Central Buttress Mostly trad climbing30 routes in cliff
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Most of the following has been copied directly from Kieran Loughran's excellent Amphitheatre guide - thanks!
'Central Buttress' is the big somewhat scrappy looking area extending right from the Amphitheatre 'Gully', until the cliffline breaks down into a gully before the Grey & Green Walls. It offers a wide variety of climbs with a few outstanding classics. While some of the cliffs do not look particularly attractive at first sight, don't let that put you off. The highlight of this area, and the best section of the entire Amphitheatre apart from 'Taipan Wall', is the recess containing 'Simpleton', 'Missing' and 'Technical Ecstasy'.
'Central Buttress' is in the shade until early afternoon. 'Simpleton' gets sun only on summer evenings. An early start on a hot day can see you up a good climb before the heat of the afternoon. The climbs left of 'Simpleton' appear grey and amorphous but are generally quite steep and more difficult than appearances suggest.© (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
- 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
Follow the walking track from Flat Rock down into the Amphitheatre for about 150m past 'Epsilon Wall', avoiding any right-hand turns. Follow a faint pad on the left to soon arrive below the Amphitheatre 'Gully'. 'Central Buttress' extends from here to your right.
Descent: Descend via the abseil near 'Simpleton' or the 'Hollow Mountain' walking track towards Summer Day Valley (return into the Amphitheatre is then possible by walking beneath Amnesty, Clicke, Kindergarden and Northern Walls areas). Avoid the horrible dangerous Amphitheatre 'Gully' (which I refuse to call by its traditional name of "the descent gully"!). Parties with novice climbers are strongly advised to use the walking track for descent.
'Simpleton' Abseil Route: This is the only abseil descent from this area, and allows the awful Amphitheatre 'Gully' to be avoided, but it has its own hazards. If you have two 50m ropes, you need to use the old anchors: from the top of 'Simpleton' (near a lonely 4m pine tree), move out to the front of the cliff and scramble down 5 metres to the chains, the scramble is fairly easy but very exposed - one snapped hold or foot slip and you're facing a death fall. If in doubt, keep the rope on. Have slings ready to clip into the anchors, which are now worryingly rusty. It is a 50 metre abseil, and the first 40 metres are free hanging. Abseil ends on long ledge at the base of 'Missing'. Either scramble down the initial slabs of 'Technical Ecstasy' or do a further short abseil from trees. If you take novices on this descent (not recommended) you must be able to rescue them if they get stuck on the long free abseil section. On a pragmatic note, remember that belaying a novice on descent can take just as long as simply walking off.
In May '09 a new anchor was added at the top of the 'Simpleton' corner, and this can be accessed much less dangerously than the original anchor because you don't need to do the scary 5m downclimb. To use this new anchor you need two 60m ropes.
Climbs are described from left to right.© (willmonks)
Some content has been provided under license from: © Australian Climbing Association Queensland (Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike 2.5 AU)
Not a popular concept. Takes the corner out L of the main 'Simpleton' corner with a loose crux.
Start: There is a chimney/gully 10m R of Molar Buttress; start 1m R of this gully.
15m (-) Up the line in the short wall to a bushy ledge.
30m (17) (crux) Take the corner at the L end of the ledge until it fades out. Traverse L to a bushy cave.
35m (-) L to the arete. Up just L of arete with an exciting swing over a bulge.
FA: Kevin Lindorff, Phillip Armstrong (alt) & Peter Newman, 1979
Well protected moves up an impressive and steep wall. Seconds should take prussics and/or not unclip the first bolt until it is at their waist. Gear: take a standard trad rack with a set of wires and cams. A large cam is needed for the Simpleton roof, and save a medium to large cam (BD#2 or Friend #3) for the final horizontal break. Start: as for Simpleton, from the ledge below Missing.
