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Description

Most of the following has been copied directly from Kieran Loughran's excellent Amphitheatre guide - thanks!

The Northern Walls offer a wide variety of climbs with a few being outstanding. While some of the cliffs do not look particularly attractive at first sight, don't let that put you off. These steep walls offer good wall climbing and a couple of weird grooves. There's not a bad climb here, but some are quite unusual and not to everyone's taste. Whatever else you do, don't miss out on 'Trident'.

The cliffs are shaded much of the time but get sun on summer mornings (as shown in the topo below, taken at 8:30 AM). It's a good spot for mild to warm days but it is quite sheltered so can get humid and sticky.

© (willmonks)

Access issues inherited from North Grampians

This area is now reopening after the fires in early 2014

Here's an update from Parks Victoria:

Grampians National Park Update – 17 September 2014 (Rock climbing and Bouldering)

In January 2014 a large bushfire swept through the Northern Grampians causing widespread damage to visitor sites, roads and walking tracks. Many popular rockclimbing and bouldering sites were also impacted including Hollow Mountain, Summerday Valley and Mt Stapylton.

The dry, rocky landscape is now extremely fragile and will take a long time to recover – the fire burnt extremely hot so in many cases regeneration will now occur (very slowly) from seed. Loss of vegetation, loose rocks, unstable soils and loss of access tracks means any foot traffic will have long term impacts on the recovery of the environment. Impacts now will also affect the sustainability of rock climbing sites well into the future.

Recently, Parks Victoria, volunteers and contractors completed recovery projects within rock climbing areas to reinstate damaged walking trails, realign rock climbing access and replace directional signage.

As of Saturday 20th September access will once again be available to rock climbing and bouldering areas within the Stapylton Amphitheatre in addition to those already available in the Flat Rock area. The access track from Flat Rock has been realigned into Grey and Green Walls and to Taipan wall. Please follow these new alignments and refrain from walking off track.

Open Rock Climbing and Bouldering Areas in the Northern Grampians:

  • Central Buttress
  • Grey & Green Walls
  • Taipan Wall (Upper and Lower)
  • Spurt Wall
  • Epsilon Wall
  • Trackside Bouldering area
  • Snakepit
  • Wildsides
  • Spurt and Afterglow

Closures remain in place at all other Northern Grampians Climbing and Bouldering sites for the time being, including Summerday Valley, Andersons, The kindergarten, Van Diemens Land and Cut Lunch Walls. Stapylton Campground also remains closed. Plantation Campground is the closest, open campground.

Parks Victoria will continue to assess damage and undertake recovery works over the coming months. Updates will be posted as re-openings occur. Please respect the fragility of the environment and support the long term recovery of the Northern Grampians by remaining out of any closed areas. While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on anyone found in any closed, fire affected areas.

Due to closures in the Northern Grampians, the availability of rock climbing, camping, car touring and bushwalking experiences is limited. Sourcing information on available campgrounds and other accommodation options is recommended. Please visit www.parks.vic.gov.au for park maps and regular Grampians fire recovery updates.

For detailed information on available rockclimbing and bouldering sites in and near to the Grampians please refer to recognised guidebooks/websites. A general list of open and available areas includes the following:

Rockclimbing sites open in the Grampians:

  • Stapylton Amphitheatre
  • Flat Rock
  • Wonderland Range
  • Serra Range (Including Mt Rosea and Bundaleer)
  • Mt William Range
  • Victoria Point area
  • Victoria Range (Including the Red Rock, Muline and the Gallery area. Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)
  • Limited Bouldering Sites available in and near the Grampians:
  • Stapylton Amphitheatre
  • Victoria Range (Including the Gallery area. Please respect cultural heritage and recovering fire affected areas)
  • Serra Range (Including Mt Rosea and Bundaleer)
  • Mt Arapiles
  • Mt Talbot
  • The Black Range

Please remember your climbing etiquette:

