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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 (18 September 2015):

People – it has been a long time coming, and the recovering areas thank you for your patience. As of the 18th September, most of the climbing areas in the North Grampians still closed, will once again open. These areas though, are still fragile and deserve to have a little extra thought given, if and when you decide to head there. The Mt Difficult Range is still in a very fragile state and because of this, some of the closures here will remain in place, except for those cliffs listed. Check out the list below and please continue to read the care info following it. Thank you all in the climbing and bouldering community who have been understanding of the closures and have been actively promoting it to others. Lots of other areas have seen renewed interest. Whilst Nature will continue to throw these events at us, it is obvious that there are always enough cliffs and boulders to go around.

To aid the long term recovery of the Northern Grampians there is a general closure in place for rock climbing throughout the Mt Difficult Range, except for the main climbing areas stated below. Please support the long term recovery of fire affected areas by remaining out of any closed sites. See closure map for further detail. While Parks Victoria regrets the need to enforce closures, substantial fines will be imposed on those found in any closed, fire affected areas. Open and accessible rock climbing and bouldering areas in the Northern Grampians Hollow Mountain Area Barc Cliff
, Gunn Buttress
, Battlescarred Blocks / The Ammo Shop, Amnesty Wall Area
, Andersens
, Clicke Area (incl. Kindergarten routes) The Kindergarten (bouldering) Expedition Crag, 
Turtle Rocks, 
Sandinista Cliffs, 
Pensioners Wall Area, 
Red Wall Area incl Echoes Block, Loopeys
, Hollow Mountain Cave, 
Legoland, 
Cut Lunch Walls
, Koalasquatsy Wall Tribute Wall
, The Dungeon, 
Bad Moon Rising Wall Van Dieman’s Land, Rambla Wall, A-Frame Boulder

Summerday Valley Flying Blind. Wall of Fools, Back Wall Bowler Boulder

*Note closures are in place to Main wall, Left wall, Bird wall and Calcutti crag and others east of Summerday Valley due to threatened plant species regeneration, cultural heritage protection and trail degradation.Mt Stapylton Amphitheatre Northern Wall, Central Buttress, Sabre Gully, 
Grey and Green Walls, Taipan Wall Spurt Wall, 
Bouldering Buttress, Lower Taipan, 
Afterglow Wall, Afterglow Boulders
,The Plaza Strip,
The Snake Pit
, Trackside Boulders. Citadel
. Ground Control Caves, Cave Club, 
Between the Sheeps, Spurt Wall (Bouldering), The Titanic (Bouldering) Flat Rock Area West Flank / Wall of Fuels, Bellepheron Wall
,Epsilon Wall
,Bouldering Cloud Cuckoo Land
, Note: new access track between flat rock, the kindergarten and Andersons via Bellepheron wall. Mt Zero Area Pangaea Walls, Toolondo Waters, 
4 Cornered Crag, 
Mt Zero Summit Cliff, Mount Zero West Walls

Iskra Crag Flower Power Block, Shadow Buttress, Emu Crag
, Sunstroke Area
, Pigs in Space Buttress, Main West Face, Dolgoruki Wall First Tier, 
Second Tier, 
Third Tier
, North Western Outcrop, Eastern Walls 36 Chambers
, Dolgoruki Wall and Three Tiers

Asses Ears Area Sunset Crags, 
The Secret Crags
, Cherub Wall
, Maul Wall, 
Wallaby Rocks, 
Conifer Wall
, Geranium (Brim) Springs, Porcelain Wall
,Wallaby Rocks
,Joey Blocks

Pohlner track and Smith Road Area The Rust Bucket, Martini Rock, Worship Wall, Point 447 ,Bordel Buttress, Mt Emu The Crows Nest, The Eyrie
, The Unnamed Cliff, An Unnamed Cliff, Olive Grove, Cave Of Ghosts Cliffs, Ghost Block,
The Olive Cave,
The Ravine

CLOSED CLIMBING AREAS

Eastern Mt Difficult Range No Mans Land, Heatherlie Heights, Cape Canavera,l Woomera The Promised Land / The Pine Plantation, Cliff Lebanon,
The Heavens, 
Lower Heavens, Lunar Walls, The Tim Tams

North West Mt Difficult Range Sickle Wall
, Mawson Slab, 
Mt Difficult Cliff, Epaminondas Buttress, Troopers Creek Cliff, Mt Difficult Summit ,Mt Bloody Impossible Mt Stapylton Campground Cave
, Sentinel Wall
, The Guardhouse, Warden Wall , Campground Boulders, Titanic Boulder, Doddery Rock, Mt Pleasant
,The Rockwall Area ,Briggs Bluff Area

NE Mt Zero Range Golton Rocks -
Cave Cliff
, Wave Wall (aka The Sundeck) / The Sun Deck The Sun Gate,
Golton Wall, 
Gog-Magog Crag, 
G-Land, 
Watchmen Wall, 
Coppermine Track Cliff

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.