(43m, 18, 1 bolts) Follow Simpleton up to the cave and continue around the roof and up the corner. Where Simpleton steps right, continue up the orange corner. Tricky moves (might be 19) lead to a DRB belay in the corner at a tiny stance.
(20m, 22, 2 bolts) Squeeze past your belayer and make subtle moves up the corner to a horizontal break (cams 20-30mm). Left and up to a flake and bolt. Up to another small flake, finger traverse left to a bolt, then left and up to horizontal break. Exit left onto the arête for a rest. Up the steep but easier grey wall to the chains.
FFA: Steve Toal & Paula Greene, 2012
A magnificent climb up a great line. The first pitch can be avoided by scrambling up the slabs below 'Technical Ecstasy' and traversing in. Do the finish as described (it's worth it) and save the obvious finish for 'Technical Ecstasy'. Take 1 or 2 large cams (e.g. #4 or #5 camalot).
Start: Start as for 'Gross Encounters', 1m R of gully.
30m (18) Climb the short wall to large ledge, up to next ledge and follow overlap R to long, narrow treed ledge where the wall steepens (the scramble from 'Technical Ecstasy' comes in here from the right). Move up then L off ledge and belay on small ledge at foot of huge corner, about 7m below obvious cave.
35m (18) Up to cave and out R and up to FH at lip (a thin sling can protect the clip) and follow the line. At 25m exciting moves lead into the thin line just to the R. Belay on a great small ledge with an old (untrustworthy) carrot bolt and bomber trad.
20m (18) On until 4m below the roof. Traverse L (wildly exposed) across the wall to easy ground.
FA: Chris Dewhirst, Ian Guild & Michael Stone. FA Dave Mudie 1975, 1966
Slabba-dabba-do! An absorbing, exacting and extremely long pitch. The lengthy co-crux slab sections are unique for the 'Grampians'. Take 6 brackets, cams from micro to #3, and a few wires. There's ledge-fall potential at the 2nd FH (oops). A retrobolt above the 1st bolt (and shifting the 1st bolt a bit lower) would be welcomed. Until then, a quick safer option is to scoot up the easy first 8m of 'Simpleton', walk R to Present's 3rd bolt, and lower off it to pre-clip/pre-extend the 2nd bolt. You could also climb this as a fantastic 24/5 by starting up 'Simpleton' and linking into this pitch at the 3rd bolt. Start: Scramble up to the ledge/terrace, 2-3m R of 'Simpleton', and 8m L of the start of 'Missing'. Straight up between Simpleton & Missing, past 2 FHs, 5 carrots (glue-in stainless) & Missing's crux bolt. Join Missing only for a bodylength, namely it's crux. Up high, stay 3-4m R of Simpleton until almost at the capping roof. If your rope is "only" 60m long, you may wish to belay here to avoid simul-climbing 5m. Finish out the roof of Technical Ecstasy.
Set by Will Monks
FA: Kevin Lindorff, Michael O'Reilly & Steve Chapman
A beautiful thin line leads to a large roof at the top of the cliff. You have to be good at placing RPs and other small wires, although the advent of microcams is a boon for this route. To a rack up to #3½ cam, add 2 sets of RPs and plenty of microcams, a couple of extra middle-size cas for belays, thin sling and many quickdraws. A bolt was placed on the first pitch around 1996 because the original starting stump disintegrated.
Start: Start by scrambling up 'Technical Ecstasy' for 15m to a terrace on the L where the real climbing starts.
15m (22) Not as well protected as you'd like. Pull onto the wall 3m L of 'Technical Ecstasy' past FH and small cam, then to flake (marginal wire). Continue to small stance.
35m (23) (crux) Fantastic! Step L into thin line. Up wall and follow line up wavy slab to second wave, traverse L at bulge past bolt (carrot), reach past bulge and move back R to line. Up line, dodgy protection at first, to good horizontal break which is where you join 'Technical Ecstasy'. To belay you can either (a) hand-traverse L below bulge to Simpleton's bolt; (b) take the wild crack through the bulge and then move L to belay in the 'Simpleton' corner; or (c) belay on the line, on the slab above the bulge (as shown in topo).