  • Only climb and boulder in open accessible areas
  • Stick to tracks
  • Respect fragile environmental areas and cultural heritage
  • Keep an eye out for Aboriginal Art sites – Report to Parks Victoria if you come across anything new.
  • Be mindful of cleaning
  • No chipping or bolting
  • Avoid excessive chalk
  • Take your rubbish home with you

Approach

This is the line of cliffs on the Northern extremity of the Amphitheatre, being the southern side of Wudjub Guyan (Hollow Mountain). The left side is above 'Epsilon Wall' and eventually becomes Kindergarden at the far left (West) end. The right side terminates at the major gully which separates the Northern Walls from 'Central Buttress'. 'Access' by walking into the Amphitheatre for about 150m past 'Epsilon Wall', then taking a well trodden sandy track up left towards 'Central Buttress', then walking back left along the base. The Northern Walls can also be accessed via Kindergarden, but this is slower, has scrambly bits and is verging on bushbashing at times.

The best descent from climbs in this area is by abseil. Two ropes are usually required. In the past the main descent, was a 40 metre abseil from the tree above Zola. The chain has been removed to prevent damage to the tree from ringbarking and climber movement around the tree. An anchor left of 'Trident' serves the climbs in that area (35m). There is another anchor at the top of 'Germinal' (30m)

The major gully to the right of the Northern Walls does not deserve it's title of Amphitheatre Descent 'Gully' because it is highly dangerous and 100% NOT recommended. Originally noted by the Gledhills as being "dangerous at night", this gully is dangerous even in broad daylight and fine weather!! It is often wet and features awkward chimneys, greasy slabby sections and difficult sections with dangerous landings. In recent years, broken glass has become a real hazard. There are few abseil anchors and it is not possible to abseil the gully in one rope length. At least one accident in this gully has resulted in serious head injuries. In short, it's far better to traverse from the top of your route of choice to one of the numerous abseil anchors.

In a break with tradition from previously published guidebooks, climbs below are described from RIGHT to LEFT - after all, this is how you approach them. Your first good reference point is the major splitter line of 'Germinal', just L of the big gully.

© (willmonks)

Tags

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Routes

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Grade Route
1
24 Ancient Evenings Trad 20m

Dim and obscure.

Start: The location of this route is poorly known. On the plateau near the "penis-bollard" rap station, there is some shitty tat and a rusty rap ring on a horn near the edge of the cliff, which is thought to mark the top of 'Ancient Evenings'. It may take the face which looks out into the Amphitheatre, left of the Wall of Cool gully. The original location description was: "Start in the major chasm left of 'Trident', which marks the (arbitrary) boundary of Northern Walls. Getting to the chasm requires an awkward scramble".

FA: Nick White, Richard Smith Early's., 1990

2
21 Cool Intentions Trad 25m

A movie out at the time was called Cruel Intentions.

Start: Start by scrambling down to a platform of rock just below and to the left of BOTC.

FA: Dave Jupp, 1998

3
17 Birth of the Cool Trad 20m

Up the wall. A few meters up there is a sickle shaped crack/pod that takes a bomber #7 rock. Up on natural gear. Take care with the juggy rock near the top, as some of it is a little fragile. Rap from the big penis-shaped bollard.

Start: Start on the left wall of the gully, a few metres right of the start of the distinctive horizontal break.

FA: Tim Marsh, 1998

4

As soon as you are out of the scoop and onto the face look up. 2 FH take you through the lovely rippling grey wall above. Finish at the ledge, with another chain/ring combo (50m rope is long enough to lower off).

Start: Start as for 'Pressure Drop'.

FA: Tim Marsh, 1998

5
22 Pressure Drop Trad 25m

An old Jamaican ska song, but also descriptive of the relief felt by the first ascentionist after finally ticking it, just as a cool front rolled through on a hot day.

Start: Start at the back of the gully on the same wall as, and about 15m L of, 'Agent of Cool'.

FA: Tim Marsh, 1998

6

A fantastic natural line. Has been done in 3 sections: 28, boulder problem, 28. Dave expects it to go at around 32 or 33. It goes on trad and is an open project only on condition that you don't bolt it!