© (willmonks)

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

Routes

Add route(s) Add topo Reorder Bulk edit
Grade Route

The following 2 climbs ascend the most Western buttress on the Northern walls - the Kindergarten bouldering is just around the corner. Until access can be straightened, the following 2 routes require a short access pitch / traverse in from the Kindergarten ledge (about grade 14).

1
20 * Schools Out Trad 15m

Takes the main wall of the most Western buttress. Out small roof (small cams), then veer right and straight up the wall finishing steeply through jugs. Leave a sling to rap from.

FA: Goshen Watts & Jimmy, 2016

2
16 * Fried Lichen Trad 15m

Takes the RH arete of buttress (3m R of SO). Up corner on R, then step left to arete. Up this, before trending R towards the top to finish just R of arete. A bit mossy, but not bad for the grade.

FA: Goshen Watts & Abby Watkins, 2016

3
15 Baby Skink Trad 10m

Probably one of the more straight-forward access pitches to the lower ledge (and can get you straight to the start of 'Cool Connections' if you traverse left at the top. Up chossy looking corner 10m L of 'large hole in roof'.

FA: Abby Watkins & Goshen Watts, 2016

Ledge access

The following climbs start from relatively complex to access ledges (Agent of Cool is on the upper one). Use these notes until access has been improved:

LOWER LEDGE: Directly under ledge is a steep wall, easiest access is via short solo just L of hole in roof, or do a short roped climb, about grade 15 (eg Baby Skink).

UPPER LEDGE: The fires have burnt off the fixed access rope to the upper ledge (via ramp), so either do a short access pitch on the R somewhere, or if already on the lower ledge, you can do a short 5m climb up the entrance to the 'chasm'. There's some rap slings on the West side of the upper ledge.

4
21 ** Cool Connections Trad 25m

Interesting climbing, culminating in a dramatic finish in the middle of the headwall. On the LHS of the blank overhanging wall (on ledge BELOW Agent of Cool) is a scoop which you can climb to a stance. Now step R, and trend up and R across wall to an unlikely move to shallow corner. Now up to horizontal breaks, and a hard move R to gain upper horizontal. Traverse R to the end of this, and straight up final headwall which is easier that it appears.

FA: Goshen Watts & Abby Watkins, 2016

5
22 * Cool Evenings Trad 35m, 2

A worthwhile pitch, if the wide crack on the first pitch doesn't send you running.

  1. 22, Wide crack to DBB as for P1 of Ancient Evenings (take brackets).

  2. 19, Continue climbing leftwards for about 5m then straight up nice crack, trending left on the large breaks. Either escape left (belay), or go straight up delightful thin crack to the top. Descend from bollard down the East face.

FA: Goshen Watts & Chris Leidy, 2016

6
24 Ancient Evenings Trad 30m, 2

Looks like a sensational headwall. Start as for Cool Intentions in the major chasm just left of Agent of Cool.

  1. Traverse wide crack (large cams) and awkwardly around arete to a hanging DBB in corner (brackets required).

  2. From DBB, straight up overhanging wall past 2 FH, some old tat, and some gear. Rap rope / ring at the top needs replacing.

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

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

7
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. Climb takes the obvious (wide) left leading crack. Then head straight up wall (just before arete), past small hanging corner, and up wall past a FH. NOTE: The 2016 Gramps guide has the topo wrong - the route pictured in the guide is Ancient Evenings, and not this route.

FA: Dave Jupp, 1998

8
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

9

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

10
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

11
31 Agent of Cool Trad 25m

A fantastic natural line that was one of the 'last great lines' in the Grampians until Lee Cossey put a few days work into it and freed it in November 2015.

Start: On the right wall of the gully, about 15m L of 'Neptune' pitch 2, is this striking overhung curving corner/crack. Up tips finger crack to crux move from crimpy pinch to big huecos above the sickle, monkey right into the crack (drop the rope back to the belayer - or use double rope technique - to avoid heinous drag) and blast upwards to glory.

FFA: Lee Cossey

FA: Worked extensively duringby Dave Jones., 1997

The following climbs are back on 'ground level' of the Northern Walls.

12

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

13
14 Neptune Trad 50m, 2

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

14
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) & Ray Lassman, 2006

15
20 * It's My Brain Again Trad 50m, 2

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

16
18 ** Prong Trad 50m, 2

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

17

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

18
14 ** Trident Trad 40m, 2

"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

19
18 * Sternold Trad 35m, 2

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

20
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, Norm Booth & Keith Lockwood, 2007

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

21
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

22
23 Spinoza Sport 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

23
21 Starstruck Trad 50m, 2

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

24
17 ** Germinal Trad 37m, 2

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

25

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

26
20 * Asterisk Trad 24m, 2

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

27
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

28
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

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