto ledge, then up corner and onto wall on right,diagonally leftwards and up more easily to belay tree.
  5. 37m Scramble up slabs to trees.

FA: B.Birchall, G.Francis, (alt leads), 1981

Open trips

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