Start: On the right wall of the gully, about 15m L of 'Neptune' pitch 2, is this striking overhung curving corner/crack.

FA: Worked extensively duringby Dave Jones., 1997

7

Start: Overhung bolted groove (22/23) leading to roof about 10m left of 'Trident'. Traverse right then hard out through roof.

8
14 Neptune Trad 50m

Good face climbing but a long approach.

Start: Start as for 'Trident'.

  1. 20m (14) As for pitch 1 of It's My Brain Again.

  2. 30m (14) Traverse L to the major line (very easy, climbed on FA of Plastic People) left of the smooth wall and step left around the arete and then up the steep wall, continuing up the headwall via lovely cracks.

FA: Keith Lockwood, Kieran Loughran, 2007

9
19 Plastic People Trad 12m

Was almost going to call it YACSAFT (yet another climb starting as for Trident) but that would be silly. This climb was originally approached from the ground but the approach is long and quite easy and mostly climbed by other routes. It is best approached via the 'Trident' area abseil after doing another climb.

Start: Start on the large ledge on the left below the overhang about 12m down the abseil.

FA: Norm Booth, Kieran Loughran (alt) and Ray Lassman, 2006

10

Good face climbing on pockets on the second pitch. Could be straightened out at the top.

Start: Start as for 'Trident'.

  1. 25m (14) Follow the first pitch of 'Trident' to the traverse L at 9m. Traverse L and keep going L around the arete to a ledge above the overhang. Move L along ledge to belay below L side of orange-streaked wall (2FH).

  2. 25m (20) Up the grey wall, 2FH, just L of the orange streaks to a cave. Step R and pull over overhang into thin crack. When crack steepens move L to easy ground and go up.

FA: Peter Canning, Kieran Loughran, 1992

11
18 ** Prong Trad 50m

Exciting for the grade, a slightly harder and better finish for 'Trident'. Would rate three stars if it was independent.

Start: Start as for 'Trident'.

  1. 21m (14) Climb the first pitch of 'Trident'.

  2. 24m (16) Up a short crack from the L side of the ledge to a horizontal slot. Traverse L along the slot (large cam) and go up steeply to cave. The crack from the L side of the cave.

FA: Kieran Loughran, Malcolm Matheson, 1991

12

Contrived but enjoyable.

Start: Start at the first belay of 'Trident' (i.e. do pitch 1 of 'Trident' first).

FA: Keith Lockwood, Kieran Loughran, 1993

13
14 * Trident Trad 40m

"Continuously steep between the vertical and the overhanging.", Speedie. A very interesting angle and a bloody good climb. One of the best of its grade. Consistently difficult and strenuous, can be done in one pitch if double ropes are used.

Start: Start below the corner 15m L of Zola and just R of the large overhang.

  1. 20m (14) Ascend the wall just R of the crack for about 6m (poor pro unless you have #1 & #4 Frs), and up to ledge at 9m. Traverse 3m L and go steeply up another groove to a ledge.

  2. 15m (14) Traverse 3m R and up steep crack for 8m. Near the top, move L a bit before moving up to the top. This helps to avoid some loose blocks.

FA: Ian Speedie, John Mclean, Nick White(not the English Nick White-he was probably still in nappies!), 1965

14
18 * Sternold Trad 35m

Good climbing, with funky moves around the overhang which would have been hard to protect before small cams.

Start: Start as for 'Trident', i.e. start at the crack line about 15m L of Zola.

  1. 20m (19) Follow 'Trident' to the ledge at 9m then head directly over the overhang and up the shallow orange corner.

  2. 15m (16) Move 2m R and climb the wall L of the wide chimney (bold to start.

FA: Keith Egerton, Jeremy Boreham, 1977

15
21 * Mr Keith Mixed 33m, 3

A good climb based on 'Sternold'. Be careful with rope management around the 'Sternold' overhang.

Start: Start 2 metres right of 'Trident'.