20m (22) Back R to line and up easy slab to roof. Step R a metre and monkey out the juggy flake through the 5m roof.
FA: Kieran Loughran, Meg Sleeman March-April. Dave Vass made the first lead of pitch 1, before any fixed gear existed. 1st continuous ascent Steve Monks & Louise Shepherd 1989., 1988
Might get bumped up a grade once the third ascentionist gets back from cleaning his undies to give us his thoughts. The 18m of new climbing is only 2-4m L of the original second pitch, and can be escaped at a few spots. Otherwise, this version of the second pitch is every bit as good as the magnificent second pitch of 'Missing'. Start: Start as for TE. 1) (25m 18) Do a short version of pitch 1 of TE, belaying above the great initial vertical crack, 5m below the fat flakes. 2) (35m 23) Blast up the classy seam 2m L of the fat flakes, eventually rejoining the original second pitch for it's wild final cracks. Needs a full rack including a #8 hex, plus extra draws & multiples of micro-cams and micro-wires (and a good ability to place them!). Can be very well protected but gear is quite tricky in 1 or 2 spots. The direttissima finish to this pitch, through the bulge onto the top slab, was also done at bold 19 (and is shown in the ACA topo) but the original finish is better. 3) (15m 18) As per the original.
FA: Kevin Lindorff, Will Monks (both lead crux & after TR rehearsal), 2009
Another great route with some pretty bold bits on the second pitch.
Start: Start at the toe of the slabs 18m R of 'Simpleton', just L of a gully.
35m (16) Up easy slabs and past blocks to the cliff proper and a nice crack system up a wall. Up the crack to a slab and belay on the second ledge on the R.
30m (20) Up short, wide, shallow crack (large cam) to a poorly protected reach and so to overhang (alternatively, move R from belay, go up and back L below overhang). Move past L side of overhang to overlap, L to thin crack, wild moves above gear lead up crack to next overlap/break. Go 4m L along this to the next crack/break over bulge (shared with Missing), then go L again to belay in 'Simpleton' corner. You can also traverse L along the major break across missing to reach Simpleton's 2nd belay (at the old carrot), but this is not as good.
20m (16) Up the last bit of the 'Simpleton' corner to the capping roof and hand traverse L.
FA: Glenn Tempest & Kevin Lindorff, 1977
Good, but not in the same class as the other climbs here. Apparently it should have been called 'Maniac'.
Start: Start as for 'Technical Ecstasy'.
35m (16) As for 'Technical Ecstasy'. An alternative to the first pitch is to belay on the R about 8m below the original belay and climb directly into the second pitch crack.
30m (13) Move R to a groove on the far side of the wall and climb the groove to belay 10m below the capping overhang.
20m (18) Up the slab, keeping just L of arete to a wildly exposed pull through the overhang.
FA: Tim Hancock, Peter McKeand 20.8.70, finishing by long traverse L to roof of Technical Ecstasy. As described: Kieran Loughran, Meg Sleeman. First pitch variant: Joel Malady & Michael Sim December 1995., 1988
Very reachy, add two grades if you're less than 190cm tall. The original climb bashed its way up to gain the line R of 'Mania' and followed this line until 24m below the top then aided the final pitch.
FA: Andrew Thomson, Adrian Davey 19.8.70. FA Simon Mentz, Kieran Loughran & Louise Shepherd., 1991
Probably worthwhile at the grade. The route originally started as for 'Imbecile' but the route is described here with a better start.
Start: Start about 10m R of 'Mania', and 5m R of gully.
40m (10) Climb an easy groove about 10m R of 'Mania' (5m R of a gully) until forced L into the gully. Move up to below a line on the R wall of the gully. An alternative start claws directly up the horrible gully. Why would you do this?