Up face (FH) to ledge (some poor rock) at 8 metres. Climb directly through the overhang (small cams) and up the easier corner to a small stance on the right. Move back left and climb the steep headwall (2FH). Will probably need to go back some distance to belay (not included in length)

FA: Kieran Loughran and Norm Booth, Keith Lockwood, 2007

FA: Kieran Loughran and Norm Booth, Keith Lockwood., 2007

16
20 Zola Trad 40m

Better known these days as the rap route beneath the tree!

Start: Start 4m L of 'Spinoza' and about 15m R of 'Trident'.

FA: Kieran Loughran, Meg Sleeman, 1990

17
23 * Spinoza Trad 40m

The definitive word on ethics? Wall 4m R of Zola. Originally done in 2 pitches but pitch 2 is worthless and it is now a 1 pitch sport route.

Start: Start 4m down L of 'Starstruck'.

FA: Kieran Loughran, Simon Mentz, Louise Shepherd, 1991

18
21 Starstruck Trad 50m

Unusual groove climbing on the first pitch. Rarely, if ever, repeated. Protection looks a problem but climbing looks good.

Start: Start a few metres L of 'Germinal' at the scooped line (4m up R of Spinoza).

  1. 20m (21) Trick moves up first scoop lead to hard climbing in the second scoop and so to a ledge. 'Spinoza' rap anchor is just to the left and now would be a good time to use it.

  2. 30m (21) L to an easy break in the overhang, back R and up steep wall.

FA: Kevin Lindorff, Glenn Tempest, 1977

19
17 * Germinal Trad 37m

An old classic with a tough crux. Often done in 1 pitch.

Start: Start beneath the major but strangely scooped line up the prominent sheer orange/grey wall at the foot, and to the left, of the descent gully. This is at the L edge of the jumble of flakes and blocks.

  1. 15m (17) Move up an easy rib R of the corner and traverse L across a gargoyle into the corner (the direct variants have all been bouldered). Up corner, an old peg or two, with hard moves to gain the cave.

  2. 22m (14) Continue up the chimney to a ledge on the L. Continue in the line or move out L to the arete. The rap anchor (added early '07) is about 0.5m down in the crack itself.

FA: Ian Guild, Chris Davis, 1965

20

Looks wonderful but rarely repeated...it has handed out some spankings so may be rather solid. The bolts are those funny hanging ring jobbies and are rather old, plus the abseil sling needs replacing with a decent anchor. Ascends the golden wall L of the descent gully, between the upper sections of 'Asterisk' and 'Germinal'.

Start: Get to the start by soloing across a ledge from 10m up the descent gully. Alternatively, the initial cracks of 'Asterisk' are reputed to be a good warm-up approach.

FA: Andy Pollitt, 1990

21
20 * Asterisk Trad 24m

Quite attractive, with some good moves. Protection is good even though the old bolts are terrible. Originally two pitches but better done as one.

Start: Scramble R from the foot of 'Germinal' along the vertical wafers leaning against the main wall, to a flake crack.

Belay in the chasm just right of 'Germinal' at an old initial "A".

  1. 18m (20) Easily up to the wide apparently detached flake crack and go easily up to the top of this (rotten rock, very good protection from large cams). Move L and climb the wall via the intermittent crack/seam past 2 poor bolts to a narrow ledge (poor bolt) (LOE belay is to the left) then up into a sentry box.

  2. 6m (17) Fairly sensational out of the sentry-box (watch rope-drag) into the final crack.

FA: Phillip Seccombe, Ian Speedie. FA Glenn Tempest, Kevin Lindorff 1977., 1966

22
16 Wooden Heart Mixed 20m, 4

Middle of face left of 'SyntheticSpine'. There's also a medium wir below the final bolt.

FA: Kieran Loughran, Norm Booth, Ray Lassman, 2006

23
15 Synthetic Spine Trad 15m

It's nice to climb a pinnacle that has no easy way up. Final mantle might be solid for the grade.

Start: Start about 10m L of the foot of the gully, about 10m around R of 'Germinal'. This route climbs the south-west arete of the square pinnacle that squats at the foot of the descent gully.

FA: Kieran Loughran, Meg Sleeman, 1991