30m (15) Follow the line past an overhang. A scary alternative (16) is to climb the left arete of the line, gained from the gully to the left, to meet the original pitch at the lip of the roof.
25m (14) On up the line to the top in a very exposed position and continue up final short wall.
FA: Andrew Thomson, Joe Friend. (pitch 1 as described: Allan Hope). (Horrible gully start: Derek Vissor, Ann Scholes).(Second Pitch variant: Ray Lassman & Kieran Loughran)., 2006
Clean slab/wall climbing all the way up to the chains on TSIC. Two BRs (hangers required!) and an assortment of cams and trad gear. Slightly contrived at the start, the hard moves past the first bolt can be avoided by easier climbing to the left, but delightful above. The second bolt is hidden until you get right to it!
Start: Five or six metres left of This Structure is closed.
FA: Keith Lockwood & Peter Canning, 2000
Despite being an excellent pitch up a superb line, this climb is over 1m high and has no hand-rails. It takes the great corner leading to the right side of the huge overhangs on 'Central Buttress'. Protection is excellent (double up cams to #2½ and throw in some larger ones for luck). Originally graded 17 it has cleaned up with traffic.
Start: Start about 30m R of 'Mania' et al on a boulder below the R edge of the corner.
FA: Kieran Loughran & Meg Sleeman, 1999
A nice word, paddock: very evocative. Not a bad climb either. A #4 cam would be handy on the final pitch.
Start: Start below the above-noted alcove (about 50m R of Cerambycid).
30m (14) Scramble up into the alcove and traverse out L along a narrow ledge to below the crack. Pull steeply into crack and up crack until it fades. Continue into the flake crack above to belay on a small ledge, about level with the top of the buttress to the R.
20m (9) Move to the L end of the belay ledge and follow the line to an area of fragile rock that leads to a terrace at 20m, below the L edge of an awning-like overhang.
15m (10) Up steeply just L of the overhang. Step back R above overhang and go up to next terrace. Traverse 5m L to belay below chimney/corner.
10m (13) Climb steeply up L wall of corner.
FA: Kieran Loughran & Meg Sleeman, 1995
Probably quite good and certainly unusual. Awkward climbing up the peapods leads to a solid, overhanging corner. A number of Aliens or similar tiny cams are needed to protect the hard move out of the peapods and protection is otherwise excellent.
Start: Start beneath the alcove, just R of 'The Long Paddock'.
FA: Louise Shepherd & Simon Mentz, 1991
Would be a reasonable, long beginners' climb if not for the ridiculously hard [and hard to protect] move around the bulge to start which is out of character with everything else on the route. After that it's hard to work out where it goes, but the climbing is generally easy.
Start: Start 10m around R of 'Body Bath'. The original description says that it starts behind a pine tree. That was 40 years ago. There is a dead pine tree resting amongst the gum trees where I think this climb starts. There used to be a dead pine tree just L of 'The Long Paddock'. I wonder if the M was put there by the first ascent party or just a guidebook editor who thought they had worked out where the route went?
40m (15) Climb up through an undercut break (crux, there is an old initial "M" at this break and poor protection), move R a little then up the buttress to belay on the highest point.
24m (9) Good holds lead up a steep wall to a wide ledge below the overhang. Climb up L of the smooth wall.
25m (4) Move 4m L, then straight to the top.
FA: Sue Priestly & Steve Craddock (alt) Easter., 1965
Essentially a variant finish to 'Median' except that it exaggerates the length, but it's hard to work out where it goes. Possibly only 10m of independent climbing. See comments for Median re the start.
Start: Start as for 'Median'.
40m (15) (crux) As for 'Median'.
24m (-) Follow 'Median' to the overhang and climb directly over the overhang.
26m (-) Traverse L to line and climb to large ledge.
30m (-) Scramble up diagonally L. Keep the rope on or not as the spirit moves you.
FA: D.Smalley & D.Holroyd (alt), 1974